Understand the connection between the Old Testament and the end times, what to expect during the last days, and how to stand firm in Christ in the face of opposition. Rabbi K. A. Schneider decodes the Book of Revelation, showing how the end-time events prophesied in the New Testament book correspond with the teachings of the Torah and the Hebrew prophets. You will discover how the Passover foreshadows the great tribulation, and what the Hebrew prophets reveal about the anti-Messiah, Armageddon, hell, the return of the Messiah, the millennial kingdom, heaven, and much more. As the world grows darker and darker, many people have a sense of impending doom. This book will teach you what to expect during the last days and how to stand firm in Christ even in the face of opposition.
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About the Author
Rabbi K. A. Schneider is an international evangelist who serves as rabbi of Lion of Judah World Outreach Center. He is the host of the international television broadcast Discovering the Jewish Jesus (www.DiscoveringTheJewishJesus.com) and the author of Self-Deliverance, Do Not Be Afraid, and Awakening to Messiah. He and his wife, Cynthia, live in Ohio.
Read an Excerpt
The Book of Revelation Decoded
By Rabbi K. A. Schneider
Charisma House Book GroupCopyright © 2017 Rabbi Kirt Schneider
All rights reserved.
JACOB'S TROUBLE: FROM TURMOIL TO THE GREAT TRIBULATION
* * *
What's so special about Israel? Why so much fuss for thousands of years over such a tiny speck of land? And why has the existence of such a relatively small group of people in the earth caused so much conflict?
As a natural-born Jew I have asked myself these questions many times. Both my parents are Jewish, and I grew up in the Jewish suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, called Beachwood and Pepper Pike. Although Cleveland's Jewish population does not compare to that of New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami, it is still relatively large. In fact, Beachwood was almost 95 percent Jewish when my family lived there. So during my early years most of my friends, classmates, and neighbors were — you guessed it — Jewish.
That did not stop me from eventually realizing that I was different from others. As I grew older, I began experiencing more of the world beyond Beachwood. I noticed that at times Jewish people were seen or spoken to differently because of cultural stereotypes, and these views fueled an animosity toward Jews that has stoked the fires of anti-Semitism for thousands of years. Much of this hatred stems from the belief that because Scripture calls us God's "chosen people," we think of ourselves as special — and therefore better than others.
It is true, inherent in the Jewish identity is the sense that one is unique. But there is a major difference between uniqueness and superiority, and sadly this is where most Jewish people have been misunderstood for so long. As one who is fully Jewish yet, by nature of my belief in Yeshua as the Messiah, ostracized by my own people, I know that I am different. I am unique. I also know that none of this really has anything to do with me. And the same rings true for every Jewish person.
Whether you are a Jew or Gentile, it is critical to remember that God chose Israel. Israel did not choose God. In fact, history proves that time after time Israel rejected God and did everything it could to turn away from Him. And yet in His faithfulness He has not abandoned this chosen people. His covenant with the Jewish people is forever, and His love for them will never wane.
In the Book of D'varim (Deuteronomy) we find God pronouncing such faithful affection for His people while declaring their identity:
For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His special people, treasured above all peoples who are on the face of the earth.
— Deuteronomy 7:6
The prophet Amos reiterated that out "of all the families of the earth," the Lord singled out Israel (Amos 3:2). God calls the Jewish people the "apple of His eye" (Zech. 2:8). Is this because they did something special? Were they somehow holier and more worthy of His friendship than the rest of the world? No! It is simply because He chose them.
The question, then, is, why did He choose them? We find the answer to that question early in the first book of the Tanakh (Old Testament), when God announced His plans to birth Israel during a conversation with His beloved servant Abraham:
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country, your family, and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless them who bless you and curse him who curses you, and in you all families of the earth will be blessed."
— Genesis 12:1-3, emphasis added
Christians and Jews alike are familiar with this passage of Scripture and know it as the Abrahamic covenant. But too often we fail to realize that in it God was revealing His plan for all humanity, not just for Israel. From the very beginning God's plan was to bless the entire earth through Israel. This is absolutely crucial to understand, particularly as we begin to look at the Book of Revelation and the end times.
The Channel of God's Blessing
God's desire has always been for all people to enjoy what He originally created them for — perfect communion with Him — so they might live in the abundance of His blessings. Ever since humanity fell and brought sin into the earth, God has wanted to redeem His creation, and His means of doing this has always been through Israel. This is why He chose them. Again, there was nothing they did to warrant this selection; He picked them.
From the very birth of the Jewish people, God revealed His plan that through them He would bless the world. Long before Israel came to be, the Lord spoke a profound covenant promise to Abraham:
I will indeed bless you and I will indeed multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the gate of their enemies. Through your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.
