A Rabbi looks at the last days by Jonathan Bernis is a 233page book that discusses eschatology or as the title simply and clearly says “the last days”. The first half of the book deals with 6 reasons “we can know the last days are upon us”. The second half deals with “your role in ushering in God’s kingdom”. Chapter 1 is mainly the authors account of his upbringing and his conversion story and at the end of this chapter he tells of a time when he heard someone speak about “the end times” and what that person said was false. He then goes on to show numerous false predictions by people throughout history who tried to predict “the end time” and the “rapture”. He says that “erroneous predictions have caused many to become disillusioned… In other words they have stopped looking for any signs of the Messiah’s return. And yet, He is coming, and I believe it will be very soon. In the pages ahead, I will tell you how I know.” Pg26 It seems that the author is about to do the very thing he just got done showing was wrong, that is saying the end is coming “very soon”. He may not set a date but this is still the same thing that Harold Camping and others have done. They say the end is near and then try to use the bible and modern events to prove this. Chapter two starts the first of the six reasons “the last days are near”. The first reason is that “Satan is increasing his attacks on Jews”. The author discusses the Jewish people throughout history and says that the promise given to Abraham that whoever blesses Abraham will be blessed and whoever curses Abraham will be cursed applies today to the Jewish people. Page 35 he says “History shows that God has blessed those who have blessed the Jewish people, and he has cursed those who have cursed the Jewish people”. The author even makes a starting claim that he even knows the thoughts of Satan on Page 36. Satan, the author tells us, thinks that by destroying the descendants of the seed promise (the Jewish people); the descendants of Abraham, he can keep Genesis 3:15 from coming true. The problem I have with that is Genesis 3:15 is already been fulfilled, Satan was crushed defeated when Christ was crucified and on the third day rose again. So, why would Satan, who is already defeated, be thinking that destroying the Jews today would stop Genesis 3:15 from being fulfilled? The author eventually goes on to tell us that Genesis 3:15 has a second part to it or a dual fulfillment. The author goes on to say that “it is not possible therefore, to understand that last days without understanding Israel’s role in all this. Israel is central to the return of the Messiah, through both their promised return to their land and their recognition of Him as their promised Messiah. Yeshua will not return until his Jewish brothers cry out, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ (Matthew23:39).” On page 75 the author asks a question. He says “I agree, we are no longer under law. But what does this mean? Does it mean the law has been eradicated? Has the law been done away with, simply erased? Not at all. God has removed the law from our shoulders, from the external, and placed it in our hearts, we now have the power to keep God’s laws through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.” It seems as if he wants to say that the Old Covenant laws are still binding on us today but we are empowered to fulfill them by the Spirit. It doesn’t appear that he see a different Covenant with a different law. That fact is that the Old Laws and covenant are fulfilled in Christ and now a new covenant and a new law with a new high priest is in affect today. He does make a point, which I have never denied, on page 79. He says “Jews do not have to leave there ethnic heritage when they accept Yeshua.” That’s true just like an Irishman doesn’t have to leave their ethnic heritage when they become Christians or any other ethnic background. It’s not about being Jewish or Greek, or Hispanic, or Irish it’s about following Jesus who transcends all of that, yes he was Jewish and born under the law but in Christ we found the reversal of the tower of Babel where the human family was first split into what we now see and know as ethnic and language groups. We see this reversal in the book of ACTS at Pentecost where the Spirit was poured out on the disciples and everyone heard them in their own language. At the end of the day, this is nothing more than Left Behind style bible study. Nothing really worth reading.
Do yourself a favor and just skip this book.
Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers/Chosen books book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 2 for Rabbi Looks at the Last Days, A: Surprising Insights on Israel, the End Times and Popular Misconceptions - eBook
It amazes me that many Christian authors who are focused on the last days do not seem to be aware of what is happening in the Jewish community around the world.
Just as the Bible predicted, the Jewish people are being restored to their land and to their Messiah. Although Jewish people who accept Yeshua HaMashiach are often ostracized by their families, friends and business associates, Jews all over the world are turning to him and becoming Messianic Jews in numbers not seen since the first century.
