As we share the gospel in Israel, we are certainly met with much opposition. That is to be expected. Anywhere the gospel is breaking through to new people, there will be spiritual opposition. That’s a biblical principle: more evangelism, more persecution. I am happy to say that our people are more open to the gospel than ever before. More Israelis are having supernatural revelations that Yeshua is the Messiah.
One of the guiding verses of our ministry and motivation of our lives is the verse, Romans 11:26, “All Israel will be saved.” So while we may encounter difficulty, we know that we are “doomed to success.” The promised revival for our people will come in several stages, from small to big. The Bible speaks of three basic levels:
A few – At first there is a great effort at evangelism even though a relatively small number come to the Lord. Paul said that one of the effects of a glorified Church among the Gentiles is that it might attract Jewish people and, Romans 11:17, “save some of them.” He said of himself, as a Messianic Jew, that he would do everything to conform himself culturally to the customs of our people (I Corinthians 9:20-22) in order to, “by all means save some.” This is the period we are in now.
Many – The Bible then states that during the end-times’ tribulation, many Israelis will come to the Lord. That is the period yet before us. Revelation 7:4 refers to the number of Israelis coming to the Lord during the tribulation as “One hundred and forty-four thousand (144,000) of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.”
All – Toward the end of the tribulation, right before the Second Coming of Yeshua, that revival will spread to the whole nation, so that, “All Israel will be saved.” That final revival, affecting the entire nation, may come at the end of such terrible wars and tribulations that two thirds of the nation will be killed. Then the entire remnant of the one third surviving will turn to the Lord (Zechariah 13:9).
These three general stages (some – many – all) are connected one to another. There will not be a full national turning preceding the Second Coming unless there is a major remnant saved and sharing their faith during the tribulation time. And there will not be a major tribulation remnant if we are not “doing all to save some” during the present time. That is the mandate from the Lord that presses us forward.
The Hebraic roots of the word “Tribulation” come from the word “tsara” found in two prophecies in the Tenach (Old Testament). The first is found in Jeremiah 30:7, “And it will be a time of trouble (tribulation) to Jacob, and he will be saved out of it.” What strikes me so powerfully in this verse is that the promise of national salvation for Israel comes during the time of tribulation! That’s when the great revival in Israel will take place.
The second verse of the root of the word “Tribulation” is found in Daniel 12:1, “There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation…and at that time your people shall be delivered.” There it is again. During the end-time tribulation, the great revival in Israel will take place. (By the way, the word here for “delivered” is “yimalet,” the same word found in Joel 2, and quoted in Acts 2, referring to the Pentecost revival, which is to happen “before the great and terrible day of the Lord.” There will be a second Pentecost, at the end of the tribulation, before the Second Coming, in which the nation of Israel will turn to the Lord.)
Zechariah chapters 12, 13, and 14 speak of this same sequence concerning Jerusalem. As we look at the first few verses of each of those chapters, we see an interesting pattern.
Zechariah 12: Jerusalem becomes a point of international controversy.
Zechariah 13: A spiritual fountain of forgiveness and cleansing is opened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Zechariah 14: The nations of the world attack Jerusalem at the Second Coming of Yeshua.
It doesn’t take a prophet to recognize that Jerusalem has already become the most controversial political issue in the international arena. The fountain of revival is just beginning.
During the midst of the Zechariah sequence, we find that beautiful passage, verse 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.” The word for “on” in this verse may be mistranslated. To look “on Me” would be “alay,” while in this case it is “eilay,” which might better be translated as “look to Me.” There might be a dual meaning here prophetically, meaning both to see Yeshua when He returns, but also to turn toward him as the Messiah in the period right before He returns.
Some have noticed that I believe that the rapture is at the end of the tribulation at the Second Coming, not seven years before the Second Coming at the beginning of the tribulation. Well, anyone can argue about end-times’ prophecies. In many ways, my point has more to do with evangelism than with eschatology. My heart burns so that all Israel might be saved. I am here to see revival, not rapture – to win souls, not to escape conflict. Persecution or tribulation makes no difference. We are willing to pay any price to see the gospel preached to the ends of the world and Yeshua return to set up His kingdom. (Paul said he would even be willing to be damned, if it were possible, to see his people saved – Romans 9:3.)
The end times will be a period of great revival. We have nothing to be afraid of. We will be sealed by the Holy Spirit and protected from all harm (Rev. 7:3). There will be a double harvest in the end times. In Rev. 14:14-16 we see an angel proclaiming a mighty harvest that is ripe upon the earth. This is a good harvest. This is the harvest of millions of souls who will come to the Lord in the end times. In Rev. 14:17-20 we see a second great harvest in which the grapes of wrath are destroyed. This is the harvest of punishment for the wicked. Both of these harvests happen at the same time.
The tribulations of the end times are the culmination of the conflict between the forces of good and evil. Part of the tribulation will be the persecution of the saints by demonic forces. The other part of the tribulation will be the punishment of sinners by the hand of God. These two forces overlap and explode in those final conflicts.
The persecution of the saints, caused by the devil, is designed to stop world revival and evangelism. The punishment of God against sinners is designed by God to bring them to repentance and revival (Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9,11). That is the most important time for the saints of God to be involved in praying and preaching. Angelic hosts have been waiting and preparing for that time and that hour.
Concerning the salvation of Israel, I see a prophetic foreshadow in the story of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt. There were seven years of plenty; then there were seven years of famine. It was during the seven years of famine that Joseph’s brothers recognized who he was. That is a foreshadowing of the Jewish people realizing that Yeshua is the Messiah in the end times. It is interesting to note that this revelation takes place during the seven years of famine. I believe that in the near future, God will bring Israel supernaturally to a position of world influence and financial prosperity. During that time the Orthodox Jews will proclaim someone to be the Messiah. After that seven-year period of prosperity, there will be a horrible time of tribulation. But in that time of trouble, the eyes of the nation will be open to see Yeshua as their lost brother and Lord.
One last note: In mystical circles of rabbinic Judaism there is the idea of “ikvot hamashiach,” the footsteps of the Messiah. That expression refers to a time of crisis and disaster in which the coming of the Messiah will be so close that His footsteps can be heard.