END/FUTURE: acharit. Feminine noun. (Strong’s 319).
Sounds like: akh’areet
Welcome to the end of 2019 and our last blog posting of the year. We started the year off with the word “Beginning”, so I thought it would be fitting to end if off with “The End”. It is not, however, the end of this blog. I feel so blessed with the connections I’ve made here. So many of you have sent lovely introductions, engaging questions, and wonderfully encouraging words. I have the best readers on the planet… and God loves each and every one of you! Thank you for being a blessing to me.
Human beings tend to be utterly fascinated by “end times”, and before studying the word I suspected that the Bible would actually have very little to say about it. Turns out, that is kind of true. We don’t get a lot of definitive statements about end times, but there are lots of abstract hints that point to it.
According to Jeremiah, we won’t understand it until we’re thrown into the middle of it:
Jeremiah 23:20 (see also Jeremiah 30:24)
“The anger of YHWH will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days [b-a’ch’arit ha-yamim] you will clearly understand it.”
Humans aren’t meant to understand it now… but they will, when they get there. All those little hints in the Biblical text will come together like a connect-the-dots puzzle, and we’ll suddenly and clearly understand. But until then, why do we try? Why can’t we just live, and be content knowing God is in control?
Why? Well, because we’re human… and as humans we naturally want to know the end of our own story.
And so we grab onto passages like this:
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord YHWH, “That I will make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight. Then I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring sackcloth on everyone’s loins and baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, and the end [w-ach’aritah] of it will be like a bitter day.
This passage tells us a lot, and very little at the same time. Genesis told us that the sun, moon and stars were for signs (Genesis 1:14) which would be one of the nuggets of truth we could hold onto… but how and when they would be signs, we don’t know.
The phrase mourning for an only son, should not go unnoticed. The only son metaphor is peppered all through the Biblical text and points to the Messiah. Is there anything worse than losing a child? On that day there will be bitter grief… for YHWH and for us.
Although we desperately want details… we are not provided with any concrete facts. Most of the “end times” details come from visions or dreams… which could be direct representation or metaphoric or symbolic representation. But there are at least four things that the Bible emphasizes, which we should keep in mind when contemplating eschatology (the study of end times and the final destiny of humanity).
#1 People will be drawn back to God
Acharit can be translated as latter/last days, the future, and the end. And we are told that when those final days come, people will return to God. They will seek Him and they will find Him:
“But from there you will seek YHWH your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days [b-ach’arit ha-yamim] you will return to YHWH your God and listen to His voice. For YHWH your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”
This is great news! This news should give us peace. In the last days there will be a great returning to God. YHWH wanted humanity to reach the end of His covenant plan… and as many people as possible will get there, Jewish and Gentile. We ought not to worry about the apocalypse or the end of the world as we know it. God’s plan is a good one. Hosea also declared this good news:
For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek YHWH their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to YHWH and to His goodness in the last days [b-ach’arit ha-yamim].
# 2 There will be a great return to the Promised Land (Israel)
Zion was the Mountain in Jerusalem upon which the Temple stood. It sat at the root of God’s great plan. The Temple was originally built by David’s son, Solomon, and was destroyed during the Babylonian invasion. At that time the Hebrew people were torn away from the Temple, but through Jeremiah, YHWH spoke saying,
“There is hope for your future [l-ach’aritek],” declares YHWH, “And your children will return to their own territory.”
There was always a hope of return. Seventy years after the Babylonian exile, some of the Jewish people were allowed to come back to Israel and rebuild the Temple… only to lose it again in 70 CE, to the Romans. But the hope remained that someday they would be able to go back home, back to Israel. This hope was realized when Israel was returned to the Jewish people as their own nation in 1948. But this was not the final step in YHWH’s plan of Salvation.
When humans tried to become gods themselves, they ended up cursing themselves, and they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. God’s plan of Salvation was to bring them all back to the Garden, able to live in His presence.
Zion has always been in the centre of God’s plan of Salvation… it would be the apex of the New Earth… the renewed Garden. Micah spoke about the last days and the house of YHWH. As the end drew near, people would stream to Zion:
Micah 4:1-4 (See also Isaiah 2:2)
And it will come about in the last days [b-ach’arit] that the mountain of the house of YHWH [Zion] will be established as the Chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of YHWH and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths. For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of YHWH from Jerusalem. And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations.Then 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 train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of YHWH of hosts has spoken.”
However this plays out, the Torah made one thing clear: God had been constantly keeping an eye on Israel:
“[Israel…] a land for which YHWH your God cares; the eyes of YHWH your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end [ach’arit] of the years.