— Genesis 22:17-18, emphasis added
God's plan of blessing and redemption culminated when He sent His only Son, Jesus, to save Israel. More than once Yeshua spoke of how He came first for the Jewish people. In Matthew 15:24 He told the Canaanite woman, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Earlier, when sending out His twelve disciples throughout Judea, He specifically instructed them, "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:5-6). And elsewhere Yeshua clearly told the Samaritan woman at the well that "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).
Why was Jesus so exclusive in pronouncing that He came for the Jewish people first? Because God had established a covenant that said He would bless all the nations of the world through the Jewish people! The Lord wanted to bless both Jew and Gentile. And the only way He could accomplish this for both, according to His own covenant, was to go through the Jewish people. He would not break that covenant.
Jesus was the very fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Despite Israel rejecting Him as the ultimate blessing from God, the Messiah's death and resurrection opened the way for "all the families of the earth [to] be blessed" (Acts 3:25). This is wonderful news for everyone; it is the good news of the gospel! But what I hope you can notice is that God did not stray from His plan to bless the earth through Israel, as was spoken to Abraham, and neither will He stray from this in the last days: his blessing comes through the channel of Israel.
That means Israel is intrinsically connected to the end times. In fact, Paul said Israel's salvation — the radical promise that "all Israel will be saved" — is a key component to the very clock by which the end times will play out (Rom. 11:25-26). God has appointed that for a time Israel will be partially hardened to the truth that Yeshua is its Messiah so that through their unbelief as many Gentiles as possible can have the opportunity to enter His kingdom (Rom. 11:11-12). Once again the world is blessed through Israel — even Israel's own unbelief in Yeshua HaMashiach!
We will discuss Israel's salvation more in a later chapter, but for now it is important to understand that Israel is not just a part of God's plan for the end times; Israel — as a people and a nation — is, in fact, at the center of Christ's return and the surrounding events. Israel has not lost its status as "the apple of [God's] eye." The Lord has not suddenly broken His covenant and changed His mind about His feelings for the Jewish people. On the contrary, He has woven them into the very fabric of His end-times plan for the earth to be redeemed. In fact, we find His promises for end-times Israel throughout the Tanakh and the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament), as we will discover more in this chapter and the coming chapters.
One of the most important of these promises, however, is not necessarily one of good news for Israel. Simply put, God promises trouble for Israel. Great trouble. Trouble so great that there has never been anything like it on earth before.
That doesn't sound too hopeful, now, does it? And yet this is the starting point for our look into decoding the Book of Revelation.
The Time of Jacob's Trouble
More than twenty-six hundred years ago the prophet Jeremiah issued the word of the Lord concerning Israel and the end times:
For thus says the Lord: I have heard a sound of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, can a male labor with child? Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! for that day is great, so that no one is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
— Jeremiah 30:5-7, emphasis added
At first glance you may wonder what these verses have to do with the end times. How is Jesus's return to earth related to a "man with his hands on his loins" (v. 6), acting as if he is giving birth? Those familiar with Jeremiah 30 know the entire chapter deals with God's promise to restore Israel following the Jewish people's exile into Babylonian captivity. But the term "Jacob's trouble" is also a prophetic term that Jeremiah used to describe the tribulation that the nation of Israel will go through in the last days. Jacob's name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with God, and his twelve sons became the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve tribes encountered great calamity when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, and then they were "saved out of" captivity, just as Jeremiah prophesied (v. 7).
But as is often the case with biblical prophecy, God's words have a twofold meaning and fulfillment in Jeremiah 30:5-7. In the same way Israel's days were "great" with trouble during its Babylonian captivity (v. 7), Israel will once again encounter great trouble in the last days. We know this because what Jeremiah referred to as "that day" is actually a shadow of Jesus's Second Coming. In fact, Paul used the same phrase more than six hundred years later to describe "when [Jesus] comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at by all those who believe" (2 Thess. 1:10, emphasis added).
The day of the Lord's return is both a single day and a season surrounding that single day, and the Bible consistently paints it as a difficult time to be alive. If we think fear is running rampant today, we haven't seen anything yet! In fact, Jeremiah 30:5-7 essentially says that the "time of Jacob's trouble" will be so terrible that men will, as the prophet describes in verse 6, act like women in labor, grab their stomachs, and go to the bathroom in their pants! Grown men unable to control their bladders because they are so petrified? Now that's a terrible day!
The prophet Daniel, one of Jeremiah's contemporaries, reiterated how tumultuous this season will be in Daniel 12:1:
And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book.
Like Jeremiah, Daniel spoke of a day of coming trouble unmatched by any other time in history. Regardless of what atrocities human history has included to this point, only one season can lay claim to such a description: the end times.
