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The Jews and the Second Coming
Ignatius Insight ^
| Roy H. Schoeman
Posted on 11/01/2007 11:29:06 AM PDT by NYer
How might the attacks against the Jews, particularly those of the past century, relate to biblical prophecy about the role of the Jews in the Second Coming? For the fact that Christ " will come again in glory, to judge the living
and the dead", in the words of the Nicene Creed, is a dogma of the Catholic faith.  It is attested to by the words of Jesus Himself, recorded numerous times in the New Testament (Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27). As described in Matthew 24:30-3 1: [T]hen all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Although the fact of the Second Coming is certain, when it will come cannot be known beforehand with certitude:
"But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32).
So when they [the disciples] had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He [Jesus] said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority" (Acts 1:6-7).
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 673, puts it:
Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority" (Acts 1:7; cf. Mk 13:32).
Nonetheless, it will be preceded by certain signs that the wise will be able to discern. In the verses immediately following the description of the Second Coming quoted above, Jesus adds (Matthew 24:32-33):
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates."
What are these signs? Some we know from the words of Jesus recounted in Matthew 24:
It will be a time of great upheaval, of both wars between nations and natural disasters (Matthew 24:7): "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places."
There will be widespread hostility to Christianity (Matthew 24:9): "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake."
There will be many false prophets (Matthew 24:11, 24): "[M]any false prophets will arise and lead many astray... For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. "
The "abomination of desolation" (understood by the Church Fathers to be the Antichrist ) will stand in the "holy place" (Matthew 24:15, 31): "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place ... then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven ... and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty." 
The Gospel will have been preached to the whole world (Matthew 24:14): "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come."
In almost every period since these prophecies were made, there have been those who have thought that these signs were fulfilled in their age and that the Second Coming was immanent. The current age, too, has prompted such speculation, for instance by Pope St. Plus X 'In 1903:
When all this [the widespread apostasy from. God] is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be ... perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the "Son of Perdition" of whom the Apostle speaks (II. Thess. ii., 3). Such, in truth, is the audacity and the wrath employed everywhere in Persecuting religion, in combating the dogmas of the faith, in brazen effort to uproot and destroy all relations between man and the Divinity! [this] is the distinguishing mark of Antichrist. 
The discussion that follows is not intended to "prove" that we are in the last days. Many of the prophecies cited have multiple interpretations, and it is certainly speculative to associate them with particular events of our day. Yet some aspects appear to be being fulfilled in our times in unprecedented ways:
Jerusalem will return again to Jewish hands shortly before the Second Coming (Luke 21:24): "Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (A description of the Second Coming then follows in verses 25-28). Jerusalem was in the hands of Gentiles continuously from the fall of the Jewish nation in A.D. 70 until it was recaptured by the modern State of Israel in the 1967 war.
Sometime before the Second Coming, two-thirds of the Jews in "the whole land" will be exterminated (Zechariah 13:8-9):
"In the whole land, says the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
In fact, during the Holocaust almost exactly two-thirds of Europe's Jews perished (estimates vary between 60% and 72%). 
The Jewish nation will be reborn in a single day (Isaiah 66:5-8):
"Hear the word of the LORD.... Hark, an uproar from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, rendering recompense to his enemies! Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her sons."
This was quite literally fulfilled when on May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was born in a single day following the passage of UN Resolution 181 partitioning "Palestine" into the Arab State of Jordan and the Jewish State of Israel.
-Jews will be regathered to Israel from around the entire world. One such prophecy is Ezekiel 36:22-28. Although often taken in a spiritual sense as fulfilled at the first coming of Christ,  it might well also refer to the Second Coming, for biblical prophecies frequently refer to different events taking place in different epochs:
"Thus says the Lord God ... I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.... You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God."
