Pre-Messianic Events To Come


The last seven months of 2017 will see one or more pre-Messianic events. Islamic traditions (Ahadith) say: Abu Saeed al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said: ”He (Mahdi) will be sent at a time of intense disputes and differences among people and disasters.” (Ahmad) Nothing surprising about that. People always look for a Messiah/Madhi in times of great troubles. So here is a very specific estimate.

Ali bin Abi Taleb said: ” Wait for the end of misery once three things occur.” We said: What are they? He said: “The (many years) dispute (civil war) among the people of AshSham (Greater Syria); the Black Banners (battalions carrying black ISIS banners); and the Qaz’a in the month of Ramadan. “What is the Qaz’a ? He said: “Haven’t you heard what Allah said in the Quran (26:4): ‘If We wish, We can send down to them from Heaven a sign, such that their necks remain surrendered to it (mesmerized in amazement).’ This Aya (sign) makes a girl come out of her bedroom, wakes up the person who is asleep, and frightens the one who is awake.” (Ibn Al-Shajari’s Al-Amali Al-Shajaria)

The last part is not very clear; but part one and two have been clear for several years already. And one of the pre-Messianic less noticeable signs (because it is peaceful) has been going on for years: the worldwide ingathering of Jews to Israel, especially parts of the long lost ten tribes.

Most Christians have heard of the ‘ten lost tribes of Israel’. In reality they were never lost; they were just submerged among the much larger non Jewish population in the places where they lived, or they moved to distant lands, and over the course of centuries became detached from the main body of the Jewish People; and were forgotten.

The well known Marrano Jews, who are the descendants of Jews forced to convert into the Catholic Church in 15th century Spain and Portugal, are a good example of a submerged Jewish population.

The Jewish communities in Ethiopia, India and China are a good example of remote Jewish communities, who in the Middle Ages became detached from the body of Israel and were forgotten, until they were rediscovered in the 19th century.

 

Now, a group of  ‘lost’  Jews from India who are descendants of the tribe of Menashe, one of the ten tribes exiled from the Land of Israel in 721 BCE by the conquering Assyrian Empire, are returning home.

The Bnei Menashe Indian Jewish community says that over many centuries the tribe travelled through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China and on to India, where it eventually settled in the north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram.

In 2005, an Israeli Chief Rabbi officially backed the Bnei Menashe’s claim to be Jewish. This led to a wave of immigration from India to Israel; and about 1,700 of the 7,200-strong Bnei Menashe community arrived in Israel. The flow stopped in 2007 due to objections from many ultra-Orthodox Rabbis.

Israel’s decision to reverse that policy two years ago paved the way for all the remaining Bnei Menashe members (who have increased in the last several years) to migrate. A source close to the prime minister’s office gave two reasons for the change in Israeli policy. Some of the donors to Shavei Israel, an organization that seeks to repatriate ‘lost’ Jewish communities, are also donors to Netanyahu.

Also, several fundamentalist Christian groups that support Prime Minister Netanyahu have pressured him strongly because they believe that the return of the remnants of the ten lost tribes is a necessary part of the coming Messianic Age.

As of June 2015 the number of Bnei Menashe immigrants to Israel  totaled more than 3,000. Some 6,000 Bnei Menashe still live in India but most will soon be in Israel.

Ethiopian Jews are another remote community that returned to Israel a generation ago after a separation of over 2,000 years. The amazing 1991 rescue of 15,000 Ethiopian Jews in an airlift lasting less than 48 hours stirred and inspired people for several weeks.

Then the difficult problems the newcomers faced (similar to those of the 900,000 Russian Jews who immigrated in the 1970’s and 1980’s) occupied the Jewish media. Now both are taken for granted. The miracle has become routine. But if you had told the Jews of Ethiopia two generations ago that they would someday all fly to Israel in a giant silver bird, they could only conceive of this as a Messianic miracle.

And if you had told Russian Jews a generation ago that the Soviet regime would collapse, and the Soviet Empire disintegrate; while hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews would emigrate to Israel, they would have conceived it only as a fantastic wild Messianic dream.

