Since the 1st century Ekklesia, soon after the Jewish apostles passed from this world, a deceptive doctrine- that crept into early Christian theology- has led many believers in Messiah astray. This teaching of the false shepherds’ is that Jews and Christians are forever separated by the will of God. It casually mistakes the “Church Age” or “Age of the Gentiles” as a completely separate entity in God’s plan, leaving the Jews forever cursed under the Law of the Old Testament. At best it concludes that Jews will finally be awakened to the Messiah at His coming, after escaping Christians are raptured away into Heaven to avoid coming apocalyptic conflict.
This doctrine ignores pivotal passages that direct Christians toward entering the “commonwealth of Israel” through Christ. It also ignores that God has appointed a restoration of all things, with the hearts of the Jewish fathers of the faith turned towards their spiritual offspring, and their Christians offspring turned towards the fathers and the wisdom of the Just. Finally, it ignores many plain prophecies from Isaiah and the prophets, even from Yeshua (Jesus) Himself, as He instructed Jews and the Pharisees who challenged Him:
“And other sheep I [Yeshua/Jesus] have which are not of this fold [Jews]; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.” (John10:16) NKJV; intrpl. mine
Now Christ was not speaking of the wicked popes as the “one Shepherd,” nor was He speaking to modern motivational gurus of prosperity Christianity. He was speaking of Himself, as is evident in the context of the chapter. This truth was written in the shadows of His work by Old Testament (Tanakh) prophets. Indeed, even the place is given where this one Shepherd will lead them:
The LORD [YHVH] my God will come, and all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that Day [Day of YHVH; see 14:1] that there will be no light; the lights [glorious ones, luminaries] will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the LORD- neither day nor night, but at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters [doctrine of Salvation taught from the Temple] shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea [Dead Sea, corporeal manifestation to symbolize Israel’s healing] and half of them towards the western sea [Great Sea/Mediterranean, corporeal manifestation to symbolize Gentile nations receiving the waters of the Word]. In both summer [time of blossoming life- beginning of the Gospel] and winter [time of death and falling during Apocalypse] it shall occur. And the LORD [YHVH] shall be King over all the earth. In that day [Day of YHVH] it shall be- “The LORD [YHVH] is one,” and His name one. (Zech. 14:5-9) NKJV; intrpl. mine
Although the spiritual implications of the above paasage are already taking place, and will continue to, the corporeal waters have not yet begun to flow from beneath the Temple porch, out to both the Dead Sea and the Great Sea. This will not be complete until a great earthquake, when Lord YHVH comes with His elect and saves Jerusalem from surrounding nations. Thus, what are we to take away from this except that both Jews and Christians will become one flock for one God manifest in the Messiah? We will be united over the healing waters of the Word, like future waters proceeding from the Temple. Moreover, in nothing that Mashiach said, and nothing written in the Prophets, are there two separate destinies to become of Bible-believers during the Apocalypse. There is no rapture where Christians will feast in a marriage banquet with Christ as Jews suffer the tribulations during the Apocalypse; rather, God will gather into one all of His elect, to restore twelve tribes, and all His elect will know that Messiah is “God among us, Emanuel.”
The question might then becomes: ‘If the saints are not to be raptured, how will they return with the Lord at the end of the Apocalypse?’ My answer to this is that God will gather His people by His Spirit, near Jerusalem, to enter the door of the Great Sabbath. God did not have to rapture the animals that He called to the Ark of Noah, and He did not have to rapture Jews to make them come home to Israel. We follow the Spirit and the Word of God, and the Spirit and New Jerusalem say, “Come!” (See Rev. 19:13-14; 22:17.) We are to be as the five virgins, prophetically speaking of Christ’s parable, who had enough anointing oil of the Spirit to enlighten their path before them, who answered themidnight cry and went out to meet Him.
And like Noah’s family, which had an appointed time to enter the Ark of their salvation, before the Lord YHVH shut the door (cf. Gen. 7:4, 15-16; Matt. 24:37), we also have an entrance into the seventh day, and the Door of our salvation is the Word of God. We do not want to be as the virgins who found that their purity and waiting on the Lord was not enough for entrance into the marriage, for the door was shut by the time they had enough light to discern the Truth. They did not know the Word of the Lord, and thus the Lord countered that He did not know them (see Matt. 25:10-13). Moreover, we must hear the Word of the Lord and follow His voice.
Any shepherd of a flock who does not teach the Word of God and Gospel of the Kingdom is a thief and a liar. They steal from God, taking tithes for abundant living. They have already received their rewards in this present world, and they will be severely rebuked by the Lord for teaching another gospel. The only true Gospel teaches Christ crucified and the restoration that His reconciliation brings for those who will enter the coming Kingdom. It matters not how many people believe what false shepherds say, for broad is the way that leads to destruction, but only that the elect of God escape Babylon and her daughters and follow the Word of God. This is a lesson we can learn from the Messiah as He distinguished between Himself and the religious leaders of His first coming.
