BY DANIEL GOLDBERG, TH.D., D.D.

Escalating End-Time Events
Isaiah 62-66

The goal toward which the book of Isaiah has pressed is about to come into view. The children of Israel have endured the Lord’s chastisement, exile and humiliation in the sight of the nations. But now, the restoration for which all else is a prelude is about to burst forth through Isaiah’s glorious prophecy. 

THE DIVINE INTEREST
IN ISRAEL’S FUTURE
(Isa. 62:1-63:6)

While the Lord is interested in the salvation of each individual, here Isaiah indicates that God will not rest until the sons and daughters of Jerusalem experience redemption and reflect His righteousness. Jerusalem is destined to become a sanctuary for all nations (Gentiles) when the Messiah returns to the Holy City (Acts 1:11-12).

When Messiah returns to Israel, God will establish a New Jerusalem and dwell in an unhindered relationship with His people, as a newly married couple experience overwhelming joy in one another’s presence (Rev. 21:1-3).

ISRAEL’S CONFESSION
OF SIN AND
PENITENTIAL PRAYER
(Isa. 63:7- 64:12)

Israel’s prayer for mercy and help begins with thanksgiving for the Lord’s past goodness in the days of her youth (Isa. 63:7-9).

This happy relationship was temporary because Israel rebelled against the Lord (Isa. 63:10). Isaiah petitions the Lord and pleads with Him to remember that He was their “Father” and “Redeemer from everlasting” (Isa. 63:16). The prophet interceded for Israel and entreated the Lord to put away their sins and rescue and restore His people (Isa. 64:9-12).

THE LORD’S RESPONSE:
A NEW REVELATION AND
A NEW AGE (Isa. 65:1-66:24)

Since Israel was precious to the Lord, a bright future for the nation was promised. Isaiah concludes his prophecy with new information and events leading up to a New Age.

In 65:1, Isaiah depicts the future for the true community of the Messiah, Jesus. He describes this people as, “A nation that was not called by My Name,” and makes reference to the true Community and Body of Messiah. Who are they? Rabbi Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1 in his letter to the Roman community of faith, having in mind true Gentile believers who placed their trust in Israel’s Messiah, Jesus, in this present age (Rom 10:20).

But God is not finished with Israel. The faithful of Israel will rejoice for Zion’s future.

Israel will be restored and again know comfort and plenty (Isa. 66:13-14). All of mankind will visit and go up to Jerusalem to worship before Him (Isa. 66:18-20).

NEW HEAVENS AND
A NEW EARTH AND
A NEW JERUSALEM
(Isa. 66:22)

Further revelation on the creation of the new heaven and earth is contained in Revelation 21. In addition to the new heavens and earth, God will build a “New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2). It will be a glorious day in the New Jerusalem when the promise in Isaiah 11:9 is fulfilled, stating that “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” 

A NEW AND FINAL WARNING
(Isa. 66:24; Rev. 20:11-15)

Isaiah concludes with a gruesome picture of unending punishment, where those who rebel against God languish in unrelenting fire and decay, demonstrating God’s holiness and divine hatred for sin.

The “New Jerusalem” will be the center of universal worship of the Messiah by both Jew and Gentile (Isa. 66:22-23; Rev. 21:9-27). The city will be rebuilt without a temple (Rev. 21:22) and without sun or moon (Rev. 21:23).   

Will you be there to worship the true Messiah?

The Jewish Year Begins in the Seventh Month

 

In the Torah, which consists of the first five books of the Bible, God prescribes the way He expects Israel to observe the major religious festivals and holy days. If you have had the opportunity to carefully read through these sections in the Torah, you may have notice  d some curious differences between how God prescribes the holidays and how the Jewish community celebrates the festivals today. This does not mean the rabbis do not take the Torah seriously, because the opposite is true; they have been meticulous in helping the Jewish people remain faithful to the Torah.

