If the Messiah snaps his fingers and, “poof,” world peace is suddenly here, how long do you think it would last? Probably not too long based upon thousands of years of human experience. Ask yourself, “How quickly would the bickering start? How long would it take for wars, even small interpersonal ones, to heat up?” Clearly, humans are not naturally inclined toward maintaining shalom (peace).
What good would this finger-snapping messiah have really done in the long run? What is the point, if he had only quelled a few skirmishes, but left the human heart unchanged? As the great Jewish prophet Isaiah wrote,
“…And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4)
How will this transformation happen? The only hope for sustainable world peace is to change the hearts and the spirits of individuals and communities—not by solving all of the world’s political disputes in an instant, because instants are over instantaneously! This is why the idea of two comings of the Messiah makes sense. The Messiah will bring inner peace to human hearts through His death and resurrection and then will come again to bring external peace. The heart of an individual must be changed before the global community can be transformed.
The idea of two comings lines up with the biblical hope of the Messiah who comes to die for sin, rise from the dead to give power to change, and will return again to judge the nations and transform the world. True peace comes one heart at a time, and it starts with you and me.
By Eric Mattson, a Jewish believer from Atlanta, Georgia