“Truly, truly, I say unto you, he who is not entering through the doorway [Word of God] into the sheepfold [congregation], but ascends up [the latter of success] by another way, that one is a thief and a brigand. But He who enters through the doorway [the Word] is Shepherd of the sheep. To this One the doorkeeper opens [prepares the way before Him], and the sheep [followers] hear His address; and He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when He advances His own sheep, He advances in front of them, and the sheep follow Him, because they know His address. But in no way shall they follow a foreigner, but will escape from him, because they know not of the foreigners’ address.” (John 10:1-5) PIT; intrpl. mine
From the above passage, I would like to draw readers’ attention to what 1st century Jews, particularly Pharisees whom Christ was addressing in Jerusalem, might have thought about His words. He spoke of the “sheep” (probaton) being herded in and out of an attended doorway or gate. In Jerusalem, there was a special gate for sheep to enter in and out of the city, called the “Sheep Gate” (probatikos), that was rebuilt by Priest Nehemiah after Jews had come out of Babylonian Captivity, and back to Jerusalem. Messiah gave the Good Shepherd analogy after the Pharisees inquired, “Are we also blind?” because those who would hear His Word (the sheep) would be called out of the city before its utter destruction. And indeed Christian Jews escaped to Pella of Jordan because they already knew that God had indeed determined it be destroyed, whereas the Pharisees were largely responsible for people being trapped in the city when Vespasian came against it. In other words, they were false shepherds who led people astray because they did not truly comprehend the Word of God. They would not hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Thinking they could see, they were the blind leading the blind, as long as their pay was good. Thus, Christ began by stating that true Shepherd “leads them out.”
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling [religious profiteer], he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.” (John 10:7-13) NKJV; intrpl. mine
Thus, Christ made a distinction between Him giving His life for the sheep, being killed for speaking the truths of God, and Pharisees and other religious leaders. They were rewarded financially from followers whom they did not love enough to sacrifice for, nor love enough to be persecuted for via feeding them unpopular biblical truths.
An example of this can be found in the Pharisaic hero, and so-called “sage,” Johanan ben Zakkai (called “Ribaz”), who is credited with (and celebrated for) contributing the fundamentals and core Mishnah texts of Rabbinical Judaism (who countered- on behalf of Pharisees- many 1st century Sadducees’ teaching on the Torah). A Galilean himself, he despised his religiously lax fellow countrymen in the famous fishing region, many of whom had welcomed Christ, accusing them of hating Torah. Seeking to curse them, he prophesied that they would “fall into the hands of robbers.”
Yet it was he who found himself trapped inside Jerusalem when Vespasian laid siege against the city, falling into the hands of the Romans during the Great Jewish Revolt. Thus, he besought his fellow Jews, whom he increasingly despised, to surrender to assured slavery, displacement throughout the Roman Empire, and likely executions. And with the Jewish sheep surrounded by ravenous wolves, he manipulated his own escape from the city under the guise of a great funerary procession of some noble dignitary, hiding himself in a coffin carried out by his Pharisee talmudim. Knowing that the astute Romans soldiers would check his coffin, he had his students quickly carry it straight into the war tent of Vespasian (the Roman general whom people suspected would become the next emperor). Resurrecting himself to negotiate for his life, he feigned a prophet and predicted obvious things to appease the ego of the general, claiming that Vespasian would become the next emperor and the Temple of Herod wood soon be destroyed (which Jewish religious leaders had been increasingly saying- via heavenly signs- since the crucifixion of the Messiah). According to the Pharisees who became the leading voice of Rabbinical Judaism, the new emperor granted the scheming sage three wishes: a doctor to treat Rabbi Tzadok (who fasted and prayed for YHVH to prevent the destruction of Jerusalem since Christ was crucified, c. 30 A.D.), the lives of the sages of Yavne, and some of the descendants of the line of David, under Rabban Gamliel. In other words: He flattered the general and then pleaded for his influential religious friends and Pharisees.
To this day, many rabbis celebrate his “wisdom,” which was nothing more than mere craftiness. And they celebrate him knowing that they would have also abandoned the sheep if the wolves were to again surround them. And lest readers mistakenly think that the Roman legions were just and compassionate, if only all other Jews had fled, Josephus and other historians of the age recorded the fact that even pregnant Jewish women caught escaping the city had their bellies ripped open by soldiers, thinking that they might have swallowed valuable gold or coins. And when the 10th legion did finally conquer the broken city and Temple, which came under Vespasian’s son Titus, they brutally slaughtered over 600,000 souls, and only after wearing themselves out in a vicious bloodbath did they send the rest of the Jerusalem Jews throughout the Roman Empire as slaves and victims of their coliseum entertainment.
Further, Johanan ben Zakkai did not scheme to save a favorite child, a mother, the holy implements of the Temple (such as the Menorah), or invaluable Jewish historical records and written histories, but indeed he saved himself and the corrupt religion of the Pharisees. Perhaps Mashiach had him in mind when He was rebuking jealous Pharisees and speaking of leading His sheep safely out.
Christ had clearly warned of the coming siege (see Luke 19:36-46), and God had sent peculiar signs for their generation, for forty years, yet Ribaz was a gifted seer once the wolves had already surrounded the sheepfold, at least in some rabbinical eyes. Remember one of the charges levied against the Messiah, by such religious leaders, was that He spoke of the Holy Temple being destroyed. Had the Pharisees heeded the address of the true Shepherd of the sheep, and taught others to do so, many more lives would have been saved. And that is indeed the difference between humanly hired religious teachers and the Shepherd sent from God. One gives to the poor, even gives His life in presenting God’s truths, and the other schemes for himself, makes his own religious doctrines, and despises the sheep when the wolves close in.