This is how Mr. Bernis opens his book, A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days. Bernis first describes his own Jewish upbringing and how he came to know the Lord (a girl he used to do heavy drugs with in college became a Christian and was instrumental in leading him to faith.)
Bernis then goes on to give a brief history of the Jews and how we can know that the last days prophesied in Revelation are near.
In his chapter “Why Satan Hates the Jews", he gives a history of their persecution from the Roman destruction of the Temple, the thousands that were massacred during the Crusades, all the countries that expelled them, the Spanish Inquisition, the ghettos of 1826, Russian pogroms, and let’s not forget Hitler.
The infamous Adolf Eichmann (1902-1962), sometimes referred to as “the architect of the Holocaust” and who was hanged for his crimes in 1962, once said, “Throughout history men have dreamed of destroying the children of Abraham.” True but the question remains: Why? (pg. 31)
Bernis then goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and explains God’s purpose for the Jews and His plan of salvation for all of mankind through the Jewish nation. This is why Satan wants to destroy the Jews. Because he hates God and wants to destroy as many of His creation as he can.
The second reason we can know that Jesus’ return is imminent is that the scattered Jews are returning to Israel from the four corners of the earth. He discusses Israel becoming a nation and Jews from all over the world returning there. He points to Biblical prophecy from the Old Testament that is being fulfilled today.
The third reason is because many thousands of Jews are turning to Yeshua (chapter 4 "Something is Happening among the Jewish People" pg. 57) Bernis describes his trips to the former Soviet Union where hundreds of Jews came to Bernis’ preaching venues and surrendered their lives to Christ.
In a country beaten down by atheistic values Bernis describes the hunger for the Gospel there. He found the Jews there very receptive to hearing about Yeshua (as opposed to the U.S. where there is great resistance to belief in Christ and fear of losing one’s “Jewish identity”).
He also has some interesting comments on the times of the Gentiles nearing fulfillment which ushers in the time for the Jews to receive salvation.
The second part calls upon Christians and their responsibility to share the gospel among Jewish people. Bernis points out that many well-meaning Christians won't share the Gospel with Jews because they don't want to offend them or even believe there's no need since being God's chosen people saves them.
Bernis gives a helpful chapter in which he discusses what sort of semantics a Christian should use when sharing the Gospel with a Jewish person. So much of Christianity has been so "Europeanized" that Jesus Christ is practically unrecognizable to Jews (he said he thought Jesus’ parents were Mr. and Mrs. Christ. Christ is the Greek word for "Messiah").
He finishes with an interesting chapter on the Tabernacle feasts and especially the Passover and how they foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the Passover lamb “who died once and for all for all our sins, yesterday, today and forever”.
All in all, I found this an interesting book and a good one for Christians to read to learn about the end times and witnessing to God’s special people from a Messianic Rabbi’s perspective.
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Review 3 for Rabbi Looks at the Last Days, A: Surprising Insights on Israel, the End Times and Popular Misconceptions - eBook
While most books about the last days focus on the Rapture of the church and the Tribulation period, Rabbi Jonathan Bernis focuses his attention on signs we can see now that point to the last days, as well as things that need to happen for Jesus to return. Bernis suggests that Israel lay at the heart of the last days and end times prophecies. He provides several Scriptures, from both the Old and New Testaments, in support of this.
The point he focuses on most is the salvation of Israel, as a people. He believes that Jesus will not return until the people of Israel call on Jesus as Messiah. Because of this, he spends a large portion of the book discussing the history of the Jewish people, especially in regard to why they reject Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He also discusses how to evangelize to a Jewish person, and bring to light several misconceptions that Christians have about Jews, and vice versa.
There were things in this book that I knew already, including the fact that Israel will play a large part in the last days, but I also learned a few things. Scriptures that I didn't realize were directed to the people of Israel were brought into focus. Some of the misconceptions Christians and Jews have about each other... I never would have guessed some of those.
Overall, this is a very interesting read, but the title is a bit vague. If you are looking for discussion of the Rapture or Tribulation, you won't find that here.
