Are Messiah’s Footprints in Sands of our Time?

“…who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her?  For who is like me? And who will appoint me the time? And who is that shepherd that will stand before me?” (Jer. 50: 44).

Interest in the coming of Messiah is on the rise. A gathering recently, held by the Interfaith Encounter Association in Israel, had for their theme, “The Messiah” from the perspectives of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Controversy swirls around the mystery of Messiah’s coming, and questions are asked: “Who is He? What will He do? And when will He do it?”

In studying for this article, I found Jewish insights, exemplifying again the truth of Deuteronomy 4:6, “…for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

Six million of these were marched to their death by the Nazi regime in World War II. A song from their daily prayers spread through the camps and was chanted by thousands. It asserted faith in the coming of Messiah when the world will be redeemed from evil. The haunting melody is a blend of resignation and triumphant faith:

Anachnu Mamenim –“We believe, we believe, we believe with perfect faith, with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah! And though he tarry, nonetheless so we believe, nonetheless do we believe.”

Regarding Messiah, the Jewish sage Radak wrote: “He will be accepted by all and will have no need to proclaim his judgments loudly or demonstrate His power.”

The famous sage, Maimonides, wisely cautioned in his writings concerning Messianic speculation:  “There are some sages who say that Elijah’s coming will precede the coming of the Messiah.  All these and similar matters a person cannot know how they will happen until they happen, for these matters are undefined in the words of the prophets.  Moreover, even the sages have no established tradition regarding these matters, but only their interpretations of the verses.  There is therefore disagreement among them concerning these matters” [Mishneh Torah, the Laws of Kings, chapter 12:2].

Traditional portrait of Maimonides from Ugolinus' Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum, Venice, 1744. (Encyclopedia Judaica)

Maimonides went on to say:  “Neither the order of the occurrence of these events nor their precise detail are among the fundamental principles of the faith. . . Similarly, one should not try to determine the appointed time for the Messiah’s coming. . . Rather, one should await and believe….”

When this came from a man who lived in Medieval times (1135-1204) I wonder why so many of our Christians theologians today can’t learn it!

In 1933, the year the Nazis came to power in Germany, a beloved Jewish sage, Chofetz Chaim, passed away. He had said, ‘We are in the final stage of the exile and very close to the messianic age of peace, unity, and enlightenment.’

But he cautioned: ‘Let the reader not be misled by my saying we have reached the end of days [nor] the exact moment of final redemption. That time is surely hidden from us until the light of the Messiah’s salvation is revealed. Generally, however, we can surely say we are in the period of “the birth pangs of the Messiah” ! the birth pangs of redemption. . . We have no way of knowing how long this era will last. . . .’ (from The Chofetz Chaim Looks At Eternity).

We believers from the nations who are called Christians can learn from our brother Judah that it is not wise to set times and dates of the Messiah’s arrival nor to try to set dates for any of the prophetic events. We have often warned in this publication to avoid seeking ‘teachers for our itching ears’ (James 1:22) who spell out in outline form prophetic events, “This, this, and then this ….”and historically, these are proven wrong.  We are often so guilty of the adage: Too heavenly minded for any earthly good. It should be enough to know we are in the ‘times and seasons’ before His coming to reign.

Word from Jerusalem for our day recommends: Our focus during this difficult period of “birth pangs” should be on Torah study, prayer, and good deeds that lead to love and unity.  We should also strive to avoid words and deeds that lead to strife and disunity, especially now, when there is so much suffering and danger. [And quotes Deut. 29:81] “The hidden things belong to HaShem, our G-d, but that which has been revealed is ours and our children’s forever: to fulfill all the words of this Torah.” (Root and Branch)

This admonition concerning the way we treat one another brings to mind words of the poet S.Y. Agnon on Messiah. His parable concerns talking during a synagogue service, which is disturbing to others.

Once a Brit Mila (circumcision ceremony) came up in our town. And it was still the practice to circumcise in the synagogue. Old Prophet Elijah, whom the Blessed Holy One had told: “By your life, the Jews aren’t making any circumcisions unless you’re there to see it with your own eyes,” hurried to show up.

It so happened that they were late in bringing the baby. In order that the people shouldn’t fall to talking in the synagogue, they recited the “Thirteen I Believes” before the “Alenu,” unlike ordinary days, when they say the “I believes” after “Alenu.”

