Current Problems Signal the Coming Messianic Age

A ViewPoint by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

A photo-looking generative ai image of a tree within a glass globe with a green forest background

An incredibly rare white bison calf has been photographed in Yellowstone National Park, exciting Native American tribes who view its arrival as a religious prophecy heralding major change [source]. The birth of a white buffalo is a sacred event for many Native tribes of the Great Plains, including the Lakota people, who believe that it relates to a time when food was scarce and the bison were rarely seen.

The Lakota legend tells of a beautiful woman who appeared and delivered the gifts of a sacred pipe and bundle to the people. The woman told them she would return to restore harmony in a troubled world, and then rolled on the ground four times, changing color each time before becoming a white buffalo calf.

Her departure led the bison to return, and white buffalos are now seen as a sign that prayers are being heard and that positive change is coming. White Buffalo Woman is considered the central prophet, a messiah-like figure, in the religion of many tribes, including the Sioux, Cherokee, Comanche, and Navajo. 

Worldwide upheavals

The World Health Organization has blamed four major industries—tobacco, ultra-processed foods, fossil fuel, and alcohol—for 2.7 million deaths a year in Europe, accusing them of obstructing public policies that would foster a healthier society but ultimately hurt their sales and profits. The WHO also stated that Industry lobbying is hampering efforts to tackle noncommunicable illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes [source].

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, climate change is creating favorable conditions for the tiger mosquito to spread. Tiger mosquitos, carriers of dengue fever, are now found in 13 EU countries, including France, Spain, and Greece, causing the disease to spread beyond the tropical and subtropical regions where it is endemic [source].

More than 60 countries have anti-LGBTQ+ laws on the books, most of them in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia [source].

On June 6, 2024, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Texas) published a resolution calling for a moratorium on ordaining women [source].

An estimated 26 million people worldwide are falling into poverty every year due to floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events [source].

The total economic losses caused by natural disasters hit an estimated $72 billion in the first half of 2022, fueled by storms and floods, Swiss reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated [source].

According to a 2020 Oxfam report, the richest 1 percent of the global population produce more carbon emissions than the poorest two thirds of humanity. [source]

And for the first time in two decades, there are now more closed autocracies than liberal democracies in the world, according to the Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem Institute) at the University of Gothenburg. The democratic decline has taken place globally, and an increasing number of people are living in closed autocracies. The level of democracy enjoyed by the average world citizen in 2022 is back to 1986 levels. This means that 72 percent of the world’s population, 5.7 billion people, now live under authoritarian rule. Liberal democracies do not automatically overcome autocracies. Democracies must be supported and defended [source].

A coming Messianic Age?

The four horsemen of the apocalypse appear in the New Testament Book of Revelation. Each of the horsemen represents a different facet of the end-times apocalypse: conquest, war, famine, and death.

The word Armageddon does not appear in the Hebrew Bible, and appears only once in the Greek New Testament, in Revelation 16:16, which makes no mention of armies being predicted to one day gather on or near Mount Megiddo but, instead, seems to predict only that “they [will gather] the kings together to … Armageddon.”

The text does, however, seem to imply, based on the text from the earlier passage of Revelation 16:14, that the purpose of this gathering of kings in the “place called Armageddon” is “for the war of the great day of God Almighty.” Could this war be the ongoing battle against global warming?

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam teach their followers to take care of the earth. Christians, Jews, and Muslims also believe that humans should act as guardians and trustees (stewardship and khalifah) of our planet, and that they will be held accountable by God for their actions.

Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a powerful eschatological strand. Islam anticipates the end to the world as we know it, a final historical confrontation between the forces of good and evil after which human life will be transformed in a positive way.

As a Reform Rabbi who believes that the worldwide upheavals we all are experiencing are part of the birth pains of the Messianic Age, I offer Christians and Muslims some positive insights from the Jewish Prophets and the Rabbinic Sages.

Many millions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe the wars of Gog and Magog (Gog u-Magog in Hebrew and Yajuj and Majuj in Arabic), which started in the 18th to 20th centuries, will come to an end in the 21st century.

It is true that human society changed more rapidly, violently, and fundamentally in the last 250 years than ever before in history. Doctors saved the lives of millions. Dictators sacrificed the lives of millions. Populations are exploding in some places and declining in others. Technology produces both worldwide prosperity and worldwide pollution at the same time.

