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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 19: Matthew 24-25, by Kevin M. Williams

The personal commandment inferred here cannot be overlooked, “See to it that no one misleads you” (emphasis mine). This is the collective “you,” once again demonstrating that God is as concerned with His community as He is with individuals. These words have sense of urgency and authority about them.

Certainly Yeshua’s warning had immediacy. By 135 of the Common Era, Rabbi Akiva would proclaim Bar Kochbah the “messiah,” and the final rebellion against Rome would be waged and soundly defeated, forcing the entire region to no longer be known as Israel or Judea, as it had been for centuries, but as Palestine.

Bar Kochbah was not the last, however. False messiahs continued to plague the Jewish community throughout every age:

Most leaders of messianic movements are known as false messiahs. The most important of these were David Alroy in the 12th century; David Reubeni in the 16th century; Shabbetai Tzevi in the 17th century; and Jacob Frank in the 18th century. It is important to note that some of the so-called false messiahs had the support of the great intellects and spirits of their day. Shabbetai Tzevi was accepted enthusiastically by scholars, rich men, and poor men alike.3

People of all ethnicity have a pandemic propensity to put their trust in people, particularly people who tell them what they want to hear. This, in its own right, may be one of the evidences of Yeshua’s messiahship. He was almost always caught telling the truth, whether it was popular opinion or not. This approach does not typically build one up in the eyes of the masses, nor does it win popularity contests or elections. The truth is often the last thing with which most people are willing to contend. Yeshua did not “play to the crowd” as a Roman Procurator might. In fact, it was because He spoke the truth contrary to the Pharisees and Sadducees which ultimately lead to his trial, conviction, and execution.

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (Matthew 24:5-8).

This concept of “birth pangs” was not a phrase coined by Yeshua, rather He was speaking directly into one of the hot topics of the day, just as we might regarding a news event today.

In his book The Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years,4 Raphael Patai dedicates chapter eleven to “The Pangs of the Times.” In the set up to the chapter, Patia writes, “Once the idea became entrenched that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by greatly increased suffering, and that even the beginnings of the Messianic era itself will be an age of great trials and tribulations, apocalyptic fantasy went to work with a vengeance on elaborating in gruesome detail what would happen at the onset of the days of the Messiah.”5

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2006

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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