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Review 4 for Rabbi Looks at the Last Days, A: Surprising Insights on Israel, the End Times and Popular Misconceptions - eBook
Bernis, a Messianic Jew, does not claim to know everything about every prophetic message. This is, of course, refreshing in comparison to some people and groups who claim to know every single detail of the last days. In fact, Bernis does not even attempt to uncover and explain each passage of Scripture which deals with the last days. Instead, he specifically and systematically looks at Old Testament and New Testament passages which reveal Israel's role in the end times. This is not to say he pulls Scripture out of context. On the contrary, his analysis appears to be based on the context of the entire counsel of God's Word.
In general, I like learning about prophecy. Therefore, for me, as one who is grafted in, it was interesting to read thoughts on the last days from the perspective of a Jewish person who follows Jesus.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
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Review 5 for Rabbi Looks at the Last Days, A: Surprising Insights on Israel, the End Times and Popular Misconceptions - eBook
“A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days” was not what I was expecting. Perhaps I’ve read one too many `End Times’ books and somewhere along the way formed a preconceived idea that any book pertaining to the Last Days would by nature attempt an argument for a pre-Trib, or mid-Trib, or post-Trib, return of Jesus. Furthermore, I expected that it would attempt to analyze current events and political trends to make predictions and hypotheses, and that it would use words like “new world order”, “mark of the beast”, and “antichrist” liberally. Author Jonathan Bernis doesn’t do any of those things. So let’s be clear right at the start- if that is what you’re looking for- this book won’t interest you. If, however, you are honestly seeking perspective and wisdom, then you will be intrigued by Bernis’s argument that Christ’s return hinges on widespread acceptance of the true Gospel by the Jewish people, and that this must become the focus of the Church today. But before he gets to that, Bernis spends a good deal of time trying to correct what he sees as common misperceptions pertaining to the Jewish people. He argues, for instance, that the Jews have not rejected the Gospel; rather, they have not heard the true Gospel. Indeed, throughout history the Jews have been blamed for killing Jesus and have been reviled and persecuted as a result- most often at the hands of so-called Christians. Bernis goes into a historical review of anti-Semitism, linking it back to Satan’s desire to crush the people of God and the promised Savior that would come through them. Bernis also spends quite a lot of time reiterating that God is not finished with the Jewish people, nor has He replaced them as His chosen people. The redundancy on these points gets a little tedious and dry I’m afraid. On a positive note, Bernis gives great instruction on how to share the Gospel in a way that is valid, sensitive, and comprehensible to the Jews. He certainly makes a great case for the importance and need to share the Gospel with them, and he demonstrates how the redemption of Israel is linked to Christ’s return. I truly appreciated his humility in refusing to speculate on what the “End Times” will look like. What I grew weary of was the redundancy in the first part of the book- I get that the author is committed to correcting misperceptions about the Jewish people…I guess I’m naïve about how widespread and persistent those misperceptions must be in the Church today. So, if he is rightly addressing a real problem, then it’s all the more important that you read this book and talk to your Christian friends and family about it. I will say overall, I gained some good insights from this book, particularly in terms of relating the Gospel to the Jews, but I don't think I actually gained much insight on the "Last Days" and I'll wager that this book isn't what you'd expect in light of the title. I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Chosen Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Review 6 for Rabbi Looks at the Last Days, A: Surprising Insights on Israel, the End Times and Popular Misconceptions - eBook
The first part of the book brings the reader's attention to what is happening in the Jewish community, and how it relates to the last days. “It is not possible...to understand the last days without understanding Israel's role in all this.” (41) Bernis shares his own history, raised Jewish and then becoming a Christian during college. He eventually felt the call to go back to his hometown of Rochester, NY, to expand a small Messianic fellowship to a full fledged Messianic Jewish congregation. He gives several reasons why Christians can know the “last days are near.” For example, Satan is increasing his attacks on the Jews. He reviews history and explains the “why” of the persecution. Another sign is that scattered Jews are returning to Israel. (He spends some time describing his evangelistic meetings in Russia in May, 1993. He writes, of renting The Oktyabrsky Grand Concert Hall, “People who know this story often comment, 'What great faith you had!'” (67) Of the meetings, he writes, “...it was unlike anything seen since the Shavuot [Pentecost] almost two thousand years before.” (68) Words of comment fail me.) Other reasons include the Gospel being preached to the nations, rise of Messianic expectations in Israel, and that the “times of the Gentiles” are being fulfilled.
