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2.13.2 - Jewish Rabbinical Thought

Because this future time of trouble is so clearly portrayed in many OT passages, it should come as no surprise that the Jewish rabbis understood the world would be subjected to cataclysmic events before Messiah would come.1 “According to the Babylonian Talmud, ‘The advent of the Messiah was pictured as being preceded by years of great distress.’ ”2

The idea became entrenched that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by greatly increased suffering, . . . the pangs of the Messianic times are imagined as having heavenly as well as earthly sources and expressions. From Above, awesome cosmic cataclysms will be visited upon the earth: . . . These will be paralleled by evils brought by men upon themselves: . . . This will last seven years. And then, unexpectedly, the Messiah will come. [emphasis added]3

The Babylonian Talmud states, “Our Rabbis taught: In the seven-year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come . . . at the conclusion of the septennate, the son of David will come” (Sanhedrin, 97a, p. 654). [The word septennate refers to a period of seven years.]4

Another Jewish source known as the Bereshit Rabbah states: If you shall see the kingdoms rising against each other in turn, then give heed and note the footsteps of the Messiah (XLII:4).5

Where did the rabbis get such ideas? From the Word of God when normally interpreted as the small sample of passages we have given above demonstrates!

Notes

1 Christians recognize that Messiah comes twice and that the cataclysm is associated with His second coming. Judaism “missed” Messiah at His First Coming and so interprets Second Coming passages as preceding His initial arrival.

2 The Babylonian Talmud (London: Soncino Press, 1935), Shabbath, 118a, cited in Renald E. Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995), 21.

3 Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts (Detroit, MI: Wayne Statue University Press, 1979), 95-96.

4 Renald E. Showers, The Pre-Wrath Rapture View (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 14.

5 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 634.


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