The Journal of Messianic Jewish Studies (JMJS) is a new effort to speak into the world of Jewish ministry and scholarship. It is sponsored by the Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies, a partnership between Chosen People Ministries and the Talbot School of Theology of Biola University. This first issue is centered on the eschatological theme of the Kingdom of God, and, as such, addresses one of the most conspicuous shortcomings of current Christian thought – the decline of cogent, Biblical teaching on prophecy. As C.S. Lewis famously said,
We are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,” and of being told that we are trying to “escape” from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is “pie in the sky” or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric.
-C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan, 1962; reprint, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 129-130.
There has been recent reluctance on the part of professors, students, pastors, and, ultimately, those who occupy church pews to seriously study eschatology. (See the article by Dr. Mitch Glaser in this journal as to how this has affected the cause of Jewish evangelism.)
Why should we learn as much Biblical truth as possible about the “pie in the sky?” No doubt Lewis was referring to heaven in general, but it is incumbent upon believers today to search out as much truth as possible, especially as it relates to the coming Kingdom of God. Certainly, the apocalypse was to be read with a view toward the future. “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Rev. 1:3, NIV).
A futurist interpretation of John’s prophecy would suggest that if the time was near in his day, it must be considerably closer today! These are difficult and trying days. The knowledge of prophecy gives the believer assurance when chaos seems to be taking over the world. God is in control. It also gives the believer a heightened sense of anticipation of the Lord’s return. When current events seem to be aligned with predictions of things to come in the Bible, he looks for the Return. God is coming back. When the believer is encouraged and excited about the future, he more likely has incentive to share the good news that the Messiah has come and work unceasingly for the Lord. God is saving. Certainly, there is a camaraderie among those of kindred spirit, and while there are differing opinions concerning the Kingdom of God, the believer enjoys fellowship with all those who anticipate the Return of the Messiah. God is uniting His people.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, the believer who studies the prophetic Word is to “deny ungodliness . . . looking for that blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13-14, NASB). God is sanctifying His people.
Knowledge of prophecy
gives the believer holiness in everyday life.