The second part of the book concentrates on the reader's role in ushering in God's kingdom. When Yeshua returns, there will be a return to the Garden of Eden. (147) “The good news is that this world is on its way.” (148) And we “can help speed up its arrival... By doing [our] part to reach the Jewish people with the Gospel.” (148) “The revival of Israel is tied to revival for the world...” (149) He helps us understand what words to use, etc., respecting the history of the Jews, as well as using the Old Testament exclusively. He encourages Christians to celebrate the Jewish feasts and gives a description of them and their meaning.
Bernis writes about much more than the Jews and the last days. He recounts much of his own evangelistic work among the Jews all over the world. He also writes about the Jewish roots of Christianity, suggests doing things like celebrating the feasts, and critiques replacement theology. He covers the history of Jewish persecution and of the newly formed state of Israel in depth. He laments that Christians are not focused on evangelizing the Jews. “There is a direct connection between the salvation of Israel and the return of Jesus to this earth.” (81,82) He writes, “The Gospel began with the Jewish people.” (97) He says Christians have forgotten that it is “first to the Jews.” (Rom. 1:16) Bernis calls it an issue of “divine priority.” Focusing on evangelizing the Jews is part of “God's divine order.” (97)
There are a few issues I have with Bernis' book. Bernis placed much emphasis on evangelizing the Jews as the salvation of Israel is necessary, he says, for the return of Christ. Imagine my surprise when I read, “After the blowing of the shofar as both a warning to the earth that leads to the outpouring of God's judgments and the shofar blast that summons us to meet Him in the air, we will see a national awakening take place with Israel as they recognize the one whom they have pierced...” (214) So now I am confused. Does the awakening of Israel happen after the “rapture”? Bernis does add that this awakening must happen before Jesus can establish His millennial reign. (216) He later writes, “...the Jewish people will continue to reject the cornerstone [Jesus] until a set time in history.” (218) He notes that Jesus is waiting in heaven and one of the things He is waiting for, before He returns, is “the salvation of Israel.” (222) But Bernis wrote earlier that the national awakening will happen after the trumpet blast. He writes, “Until 1967, it was impossible for Jesus to return...” (97) This was because the Jews did not have control of Jerusalem until then. Also, “...[Jesus] simply cannot come back until He is invited back by His Jewish brethren.” (82) (Wow. I thought God was sovereign.) He also writes, “I am convinced that God does nothing apart from the prayers of His people.” (170) So, how did God create the universe, before He created people to pray Him into action? Reading through the Bible, I find that God acted sovereignly many times, before any human prayed. Bernis encourages Christians to embrace our Jewish roots. He writes, “...the first century church...was made up entirely of Jewish people or proselytes to Judaism. These people never forsook the traditions of their forefathers.” (197) “The Jews of the first century who put their faith in Yeshua never meant to start a religious movement that was separate and distinct from Judaism.” (198) In fact, he writes, Jesus is waiting in heaven for, among other things, “the Church's coming into its destined fullness...a fullness that includes returning to the Jewish roots of the faith...” (222) So, Christians not celebrating the Jewish feasts is preventing Jesus from returning? I find this whole concept of Christians embracing their Jewish roots odd. Paul opposed Peter when Peter went “Jewish” in a Gentile setting (Gal. 2:11-14). Paul said a religious festival or a Sabbath day is “a shadow of things that were to come,” and that “the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17) The writer of Hebrews agrees, saying the law and the sacrifices (such as those at the Day of Atonement) were not realities but only shadows of the good things that are coming. (Heb. 10:1) I just do not understand why I, who have the reality of Christ, would want to celebrate the shadows. With all Bernis covers regarding how Christians think of the Jews, he never addresses Bible passages like Gal. 3:7 (“it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”), Gal. 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Greek...”), nor Gal. 3:29 (“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”)
This book was not what I expected, based on the title. This book is mostly about the Jews, their persecution, and how Christians should evangelize Jews to bring on the return of Jesus.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.