In our own generation therefore we have seen the dramatic fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “I will bring your offspring from the East (India) and gather you from the (European) West. To the North (Russia) I will say ‘give them up’ and to the South (Ethiopia) ‘do not hold them’. Bring my sons from far away, my daughters from the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:5-6)

Truly amazing things are happening in our generation if we would only open our eyes to see them. For example, At the beginning of the 20th century, there were fifteen or sixteen million Jews in the whole world. Less than 1 percent of them lived in the Land of Israel.

Today, after the Holocaust and the resurrection of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, there are only  twelve or thirteen million Jews in the world and almost 45 percent of them live in the Land of Israel. Due to declining birth rates, rampant assimilation in the Diaspora, and the continued immigration of Russian and other Jews to the State of Israel, there is little doubt that 80-90 percent of the world’s Jews will live in the Land of Israel by the end of the 21st century.

The “ingathering of the exiles,” one of the most important categories of biblical promises, is being fulfilled right now, and we are almost halfway through this process.

One of the main reasons most people do not see the many ongoing Messianic events is that  the news media focuses almost entirely on violence, corruption and celebrities with feet of clay, another Messianic promise of Isaiah is being fulfilled, not just for the People of Israel, but for all the nations throughout the world.

Isaiah states that someday there would be a radically new world in which Jerusalem would be fulfilled with joy for “no more shall there be in it an infant that lives only a few days.” (65:20)

Before the mid 19th century the annual death rate for humans fluctuated from year to year but always remained high, between 30 and 50+ deaths per 1,000 individuals.

Those elevated, unstable rates were primarily caused by infectious and parasitic diseases.  The toll from disease among the young was especially high. Almost 1/3 of the children born in any year died before their first birthday; in some subgroups, half died.  Because childbirth was hazardous, mortality among pregnant women was also very high.

Even in our generation high death rates for children were the norm in Africa, In Malawi, the mortality rate for children under 5 fell to 10% per 1,000 births in 2008, down from 22.5% in 1990 and 33.6% in 1970. A century ago, the infant mortality rate in Jerusalem (as in most of the world) was 25-30%. Now it is less than 1%.  For thousands of years almost every family in the world suffered the loss of at least one or two infants; now it happens to less than one out of a hundred babies.

If this radical improvement had occurred over a few years, it would have greatly impressed people. But since it occurred gradually over several generations, people take it for granted.

Also, it seems to be part of human nature that most people focus on complaining about the less than 1% that still die (an individual family tragedy heightened by the fact that it is unexpected because it is so rare) rather than being grateful that the infant mortality rate has been reduced by over 95%.

Even when major medical benefits are achieved in only a few decades people do not pay attention; or if they do pay attention it is to the exceptions that prove the rule. Thus, child deaths from measles have fallen by 60% following a massive global vaccination campaign according to a study in The Lancet medical journal which confirms that hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved since 1999, surpassing a target of halving measles deaths by 2005.

In Africa, efforts by national governments and health agencies have cut measles mortality by three-quarters. Now scientists are considering more ambitious targets, and perhaps even the complete eradication of the disease.

Measles is not a major killer in the western world, where the vast majority of children are vaccinated against the disease. But recently in California, a few dozen children visiting Disneyland contracted measles because their parents had decided to go against medical advice and not vaccinate their children due to an irrational fear of the vaccine.

In less developed countries however, the death toll is much higher, as children are far more likely to die from the complications of the measles such as encephalitis, pneumonia and diarrhea. Nevertheless, in another generation measles will disappear just as polio did in the last generation.

Not only are mortality rates for infants and children rapidly dropping; but the number and percentage of people living into their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is rapidly increasing, in fulfillment of a third prophecy from Isaiah “One who dies at 100 years shall be reckoned a youth, and one who fails to reach 100 shall be reckoned accursed.” (65:20)

In 1900 there were 10-17 million people age 65 or older, making up 6.2% of the world’s population.  By the year 2050, people over 65 will number at least 2.5 billion – about 1/5 of the world’s projected population.  Barring catastrophes that raise death rates substantially or a huge inflation in birth rates, the human population will achieve an age composition within our children’s lifetime, which will be absolutely unique in human history.

These improvements in human health are unprecedented in human history. Such radical change will necessitate major changes in the way we think and act when faced with decisions about life and death.

Yet who among us would want to return to the high mortality rates and early deaths of previous centuries? The challenges we now face are not those of survival, but of opportunity.

Rabbi Maller’s website is: www.rabbimaller.com


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