Ultra-Orthodox Messianism in Israel Is “Exciting News” For US Evangelicals

WND reports:

Top rabbis: Unmistakable signs of Messiah coming

A conversation between two of the most distinguished rabbis in Israel indicates scholars of the Torah see unmistakable signs of the coming of the Messiah. What’s more, in the Messianic era, Christians will become a source of Torah learning, as believers in Jesus Christ rediscover the source of their beliefs in both Judaism and the Torah.

The conversation took place between Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, both of whom are regarded as leading experts in the Torah.

During the conversation, Rabbi Kanievsky reportedly predicted the imminent coming of the Messiah, before the end of the year after the Shemitah….

Rabbi Sternbuch contested the timing, and said before the Messiah will come, the Christians and the Arabs will “come to Israel.” [*] Rabbi Kanievsky added “all the non-fruit bearing trees in Israel will bear fruit,” meaning Christians will be learning Torah. Thus, the breach between Christians and Jews will be healed, as both communities turn to the study of God’s Word.

WND cites a site called Breaking Israel News, and goes on to add enthusiastic commentary from its stable of “End Times” authors: Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, of Harbinger fame; Mark Biltz, who developed the “Blood Moon Tetrad” eschatological theory; the birther activist Carl Gallups, who once argued that Jesus named Barack Obama as Satan and who wrote a book about how an ancient kabbalist living in Israel had supposedly accepted Jesus just before his death; and Bill Cloud, author of Esau Rising: Ancient Adversaries and the War for America’s Soul:

Cloud says the consequences of this kind of teaching spreading among Jews could be earth-shattering.

“This is exciting news because it demonstrates how many Christians and many Jews are recognizing that Messiah’s coming is near and how that portends a reconciliation between the two,” he said. “In my view, as Christians awaken to what they have been blind to – an obligation to keep the Torah – it will provoke our Jewish friends to see what they have been blind to – the identity of the Messiah.”

Some context for this thinking can be found in a post I wrote about links between evangelical/fundamentlist Christianity and Judaism a while back.

Breaking Israel News describes itself as offering

a fresh and Biblical perspective on the latest news from Israel and the Middle East. Our bias is not liberal or conservative – just Biblical. Breaking Israel News was started in July 2013 by Rabbi Tuly Weisz, Director of Israel365, after thousands of Jewish and Christian Zionists requested more news items and insight from Israel. Since its inception, the site has grown tremendously. Breaking Israel News is visited by over 100,000 people every day from over 100 countries around the world and averages 2.5 million page-views per month.

Ultra-orthodox rabbis ruminating about the the coming of the Messiah appears to be one of the site’s stock themes, culled from ultra-Orthodox news sources:  just over a year ago, the same site reported Kanievsky as warning people not to travel outside Israel due to the imminence of the event, while other articles include an account of how Rabbi Aharon Shtern had “revealed an astounding teaching handed down from father to son for untold generations regarding the End of Days”, which related to conflict between Russia and Turkey.

However, the information conveyed appears to be somewhat selective: for instance, the article used by WND neglects to mention that Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch is actually a leader in the anti-Zionist strand of ultra-Orthodoxy.

Other recent “prophecy” articles on the site include “End of Days Yellowstone Volcano Prophesied in Zechariah“; “Disaster Comet Nibiru Coming to Cleanse the World, Says Jewish Academic“; “Global Warming Prophesied as Punishment for Not Building Temple“; “The World is Facing the Final War of Gog and Magog Says Rabbinic Scholar“; and “Bible Codes Reflect What Brexit Wrought for Europe“(the “expert” here predictably found his code confirmation after the event, although another code-related article chances a Clinton win in November).

Tuly Weisz is an American Orthodox Rabbi who moved to Israel in 2011, and he maintains strong links with Evangelicals. He was formerly Co-Director of “Teach for Israel”, which describes itself as “an organization connecting rabbis and Christian leaders, Jews and Christians in their mutual Biblical love for Israel.”


* Footnote

Sternbuch is quoted:

“We have an ancient authenticated hand-written manuscript from the Rambam (a Spanish Torah authority from the twelfth century), in which he says that before the coming of the Messiah, the Christians and the Ishmaelites (Arabs) will come to Israel,” he pointed out.

The manuscript the rabbi referred to is a recent version of the Rambam’s Mishnah Torah, recently published with restored sections censored by medieval Christian authorities.

Presumably this is a reference to Laws of Kings 11:4, which included a passage about Jesus. Maimonides wrote that it was “obvious” Jesus had not been the Messiah, and he said that Jesus had been “instrumental in changing the Torah and causing the world to err and serve another beside God”. However:

All these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite [Mohammed] who came after him only served to clear the way for King Messiah prepare the whole world to worship God with one accord… Thus the messianic hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become familiar topics – topics of conversation [among the inhabitants] of the far isles and many people, uncircumcized of heart or flesh. They are discussing these matters and the commandments of the Torah…

But when the true King Messiah will appear and succeed… they will forthwith recant and realize that they have inherited nothing but lies from their fathers, that their prophets and forbears led them astray.

In December, an Orthodox Rabbinic statement on Christianity, titled To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven:  Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians, cited this passage as evidence that Maimonides here “acknowledge[s] that the emergence of Christianity in human history is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations.”

It is clear the passage refers to Christians and Muslims accepting the truth of Judaism, rather than actually moving to Israel. However, Breaking Israel News takes Sternbuch’s “come to Israel” quote literally, and goes on to observe increasing numbers of Christians and Muslims living in the area since 1948.