Similarly, Jeremiah 16:14-15 is typically seen as referring to the Jews' return from exile in Babylon. Yet since Moscow lies precisely  due north of Jerusalem, some see in it a reference to the current immigration to Israel of Jews from Russia:
"Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, 11 when it shall no longer be said, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' but 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.' For I will bring them back to their own land which I gave to their fathers."
The current return of the Jews to Israel apparently even includes Jews from the ten lost tribes. Over the past decade about 600 "B'nei Manashe", a tribe from the Indian-Burmese border, have immigrated to Israel. These people believe themselves to be the lost tribe of Manassah, exiled from Israel by the Assyrians in 723 B.C. Their oral tradition speaks of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; they circumcise male children on the eighth day, as required by Jewish law; use prayer shawls with fringes, as do Jews; practice ritual purification as described in the Old Testament; and follow many other ancient Jewish religious customs. Their priests use the Hebrew name of God as it appears in the Torah ("Yahweh") and invoke Mount Sinai, Mount Moriah, and Mount Zion. The Israel government is allowing them to immigrate on the presumption that they are in fact the lost tribe of Manassah, while continuing to investigate their claim. 
The new Jewish state shall be extremely prosperous (Isaiah 66:9-14):
"Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth?" says the LORD; "shall 1, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?" says your God. "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her.... Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream ... ; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies."
The fight over the city of Jerusalem will cause a world war (Zechariah 12:1-3; also Joel 3:2 and Revelation 16:16):
"Thus says the LORD ... Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will come together against it."
Most would agree that Jerusalem, as the focal point of tensions in the Middle East, has become a "heavy stone for all the peoples", and certainly all who have "come together against it" since 1948 have "grievously hurt themselves".
But Israel will be miraculously militarily strong and able to successfully defend itself (Zechariah 12:6-9):
"On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they shall devour to the right and to the left all the peoples round about, while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem. And the LORD Will give victory to the tents of Judah.... On that day the LORD will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, at their head. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."
There will be a widespread conversion of the Jews. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: "The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by 'all Israel,' for 'a hardening has come upon part of Israel' in their 'unbelief' toward Jesus" (Rom 11:20-26; Cf. Mt 23:39).  This has been the understanding ever since the Church Fathers, for instance, St. Augustine: "In connection with the last judgment, therefore, we who believe can be sure of the following truths ... the Jews will believe".  One of the scriptural sources for this belief is Hosea 3:5: "Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days." Blessed Pope Pius IX explicitly cited this passage as referring to the conversion of the Jews in the end times. 
St. Paul's Letter to the Romans contains an extensive discussion of the conversion of the Jews in the end times that will be explored at length in the next chapter (Romans 11:25-26):
"Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved."
Jesus Himself prophesied the conversion of the Jews prior to the Second Coming when He said (Matthew 23:37-39):
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.... Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
Here Jesus is saying that he will not be seen again (i.e., the Second Coming will not occur) until "you" (the Jews) say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (i.e., acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah).
Zechariah, too, foretold the conversion of the Jews when he said that they would weep bitterly over one "they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10):
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born."
The Antichrist, also known as the Son of Perdition, will make his appearance (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4):
"Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
This is further explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass though a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers (Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12) ... in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist (Cf. 2 Thess 24-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18, 22). 
The Antichrist's appearance will be followed by the war to end all wars, centered in the Holy Land. Just when it appears that evil has been victorious, Christ will come in glory and bring victory. This is suggested in a number of passages in both the Old and the New Testaments; most are mysterious in nature and subject to multiple interpretations. A few of the most commonly cited are:
Revelation 20:7-13: Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.
This is one of Scripture's classic descriptions of Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, and the Second Coming. The Antichrist (the "false prophet") will deceive
the nations of the earth and will launch war against Jerusalem ("the beloved city"), appearing victorious until God directly intervenes, throwing the enemy into hell ("the lake of fire and sulphur"), at which point Christ will come in glory ("the white throne and him who sat upon it") to judge the living and the dead.
Zechariah 14: 1-9: "Behold, a day of the LORD is coming, when ... I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered.... Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall wit