I can hardly imagine what it felt like for Jewish fathers and mothers during the Holocaust who had to walk naked with their starving young children into the firing lines or gas chambers of Auschwitz. I can barely comprehend what it was like to be a child abducted into the Lord's Resistance Army of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and forced to murder your own family members with a stick. But as horrific as these atrocities sound, what takes place during the end times will surpass every other time in human history.
Jesus Himself validated Daniel's account of the end times when, in Matthew 24, He gave the most detailed description of the last days in the New Testament outside of the Book of Revelation. In that chapter He even quoted from Daniel's writings, adding credibility to their authenticity. Speaking of Jacob's trouble, Yeshua said:
For then will be great tribulation, such as has not happened since the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. Unless those days were shortened, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
— Matthew 24:21-22
Sound similar? Indeed the words of Jesus, Daniel, and Jeremiah fit together like a hand in a glove. Jeremiah called this the "time of Jacob's trouble," and Daniel simply called it "a time of trouble," while Yeshua described it as one of "great tribulation." Despite more than six hundred years separating Yeshua from these Old Testament prophets, their prophetic descriptions of the calamity that will surround Israel in those days are almost identical. And when compared with the overall picture painted throughout the Book of Revelation, we find a perfect harmony between the Hebrew prophets of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the writers of the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament).
As in the Days of Noah
Yeshua added another element in His description of the end times in Matthew 24, one worth examining because of its increasing relevance today. In verses 37-39 He compared the last days to the time of Noah:
As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Though Jesus alluded to the end times on several occasions, Matthew 24 records His most detailed narrative of what this season would be like. It is worth asking, then, why out of any time in history He chose to compare the global climate during the end times to how it was when Noah lived. And that begs the question, what was it actually like during the days of Noah?
To find out, we need to go back to the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. There in the Book of B'resheet (Genesis), chapter 6, we discover the answer with a few succinct verses. We see that humanity's sinfulness was unbridled and ever-present:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was continually only evil. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart. ... The earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence. God looked on the earth and saw it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. So God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I will destroy them with the earth."
— Genesis 6:5-6, 11-13
Because the wickedness of humanity was so rampant and infectious, God had no other option but to destroy mankind and start over with Noah, who is described as "a just man and blameless among his contemporaries" (v. 9). For the sake of saving creation, the Lord had to begin again. And because His very nature is one of redemption, He had no other choice but to redeem the earth and humanity by starting from scratch with a prototype couple from every living creature.
One of the main purposes of the end times is to cleanse the earth of sin and unrighteousness. The judgments God will send are to purge the planet of its filth. Jesus will return to rid the earth of those who have made it "corrupt" — as in the days of Noah — with their unceasing wickedness. He will restore order to creation, establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, and rule with His saints in a manner of peace and blessing — the likes of which the earth has not seen since before the Fall.
I do not know exactly how close we are to the level of wickedness on earth that will prompt Yeshua to return, but you don't need to be an expert in observing culture to see that morality today is much the same as it was in Noah's time. We celebrate violence and sexual immorality to the point that they have become mainstream entertainment. Just as the earth was "filled with violence" in Noah's day (Gen. 6:11), our world is literally filled with violence and sexual immorality being glorified on television, in movie theaters, on laptops, on tablets, on mobile phones, and on every other screen.
In centuries past people flocked to arenas to watch gladiators kill helpless victims because mankind's heart was evil; today we go to the movies and grab a bag of popcorn with a soda while watching people murder one another and commit every profanity imaginable. A three-year-old now has the ability to hold a handheld device in the middle of a church service and, with one wrong click or swipe, witness an orgy, decapitation, séance, rape, child sacrifice, or any other evil under the sun. Can you think of across the globe? In what other era did humans publicize and market their sin to the degree we do today?
Excerpted from The Book of Revelation Decoded by Rabbi K. A. Schneider. Copyright © 2017 Rabbi Kirt Schneider. Excerpted by permission of Charisma House Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Special Thanks xi
Foreword Mike Bickle xiii
Introduction: The Revelation 1
Chapter 1 Jacob's Trouble: From Turmoil to the Great Tribulation 13
Chapter 2 When the Antichrist Will Rise 35
Chapter 3 How the Antichrist Will Rise 45
Chapter 4 God's Wrath 69
Chapter 5 The Rapture 83
Chapter 6 Armageddon and the Messiah's Return 97
Chapter 7 The Marriage Between God and His People 115
Chapter 8 All Israel Will Be Saved 135
Chapter 9 God's Judgments and Rewards 151
Chapter 10 The Reality of Hell 171
Chapter 11 The Millennial Reign of the Messiah 189
Chapter 12 The New Heaven and the New Earth 209
About the Author 237