One notable example occurs with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, which literally means “head of the year.” Rosh Hashanah falls on the first day of the seventh month, Tishrei, in the Jewish calendar. The term Tishrei reflects Israel’s exile in Babylon and originates from an Akkadian word meaning “beginning.” When God delivered Israel from Egypt, during Passover, He told the nation to establish the month of Nisan as the first month of the year (Ex. 12:2). 

Nonetheless, the rabbis decided to make Rosh Hashanah the “head” of the civil year. There are some debates as to why the rabbis did this. One explanation is they wanted to mark the anniversary of the creation of the world, adopting the tradition from the Babylonians. A second theory posits that the significance of the seventh month is that it is the seventh month, hence “the Sabbath” of the year. In addition, Rosh Hashanah’s position prior to Yom Kippur leads the people to contemplate forgiveness and new beginnings. This imagery reinforces why the Jewish community considers Rosh Hashanah as the start of the year.

A Flexible Tradition and An Unswerving Faith

There are two contributing factors to the change in the Jewish festivals. First, traditions naturally change over time to reflect the additional meanings and significance attached to historical events. By the first century, when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, Israel’s holidays already looked different from the rather methodical presentation we find in the Torah. Second, without a Temple, a change was necessary. The celebration of Israel’s festivals revolved around the temple, because observation of the holidays required the offering of sacrifices. When the Temple was destroyed, the rabbis sought to adapt the holidays to the changing environment. Following their exile to Babylon and subsequent provincial status under Roman rule, the Jewish community celebrated the holidays not only as reminders of past events, but also as promises of God’s future deliverance through the Messiah.  

Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days

As you read the Torah, you will discover it does not use the term Rosh Hashanah to refer to the new year. The list of the major feasts in Leviticus 23 describes the day as zikron teruah, “a memorial of the blowing of trumpets” (v. 24). Elsewhere, it uses the designation yom teruah, “day of the blowing of trumpets” (Num. 29:1). Later, Jewish tradition refers to it in various ways, as the day of “remembrance,” “judgment,” and the “forgiveness” of sins. While the Torah does not clarify why the nation sounds the shofar, Jewish tradition views it as a means of calling the nation to repentance. 

Rosh Hashanah precedes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, by ten days (Lev. 16). The sounding of the shofar signifies the beginning of the “Days of Awe,” yamim noraim, which are ten days of repentance and introspection as the nation prepares for Yom Kippur.   

Blowing the shofar remains one of the most anticipated features of the holiday. Its piercing blast awakens the nation from slumber, reminds the people of God’s reign over Israel and beckons them toward repentance (Micah 7:18-20).  The purpose of Rosh Hashanah, then, is understood through its three main themes:  God’s kingship (malchiyot), remembrances (zichronot), and the sounding of the shofar (shofarot). The final theme invites the community to look toward the future, to the time of the ultimate redemption with the Messiah—upon hearing the blast, hope for the arrival of the Messiah arises (Zech. 9:14). 

Rosh Hashanah in Jewish Tradition

According to tradition, “All things are judged on Rosh HaShanah, and their fate is sealed on Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).” 

Jewish tradition also teaches that repentance before the God of the universe is central to Jewish faith. This is why rabbis added various other names to the holiday:  Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance), Yom HaDin (Day of Judgment), and Yom HaKeseh (Day of Concealment for Sins). 

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (1138-1204 AD) taught that the shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah call out to human souls, “Awake, you sleepers, from your sleep! Arise, you slumberers, from your slumber! Repent with contrition! Remember your Creator!” (Hil. Teshuvah 3:4). The importance of  “remembering your Creator” is tied to another tradition that states Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world, or more specifically, the creation of man on the sixth day of creation.

Finally, the tradition of Tashlich, (“you will cast”) is one of the most significant observances of Rosh Hashanah. During Tashlich, Jewish communities gather along bodies of running water to say prayers and toss bits of bread into the flowing water. This symbolizes the casting of one’s sins into the depths of the sea, as the prophet Micah states, “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

Sharing the Gospel on Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish holiday that even non-religious Jewish people recognize. For that reason, it provides a great opportunity for believers to share the Gospel. Rosh Hashanah is a perfect opportunity to share the Jewish Messiah with your Jewish friends and neighbors! 

