Jerusalem's 40 Years of Grace
Issue No. 227
In Ezekiel 4 the prophet was told to intercede for Israel and Judah according to specific time cycles for each nation. God told him first to lie on his left side for 390 days for the house of Israel—the northern tribes that had been taken into the Assyrian captivity a century earlier.
Then he was to lie on his right side for 40 days for Judah and Jerusalem, as we read in Ezekiel 4:6 and 7,
6 When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. 7 Then you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared, and prophesy against it.
This prophetic intercession assigned a 40-year time of grace to Judah, leading to the siege of Jerusalem. There was not enough time in Ezekiel’s day to give the city a 40-year grace period, but it did establish a 40-year grace period in the next great siege by Rome during the first century A.D.
In that time, Jesus was baptized on the Day of Atonement in September of 29 A.D. Yet Jesus could not fully begin His ministry (as High Priest) until John had been executed, because John was God’s priest in the earth at that time.
Many of the people recognized John and his calling as the messenger who actually bore witness to the Messiah. However, neither Herod, nor Pilate, nor the priests of the day recognized John as the true high priest, for he did not occupy the official office in the temple.
It does not matter ultimately who men recognize. It only matters who God recognizes. And so when it came time for Jesus’ ministry to begin, He went to John for baptism. He did not go to the temple to seek recognition from the recognized high priest there.
John died the following Passover in April of 30 A.D. at the hand of King Herod. Matthew 14:12 tells us that John’s disciples buried him and then went to report this to Jesus (vs. 12). Jesus then went across the lake, fed the 5,000, and then went into the mountain to pray, while sending the disciples back across the lake in a storm.
During the middle of the storm, He walked to them on the water.
This tells us the timing of John’s execution. He was executed just before Jesus fed the 5,000 and walked on the water. John 6:4 tells us that these events took place at the time of Passover. John 6:9 also tells us that He fed the multitude with five barley loaves. This detail is important because the people were not allowed to harvest barley until the wave-sheaf offering had been offered in the temple on the first Sunday after Passover.
So John died at Passover, and Jesus fed the multitude on the day of the wave-sheaf offering shortly afterward.
It is important to establish timing in order to see the prophetic significance of these events. The rejection of John and his message (by the leaders) established the pattern for the rejection of Jesus three years later at Passover of 33 A.D.
Forty years from these two great events brings us to Passover of 70 A.D., and Passover of 73 A.D. At Passover of 70 A.D., the Roman General, Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian, began the siege of Jerusalem. Josephus tells us in Wars of the Jews, V, xiii, 8 that in the siege the number of casualties totaled . . .
“no fewer than a hundred and fifteen thousand eight hundred and eighty dead bodies, in the interval between the fourteenth day of the month Xanthicus, or Nisan, when the Romans pitched their camp by the city, and the first day of the month Panemus, or Tamuz.”
In other words, the Romans began their siege of the city of Jerusalem precisely 40 years after Herod executed John the Baptist. It was Passover of 70 A.D.
Three years later, at Passover of 73 A.D.—precisely forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus—the Romans took Masada, the last stronghold of the rebellion. This ended the great revolt. Josephus dates this by telling us in Wars of the Jews, VII, ix, 1,
“This calamitous slaughter was made on the fifteenth day of the month Xanthicus, or Nisan.”
Actually, the defenders of Masada committed suicide on the night of Nisan 14/15, which was Passover, marking the time of the Lord passing over Egypt to kill all the first-born sons of Egypt. This time, however, it was the people of Masada who were the “Egyptians.” Historians know them as Sicarii, taken from the word “dagger,” because they were assassins. Obviously, they believed strongly enough in their cause to be suicidal as well. If they had had gunpowder in those days, they would have been suicide bombers, and we would now call them “terrorists.”
So the great revolt against Rome ended at Passover of 73 A.D. precisely 40 years after the great revolt against the Messiah in 33 A.D. What began with a plot against the first-born Son of God ended with the death of the Sicarii representing the first-born of the unbelievers in Egypt.
The precision of these dates show us that God had given Jerusalem and Judah a forty-year period of grace in which to repent of its rejection of the Messiah and His forerunner. Their refusal to do so, along with their refusal to submit to the Iron Kingdom phase of the Babylonian captivity, finally resulted in the utter destruction of the city, the nation, and most of the population who followed their leaders blindly into destruction.
Jerusalem’s 40 Years: 1967-2007
Back in the 1980’s a man caused a great stir with a book giving 88 reasons why Christ was going to return in the year 1988. At the forefront of his thesis, of course, was the fact that 1988 was 40 years after 1948, when the Israeli state was established.
I’m sure there are some who now think that Christ will come in 2007, since this is 40 years after the Israelis took control of Jerusalem during the so-called “Six-Day War” (June 5-10, 1967). Don’t expect this to happen, but it is certainly an important milestone in the history of the Israeli state.
