Can we know when the Messiah will return? Did He leave us with a huge question mark and some mumbo-jumbo, or was He very specific in what we are to watch for and when we can expect Him? Signs in the heavens? Particular season? Even a day?
Frankly, Scripture tells us a great deal. This will not be exhaustive, but I hope it will help you to have an idea why some things Christendom has set aside are in fact VERY important!
First and foremost, we need to understand that Yahweh has a very precise plan and timing!! In fact, if He did not control every single atom, there would be no fulfilled prophecy and no universe in which to fulfill it. We live inside of a precise ‘clock’ (universe) governed by precise physical laws. Additionally, He has given us precise spiritual laws that affect how we function within this created universe. Let’s see how those fit together and what the relation is to the coming of Messiah Yeshua.
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. Matthew 24:1-4
The disciples had the same question that burns within all who desire His appearing: ‘When?’ Technically, they ask three questions,
- When will these things happen?
- What is the sign of your coming?
- What is the sign of the end of the age?
It is the middle one we will deal with specifically. Before setting out on that quest, I want to point out that Yeshua’s very first warning was, ‘See to it that no one misleads you.’ For those looking at context, the next verse refers to false teachers claiming to be the Christ, but I think the larger context would cause us to weigh carefully all who would teach on this subject. There are many in Christendom today who teach messages clearly violating the simple text here and in other places… so, we’ll look at some of that as we go.
What is the sign of His coming?
The Greek word for ‘sign’ used here is:
σημεῖον : sēmeion
1) a sign, mark, token
1a) that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known
1b) a sign, prodigy, portent, i.e. an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature
1b1) of signs portending remarkable events soon to happen
1b2) of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God’s
The LXX uses this very word in Genesis 1:14 to translate the Hebrew word,
אות : ‘ôth
1) sign, signal
1a) a distinguishing mark
1d) miraculous sign
2) token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof
Yeshua answers this direct question with a very direct answer, but before we get there I want to take a quick side trail to establish the framework the disciples are operating in and what they would use realize in just a few short weeks…
Genesis 1:14 says,
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs (אות : ‘ôth) and for seasons ( מועד : mô‛êd) and for days and years;
In our Western thinking, we tend to gloss right past that verse without seeing something of great significance beyond the seemingly general word, ‘seasons,’ or in Hebrew ‘moedim.‘ It is imperative that we understand, this is NOT talking about ‘Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.!!’ There is a direct connection to the words and actions of Yeshua, so stay with me. First a look at the word ‘moed:’
מועדה / מעד / מועד : mô‛êd / mô‛êd / mô‛âdâh
1) appointed place, appointed time, meeting
1a) appointed time
1a1) appointed time (general)
1a2) sacred season, set feast, appointed season
1b) appointed meeting
1c) appointed place
1d) appointed sign or signal
1e) tent of meeting
Please notice, the Hebrew word used here has ZERO connection with the equinoxes, or solstices. It does generally have a connection with the ‘seasons’ as we know them in Western culture, but that is not even close to the primary meaning of the word.
The definition, as given from Brown-Driver-Briggs is clear. The word ‘moed’ has to do with appointed times, appointed places and sacred assemblies!
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
4 These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. Leviticus 23:1-4
Did you catch that? The word ‘moed’ is used FOUR times in those four verses!! The KJV doesn’t really make it clear, but there is a distinct connection with the Second Coming of Messiah. If you want to ‘find’ the four uses, hit the link above to the reference and three versions are laid side-by-side for comparison. Only the OJB really spells it out for you, therefore, even when reading the ‘slightly clearer’ NASB, the whole connection between ‘sign,’ ‘season,’ and Genesis 1:14 can be lost on us.
To be clear, the Feasts of Yahweh, the Moedim, are the ‘seasons’ spoken of by the Father in Genesis 1:14.
The Hebrews were given seven feasts that were to be observed in the annual cycle according to the timing realized from observing the new moon and the abib barley in the Spring (which involves the sun). Each of the Feasts began on a precise day at sundown… each of the Feasts except one. The one that ‘no one knew the day or hour’ of. Before we broach that, let’s consider a statement I made early on.
I said, ‘we need to understand that Yahweh has a very precise plan and timing!!’ He states so when, ‘in the beginning’ He lays out the ‘signs’ and ‘seasons’ then we see Yeshua haMashaich fulfill the first three Feasts on the day of their happening after the Hebrews had been rehearsing them for 1500 years!! Then the Ruach haKodesh (set-apart Spirit) falls on the fourth of the annual festivals, the day of the giving of the Torah, Shavu’ot. Each Feast fulfilled in succession, exactly as pictured and perfectly according to the Creator’s plan.
[A quick aside to ponder: For Yeshua to be raised after ‘three days and three nights‘ just as He prophesied and was previously pictured in Jonah, AND do it at the end of the Sabbath, of which He is Lord, the sequence of events for His passion had to happen on a precise year. ‘Any year’ would NOT work. Think about that!]
Each of those Feasts was an ‘appointed time,’ a mo’ed. Think the last three are any different? The disciples had not yet figured it out, because He had not yet been nailed to the tree, but I can fully guarantee that by Shavu’ot/Pentecost, they had!! In fact, roughly 30 years later, Rav Shaul said,
Therefore no one is to [a]act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath [b]day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the [c]substance [d]belongs to Christ. Colossians 2:16-17
They understood that the Fall Feasts, associated with the late harvest have a specific picture purpose!
