Introduction: A Door of Hope for the Last Days – February 2014

by Batya Ruth Wootten

I have been working, off and on, on a new book for several years now. It will be titled, A Door of Hope for the Last Days.

Some time ago I began to feel compelled by the Lord to finish it. Thinking I could soon do so, we published the Foreword last month (written by Angus).

Then I was laid low with a really bad case of bronchitis – which has led to a publishing delay of possibly as much as two months.

Fortunately, it has been a delay in which the Father has been at work in my life, teaching me, leading both Angus and me, reconfirming our new direction with ARI: the Alliance of Redeemed Israel. He has also been enlarging our understanding of that direction, which will be laid out in my new book – which I am again working on and praying to soon finish.

Like many of you, I have been dismayed at some of the attitudes I have seen in a movement that I have loved for so long. Unfortunately, I have often felt that we Messianics have lost our first love. Yeshua warned what would happen to those who do so in Revelation 2:1-7: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent….’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'”

Lampstands represent both light and congregations. Yeshua is the Light, and like Him, we are called to be a “light to the world” (Mat 5:14; John 8:12; Rev 1:20). If we do not cling to Him, if He is not our “First Love,” He will remove our lampstand/light. It is as simple as that. He will not play second-fiddle to anyone or anything in our lives. Even if we cannot tolerate “evil men,” even if we “test” the faith of others, if he is not our First Love, we will be cut off. For that reason, we need to always check ourselves to see if we are still in the faith, to see if we are still walking in His love: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor 13:5).

Our faith walk is a “test,” and if we do not keep our focus on the right things, we will surely fail that test. My new book will be about the requirements necessary to pass that test. If will hopefully inspire and offer encourage us for the days that lie ahead.

Please join us in prayer that it might soon be finished.

We now want to offer another pre-publication peek at what we hope will prove to be a life-changing, revealing book that calls for a paradigm shift in our view of the Father’s real purpose behind end time events.

Don’t miss this exciting work!

To order a pre-publication autographed copy click here.

A Door of Hope for the Last Days
by Batya Ruth Wootten

Introduction

Weeping, I asked Messiah Yeshua to cleanse me of my sins, to come into my life, and to be my Lord and Messiah.

He did. He touched me. He began a work of transformation in me that continues to this day. And, He immediately placed me among Jewish Believers in the Messiah.

This all happened before we even coined the title, “Messianic Jews.” To have Jewish people accept Jesus as their Savior, yet not deny their Jewish heritage was a phenomenon of the times.

I suppose I was put in that place because I have always been someone who asks questions, and I have a sincere desire to walk in truth. But little did I know where my questioning would ultimately lead me…

I was raised knowing about the LORD. Then I met Him in a powerful way. He took up residence in my heart and my whole life changed. I began to read His Word and it came to life in me. Then mankind began to share things with me that I had a hard time finding in the “Good Book.” And, around this time, I first heard of the “Rapture.”

My problem was that, what the people were saying seemed to oppose Scripture. But, what did I know? Who was I to question the learned? Yet the questions, and the disquiet that seemed to travel with them, just kept coming.

When I asked questions in Church about what I thought were flaws in the theory, the response I got made me feel the people were, in turn, questioning my very salvation.

Still, the pictures that I saw of people suddenly being “Raptured,” snatched out of moving cars and beds and other such things, made me wonder if the God I served really would work in that way.

One supposed proof of the theory was that “the Church is not mentioned in Scripture again after the third chapter of the Book of Revelation.” And, it is true that the “Church/ekklesia/called out ones” are not mentioned again after that point. “Israel” instead becomes prominent. However, the story of the saints continues to be told, and we claim that title in every other verse. So my question was, “How is it that suddenly, we are no longer the ‘saints’?” Another thought that began to stir and dare to rise up in me was, “Can it mean that Believers have begun to realize they are part of Israel and have dropped the mistaken idea of being a ‘separate Church'”?

I came to realize that the Rapture teaching included the idea of Christians being swept away to a Heavenly wedding, while the Jews were left below, to have the hell pounded out of them – or to at least bring them to a point where they were like the Christians. After that, we would all get along just swell.

Frankly, the idea of eating wedding cake while someone was being tortured made the whole concept hard for me to “swallow.”

What kind of God would do that? Would the Messiah be sitting at a wedding table, feasting, and every so often duck under the table to lob yet another bomb at the targets below? Would He stop in mid-dance and tell an angel to quickly pour out yet another plague? How could we possibly eat wedding cake in the midst of such turmoil?

In my mind, the best thing I could say about the theory is that it seemed to include some “really bad party planning.”

This is not to mention the fact that the hypothesis leads Jewish people to think Christians serve a cruel and uncaring God. So, because of my love and respect for the Jewish people, I tried to make a deal with God: “LORD,” I said, “please let me know for certain that I am all right with You and leave me down here with the Jewish people.”

I had decided that I wanted to be with the winners. And based on what I read in the Book of All Books, it looked like, in the end, the Jewish people won the battle. According to most theologians, they would end up burying those who once opposed them.

