Past, Future, or Present?

The world of Moshiach is a world free of hate, jealousy and suffering, a world suffused with wisdom, a world in harmony with itself and its Creator. And what model of leadership does the Torah envision for this perfect world? Moshiach, the world leader who will herald and preside over this climatic era, is described as both teacher and king, a paragon of spiritual and material leadership in one.

So the example of Moses represents the Torah’s concept of the perfect leader. For Moses embodied the ultimate criterion for leadership: an utter self-effacement and a complete absence of self-interest. As the Torah attests: “And the man, Moses, was the most humble man on the face of the earth.” In such a man, absolute authority only ensures the optimum integration and harmony between all areas of communal life. For it is not power that corrupts, but the ego of the powerful. Only in lesser generations, whose leaders’ selflessness is not on the level exemplified by Moses, is it necessary for authority to be fragmented and shared.

But the halving of life into “spiritual” and “material” spheres, its compartmentalization into “moral” and “political” domains, is an artificial one. Life, in its entirety, is a single endeavor: the development of the perfect world that G-d envisioned at creation and outlined in the Torah. The many “areas” of life are but the many facets to its singular essence.

Ethics of Our Fathers
Commentary on Chapter 6
“Torah and State”
Elul 4, 5772 * August 22, 2012
Chabad.org

I’m going to talk a lot more about the “compartmentalization” of the secular and spiritual in our lives in tomorrow’s “morning meditation,” but in reviewing this commentary, I thought we could take a moment to look at a Jewish perspective about life now vs. life in the Messianic Age. I don’t think it’s all that different from how Christians see life now as opposed to how things are going to be when Jesus returns.

Religious Jews tend to draw a much closer comparison between Moses and the Messiah than we Christians do, probably because much of the church has been taught that the Law is done away with, thus Moses becomes superseded by Jesus. In some sense, it’s almost like modern religious Jews see Moses the way we Christians see Jesus. He is the model and the “king” they look up to. He set the standard for Jewish leadership and the Messiah will be a “perfected” version of Moses.

OK, I’m oversimplifying all this, but I think it’s important for us to consider Jesus as the Jewish Messiah King. When Jesus returns (and I’ve said this before), he will look, talk, walk, eat, pray, worship, and be a Jewish man, the Messiah, the King of Israel. He will definitely be “too Jewish” for many Christians and I think it would help if we got used to the idea that he won’t be the “Jesus” we see in the movies before he actually arrives.

One of the reasons I like Jewish commentaries on the Messiah is because it compels me to conceptualize Jesus as Jewish and not as the sort of “gentilized” person that we’ve turned him into as the centuries have passed. This is also why I sometimes encourage Christians to at least try on some Jewish practices for size. Turning our thoughts and hearts toward God during the month of Elul for example, isn’t such a bad idea. It encourages us to conform our lives more toward holiness and God at a time of year when we probably aren’t thinking that hard about our lives of faith (Christians don’t have religious events in or around August typically).

Why not consider and practice self-purification and making who we are just a little bit better than we were yesterday? Maybe we can even do something to make the world a little bit of a better place. Maybe God put us here to actually accomplish something special; something that is uniquely our purpose.

Whoever has faith in individual Divine Providence knows that “Man’s steps are established by G-d,” (Psalm 37:23) that this particular soul must purify and improve something specific in a particular place. For centuries, or even since the world’s creation, that which needs purification or improvement waits for this soul to come and purify or improve it. The soul too, has been waiting – ever since it came into being – for its time to descend, so that it can discharge the tasks of purification and improvement assigned to it.

“Today’s Day”
Shabbat, Elul 4, 5703
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
Chabad.org

Tomorrow, I’m going to ask some important questions on my “morning meditation.” I’m going to ask if Jesus still matters in our lives. I’m going to ask why he’s so important to us and to the world. I think at least some of us are beginning to lose track of the vital nature of the Messiah. It’s not just what he’ll do when he returns and ascends his throne on Earth. It’s what he’s already done for each and every person who calls themselves “Christian” or “Messianic.” It’s what he’s done for us that could never have been done without him.

If you are separating the secular and the spiritual in your life, you may be shutting Jesus out of times and areas of your existence where he needs to be and where you need him to be. Does Jesus matter? Is he important in every part of your life?

I’ll try to answer those questions tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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