What are the Fall Feasts and what is their relationship with the Second Coming?
Yeshua has to come back, pass judgment on the wicked, dwell for the millennium, then on to the New Heaven and New Earth, spoken of in Revelation.
In order, the Fall Feasts are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement or Judgment), and Sukkot (the ‘Feast of Tabernacles,’ or the ‘Great Feast.’) We’ll not look at the last two as they relate to our original question, but you can clearly see the sequence in any basic eschatological study.
At question is, ‘what is the sign of Your coming?’
With the basic background we have just gathered, let us look at how He answers and compare it to the next unfulfilled Feast/Mo’ed/appointed time. The Feast of Rosh Hashanah, or ‘Day of Trumpets’ or, literally, ‘head of the year.’
After some general warnings, He begins to answer the question by giving a specific marker that tells us when to be paying special attention:
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
Simply, the anti-messiah will be on the stage and clearly recognizable. [For those hoping for a “pretribulation rapture,” I have bad news. There ain’t no such thing! The saints have NEVER been taken out judgment’s way, they have always been protected IN the judgment. Just ask Noah, the children of Israel during the plagues, etc… The first half of this thing is the wrath of hasatan, the adversary, NOT the judgment of God. He will protect His own when He starts judging. Prior to that, be prepared for persecution and sacrifice. Period.]
But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from [a]the sky, and the powers of [b]the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His [c]elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Notice a couple pieces… Early in this post we talked briefly about ‘signs.’ Well, this is the part where Yeshua is quoting the prophet Joel concerning ‘signs:’
“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31 “The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of YAHWEH
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the Lord has said,
Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
Specifically, we have mention of ‘blood moons’ and eclipses (the sun being turned into darkness). These deserve their own extended post, but I have given them a short treatment here. For our purposes, it is interesting to note that there will not be another blood moon tetrad for about 100 years…. The previous four such groups of blood moons were monumental in the history of the Jews. See that post for some info.
Notice also the ‘Great Trumpet.‘ While that is not definitive, it is a hint. We’ll see this more clearly defined in a minute.
A little further along in Yeshua’s discourse, He gives more details about ‘that day:’
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For [a]the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
Leviticus 23:23-25 gives the simple instructions for this day’s observance. In them are a couple clues:
Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a [a]rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.’
Two key points for our discussion are, ‘first day of the month’ and ‘blowing trumpets.’
The reason the ‘first day of the month’ is a key point is because this is the only Feast (season : Mo’ed) that falls on the first day of the month. Because Yahweh gave Israel a calendar whose month begins with the conjunction of the new moon, the first day could be roughly calculated, but not precisely known until two witnesses from the Temple Mount confirmed the sighting of the sliver of the new moon. Therefore, this Feast, Rosh Hashanah became known as the one that ‘no man knows the day or the hour.‘ That is why Rosh Hashanah is also called Yom HaKesch, or Hidden Day. See? That is a Hebrew idiom that Western thinking (and lack of Hebraic understanding) twists into a false theology concerning the Messiah’s return. There is more.
Earlier Yeshua told His disciples that the sign would include a ‘great trumpet.’ And, Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Trumpets, Yom Teruah, the day for sounding the shofar. There is more.
This Feast day, unlike the others, has many names… Consider some of these:
Ha Melech – The King. Psalm 47:5-9 says,
God has ascended [a]with a shout,
The Lord, [b]with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with a [c]skillful psalm.
8 God reigns over the nations,
God [d]sits on His holy throne.
9 The [e]princes of the people have assembled themselves as the people of the God of Abraham,
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He [f]is highly exalted.
Jewish rabbis going back to before the coming of Yeshua knew that rosh Hashanah was the Day of Coronation, another name for this day.
Day of Resurrection! The Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 16b indicates the sages understood Isaiah 18:3 to say that the dead would rise at the last trumpet. Any mystery Rav Sha’ul said,
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised [a]imperishable, and we will be changed. I Cor. 15:51-52
Further, he says,
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep [a]in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [b]and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a [c]shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive [d]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
[Aside: Do not take the previous verses out of context. Rav Sha’ul does NOT finish his discussion on the matter until I Thes. 5:10. He connects the trumpet and the resurrection with ‘the Day of the Lord’ which is the same Day Joel was talking about in the earlier quote. Simply, this all happens at or very near the END of the Great Tribulation, per Yeshua’s words in Matthew 24:21 & 29!!]
Remember, our original question was, ‘what will be the sign of Your coming?’
There is more Scripture to support this, but I think we have enough to conclude that Rosh Hashanah, the next unfulfilled Feast in the sequence, is the day of His return.
Interestingly, the Jews of today, precede this Feast with 30 days of repentance as they prepare for the coming of the King. Because Christendom has rejected the ‘Feasts of the Lord,’ they are ignorance and unstable in their understanding of many aspects of Theology, not the least of which is expectations regarding His Second Coming.
Isn’t it time we embrace and accept ALL of Scripture instead of just the parts Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church wanted us to accept? (Read much more on this blog or visit our Resources page for other places to understand what I just said… )
Shana Tova!! Happy New Year!!