Should we look upon the future with optimistic hope or with fatalistic trepidation? Is the world and our society heading toward a wonder-filled new age or toward a doomsday?

Or are both occurring almost concurrently because breakdown is always a prelude to breakthrough? 

Ancient Jewish prophesies

Jews, whose Biblical prophets were the ones who first wrote about a future Messianic Age, recognize that the birth of a Messianic Age must be preceded by its birth pangs. But the prophets of Israel also emphasize the glories of a future world living in peace and prosperity with justice for all.

Ancient Jewish prophecies did proclaim that there would be an end to the world as we know it. But they did not prophesy that the world will come to an end, nor did the Prophets of Israel offer an exact date for the transition.

The exact advent of the Messianic Age is not knowable; because humans have free will, the exact time and manner of redemption cannot be determined in advance. Much depends on what we humans do.

The beginning of the Messianic Age is a time of transition from one World Age into another. How we move through this transition, either with resistance or acceptance, will determine whether the transformation will happen through cataclysmic changes or by a gradual reform of human society that will lead to a world filled with peace, prosperity, and spiritual tranquility. 

The Messianic Age

The Prophets of Israel conceived redemption as a transformation of human society that would occur through the catalyst of the Jewish community. This transformation, which will take place in this world at some future time, is called the Messianic Age.

The transition to the Messianic Age is called the birth pangs of the Messiah. The birth of a redeemed Messianic world may be the result of an easy or a difficult labor. If everyone would simply live according to the moral teachings of his or her religious tradition, we would ourselves help bring about the Messianic Age.

But, if we will not do it voluntarily, it will come about through social and political upheavals, worldwide conflicts and generation gaps and, most obvious of all, climate change, affecting both nature and the economic society. The Messiah (Mahdi) refers to one or more human agents of God who help bring about a nondestructive positive transformation. 

Agent of God

The Jewish tradition teaches that this agent of God (together with several forerunners and many disciples) will be a human being, a descendant of Prophets Abraham and David, with great qualities of national leadership similar to Prophets Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed.

The arrival of the Messianic Age is what’s really important, not the personality of the agents who bring it about, since they are simply the instruments of God, the real Redeemer.

Prophet Micah states:

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; and exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.

The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD GOD has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we [Jews, Christians and Muslims] will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever” (Prophet Micah 4:1-5).

Gog and Magog

One of the signs of the End of Days is the arrival and defeat of Gog and Magog (Ya’juj and Ma’juj or Ajuj and Majuj). Gog and Magog appear in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Islamic Quran as individuals, tribes, countries, and catastrophic acts of nature.

The Quran mentions Gog and Magog twice:

He said: “This [barrier] is a mercy from my Lord: but when the warning of my Lord comes to pass, He will reduce it to dust [and Gog and Magog—the Colonialist Empires, the Nazis, and the Communists would be released into the world]; and the promise of my Lord is true” (18:98).

Gog and Magog are destructive groups like the Colonialist Empires, the Nazis, and the Communists who, near the time of the end of days, will penetrate into every part of the world.

The other mention of Gog and Magog in the Quran is:

But there is a ban on a town which We have destroyed: that they [the people of the town] shall not return [to reclaim that town as their own]; until Gog and Magog are let through [the barrier], and swiftly spread out in every direction (21:95-96).

This verse refers to Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, and only reclaimed 18 centuries later as Israel’s capital, following the era of the defeat of the Nazis, the Communists, and the Colonialist Empires, who had been Gog and Magog for generations.

The goal of the Messianic Age

Thus, humanity is passing through the most devastating era of human history. However, we have not yet reached the goal of the Messianic Age when:

They [all nations] will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD GOD has spoken (Prophet Micah 4:2-4).

This era will come about when Israelis and Palestinians make a long-lasting two state partnership of peace; thus fulfilling the 2700-year-old vision of Prophet Isaiah:

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance” (Isaiah 19:23-5).

 

© 2024 by Christian Feminism Today.
Please request written permission before reprinting any part of this article.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Los Angeles, California. He blogs on the Times of Israel. Rabbi Maller has published 950+ articles in some two dozen different Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and websites. He is the author of the recent books: Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi's Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism, Qur'an and Torah, Islam and Judaism, and Which Religion Is Right For You? A 21st Century Kuzari. All his books are available on Amazon.