Recently there’s been a lot of discussion in religious circles about the end times. It seems like blood moons, earthquakes, and Sh’mitah years are popping up everywhere. Actually, come to think of it—I’m wrong. Deliberations about the coming apocalypse are not a recent religious invention. Ever since the dawn of human civilization people have obsessed about the end of the world. Every generation is convinced that it is the final hoorah of human existence. Yet, "generations come and go but the earth remains forever," as Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes 1:4.
What is it about the end times that piques our curiosity so much? Why do we have such an infatuation with figuring out the exact date of the apocalypse? Perhaps it’s a subconscious knowledge that this present reality needs to be destroyed in order to give way to a better, more complete reality. Or maybe it’s an unhealthy desire to escape reality? Whatever the reason is for this preoccupation with the end of the world, I’m not sure that it is healthy or constructive for believers to get caught up in the hype. What if all this worrying about the end times is actually counter-intuitive? What if we are unknowingly delaying the return of the Messiah because of our end-times hang-up? Building on this idea, I’d like to present in this article five things I feel we should stop doing. These things may actually guarantee that Yeshua (Jesus) will never come back. That’s right, if we want to ensure that the Messiah won’t return and restore the kingdom of God on earth, gather the Jewish people, and obliterate suffering once and for all, then we should get in the habit right now of doing the following things.
1. Place concrete dates on the return of Yeshua.
Placing dates on the return of Yeshua has gotten a lot of people in trouble. Over the years, eager disciples of the Master have looked at the signs of the times and have determined from them dates for his return. I can recall at least two such dates in my lifetime that have come and gone and still no Messiah.
This date-setting is problematic because Yeshua specifically tells us that no one knows the hour or day of his return. The rabbis teach that it would be best if the person who puts dates on the coming of the Messiah had never been born as he delays the coming of the Messiah.
So, please, let’s not set doomsday dates. Because I can promise that by doing so, we will guarantee he does not arrive on those dates.
2. Obsess over the minutiae of eschatology at the expense of actually following Yeshua.
Yeshua instructs us to keep vigilant as we await his return. Peter tells us that by busying ourselves with good deeds we will hasten the return of Messiah (2 Peter 3:11). Neither the Master nor his apostles instruct us to study every detail of the end times or to speculate over which Head of State is the beast. As disciples of Yeshua, we have a job to make the world a better place by restoring the kingdom of God to this world. Obsessing over blood moons and Sh’mitah cycles do not help in the restoration of God’s kingdom.
3. Baselessly hate.
According to the rabbis the Second Temple’s destruction and this exile were caused by baseless hatred. Baseless hatred, according to the rabbis, manifests itself as a cold and indifferent attitude toward your fellow. Baseless hatred is caused by a number of things: theological disagreements, political disagreements, or just plain old bad attitudes.
Remarkably, Yeshua says that his rejection was due to baseless hatred, “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’” (John 15:25).
Failure to adhere to the message of Yeshua because of baseless hatred was the ticket to this current exile. So, if we want to keep on delaying the coming of Yeshua, then we should keep hating our brothers and sisters without cause. However, if we want to hasten his coming we should correct the mistake that brought us here in the first place.
4. Do not conform our lives to the image of God.
The gospel message of repentance and a life transformed into godliness and the image of Yeshua should make us uncomfortable. A gospel message that does not cut right to the heart of a person and cause a deep transformation is no gospel message. The life of a believer should be a constant struggle of denying ourselves for the sake of glorifying the Messiah. In order to establish the kingdom of God on earth we must proactively seek to first conform our own lives to its rules. Constantly transforming Yeshua to our own image hinders his coming.
5. Do nothing at all.
One day God will restore the world back to its intended perfection. What should the attitude of believers be in the meantime? Some believe that there is nothing we, as humans, can do to help God in perfecting the world. This attitude says that the only thing worthwhile for us to do is to sit around and wait.
I think that we should take a healthier and more productive approach. First of all, we did put ourselves in this mess. According to the Bible and subsequent Jewish and Christian theology, when Adam sinned he sent the entire world (both nature and humanity) into a downward spiral of death and destruction. The rabbis teach that after this sin God desired to partner with humanity to restore the world back to its original perfection. Such a view does not put the entire responsibility on us to restore the world, but it also does not let us off the hook free from a measure of responsibility. Keeping the commandments and bringing people closer to God slowly corrects Adam’s sin and brings us closer to the return of Messiah.
We all long for the return of Messiah. The day when the entire world will be set right and the kingdom of God will be established on earth. As we wait for the coming of the Lord we should do so by busying ourselves with things that will hasten, not delay his return.