Day 212: Matthew 24:13-14

But whoever holds out to the end will be saved. And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached through all the world for a witness to all people; and then the end will come.

[This is the one of 15 scriptures in which Jesus provides his disciples with some details about the Second Coming of Christ.  For more on the Second Coming see Day 150.  For more on the Messiah see Day 145.  For more on the End of the Age see Day 128.]

How will the disciples know that the end of the age is at hand?

Clue #7:  Those who persevere will be saved, and this Good News will be preached all over the world.

One of the things I learned as a result of doing this blog is that many of the things that I thought were uniquely Christian are in reality rooted in Jewish practice.  Here’s another one of those things.  I have heard many times that Christians are evangelistic and Jews are not.   Of course evangelical Christians want to get everyone to convert to Christianity so that the end of the world will come and we can all put this life on earth thing behind us.  I always think it’s funny how lots of Christians look forward to “the end of the world” even though they are afraid of death.  Seems weird to me. What’s even weirder is the survivalists who are filling up their basements with guns and canned goods to prepare for the end.  Who are they going to shoot?  God?

Anyway, I was always led to believe that this idea of world conversion as a prelude to the end times is a uniquely Christian point of view.  And while you aren’t likely to find Jews proselytizing on city street corners, a little research shows that this prophecy is a traditional Jewish belief.  Jews have apparently always believed that the “end of the world” or the “Messianic Age” or the “Kingdom of Heaven” will come only when everyone becomes a Jew.  Here’s the way the way it’s explained on my favorite Jewish educational website

Olam Ha-Ba: The Messianic Age

The world after the messiah comes is often referred to in Jewish literature as Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come. This term can cause some confusion, because it is also used to refer to a spiritual afterlife. In English, we commonly use the term “messianic age” to refer specifically to the time of the messiah.

In the Olam Ha-Ba (The Messianic Age), the whole world will recognize the Jewish G-d as the only true G-d, and the Jewish religion as the only true religion (Isaiah 2:3; 11:10; Micah 4:2-3; Zechariah 14:9). Some gentiles have tried to put an ugly spin on this theology, claiming that Jews plan to force people to convert to our religion, perhaps based on their own religion’s history of doing exactly the same thing. That is not at all how Jews understand the messianic age. We believe that in that future time, everyone will simply know what the truth is, in the same way that we know that 2+2=4, and there will no longer be any reason to argue about it. It is much like a situation I witnessed at work once: two computer programmers were arguing loudly and at length about whether it was possible for a user to input data at a certain point in a program. Finally someone pressed a key and they all saw that nothing happened. Now they knew the truth, end of argument. When mashiach comes, theological truths will be equally obvious to mankind, and there will be no reason to argue about it.

So it seems there is a conflict here.  When everyone converts to Judaism there will be world peace.  Or is it Christianity?  We can’t all be Christian and Jewish at the same time.  Maybe it means the end will never come.  Or maybe the Kingdom of God is big enough to accommodate more than one earthly religion.  Maybe the end of the age will come when everyone comes to their senses and decides that love is better than hate, peace is better than war, generosity is better than greed, and kindness is always the best approach to everything.  When we can all get along, the Kingdom of God won’t “appear.”  When we can all get along, the Kingdom of God will already be here.

A lot of Christians today say the end is near because the Bible has been translated into 518 languages and knowledge of Jesus is known in all four corners of the earth.  They think that is what this scripture means.  All that’s needed is for everyone on the earth to hear the word “Jesus” and perhaps say, “I believe.”   Because that’s that they think being a Christian is all about.  World domination.

But what, according to this scripture, is the “Good News”?  Is it that Jesus died for our sins?  No, according to this scripture the Good News is that those who hold out until the end will be saved.  It says “THIS Good News,” the news that those who persevere will be saved, will be preached throughout the world.  Who are those who “hold out”? Those who love their enemies.  Those who turn the other cheek.  Those who show compassion to the outcasts.  Those who turn away from materialism.  Those who trust in God, accept the teachings of Jesus, and believe in the power of good.  Based on this criteria I don’t think the end is imminent.  Seems like we have a long way to go.

What does this scripture say to you?