Journeying to the isolated state of Mizoram in northeastern India, Rabbi Jonathan Bernis and his team offer food and medical care to 5,000 Bnei Menashe—a starving community believed to be descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel, the Manasseh. Taken into captivity when Assyria conquered Israel 2,700 years ago, the tribe's oral histories suggest that a remnant migrated to India, where they continued Jewish traditions.
The Bnei Menashe is just one of the lost tribes of Israel scattered throughout the world. Anthropologists and rabbis—relying on DNA tests and oral histories—are discovering what they believe are other lost tribes in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, China, Burma, Bangladesh and other places. But even more intriguing—and in fulfillment of biblical prophecies that say God would gather His lost sheep in the last days—Bernis says many are returning to the land of their forefathers and embracing the Messiah of prophecy, Yeshua HaMashiach.
These tribes are among a multitude of Jews embracing Jesus Christ as their Messiah in numbers not seen since the first century. Since the late 1960s, the number of Jews professing faith in Jesus has exploded from several thousand to anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide.
From the day Israel recaptured Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six-Day War, fulfilling a prophecy that Jerusalem would be trampled by the gentiles until their time was fulfilled, the number of Messianic Jewish congregations worldwide has grown geometrically from 10 to more than 500, Bernis says. And in what prophecy experts see as a fulfillment of a "super prophecy," hundreds of thousands of Jews are returning to Israel from exile. The nation's Jewish population recently surpassed that of the United States.
"I see this as a direct fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy," says Bernis, author of A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days and president of Jewish Voice Ministries International in Phoenix. "We are talking about a culmination of Bible prophecy here in the end of the age that is being directly fulfilled by the restoration of Israel, by the blindness coming off the eyes of the Jewish people and the regathering of the lost tribes."
Now, only a few years after the release of the last of the 16 books in the apocalyptic Left Behind series, Bible prophecy experts say "last-days fever" is spreading virally around the planet as a confluence of world events is igniting widespread debate about the end times.
"It's exploding all around the world," says Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer, a ministry based in Kansas City, Missouri, that features 24/7 live worship and prayer and end-times teaching. "The economic crisis, talk of globalization and the threats against Israel have just increased the hunger for knowledge about prophecy."
Prophetic Events Point to End Times
Although most mainline and secular Bible scholars reject the so-called "Left Behind theology," dispensational, premillennial Bible scholars and prophecy writers argue that little is left on God's "prophetic calendar" before the second coming of Christ.
"Jesus told us no one knows the day or hour, but we can know the season," says Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series, which sold more than 65 million copies. "And I would say that world events are ... shaping up so that we could be in the season when all these eschatological events take place."
Described as a "prophetic perfect storm," the fascination with ancient predictions has reignited among not only Christians and Jews but also Muslim and New Age movement believers as well.
LaHaye, John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, David Hocking, Paul McGuire and other prophecy teachers say the formation of Israel as a nation in 1948, the ingathering of Jews to Jesus, the rise of global anti-Christ political structures, the military alliance between Russia and Iran, and Iran's threats to annihilate Israel are prophecy fulfillments or conditions that could allow for the fulfillment of prophecies regarding the rapture, Great Tribulation and Second Coming.
No other generation in history, they say, has witnessed the unparalleled acceleration of prophetic events that began when Israel became a nation in 1948. They contend that geopolitical events-the possibility of war between Iran and Israel; calls for a global government, economic system and currency; increasing immorality and lawlessness; devastating natural disasters; global warming; the pending biometric national identification system; the rebuilding of Babylon and the drying up of the Euphrates River-foreshadow events prophesied in the Bible. They argue that the global recession, the United States' soaring debt-now totaling $53 trillion-and its dependence on foreign oil are setting the stage for the rise of a global leader and government.
"With the proposal for a North American Union-a replica of the European Union-the idea is to have 10 regional global governments across the planet, which will eventually merge into a global government," says McGuire, who wrote The Day the Dollar Died and was recently featured on The History Channel special 7 Signs of the Apocalypse. "The current economic global crisis ... is being used to bring in a one-world economic system."
Left Behind series co-author Jerry B. Jenkins says Daniel 2:40-44 7:23-27 and Rev. 13:11-18 predict the emergence of this global government, religion and currency. In July, Pope Benedict called for a "world political authority" to manage the global economy. A few days later at the Group of Eight summit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev-holding a golden coin engraved with "united future world currency"-told reporters national mints are excited about a post-dollar world.
Since the recession began, evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal churches have seen significant surges in attendance by people curious about whether economic and Middle East turmoil are "warning signs" that the Second Coming could occur much sooner than people think. Nationwide, packed-out prophecy conferences are drawing thousands of people.
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