I received an e-mail the other day from a pastor of a church that used to partner with us. The last time I preached there was in 2010, and they supported our ministry for a couple of years, but eventually, as so often happens, our ministry got lost in the time and tide of every day ministry, even though it is a congregation where we have a ministry advocate! The last time we heard from anyone in that congregation other than our ministry advocate was 2012, so the e-mail came as a surprise.
The e-mail was a question about another “Messianic” ministry, and the pastor wanted my opinion of that ministry, as he was approached by a member of the congregation who was excited about them. This particular “Messianic” ministry is led by a man who predicted the second coming of Jesus at Sukkot, 2015, because of the four “blood moons” (tetrad) that occurred between April 15, 2014 and Sept. 27, 2015 which coincided with the festival of Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. Of course, when Sukkot came and went, he revised his prediction (as is usually the case with predictions of the Second Coming), but continues to spark excitement in many in the Church.
Yes, our ministry observes the Jewish festival calendar as well as the Church calendar, and we have just come through the fall season of Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. We look forward to celebrating Chanukkah in December, as well as Christmas. But our observance of all these festivals is not because they are commanded, and not just because we have a Jewish/Lutheran congregation, but because they are a joy as every one of them points to Jesus. And they give us great opportunities to share the Gospel with Jewish people through the traditions and celebrations of all these Jewish and Christian festivals.
Unfortunately, sharing the Gospel with Jewish people is not as exciting as prophecies about the end times. But the reality of death apart from a relationship with God through Jesus is far more important than any speculation about the time to come. Because, when that time does come, there will be no excuses. The Church calendar is in the period of end times as we approach the last Sunday of the Church year. All the texts encourage us to stand firm in our faith, not being distracted by the things of this world. And as the season of Advent approaches, we stand together saying, “Amen, Come Lord Jesus.” Thank you so much for standing with us, despite all the distractions.
People often ask my opinion of many things both Jewish and not so Jewish. But I work very hard not to be distracted by prophecies, politics, or personal agendas. The thing that I know is that Jesus will return when the elect are gathered, and He has called on us to bring in the harvest.