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  • Lars Enarson

The End of the World, or Redemption?

Updated: Jul 20

During the first hundred years, the followers of Jesus kept the same biblical hope for the future that the Jewish people have always held. It is a hope centered on the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem, under Messiah.



Eventually, this hope was lost in the church. After the First Church Council in Nicaea, Emperor Constantine commanded all the bishops to “have nothing in common with the most hostile mob of the Jews … that the purity of your minds may not be affected by a conformity in any thing with the customs of the vilest of mankind.”[1] When the connection with the Jewish people was cut, the original biblical hope for the future was rejected as “childish, unspiritual, and Jewish.” In its place came a hope tainted by Greek philosophy and a pagan worldview. The hope of a future, glorious Messianic kingdom out of Jerusalem was lost, and the kingdom of God became equal to the church, headed by the pope in Rome.


The loss of the original, biblical hope has produced a seriously flawed, unscriptural eschatology, especially in evangelical circles. The Jewish people, just like the early believers, look forward to the restoration and renewal of all things (see Ac 3:21, Mt 19:28 and Ro 8:20–21, in Hebrew referred to as tikkun olam), and to the coming of the Messiah. In contrast, Christians, in general, are waiting for the destruction of all things and an escape from the world, with the Messiah.


Some time back, I read a blog on an Israeli website that illustrates this. The humorous article was entitled Signs that the Redemption is near? by Tuvia Brodie. Brodie commented on an American magazine column, called “Signs of the Apocalypse,” by saying, “That magazine comes from America. We live in Israel, which follows a different religious and spiritual orientation. So if someone in America thinks about Christian-inspired world Destruction, perhaps we can think about something different—a Jewish-inspired New-world Redemption.”[2]


This is an example of how Christians are looking for destruction and the end of the world, while the Jewish people are focused on redemption and the beginning of a new world. Even though there certainly is an element of truth to the way Christians think, we suggest that the Jewish thinking reflects a more healthy and biblical mindset. It is a positive mindset, versus a negative mindset. It is true that judgment is coming, but the focus is off. The gospel and the coming of Messiah are supposed to be good news, not bad news. It is difficult to get people excited about a message that everything is going to burn, and we must get out of here.


The Jewish people also believe that it will be a difficult time in the end, before the Messiah comes. They call it the “birth pains of Messiah.” This is similar to the language Jesus used when He spoke about the end. He said, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Mt 24:8) But when a mother is pregnant she is not focused on the coming birth pains. Together with her husband, she looks forward to a new child being born. That is their focus. They feel the baby kicking and moving around in the stomach of the mother and they are excited.


In the same way, we should not be focused on the antichrist, all the difficulties of the end times, or that everything is going to burn. We should be excited about the fact that the whole world will soon be born again into the kingdom of God, and we should watch for signs of redemption with joy-filled anticipation, just like parents are excited about the kicking of a baby in the womb. The problem, however, is that many Christians don’t know what they are supposed to look forward to, because we have lost the biblical hope.


Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, quotes a famous British nobleman who said that when he was growing up, he decided that he would rather go to hell than to heaven. Why? Because being dragged to church as a child, he had heard the preacher announce the death of so-and-so, by saying that the deceased had now joined the choir in heaven, which, day and night, is worshiping God around His throne. From this, he imagined heaven as a never-ending Sunday morning church service, and it seemed to him that even hell must be better than that.[3]


How do the Jewish people picture the world to come, and how do they celebrate their holy day of the week, the Sabbath? They do so with a festive meal and the whole family gathered around a table full of delicacies, as the Sabbath begins. It is a weekly reminder of the great feast in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of Heaven is, more than anything else, described as a huge banquet feast. Is this something that a young boy is able to get excited about, more than a Sunday morning church service? You better believe it!


It is time for Christians to rediscover their biblical hope, and begin to present to a dying world a more biblically accurate gospel that is truly good news. The Messiah is coming soon to Jerusalem, and Paradise will be restored again—here on this planet—in a world filled with righteousness, peace, and joy. Satan and his followers will be destroyed, and sin and death will be no more. That truly is good news! Does that not motivate you to repent from all sin and receive the Messiah as King of kings and Lord of lords, in order to be a part of that kingdom? You do not want to miss the feast that is coming!



Adapted from The Joy of the Whole Earth: Jerusalem and the Future of the World (Ariel Media, 2015).


Footnotes


[1] Daniel Gruber, The Church and the Jews: The Biblical Relationship (Hagerstown, MD: Serenity Books, 1997), pp. 33–35.

[2] Israel National News, 12/30/2013, http://goo.gl/dQOKKm.

[3] Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004), p. 65.

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