The 40-year periods in the first century gave the Jews time to repent for usurping the Scepter given to Judah (Gen. 49:10). Jesus was the rightful Heir of the Scepter, but the religious leaders of the people staged a coup against Him. As you probably recall, their revolt followed the script that Absalom used when he usurped the throne from his father David.
The conflict in the 20th century, however, is a conflict over the Birthright of Joseph. The Birthright is essentially the divine right and authority to bring forth the Manchild and to fulfill the Fruitfulness Mandate of Gen. 1:28. That is why Jacob blessed Joseph, saying, “Joseph is a fruitful son [Heb. ben]. The sons of God cannot be manifested until this conflict has been resolved.
As long as the Jewish state calls itself “Israel,” which is the Birthright name, it shows that they are still disputing with Jesus Christ over the right to hold the Birthright. We read in 1 Chron. 5:2 that “the Birthright was Joseph’s,” and never did belong to Judah, Levi, or even Benjamin. The Jews have never claimed to be from Joseph, and yet they decided to take the name Israel, so that they might usurp not only the Scepter but also the Birthright from its rightful Heir, Jesus Christ.
The day is coming, however, when Christ will return with his robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13), identifying Him with Joseph, the Heir of the Birthright. It will also identify Him with the second dove (Lev. 14:6, 7), which was dipped in blood and let loose into the open field. (The field is the world—Matt. 13:38.)
It is the second coming of Christ, in whatever form that takes, which will ultimately resolve this conflict. We know this from the story of David and Absalom, for the conflict in that story was resolved by the second coming of David, when he returned to take back his throne.
It appears now that the Israeli state has been given another set of 40-year grace periods: the first from 1948, and the second from 1967. The first ended in 1988, and the second is now about to end this month in 2007. Though I do not expect to see Christ’s return this month, nor do I expect to see the immediate manifestation of the sons of God, even so, we are coming to the end of a major grace period for the Israeli state. Unless they repent quickly, I cannot see how they can avoid another disaster.
What Must They do to Repent?
The simple answer is that the Israeli people and their government must repent of their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. They must admit that they crucified Him, and stop blaming the Romans, and thereby agree with the law, which mandated that the Aaronic priests perform the sacrifices for sin. Jesus was the Sacrifice for sin, and therefore could be sacrificed only at the hands of these priests. Otherwise, the law would have been broken.
They must repent of following the ways of Absalom in usurping the throne from King David. They must repent of usurping the Birthright from Joseph and calling themselves Israel, as if they were the heirs of Joseph. And, of course, they must recognize Jesus as the rightful Heir of both the Scepter and the Birthright in His two manifestations on earth, as prophesied in the law.
Changing the name from Israel to virtually any other name would symbolize their heart-felt repentance and demonstrate to the world that they are ready to speak the truth about the identity of true Israel.
This will be resolved either the easy way or the hard way. I suggest doing it the easy way in order to avoid another great disaster. It seems to me that biblical prophecies in Isaiah 29, Jeremiah 19, and Matthew 21 indicate that such repentance will not happen prior to the disaster. I challenge the Israelis to prove me wrong. Nothing would make me happier than to see them repent, accept Jesus as Messiah, and thus change the manner in which those prophecies would be fulfilled.
The Birthright: Bearing Fruit
The law in Exodus 12:3 says that the people were to select a lamb for Passover on the tenth day of the first month. Forty years later, this was also the day that Israel crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan (Josh. 4:19).
There is a parallel here. Even as the Passover lambs were inspected 4 days, so also Israel as a nation was inspected (and tested) 40 years. When principles for individuals are applied on a national scale, the time cycle is often multiplied by a factor of ten. In addition, these often move from days to years.
Jesus was also selected as the Lamb on the tenth day of the month just before His crucifixion. This is made clear in the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 11:1-11 we read of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday.” Then verses 12-14 tell us,
12 And on the next day, when they had departed from Bethany, He became hungry. 13 And seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And He answered and said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.
Jesus cursed the fig tree on Monday. That same day, He cast the money changers out of the temple (Mark 11:15-17). Then verse 18 shows us that the chief priests selected Jesus as the lamb.
18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard this and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all the multitude was astonished at His teaching.
So the people themselves demonstrated on Palm Sunday (Nisan 9) that they wanted Jesus to be proclaimed Messiah. The chief priests rejected this popular acclaim and ironically chose Him to be the Passover Lamb on Nisan 10. In doing so, they inadvertently proclaimed Him as the Messiah, not understanding prophecies of Passover.
Of course, the following Friday, Nisan 14, April 3, 33 A.D., Jesus was crucified and died just as the darkness ended at 3:01 p.m. At that moment also, the moon began to eclipse over Europe, and was already eclipsed when it rose over the horizon over Jerusalem on that day at 5:10 p.m. I showed this in my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.
