Israel and the End of the World
What you are about to read could change your entire outlook on life. I know it has mine. In fact, it has changed my life so much, that after thirty years of ministry I am dedicating Steve Gray Ministries to sounding a clear and understandable message about Israel and the end of the world.
Unfortunately, most of what we read today on the subject is led by cranks who hold on to poor scholarship as though it were sacred, untouchable and final without discussion. However, every idea about what will happen in the future is mere theory based on scripture, history, speculation and sometimes good guesswork. To claim to be an expert in the unknown future is foolish and to set times and dates for these events is even more foolish.
My goal is to take the biblical, historical, and contextual data that we do know and put it together in a simple easy to understand theory that is logical and believable. I want to take this information, and add it to the faith of first-century Jews and Christians and what they believed. In other words, when they heard the words of Jesus concerning the end of the world, what came to their minds?
Another misfortune as we study the end of the world is the tendency for modern preachers to wrap the future up in a comforter with a soft pillow to rest our head on. We want to be told over and over again that we are safe. We want the assurance that we will be alright. We want a story that looks out for our individual interests.
The true message of the future is a message of the kingdom of God and not the individual.
The true message of the future is a message of the kingdom of God and not the individual. The events of the end will accomplish God’s interests, not mine or yours. We can be sure if the end of the world is taught from a self-centered point of view, there will be many errors. Our words are to represent the kingdom of God and not the kingdom of self.
So where do we start? Let’s start with the most common error and the easiest to fix. This error usually happens the very first time we hear the message of salvation. The evangelist offers the listener eternity in heaven. There is a heaven and believers in Jesus are promised a place there if they die. So what is the problem? What is the error?
No one is going to spend eternity in heaven. None of us will be flying around heaven forever in some disembodied state while enjoying our favorite hobby. Heaven as we know it today is a temporary place of holding until the resurrection of the dead. Then we will all come together forever living within a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus will reign in righteousness and time will start all over again — without the tempter Satan, without sin, and without death.
You see, if you were to talk to a first-century Jew and mention eternity, they would never think of heaven or going away. They knew that the kingdom of God was coming to rule on the earth and make things right. Every Jew and later all Gentile believers were taught that the kingdom of God would one day take over the world. To be included in that kingdom is what eternal life meant to them.
The good news is not that we go up, but that God comes down.
Most people have the good news all wrong too. From the ancient Jewish perspective, through the time of Jesus until today, the good news has always been the same. It has never been that you will someday go someplace. No doubt, knowing there is a temporary place for believers if they die is good news, but it is not the good news.
The good news is not that I will go someplace, but that God is coming down to my place and your place. When the children of Israel traveled through the wilderness God came down to them. When the shepherds were abiding in their fields, angels appeared and announced the good news. Immanuel is now with us. The good news is not that we go up, but that God comes down. Jesus is coming down again to raise our bodies to new life. This time he is staying down and so are we. At that time, Jesus will hand the kingdom over to his father and Yahweh God will be our all-in-all forever.
You will notice that this article is called Israel and the end of the world. I made it purposely misleading. The world isn’t going to end. It will be transformed just like your body will be transformed. The more correct way is to say "the end of the world, as we know it."
That’s right, the world will end as we know it, but it will never cease being. It will never disappear in a ball of fire. It will be changed just like your body will be changed — from being mortal to immortal — with a glorified raised-from-the-dead body.
Look how much you have learned already about the end of this age. You will not spend eternity in heaven. You will spend eternity on the earth. The good news is not that a person goes somewhere but that God comes down here. Earth will be changed. Heaven will be changed. You will be changed. Now you are on the same page with the Jewish and Gentile believers of the first century. You are ready to learn more about what they believed would happen to Israel and the world as we come to the end of the age.