As I mentioned a couple blogs ago, I have been discussing eschatology with a good friend of mine that sees things a bit differently. One of the sticking points has been our different view of “what the disciples were thinking when they asked Jesus about “the end of the age” (Matt. 24:3)
I have taught in Raptureless and Welton Academy, that this verse is speaking of the End of the Age of the Mosaic Covenant. My friend feels strongly about Israel and says that this verse couldn’t mean the end of Judaism.
At first glance, he presents some historical contextual information, which seems to make his point a strong one. And I quote:
“To understand Jewish thinking of that time period, we must separate ourselves from modern explanations of end-times, which are numerous and varied. We must go back to study the Jewish teachings of the first century.
The Jews living in the time of Jesus commonly believed:
- A Messiah, born of the family of David, will come and establish a Kingdom
- The Messiah’s Kingdom will battle and overcome all of the enemies of the Jews
- The Messiah’s Kingdom will triumph, ushering in an age of worldwide peace and prosperity— known as the Messianic Age
This was the most common understanding of Jews living in the first century. They were looking for the Messiah to come, establish a Kingdom, and bring in the Messianic Age.”
My friend is 100% correct, this is inescapably what the first century Jew believed. My friend goes on to explain that the disciples couldn’t have been asking about the end of Judaism because they didn’t envision such an end. To which I say, Yes! That is correct, they didn’t envision an end of Judaism, but they did envision an end of the Mosaic Old Covenant Age in which they were living and that is what they were asking Jesus about. The end of Judaism and the end of the Mosaic Old Covenant Age are not at all the same expectation as my friend has mistaken. The reason that the disciples were expecting the Mosaic system to be destroyed was because the Torah had told them so!
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
16 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ 18 And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.
19 “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. 20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” 22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.
The reality is that the Mosaic Covenant was temporary and doomed to fail. God predicted to Moses the failure of Israel and told him to write down a song of judgment (Deut 32:1-43) to remind them why God was judging them when the judgment came. And when did this song get pulled out and sung over Israel? In Revelation 15:3-4 regarding Jerusalem in 70AD (not Rome) and the destruction of the Mosaic Old Covenant Age.
Jesus arrival was not the end of Judaism, it was the inclusion of all nations into a New Covenant, which supplanted the limited (and doomed) previous covenant of Blessings and Curses. It was the end of the Old Covenant Age.