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Efrat tour: A rabbinic view on the ‘End of Days’

Feast of Tabernacles 2012

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9 Oct 2012 (All day)
Efrat tour: A rabbinic view on the ‘End of Days’

A group of Feast pilgrims journeyed just south of Jerusalem to Efrat, a Jewish community of 10,000 residents, to hear Rabbi Shlomo Riskin give a rabbinic perspective on the “End of Days”. The group was hosted at the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), founded by Riskin as the first-ever orthodox Jewish institution to engage in meaningful dialogue with evangelical Christians.

The presentation examined how the Jewish and Christian perspectives are both similar and distinct. One similarity is that both faiths foresee a brighter future in the “End of Days”. This phrase, also referred to by Jews as the “Days of the Messiah”, comes from the Hebrew words acharit hayamim in Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1.

For both Jews and Christians, the “latter days” are characterised as positive in that “the Bible teaches an end game, a positive end game,” Riskin assured. “Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 both envision a better world in the future.”

“Isaiah’s vision of peace is Judaism’s ideal vision of the future,” Riskin continued. “The word of God will go forth from Zion and people will flock to Jerusalem to learn His ways in order to walk in His paths. Contrary to the dreary pessimism of Greco-Roman thought, Judaism and Christianity envision a future with great hope and robust optimism, facts in which Jew and Christian can and should rejoice together.”

Until that future is realised, however, Riskin detailed what the Hebrew Scriptures teach with regard to the Jewish people, their history and the pre-Messianic Age. Moses foretold that the Jews would endure through two persecutions, two exiles and two returns. The second return of the exiles began in the late 19th century and continues to this day. Six hundred thousand Jews had returned by 1948, according to Riskin.

But the popular rabbi also warned that the prophets Ezekiel (chapters 38-39) and Zechariah (chapter 14) prophesied of another time of trouble after the Jews have returned home a second time. Yet it is during this time of severe trouble that the Lord will come (Zechariah 14:5) and intervene on behalf of Jerusalem to deliver the Jews from their determined enemies.

In the “End of Days”, Jerusalem will be secure and prosperous as never before (Zechariah 14:11, 14). And if that were not enough, the survivors from the attacking nations from the world over will come to Jerusalem, observe the fall Feast of Tabernacles and dwell in booths in Israel. Non-Jews will stream to Zion to celebrate a Jewish festival alongside the Jews. This is why the Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes acharit hayamim, the “End of Days”, Riskin concluded.

To view a photo gallery from the Feast of Tabernacles 2012, visit here.

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