From the early chapters of Genesis through the rest of Scriptures, God has always been a God of relationships—with mankind in general and with the Jewish people in particular. God expressed His deep desire for relationship by teaching Israel how to relate to Him through many ways, including the Fall Feasts, as yearly reminders to bring Jewish people back to focusing on Him. The series of covenants culminates in the New Covenant made with Israel (Jer. 31:31-34) and are fulfilled in Messiah.

Rosh Hashanah teaches Jewish people to be concerned for their eternal destiny. This emphasis, developed from the Talmud, states, “three books are opened in heaven on Rosh Hashanah, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are inscribed in the Book of Life, the thoroughly wicked in the Book of Death, while the fate of the intermediate is suspended until the Day of Atonement” (Rosh HaShanah 16b). 

You can point out to your Jewish friend that the Apostle John, one of the early Jewish followers of Jesus, reflects the Jewish language of God’s judgment when he repeatedly mentions the “Book of Life” throughout the Book of Revelation. John writes, 

I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books…. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:12, 15).

As believers in Yeshua (Jesus), you can show your Jewish friend that the death and resurrection of the Messiah provided atonement for us. No amount of prayer or good deeds will make up for the sin that separates an individual from God. The Bible makes it clear that we cannot merit our way to the Lord. This is clearly stated in the book of Hebrews where the writer tells us that,

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Heb. 1:1-4).

Rosh Hashanah represents a juncture for the Jewish community. It is both a time to remember the covenant God has made with Israel in the past and a time for hope, anticipating God’s renewal of all things. 

Ultimately it points us toward the Alpha and Omega of all things, Jesus the Messiah.

Looking Back to Look Forward

 

Dear friend, 

Shalom in His grace.  This is a very special season of the year!

In fact, every Jewish community in the world is focused right now on observing what are usually called the High Holidays. These holidays are three:  the New Year (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). 

These holidays, or more properly holy days, are quite similar. First of all, they are described in Leviticus 23. The Day of Atonement has another entire chapter devoted to it in Leviticus 16. 

All three holidays are observed in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This is the month called Tishrei in Hebrew and usually falls in September or October as the Hebrew/biblical lunar calendar is quite different from our Western version.

The Feasts of Israel

These three fall festivals are linked to the list of those found in Leviticus 23. Each holy day is similar to the others, yet also has an element or two pointing to some unique aspect of God’s plan and purpose for the Jewish people and all of mankind. Most of the festivals memorialize a great historical event. They also have a prophetic function. In fact, I like to say that they seem to look back in order to look forward.

Passover is a clear example of this principle, as the holiday looks back to the deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt and forward to a day of greater salvation!

The prophetic character of these holidays is important. The holy days were given to the Jewish people as signposts or prophetic portraits of things to come. I also like to view the holy days as settings created for the diamond or the beautiful jewel that was to be placed at a future day.

It will not surprise you to know that I believe Jesus is the diamond—the beautiful, sparkling Jewel. When the beauty of His person is viewed in light of the Jewish holidays, His splendor and brightness shine even brighter.

The Spring Festivals

The first four holidays on the biblical calendar begin with Passover (Leviticus 23:5). The holy day of Passover is celebrated in the spring and is followed by seven days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-8). Then, at the conclusion of Passover and Unleavened Bread, we celebrate the Festival of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:9-15). Afterwards, Moses told the Jewish people to count 49 days and then observe the Feast of Weeks; Shavuot in Hebrew, and in Greek, Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21).

Prophetically, this order of the festivals makes complete sense, especially in light of the coming of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus died on Passover—as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He was sinless—unleavened—and therefore qualified by His perfect obedience to be our atonement for sin. He rose on Sunday—the day after the Sabbath attached to Passover and Unleavened Bread, which was First Fruits. Jesus is the first fruit from among the dead as described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:2-23.