Getting back to the cursing of the fig tree, we noted that Jesus cursed the fig tree on Monday. The fig tree was dead by the following morning (Tuesday), as verse 20 says,
20 And as they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.
Most prophecy teachers today find that to maintain their incorrect views, they cannot believe that Jesus really meant what He said in verse 14, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” Most of them do know that the fig tree represented the nation of Judah, but they think that the Israeli state will someday bear fruit.
They cite Matt. 24:32, 33,
32 Now learn the parable from the fig tree; when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
Such prophecy teachers are correct in identifying this as a reference to the present Israeli state. But they are blind to the simple fact that this revived “fig tree” can only put forth more leaves. It cannot bear fruit, because Jesus said it cannot. Someday those prophecy teachers will have to eat leaves, which taste a lot like crow.
Since the Jews can never establish a “fig tree” state that will bear fruit, it can never fulfill the terms of Joseph’s Birthright. The reality of the situation is that they have taken upon themselves the Birthright responsibility to bring forth fruit on a national scale—and this “calling” will become a curse to them. They are trying to fulfill a calling that is not theirs and that they are incapable of fulfilling. The Church has not done them a favor by supporting them in the role of Judas.
The Sign of Unfruitfulness
On the same day that Jesus cursed the fig tree, He also overturned the tables (records) of the moneychangers. These two actions are directly linked. The fruitless fig tree was made apparent by the carnal activity in the temple. Verse 17 reads,
17 And He began to teach and say to them, ‘Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a robbers’ den.’
Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 56:7, where the prophet was proclaiming the international purpose for the temple. Isaiah said in 56:3-6 tells us that any foreigner who had a desire for a covenant relationship with God could come and worship in this temple, and their sacrifices would be acceptable to God. In fact, they would be given “a name BETTER than that of sons and daughters” (vs. 5).
That sounds like quite an honor. But instead, the rabbis had become stingy with the divine blessings that the nation had been called to dispense to the nations. They thought they were better than other people, and so in the second temple they built a wall of separation to keep foreigners at a farther distance from God.
There was no biblical command to build such a wall. It was purely a tradition of men, which Christ destroyed (Eph. 2:14). One cannot retain such a wall and still fulfill the responsibilities of the Birthright to be a blessing to all families of the earth.
Thus, the unfruitful fig tree was matched by the unfruitful temple, whose original purpose had been perverted by the chief priests.
Secondly, Jesus said that they had turned the temple into a “robbers’ den.” A robbers’ den is a place where lawbreakers hide from the law. It is a place where people can break the law with immunity. Jesus was quoting Jeremiah 7:11,
11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight?
God’s judgment upon that first temple should not be viewed as an anomaly, but as a revelation of the mind of a changeless God and legal precedent. Verses 14 and 15,
14 Therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.
In other words, the judgment of the law for turning the house of God into a robbers’ den is destruction and disenfranchisement, or being cast out of the land. This is what happened in 586 B.C. in the days of Jeremiah. It happened again in 70 A.D. for the same reason. It will yet happen again in our day for the same reason.
The reason is this: The leaders of Judaism have desired to be the Chosen People, but they remain unfruitful insofar as being a blessing to all families of the earth is concerned. Instead, they have established a Jewish State that is highly discriminatory again non-Jews and which uses force and violence against anyone who objects to their oppression.
This policy is now bringing the world to a crisis point. They have stirred the hatred of the nations directly affected by their land grabs, and now all the other nations are beginning to see that something is dreadfully wrong. At the present time, the Israeli state has only a few friends, and the popular support in those nations is dwindling.
It does not take a great education to see the trends that are taking place in this matter. Most people recognize this fact. The only debate left is whether God will bless us if we continue to support the radical Israeli policy of Palestinian expulsion and genocide? Will God curse us if we speak out against it? What would Jesus do? Does any Christian seriously believe that Jesus would support their mistreatment of non-Jews?
Unfortunately, there are many Christians who would insist that Jesus does support such sin. They justify such behavior on the grounds that God told Joshua to commit genocide against the Canaanites. They do not understand that if Israel had accepted the Sword of the Spirit at Sinai on that first Pentecost, they would have had the power to convert the Canaanites to God without killing them.
Genocide was never the perfect will of Jesus Christ. But since much of the Church does not understand this, they have been induced to support Jewish war policy, no matter how violent and unjust it is. Those who do this are playing the role of Judas on the world stage and need to repent before they hang themselves.
Thus, the Israeli state has now completed both of its allotted 40-year grace periods as of June 2007. They have claimed the Birthright of Joseph and the name (Israel) that was given to Joseph. But they have remained unfruitful and have not fulfilled the terms of the Birthright. Perhaps the time of judgment is now drawing near.