Just as Elijah was entering the synagogue, they were up to “I believe in the coming of the Messiah.” In a pitch of exaltation the entire congregation said as one man “and even if he tarry I will await his coming every day.”

Old Prophet Elijah saw this and said, “I will go and tell our True Messiah.”

After the circumcision Elijah took four swoops and was with our True Messiah at the gates of Rome, where he sits fettered in iron chains bandaging and unbandaging his sores.

Elijah said to Messiah, “Our True Messiah, if you could only see how the community of Buczacz is waiting for you and looking forward to you, you would throw off those chains and hurry to redeem them.” The Messiah heard this and said, “I will go and see for myself.” He covered his sores with his chains and covered his chains with his tatters and set out for our town.

On the way, he happened into a certain place when it was time for the Minha Afternoon Service. He went into one of the synagogues to pray.

He found the cantor repeating the service aloud. Our True Messiah wanted to hear where the cantor was, but he was unable to hear because of the people who talk at prayer. Our True Messiah rattled his chains in anguish. But the sound of the chains could not be heard because of the conversation of those who talk during services.

Our True Messiah turned his face from them and from that synagogue and from that town and returned to the gates of Rome.

And he is still sitting fettered in iron chains bandaging and unbandaging his sores. And we sit with our sores waiting for him to come.

(Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Kohn)

The Hebrew word, Chesed is interpreted to mean love expressed in deeds which are the way to the Kingdom of Messiah.

While much Christian media – public and private – are consuming most of their air time in discussions (and judging one another) on what will be in the future (Example: “Are you Pre-, Post- or Mid-Trib”?)  we are missing the clear Bible plans for our private lives and responsibilities now. Witness: the divorce rate! While we are romancing the world, we’re overlooking “the girl next door”. The fact that we are our brother’s keeper is an ancient truth that needs resurrecting.

And while the news is obsessed with political circuses, we are doing very little or nothing about our full-time jobs, i.e., our personal daily responsibilities over which we do have some control. We are obsessed with trying to control that which is beyond our control (like the order of future events) and forget the words of our Lord who said, “Inasmuch as you have done [or NOT done] it to the least of these MY BROTHERS [That’s Judah!] you have [or have not] done it unto ME.” (Matthew 25:31-46). That’s how much He cares!

These are footprints of Messiah in the sands of our time that are not only dim, but often not there at all!

Is the timing of His coming linked with our acts now that are performed in the Spirit of Messiah? And what is that spirit?

Unequivocally, it is LOVE. We all have the capacity to show love. We need to let go of those things we can’t control, and focus on what we can DO in love.

By this can we delay or hasten His coming? What did He mean when He said, “When the Son of man comes shall he find faith on the earth”? It seems to me the answer is in the following verse, “He spoke this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Luke 18:8,9). And the Apostle James makes it clear in chapter 2 of his book: “…know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead” (V.20).

Confusion comes from the doctrine of “going to heaven by works.” A popular minister of the previous era of church history, James H. Spurgeon, said, “No one is going to heaven by works but no one is going to heaven without works.”

Confusion also comes with mixing the Kingdom on Earth with “heaven”. Our place in the Kingdom is determined by our walk with Him now – not whether we get to heaven or not.

Let’s delve a little more into the answers of those question asked at the beginning of this article: Who is He? What will He do? And when will He do it?

Please read Psalm 2 which is one of many scriptures that gives strong hints of answers to these questions: At a time when the nations are raging over right and wrong. A time when there is great enmity against His anointed; against what the world perceives as bands and cords on human rights and wants to break and cast them aside. Not having a clue to the true understanding – that these are His laws of love to promote a life style of happiness and prosperity.

At the time of this writing the rage is striking hard at God’s purposes for, the sanctity of sex life; and it is rocking the boat of human reason.

The “bands and cords” of God’s love and compassion are given to save us from certain pits of destruction. But we are responsible for choosing or rejecting them. Are we listening?

From Psalm 2 we learn Messiah is God’s special King and Son and that nations are admonished to “kiss” Him. Kiss? Kisses are for those we love. And true love is based on respect. I cannot speak for you, but in the many years of my life, I’ve found the Lord to be faithful to His Word that has given me much love and happiness. Therefore, I can fully respect and love Him. He has never disappointed me, though many of those who claim to follow Him have done so – and though I, also, have many times disappointed them. It’s time to take a reality check of ourselves.   -

Please watch for an announcement of a new book: Judah, You are Not Alone, I am Joseph Your Brother.