In one sense, there’s really no such thing as “the future”—since the moment we get there, it becomes the present! But when we imagine events that may come to pass and their impact upon us, we feel a little thrill of anticipation and even, if we are honest, some fear. The unknown is unnerving. Would we want to know the future if we could? Perhaps—and perhaps not!
In a way, our view of the future shapes the way we understand our lives in the past and present. I grew up in a Jewish home in New York City, attended Hebrew school, became Bar Mitzvah and observed the Jewish holidays. Although my enthusiasm for day-to-day Jewish observance soon flagged, I always strongly identified as a Jew. I knew being Jewish mattered. It mattered not only for me or for my people, but also somehow for the whole world and its destiny, which was fully known only to God. Like many of my peers, I was interested in knowing more about God, but was not finding the answers in traditional Judaism. Maybe you have had the same sort of experience?
Although I deeply respected religious Jews (and experienced all the guilt that came with that respect), I did not think that becoming more religiously observant was the answer. Yet I did know that if I were to find some type of meaningful spirituality, it would somehow have to be consistent with my Jewish identity. This plagued me as I worked my way through myriad religious formulations—from Hinduism to Buddhism to meditation and even a brief foray into Hasidism. Nothing seemed to satisfy my soul or make any sense in the big picture!
An Unexpected Avenue of Faith
When I was 19, after what seemed to be an eternity of searching, a Jewish friend of mine told me about his new faith in Jesus—who he said was the Messiah. I was horrified that a Jewish person would become part of the one religion that was anathema to every Jew. In my opinion, which was based upon the way I was raised, all the bad things that had ever happened to the Jewish people had happened as a result of Christianity. Therefore, it was uncharted and forbidden spiritual territory for young Jewish people like me. I found myself accusing my best friends (there were now two of them who believed Jesus was the Messiah!) of being traitors and of renouncing their right to call themselves Jewish. But soon it became clear to me that what they had discovered was far different from what I had expected. They told me over and over again that their faith in Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name), was all about a relationship and unlike anything I would associate with the dry concept of “religion.”
I was impressed by their conviction, but I had serious reservations. “Not believing in Jesus” was one of the ways I defined myself as a Jew. In addition, I was brought up in a home that still lived in the shadow of the Holocaust, and I was deeply influenced by the assertion that Christians were responsible for this tragedy. After all, Christianity was the majority religion of Germany! Religious Christians in Germany should have at least opposed Hitler’s efforts. (I was later to find out that many did, and some lost their lives doing so.)
This was really difficult to accept! So I watched and waited and witnessed the way my friends’ lives changed before my eyes. For one, they began to identify more with their Jewishness rather than less. After my anger died down, I began to take a new look at Yeshua to see if what they now believed could possibly be true.
After some time, I finally did understand that Yeshua was the Jewish Messiah. He reconnected me to my Jewish identity and faith in a dramatic way that is hard to explain. Once I began to understand our Scriptures as God’s voice to mankind, I found myself returning to my Jewish roots. As a result, I became more and more connected to the Jewish people and to God Himself! It was indescribably soul-satisfying, and this new joy of knowing the Creator of the universe slowly began to change my entire life for the better!
Our Present in Light of God’s Future
I was still plagued by a variety of questions. I wanted to understand what God had to say about the future of the world so that I could better understand the present. I was eager to find out what the Bible said about where we were headed as a people and as a planet. Recently, I have been reading a book by my British friend, Tony Pearce. He is a Gentile who loves the Jewish people and has written a book entitled The Messiah Factor, which answers many questions about believing in Yeshua from a scholarly and Jewish perspective. The following articles are excerpts from this fine work.
The position of Jewish people—especially our scholars—that Yeshua is not the Messiah is supported by a list of reasons that have been developed for many centuries. I hope you will objectively study them, as well as the case for the other side. Then you can make your own decision about Yeshua.
Regarding the future—does it really matter? Somehow, deep down, we know that it does! Can we help but wonder what the outcome will be when we see the current events in the world? We want to know where history is going and when we will get there.
Most people wonder about these things, although few admit it to each other. None of us really wants to believe that we live in a random universe that has no particular direction or meaning. Believing this would undermine one of our most essential needs as human beings—the need for hope. We must believe there is some purpose to our existence and some direction to our future.
I hope Tony’s words about the future will both encourage you and help you think in new ways about our world’s future—as well as your own.
Dr. Mitch Glaser
President, Chosen People Ministries