RECOMMENDED READING: Before delving any further into this topic, we highly recommend reading (by the Spirit) the following piece found on Wikipedia. Though it is a secular publication, it defines certain aspects of SHEMA YISRAEL that will aid in the understanding the rest of this article. Besides the introduction, for brevity sake, we would suggest reading just the parts entitled: “HISTORY”, “CONTENT” and “Summary”.
There are many who talk a lot about the last, great “End-Time Revival” which is supposedly to take place on this earth right before the coming of the Lord. It is usually promoted with the idea of fantastic visions of grandeur, depicting the last day Christians boldly going throughout the earth demonstrating great signs and wonders, and thus “converting multitudes of heathen into the Kingdom”.
Though portions of this scenario might be true from a certain standpoint, it’s almost altogether false! It’s a fallacy which has been taught for over a hundred years because of a misapplication of Matthew 24:14.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
But notice what the two verses before it declare:
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
This does not describe an atmosphere of great signs and wonders with “floods” of unbelievers falling on their faces before the Apostles and Prophets crying out for deliverance!
NO! It describes a condition on planet earth that will be marked with hatred, iniquity and violence toward God’s people. So much so, that it will require much “endurance” on the part of Christians just to continue! As James wrote to the Christians scattered abroad:
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3-4)
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it.” (James 5:7)
“Behold, we count them happy which endure.” (James 5:11)
By the way, YOU are the “precious fruit of the earth”!
And finally, from the lips of Jesus Christ himself … speaking to those who will find themselves in the midst of the end times:
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not a hair of your head perish.” (Luke 21:17-18)
“In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
Are you beginning to catch on that Christians in these last days are not going to get a “free ride”? What do you think is going to cause the “falling away” spoken of in 2Thessalonians 2:3?
It will be the trials, tribulations, hatred and persecutions which come against the Body of Christ in those days initiated by the man of sin! As it is written:
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)
No “Get Out Of Jail Free” card here!
So, as saints of the one, true living God … where does that put us?
It places us in one of the most glorious workings of the Holy Ghost known in the history of mankind:
If you have read the Wikipedia article carefully, it should have become clear to you that the Old Testament “shema” is actually (by revelation) the New Testament “gospel”! In other words, what the Jews have celebrated as a ritualistic prayer and invocation, Christians have been called upon to proclaim throughout the world as a “witness” of the one and true living God: which is, of course, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
This proclamation of the gospel is a “witness” of the past, present and future coming of the one and true living God:
He came in the past as the savior of mankind in the personhood of Jesus Christ:
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7)
He has come in the present as our resurrected Lord to dwell within our hearts through the presence of the Holy Ghost:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)
And, he will come again in the future as the glorified King of Kings and Lord of Lords to establish his Kingdom upon the earth:
“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: (1Timothy 6:13-14)
“Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” (1Timothy 6:15)
This is the “shema” … this is the “gospel” … this is the “witness”!
Now, with this in mind, let’s look again at what Jesus said to his disciples which has so often been misapplied concerning the supposed “End-Time Revival”:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)
First, note that the preaching of the gospel is a prerequisite for the end of the world!
Second, note that the preaching of the gospel is for a witness unto all nations!
It’s not going to be preached in order to convert the world! That’s already been accomplished over the last 2,000 years! It’s not going to be preached in order that great signs and wonders may be manifested! That’s what all the self-proclaimed Apostles and Prophets lust after today! And it’s definitely not going to be preached in order to turn a Christian-dominated earth over to a bunch of power-hungry, elite “Manifested Sons of God”!
The true saints of God are going to be spread over the entire planet witnessing of the One, True Living God before the end comes! They are going to be everyday, humble saints who have prepared their “vessels” with the oil of the Holy Ghost. They’ll need that oil for a light in the darkness and to be able to endure the onslaught of hatred and violence that is going to be directed towards them from all nations, families and friends!
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10)
This is what causes the apostasy or the great “falling away” of the secular church!
So, while many in the secularized churches are falling away, what will the last day “witness” of the true saints look like?
Well, here’s where it gets good:
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” (Mark 13:10)
“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.” (Mark 13:9)
“But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” (Mark 13:11)
This is the true, end-time “revival”:
It’s the preaching of the gospel before kings, nations, family, friends or whoever the Lord places in front of you at the time as a “witness” against them!
But this end-time preaching of the saints will be done solely IN, THROUGH and BY the power of the Holy Ghost. And yes, as occasion and the will of the Father dictates (not as self-glorifying man dictates), the Lord will back up His Words!
“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” (Mark 16:20)
The world may deliver you up … they may beat you … they may hate you … they may betray you! But, when they do, the power of the Holy Ghost will come upon you in a mighty way and give you the “words” that you are to speak to them in that very hour … this is the “shema” … this is the “witness” … this is the “gospel” that will be preached in all the world before the end comes!
“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” (Luke 21:16)
You see, we are called to be living epistles:
“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ…, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2Corinthians 3:3)
When a saint is delivered before men as a true, living epistle of Jesus Christ, that saint will be maligned, betrayed, hated and often killed for being a true “witness” of His life and resurrection!
And, in the end, these living epistles will go forth before the entire world, and through their testimony they will become the glorious end-time perfection of the saints … or, in other words, the “precious fruit of the earth”! Because…
“…they overcame him (Satan, the devil, the man of sin) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (witness); and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
Therefore, let us change our focus in these last days from a distracting vision of some great “revival”, and instead, focus on becoming a personal “witness” prepared for whatever situation the Lord might deem us worthy to function in. As it is written:
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2Timothy 2:20-21)
And also, referring to the last days and his eminent return, the Lord exhorted his disciples to:
“Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life (for Jesus’ sake and the gospel’s) shall preserve it.” (Luke 17:32-33)
So, knowing these things…
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
JUST ONE FINAL THOUGHT
As a side note (and not that we hold to Kabbalistic teachings … we don’t): but, we found it interesting that the Jewish Cabbalistic rendering of the Shema (as found on the Wikipedia website) is:
[The idea thus conveyed is that through … the proclamation of the Shema one is a living witness testifying to the truth of its message. Modern Kabbalistic schools …teach that when one recites the last letter of the word “ecḥad” … meaning “one”, he is to intend that he is ready to “die into God“.]
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