Finally, God poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Jewish disciples gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, as recorded in Acts 2—which was no coincidence! As the birthday of the church, we celebrate Pentecost—the Spirit-fused unity between Jews, Gentiles and the Messiah. 

The Fall Feasts

If the first coming of Jesus is linked to the four spring festivals, then we can only deduce that the fall festivals have great prophetic significance as well.    

The Jewish New Year (Leviticus 23:23-25). The Jewish New Year is entitled “a reminder by blowing of trumpets” in the book of Leviticus. Jewish tradition understands this to be the shofar or the ram’s horn. You will be disappointed if you try to find that the New Year is in some way related to this first festival in the month of Tishrei. This first holy day of the seventh month came to be interpreted as the New Year later in rabbinic tradition and is usually viewed as the beginning of the Jewish “civil year.” Passover, which begins in the first Hebrew month, Nisan, is the start of the Jewish “religious” year.

Biblically, Rosh Hashanah is the Feast of Trumpets. The trumpet was sounded to alert the Jewish people to what was coming, which could be some type of danger or major announcement. 

The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32; 16). In this instance, the event emphasized by the trumpet would come ten days later—The Day of Atonement—understood as the holiest day on the biblical calendar! 

This was the day when the High Priest would slip behind the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies and offer the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat to make atonement for sins previously not atoned for by the Jewish people. 

The Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-36, 39-44). Seven days later, the Israelites would build booths reflecting the frailty of human life in the wilderness. They would also bind together various branches of trees and a citrus fruit and then wave these elements before the Lord, thanking Him for the final harvest of the year and praying for His provision for the following year. These days, Jewish people shake the bound branches, called the lulav and a fruit similar to a very large lemon called the ethrog as part of the contemporary festival ceremony.

The Prophetic Fulfillment of the Feasts

Like the spring feasts, those designated for the fall also find their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah and the events associated with His second coming. The blowing of the trumpet is referred to by the Apostle Paul in a number of New Testament passages which indicate that the trumpet blast will be heard immediately before the second coming of Jesus the Messiah (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The Day of Atonement was fulfilled through the death of Jesus and His first coming. However, there will be another great day of atonement for the nation of Israel. It is described in Zechariah 12:10, where the prophet tells us that the Jewish people “will look to Me whom they have pierced.” This describes the moment when the remnant of the Jewish people in the last days will turn to Jesus as Messiah.

According to Zechariah, this great prophetic event is linked to the second coming. The chronology seems to indicate that this initial turning of the Jewish people to Jesus brings about the return of the Lord. The prophet also predicts that Jesus will come and conquer the enemies of God and of the Jewish people in chapters 12-14. 

Chapter 14 further prophesies that the nations of the world will come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. The prophet envisions the nations of the world submitting themselves to the Lord and enjoying the grace and mercy found within God’s future tabernacle, which encompasses our curse-lifted planet. This is the fulfillment of Genesis 12:3 as God told Abram that the world would be blessed through the Jewish people as further described by Paul in Romans 11:12, 15, 25ff.

Jesus’ coming is somehow linked to the sound of the blowing of the trumpet, and soon thereafter the redeemed will experience the fullness of His blessings provided through His sacrifice on Calvary. His kingdom will be established in Jerusalem for the blessing of all.  

The Fall Festivals of Israel remind the faithful that there is more to come!

Please remember to pray for Your Mission to the Jewish People as we reach out to God’s chosen people during this season of the year. We will have more Jewish seekers attending our Bible studies, services and congregations during the next few months—perhaps more than any other time of year, except for Passover. So please pray that Jewish people will see the beauty of Jesus in the setting of these prophetic festivals.

I thank you for your love, prayers and financial support. We could not do this great work of reaching out to God’s chosen people without your help.

Happy High Holidays through Jesus the Messiah

Your brother,

Mitch

P.S. Please keep praying—especially for the follow up to Shalom Brooklyn, our short-term outreach recently held in the Jewish heartland of North America and the impact of our online outreach campaigns (Isaiah 53 and I Found Shalom), especially as we enter this very special holiday season.

