THE END IS NEAR! SO WHAT?
"The Harvest is the end of the age." Mark 13:39 By Eitan Shishkoff

"Work while it is yet day, for the night is coming when no man can work." My dear friend and Tents of Mercy teammate, Marty Shoub, recently heard these words in a dream. You've likely heard them too, because Yeshua made this statement about Himself, in John 9:4. He was anticipating the "night" of His vicious execution on our behalf. But, along with many others, I've always applied this verse to our generation, hearing in "night" a reference to the end times.

At a January Bible conference on last days' prophecy, we spent long and fascinating hours poring over numerous passages to discern the signs. What must happen before Yeshua comes back? How does today's geo-political landscape compare with Ezekiel 38 and 39? I liked what the study leader, popular author Joel Rosenberg, said. Rosenberg has sold 1.5 million thriller novels, all set in the end times and interwoven with biblical prophetic elements. At the end of all the discussions (filed as 25 pages of notes in my laptop!), he said "So what?" If we are nearing the end of this world's systems, what should we do about it, personally? With all due respect to the scholars and experts, that was exactly what preoccupied my thoughts during the sessions: "How then shall we live?" That's the question Peter asks in his second epistle, referring to the fact that "all these things will be dissolved." (II Peter 3:11)

What should be my priorities, if indeed the end is near? And even if end time pundits are off a bit and Yeshua does not return for another hundred years, my biological clock is running. I just turned 60. I know, it's hard to believe, but tempus fugit (time flies). So, I'm facing the "m" word ... mortality. It's gone by so fast; I hope to have another 25, 30 years but I just heard about a childhood friend that passed away in his 50's. None of us knows our own day or hour of departure. "So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12) What am I doing with the limited days allotted me to do good on the earth?

HE WHO REAPS GATHERS FOR ETERNAL LIFE

Yeshua's conversation with the woman at the well comes to mind. "Look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together." (John 4:35,36) These verses have gripped me ever since I was a brand new believer, still doing the hippie farming thing in the mountains of New Mexico. We worked hard from the spring thaw on through until the ground itself began absorbing the frost. First, we cleared the fields of rock and scrub oak, then plowed, disced, and harrowed the earth. Seed planting was followed by months of irrigating, mulching, weeding and cultivating. Finally, as long as a freak hail storm or some weird bug infestation hadn't destroyed our crops first, there came the long awaited harvest. Experiencing a harvest after all that, helps me grasp God's picturing the end of the age as a final harvest.

"Gathering fruit for eternal life." "Rescue those who are perishing." "Those who turn many to righteousness (will shine) like the stars forever and ever." "At the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." All of these Scriptures point to the everlasting reward and satisfaction of having used our time here on earth to bring people to a saving knowledge of Yeshua. So why don't I spend more time doing it?

I'm busy. I'm "putting out fires." I'm trying to catch up on undone tasks. People are not always receptive. It's an entirely new concept for Israeli Jews, so it's awkward to engage. Momentum carries me away from sharing my faith with new people, not toward it. These factors are all true, but they do not justify my neglect of the harvest, especially when there is "ripe fruit" all around me, dropping to the ground - about to spoil.

HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR THE HARVEST?

So, what can we do to smash the idol of indifference and re-orient for harvest? We need much transformation in order to fully enter the fields which God is already ripening. A great harvest is foretold by Israel's prophets, timed to occur following our return from exile in the latter days. These are those days, but that harvest has barely begun. That is why I believe God's focus for the duration of 2008 is "Preparation for the Harvest." Here are four keys to that preparation, as I understand their importance.

1. PRIESTLY INTERCESSION - It is one of Heaven's paradoxes that reaching out to the lost begins by reaching in to God. If I am to bring life to others, I need a personal revival, drawing me to the throne of God, where His passionate love for the lost is found. "Let the priests who minister to the Lord, weep ... and let them say 'Spare your people, O God.'" (Joel 2:17) "Those who sow in tears will reap with joy." (Psalm 126:5)

2. RELIEF TO THE POOR & NEEDY - "Let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) How can Israeli society, or any society, know that we really "have the goods"? "By their fruit you shall know them." We have got to bring relief to the painful lives of the poor and the outcast. Throughout Israel, wherever Messianic believers (usually with substantial aid from believers in the nations) are assisting those in poverty, prostitution, bondage to drugs and alcohol - hearts are opening and the stigmas about Yeshua are falling away.

3. RELEASE of the SPIRIT'S GIFTS & POWER - "You shall receive power when the Spirit comes upon you and you shall be witnesses." (Acts 1:8) This vital dimension - God's Kingdom breaking through - is exactly what He promises Israel at the end of the age. Why? Because history and modern skepticism have erected a thick wall between the Redeemer and His own nation. If the apostles' generation needed signs and wonders to open Israel's eyes to Yeshua's credentials as Messiah, how much more does our generation!

Eitan back in the day, "Hippie" farming
4. INVOLVEMENT WITH PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE BELIEVING COMMUNITY - We need much broader involvement in society, both in Israel and wherever we live. It's time to break down the "Messianic ghetto" walls that separate us from the rest of our people. What will that look like? It will include opening our home to spend time with neighbors, taking time to enjoy conversation with shop-keepers, pausing while walking along the street to ask if someone needs help. It will entail joining clubs or attending school and community functions with a readiness to serve. In this way relationships will unfold, creating a bridge with the community around us. Yeshua described us this way: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14) It's time to shine (editor's note: see, Eddie Santoro's excellent article, 'Sharing the Light', in the Revive Israel section of this magazine).

Marty was fired up to pray, the morning after his "the night is coming" dream. His passion for the harvest was catching. As we cried out to the Lord of the Harvest in early morning prayer, something was happening in our hearts. Our busy-ness, distractions, and preoccupation with inessentials were being washed away in the river of His persistent compassion and unrelenting mercy. I long for this to continue. May the anointing of the Ruach rest upon us, to radiate Yeshua's life and draw people to Him wherever we go.

 

By Eitan Shishkoff


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Comments:
12:09 03Mar08 Jan Erickson -
I love this article and am in complete agreement with it. So many times I see people fighting against causes and have prayed ... LORD let us use our time more wisely, to draw others to you, that all may be saved and none perish which is your desire. May our YESHUA bless your ministry abundantly ... you are in my prayers.

16:19 03Mar08 Miryam -
Thank you so much for your continued faithfulness in Israel. My husband and I are living in Florida and are doing just what you speak about. We've become very involved in our Condo Assoc. We have many opportunities to witness. More than we had when we were in "fulltime", ministry. The harvest is ripe, here in Florida. We will continue to pray for you as I hope you will pray for us.

18:12 04Mar08 Max Legg -
This is well written, and I agree with it Eitan. For us here in the centre of the Largest City in NZ, we have been in prepasration mode for 34 years. I believe God wants us to move "from preparation mode into production mode" ... Many christians today are like farmers whom have prepared the barn, and the implements, and are now just looking at the harvest ... it's time to go and get it ... there's work to be done. Harvesting is a busy time, and very hard work. Its' time to Go. Thanks again for your inspiring messages.

15:44 06Mar08 Winnie Bomani -
Thank you for reminding us once again that we should get out of our busy life and harvest souls for Jesus. It is time we do away with excuses and join the Lord at work. Let us continue to pray for the needed courage and step out of our comfort zone.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Dan Juster: Who Can We Trust To Teach Us?
Marty Shoub: Casting Our Net
Eddie Santoro: Sharing The Light In Jerusalem