I am a fool for eschatology [theology of the future]. I love to think about the promises of the prophets. I love to imagine the world the prophets say will some day be here.
I am reminded of eschatology when I eat breakfast and see a painting of the Third Temple on my dining room wall. I read constantly about things that remind me of eschatology. Just recently I read a few comments about Rob Bell and one of his teachings: we need to quit thinking we are going away and understand heaven is coming here to earth. I’m glad that more and more realize this (I enjoyed Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, for the same reason). I am glad more and more followers of Yeshua are ceasing Platonic misconceptions of an immaterial afterlife (I am not denying the intermediate state).
Some people make fun of eschatology. Some scholars roll their eyes at the Joel Rosenbergs of the world who speculate about eschatology and current events. I just read a blog article by Ben Witherington III poking fun at Rosenberg and others. I respect Ben, but what if Russia and Iran do attack Israel? What will he say then?
The thing is, I would rather be a fool for eschatology than a cynic who misses the joy of expectation. I would rather think Messiah may come in my lifetime than be a cynic.
I have always identified with the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your kingdom come.” I love it when Peter speaks of “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet 3:12). It reminds me of an idea I encountered in my early studies of Judaism.
I was a new student of Judaism and knew next to nothing. I had been assigned to read some chapters from The Jewish Catalogue (a book by the Havurah [home-group] movement bringing renewal to Judaism). Somewhere near the beginning of their book, the authors talked about the concept of Torah faithfulness speeding the coming of Messiah. If all Israel would just keep two Sabbaths in a row, I think the tradition goes, then Messiah will come. Peter seems to have a comparable idea.
That leads me to the point I wanted to make. I have come to love a line from the Siddur, the prayerbook of Israel. It is simply a quotation from scripture (as is much of the Siddur). It is even a quotation of a verse I have read many times from a very familiar chapter (Zechariah 14). Yet there is something about the context of the quotation in the Alenu, a concluding prayer for the morning service, that makes this quotation stand out even more:
And it is said, ‘HaShem will be king over all the world — on that day HaShem will be one and his name will be one.’ Zechariah 14:9, from the Alenu, p.161 Artscroll Siddur.
What does it mean that God will be one? Isn’t he one already? It means he will be the only. His name will not be scattered. No man will have to teach his neighbor saying, “Know HaShem,” for all will know him. It will not be Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, and HaShem, but only HaShem.
It is a great promise, especially for those of us who feel marginalized right now because of our faith in Israel’s God and Israel’s Messiah. So let that Temple be rebuilt and let the name of HaShem be one. Your kingdom come, Yeshua.