#3 The wicked will have no future. The wise will see the end.
Acharit means “the end” but it also means “the future”. That’s strange when you think about it. The end of humanity, as we know it, is our future. But it’s not a bad thing. The end doesn’t mean we are snuffed out… it means that the mistake humanity made in the Garden of Eden would be wiped clean. God’s plan to save us would come to completion. Those who loved their Creator were wise, and God said the future would be theirs:
Proverbs 24:14 (See also Proverbs 23:15-18)
Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future [ach’arit], and your hope will not be cut off….
But the wicked? They would see a different end:
…Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked; for there will be no future [ach’arit] for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Hope would remain for those who are wise… because their future would not be compromised. God had a plan for His wise followers… they would see the end result of God’s plan, and they would live through it. But the same cannot be said for the wicked. They wouldn’t get to see the end. They wouldn’t reap the rewards of God’s plan of Salvation.
I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.
Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity (end) [ach’arit]. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity (end) [ach’arit] of the wicked will be cut off.
But the salvation of the righteous is from YHWH; He is their strength in time of trouble. YHWH helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.
We should not be envious of the wicked and those who turn their back on YHWH. Their lifestyle may seem to be rewarded. They may appear to float easily through life, but if we stop to think about it, we should begin to understand exactly what their future holds… and it isn’t bright.
Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end [l’ach’aritam].
If only the wicked could see their own future. If only they had the wisdom to perceive:
Deuteronomy 32:18-20, 28-29
“You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth. YHWH saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters. Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end [ach’aritam] shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness…
…For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them. Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future [l-ach’aritam]!
Those who neglect God would be snuffed out… they would be going down to Sheol and not rising up again. It was a one way ticket to the grave:
Proverbs 14:12-13 (See also Proverbs 16:25)
There is a way which seems right to a man, and its end [w-ach’aritah] is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end [w-ach’aritah] of joy may be grief.
Although the wicked would not see the end of God’s plan, it gave Him no pleasure. He wanted goodness for His people, and Salvation for all who loved Him:
“He [YHWH] led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end [b-ach’ariteka]. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember YHWH your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
#4 We should not be afraid of The End
We are so focused on ourselves and how wonderful our lives are (whether they are wonderful or not), that we sometimes cannot see that the end of God’s plan will far outweigh any good in our lives today. The end will be far better than anything that happened in the beginning or anywhere in the middle of our life. There is actually a trending hashtag called #RaptureAnxiety. That is ridiculous. God’s plan of Salvation has a Happy Ending… for all who love Him. It is not something we should fear.
The end [ach’arit] of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
Even Bildad the Shuite, one of Job’s well-meaning but uninformed friends, got it right when he said:
“Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end [w-ach’arit’ka] will increase greatly.”
Our lives are rather insignificant in the grand theme of things… God’s plan for us to return to the Garden will be a massive upgrade of our lives.
Whether we like or not (some people don’t like change), our Creator has a plan… and it’s a good one.
“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end [ach’arit] from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.
End Time Prophecy
Of course the Bible is full of prophetic statements that may pertain to end times (the visions of Ezekiel, Daniel and John (Revelation) immediately come to mind). Yeshua also spoke of it in Matthew 24.
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
After this, Yeshua referred to the visions of Daniel and let the Tanakh speak for itself…(If eschatology is your interest, a full read of Daniel will be worth the effort). But this was not Yeshua’s focus. He spoke only a little on “end times” and focused mainly on those around him… common people living their day to day lives.
For Yeshua, the only thing His followers really would need to know about the future was that He would love us always, to the very end:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Yeshua was a crucial part of the Salvation plan. He died, but the grave couldn’t hold Him down. He conquered death and His resurrection meant we could now rise up and come face to face with YHWH our God. Yeshua didn’t just love humanity until the end of His life on earth, He loves us still… to the end of God’s Plan of Salvation and beyond. And the same goes for all who put their hope in YHWH’s plan of redemption through the Messiah.
After Yeshua rose from the tomb, He returned to His disciples and gave this message of hope:
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
An End… and a Hope
Through the Spirit, Yeshua would always be with His followers. We would not face our future alone. God’s great Plan was for Humanity to return to Him, to come back to the Garden that we had to leave when we cursed ourselves. We only need to seek Him out, and He will let us find Him:
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares YHWH, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future [ach’arit] and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares YHWH, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares YHWH, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’
We wait, with hope, for God’s plan to come to its end, for the plan to be fulfilled… and then we will see a whole new beginning!
Next week: Seek
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