Shalom all, I hope you are preparing for a good Sabbath or (a good worship weekend if you not Jewish). I will be firing up the grill to prepare some fresh burgers for a laid-back Sabbath tonight with just my family. The smells from the kitchen are tempting me to eat early as my wife and a few of my children are making lunch for tomorrow and dinner for tomorrow night as well. Isn’t rest a great thing? Well, for this week’s meditation, I offer a little excerpt from my upcoming book, The Life to Come: A Messianic Jewish View of Heaven. I hope it spurs you to think about the wonderful World to Come. After all, isn’t Sabbath a picture of that world?
Note: This excerpt is from chapter 2, explaining the vision of the prophets for the World to Come:
Amos and the Plowman
Amos was a sheepherder from Tekoa, a town in Judah in the south. God didn’t send Amos to his own people in Judah, but sent him north to the kingdom of Israel. Amos spoke to the northern tribes of Israel about one generation before Assyria came and destroyed them all.
Not only did Amos have a lot to say about justice rolling like an ever-flowing stream, but God also gave him a vision of the future. Amos spoke about “that day,” a favorite expression of the prophets. That day is the coming age when God will act and bring Israel and the world out of exile. Amos saw it because God showed him a little piece of it.
In the piece that God showed Amos, several things would happen. The sukkah of David would be repaired, the nations would be called by God’s name, the plowman would overtake the reaper, the mountains would drip sweet wine, and Israel would be forever restored from captivity.
A sukkah is a booth made of branches, usually used as a shelter in the fields for the workers to get some shade from the sun. It is also used at the Feast of Booths, also called Tabernacles or Sukkot. God would restore the doomed throne of David, the line of Messiah in that day. When that happened, Israel would possess the nations, which might sound bad for the non-Jews, or the Gentiles, but the news is really good. For in that day, Gentiles would be called by God’s name. That is, God did not plan to limit his restorative joy to Israel, but planned to call Gentiles into relationship as well.
I love the picture Amos gave us of the world to come, the picture of mountains dripping wine and plowmen overtaking reapers. I travel to Israel usually at least once a year. I have seen the terraced hillsides in Judah, where vineyards and orchards seem unlikely. The terrain is very steep and rocky, with unending hills and small mountains. But grapes grow on them. In that day, the grapes will be so abundant, the mountains will drip with sweet wine.
I love the picture the rabbis painted of this grape paradise. In the Talmud, the rabbis said:
Not like this world will be the world to come. In this world one has the trouble to harvest grapes and to press them; but in the world to come a person will bring a single grape in a wagon or a ship, store it in the corner of his house, and draw from it enough wine to fill a large flagon . . . There will not be a grape which will not yield thirty measures of wine.
What about the plowman overtaking the reaper? What does that mean? There will be so much fruit and grain that before it can all be harvested, it will be time to plant a new crop. Again the rabbis fill out this image of plenty: “As in this world grain is produced after six months and trees grow fruit after twelve months, in the hereafter grain will be produced after one month and trees will grow fruit after two months.”
To paraphrase John Lennon, imagine there’s no hunger and no secularism too. That is the vision of Amos. That day will not be a world in the clouds or some existence on another plane. That day will be heaven on earth.