I also found it a bit ironic as to who the Rapture teachers said would help the Jewish people to finally overcome their enemies: It was the same One Who, earlier, was supposedly eating wedding cake and periodically lobbing bombs.

It all made no sense to me.

In addition to these and other problems with this theory, there was the idea that the “Church” and “Israel” were separate entities. But I knew that could not be the full truth because the God of Israel did not make His New Covenant with “Gentiles.” He instead made it with “the house of Israel,” and, you were either part of that house, or you were out of luck (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:8-12; Ephesians 2:11-22).

Then, there was the idea of a last-days “Seven Year Tribulation” that Christians would escape entirely or in part.

My husband, Angus, who also asks lots of questions, would ask, “Dead is dead, isn’t it? Christians have been put to death for their faith throughout their history. They have been beheaded, sawn in two, and boiled in oil-so what is different about this particular tribulation? I know it is supposed to be more severe, but if the evil one is allowed to kill us, even in horrible ways, why do Believers think they are exempt from its tests?”

Of course, the idea that they are exempt, and that the trouble of that period is instead being poured out on the Jews alone, invariably leads back to the idea that the Church and Israel are separate entities. (It is called the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” however, Jacob was the father of both the houses of Israel, both Ephraim and Judah. See Jeremiah 30:7; Isaiah 8:14.)

Round and round went my many thoughts.

Our involvement with what became known as “Messianic Judaism,” and our increasing interest in regard to the roles of Christians and Jews, soon led us to publish a House of David Herald Newsletter, and then to write a series of books on the subject of the Church and Israel. In studying Scripture, we saw the two houses of Israel, Northern and Southern Kingdoms, or, Judah and Ephraim/Israel. These two houses were scattered at different times, in different directions, and both stumbled over the One Who wanted to be their “Sanctuary.” Yet, both were destined to play different roles in the Father’s divine plan, and to one day be regathered (with their companions) and become “one stick” in the Father’s hand (Isaiah 8:13-14; Ezekiel 37:15-28; 47:21-23; John 2:19-22). Seeing this awesome yet simple truth led to my dismissal of most Rapture theories because they did not address the idea of all Israel – and “Israel” is here until the very end. Moreover, I found that seeing both houses of Israel is critical to understanding the end times. In short, you simply cannot play the game if you do not know who are the players.

As more people began to realize this truth, some of us began to address the issue of “all Israel and the end times.” And, I began to help a friend with his end times book, which led me to draw more conclusions in the matter. Or at least to some current conclusions in the matter…

I must stipulate this fact because, when it comes to the end times, I reserve the right to change my mind without prior notice!

Unfortunately, the book you now have in your hands will not tell you how it all works out because I simply do not know. But, I do believe that with all the misinformation we are bombarded with in these days, it would be wise for us to first address the areas where our participation in the end times is expected. Thus, I will postulate some key questions on various subjects, the answers to which will hopefully help us in our studies.

Again, helping my friend with his book caused me to draw some conclusions about the last days. We began working together with the idea that I loosely conceded that there might be a “Pre-Wrath Rapture” that awaits Believers. But, I was not sure about the time-line of such end time events, and my friend had studied them in detail.

His Pre-Wrath Rapture theory declared that, because Believers are “not appointed unto wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10), they may have to go through “some tribulation,” but will be raptured out before the “wrath” of the Almighty is poured out once more on the earth.

So it is that I began to realize the need to define two of the most frequently used terms in eschatology: “Rapture” and “wrath.” We will dig deeper into the popular but oft misused “Rapture” term later on, and we will see that YHVH’s “wrath” is a close second when it comes to causing confusion for many end time students.

Returning to my friend, he saw Matthew 24:27-31 as the time when the Messiah came for His faithful ones, then took them from the earth so they would not be around when YHVH’s “wrath was poured out.” He concluded that Messiah Yeshua would come for them, then return a second time, at a later date, and then stay for good.

My complaint was, each of the Rapture theories (except the Post-Tribulation view) call for Him to return at least twice (some suggest there will be different Raptures for different levels) and I did not believe that Scripture supported the idea of Him returning two or more times.

As we discussed the matter, our exchange went something like this:

Me: “But it says that every eye will see Him. So what are you saying? Do you think it is a matter of, ‘Now you see Him, and now you don’t?’ Does every eye see Him and then He is gone again? The context seems to indicate that once we all see Him, He is here for good. We see this in that the people ‘mourn’ for Him when they see Him.”

My Friend: “So, how do you think it works?”

Me: “I have not thought about the details in the same way that you have. My primary concern is with hearts and whether or not He will find faith in us when He returns.* However, for a long time I have thought that the world as we know it would end with a nuclear explosion.** My opinions are not cast in concrete, but I guess I imagine it all happening in the proverbial ‘twinkling of an eye.’ The sky parts, everyone sees Messiah Yeshua, Who is seated on a white horse and followed by a great army (the company of Believers who have gone before us). Then, the faithful mortals who are alive at that moment instantly put on immortality, are translated onto the backs of their horses and thus made ready to return to the earth with the Messiah. There is possibly an explosion, and immediately following, Yeshua and His Army return to the earth and begin to establish His Kingdom.”***

My Friend: “So, you think you will be raptured onto the back of a horse…”

With that comment, I laughed out loud. I almost cackled! With my vivid imagination I could see a cartoon-like horse, eyes wide open, having a startled look on his face because an exuberant fat lady just landed on his back!