 

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Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom! I recently returned from our first Holocaust Memorial Tour which began in New York City, moved to Berlin and finally to Poland, where we also visited Auschwitz. What a powerful reminder of the sinfulness of man and faithfulness of God to His chosen people. During the course of the tour, the Lord brought to my mind a passage of Scripture which I in turn shared with our group of 35-plus participants.

It is Paul’s reminder to the Roman believers of God’s plans and purposes for the Jewish people. The Apostle writes,

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:28-29).

These verses are a powerful reminder of His everlasting goodness. I shared with our group that if we see that God is faithful to the Jewish people, then He will be just as faithful to those who know Jesus as Messiah and Lord!

Poland and Jewish Evangelism

So many of the attitudes Jewish people have towards Jesus developed in Poland! The Jewish people were welcomed to Poland by kings around the tenth century and lived a fairly good and protected life there until the mid-1600s. Then, many of those who lived in this area, both Poles and Russians, turned on the Jewish people and brutally persecuted them. By the late nineteenth century, many Jewish people left Poland for the United States, Canada and other parts of the world. Their hardships in Poland, often made worse by the Church, influenced their understanding of Christianity and these attitudes were passed down.

Most of the negativity and sometimes hostility your Jewish friends have towards Christianity was shaped in Poland.

But, the Holocaust was undoubtedly the final nail in the coffin of alienating the Jewish people from the Gospel. One of our volunteers who works with Chosen People Ministries Poland put it this way—and I think his words will haunt me for the rest of my life, “Poland is filled with places and stories of Jewish life that once were because Poland is actually the largest Jewish cemetery in the world.” His words were chilling!

There are less than 10,000 Jewish people living in Poland today—compared to a pre-war population of 3 million. These deeply disturbing facts make the task of Jewish evangelism a complex and difficult undertaking, as you can well understand.

The Light Amidst the Shadows

So, how is it possible for the Lord to touch the lives of Jewish people raised to believe that Christianity was their enemy?

You see, the answer is always love. Jesus was the embodiment of the Father’s heart and love for a sin-damaged humanity. As believers, we are filled with His Spirit, enabled to embody His love to Jewish people who do not yet know the Messiah.

I also told one of our tour participants, who was brokenhearted and overcome with grief after visiting Auschwitz, that a candle shines brightest in a dark place, and that Christians can be bright candles of God’s love to the Jewish people. 

The Downloadable Prayer Calendar

One of the best ways you can help Your Mission to the Jewish People is by praying for us! And since we will be heading into the High Holiday season soon, our busiest ministry season of the year outside of Passover, click here to download a prayer calendar for your reference as you remember our work in prayer. We need your prayers and I hope you will post this prayer reminder somewhere prominent…keep it in your Bible, on the fridge, etc.!

Feel free to also photocopy it and share it with your friends at church or Bible study.

Financial Fuel for a Summer of Ministry

We also need your support! It is August and this is usually the lowest season of the year for giving and one of the highest for expenses for missionary agencies. Some of our most exciting outreach programs, like Shalom Brooklyn with almost 100 staff and volunteers sharing the Gospel, take place during the month of August!

Would you consider giving an extra gift during August? Again, please pray, as we have so many projects in person and online happening right now and in the fall…so we do need your help today.

For example, our new Digital Media department costs about $250,000 a year to maintain. Most of these costs are due to salaries and advertising through Facebook and other social media. But, we cannot do all we want to do to preach the Gospel through our Isaiah 53 website or the new “I Found Shalom” site without your help. Thanks so much for considering this!

Together, we can shine brightly in a dark, post-Holocaust Jewish world because the One who claimed to be the light of the world lives in our hearts!

Blessings to you and thank you for praying!

In Him,

Mitch

P.S. Our beautiful new Messianic Jewish Art Calendar is now available and we would like to send you one as a thank you gift for your donation of $125 or more. Please make sure to put the word "calendar" in the comments section with your donation!

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