So it is that I entertained the idea of titling this book, Raptured Onto the Back of a Horse.

I loved the title because it showed the value of not being quarrelsome when dealing with non-essential, contested matters of faith; it also indicated that mine is not a normal Rapture book. Its focus is not really on the Rapture or its details. But, these things must be briefly addressed in order for us to see the truth about our future and our hope.

Alas, my funny title was not meant to be. My beloved friend and talented Editor, Sandy Bloomfield, pointed out that a number of scriptural “doors” are found throughout my book, and that, understanding their role in our lives is really what the work is about. So, I returned to my initial, far less funny title, A Door of Hope for the Last Days. Nonetheless, the image of my startled steed still makes me smile every time he pops into my head.

My hope it to write about this subject like a mother who desperately cares about the well-being of all of her chicks. Thus, my first piece of motherly advice to everyone is this:
“If a ‘Rapture Bus’ comes along, regardless of anyone’s previous assumptions about its schedule, get on it!

However, if a bus does not come along, and if you have to stay here until the horses and cavalry arrive, give it every thing you’ve got between now and then!!”

As my Army Colonel husband often says, “It is better to be prepared and not called upon than to not be prepared and be called upon.”

For these reasons and more, this “end times” book will hopefully prove to be quite different. Its primary focus will be to encourage us, and to help us catch a vision so we will be better prepared for what lies ahead. Our eye will be on the end goal, which is to faithfully preach Yeshua’s Kingdom Gospel, and to help establish His Kingdom on earth (Matthew 4:23).

We will encourage everyone to be about our Father’s business whenever our Savior returns. To do that, we will offer Scriptural lists that will help us to better define that “business.” We will also offer serious scriptural reservations about various theories based on their inconsistencies with the Word. Again, most end time theories do not include an understanding of Ephraim and Judah and their restoration, and that fact changes everything.

In our study, the Word – from Genesis to Revelation – will be our standard. The biblical truth about Israel’s division and latter-day reunion and restoration also will be essential to our foundation. Based on Scripture, various ideas and theories will be addressed, questions will be asked and hopefully answered, and these answers will, in turn, help to enlarge our vision.

One thing we do know for certain is that, in this hour, we need to give our all to our Messiah, Yeshua. Each of us needs to prepare our heart to stay as long as it pleases Him for us to be here – and to do everything He asks us to do while we are here.

To help prepare us for the true call of the end times, we will see that the Father’s end time cleansing “begins with the house of God.” It begins with us first. This point is absolutely essential, even critical to our understanding of the last days (1 Peter 4:17). When He called His children out of Egypt, His focus was not on the Egyptians, but on delivering His children and bringing them into a true relationship with Him. So will it be in the last days.

We also will study “doors” as they are described in Scripture. The opening and closing of doors has much to do with understanding the end times and various Rapture Theories, and with us realizing the full meaning of our walk in Messiah in the last days.

One of the first doors mentioned in Scripture is found in Noah’s ark. And, Scripture reveals that Messiah Yeshua is “The Door.” He is the Way to eternal life. We enter into Him and are saved (John 10:7-9).

We will see that in the end, a particular type of door will be given to us. It is called a “Door of Hope.” We will have to walk through it if we want to be victorious. Moreover, we will also have to pay a high price in order to be able to walk through it, but the victory that lies on the other side will surely make it worth every penny.

Once again, this book is not about time-lines and end-time tidbits like many books on the subject. It is instead about becoming a people who are prepared and able to walk through the last days “Door of Hope.”

* Footnotes:
* Luke 18:8.
** 2 Peter 3:3-7: “Know this…in the last days mockers will come…saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ …[they do not] notice that… the world…was destroyed…flooded with water. But…the…heavens and earth are …reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
*** “…immediately after the tribulation of those days…The Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and…see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory….every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (see Mat 24:30; Mark 13:26; Rev 1:7).

Next Month: Chapter One –
“Declaring The End From The Beginning”

 

We Have Good News and Bad News:

Mary Lynn Houtz and Daniel Calderon are both making good progress. Daniel had a successful surgery on his eye and Mary is regaining strength ever day. Nonetheless, we ask you to please continue to pray for and help them in their time of need. Ask the Messiah to please allow them to continue to be examples of His glorious healing power.

Our “Bad News” is bad for us, but good for our friend, Michele Libin. She has gone home to be with the LORD.

She was at peace and died peacefully, even apparently reaching out for Yeshua as she left this world.

We will miss her dearly.

You can read part of her testimony here:

http://www.redeemedisrael.com/category/testimonies/

Our hope is to investigate starting a small forest of trees in Israel in honor of Michele and other precious Believers who have gone on to Glory. Please let us know if you might be interested in participating in this endeavor – in which you can honor your departed loved ones and help the Nation of Israel reclaim land.

We will tell about our progress next month.