(Earth's future bright!)
If God does not exist, nothing matters.
If God does exist -
nothing else matters.
Earth's future is bright. As the present has mostly improved upon upon the past - primeval cosmic forces (the way God has set things up) and the Hebrew Revolution have both been working, diffusing Divine teachings (too many to cite: the purposefulness of Creation, the holiness of every single individual, the vileness of cruelty to animals, the loving-kindness of God....) - so people are living longer, healthier, more comfortably, with more access to better tools and knowledge than ever before. God has created our species to accomplish great things. And the planet's tomorrows will be better than today. The Bible guarantees it.
"My salvation shall be to the end of the Earth."
A basic principle of interpretation of Divine revelation is that none of the Bible's negative prophecies are guaranteed but ALL the good ones are.
Knowledge, peace, world-prosperity, unity, liberty and justice will prevail, right here on Earth - "not Heaven" (Deuteronomy 30:12). Multitudes will pursue God and Torah eagerly, of their own accord (Talmud, Avodah Zorah 3b). The whole human race will recognize God's sovereignty and accept His Universal Laws (Midrash, Mechilta to Exodus 20:2; Isaiah 66:23; Zepheniah 3:9). HaShem will be sovereign over the whole Earth - even the most prosaic household objects will be dedicated to Him (Zechariah 14:20) - and ALL will know Him, much more accurately, as He is, as Israel knows Him. In other words, His Name, His identity, "shall be one," recognized and honored everywhere (14:9).
"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea"
How will the planet survive climate change? How will our species clean up our own pollution? Overcome decadence, ignorance, corruption, the failure of the old gods and their churches' collapse, the dangers of science run-amok, nuclear war, resource-exhaustion, the anthropocene (the current-era's massive extinctions of species), etc.?
Of course we can't know the details but we need, at least, to get real.
The man-made religions and Godless-religions aren't exactly comforting about this, but the hard-earned products of generations of human struggle are not mere "vanity." They are literally God-given - our machines, science, our species-unique capacity to cooperate in titanic, world-dominating combinations - and somehow, with God's help (always, depending on the help of our God) we shall manage the apparently intractable problems that challenge us. It is guaranteed.
Ad Astra, To the Stars
It doesn't take a prophet to recognize that mankind is becoming a space-faring species. So we can further assume that true religion and profound knowledge of HaShem will go where we go, ad astra: to the stars.
It seems to me... Most likely we probably won't be getting all that far - faster-than-light travel will elude us - before mankind meets with Israel in understanding and appreciating HaShem. Even supposing that faster-than-light movement does NOT directly depend on a certain level of cooperation with God.... Why would He, the King of the Universe, empower us to spread our influence across the cosmos indifferent to our Father?
Noachides and the Sabbath
After our last issue, a Noachide good friend in Bulgaria weighed in online: "Shabbat - a purely Jewish day. What should a non-Jewish monotheist do with it? Nothing."
I told him, "Day for celebrating God giving us, mankind, planetary dominion. Be unthinkable to not set aside at least a day a week just to celebrate that." But that begs the question: it's one thing to say that giving thanks where thanks are due really matters. HOW to do it is a completely different question. HOW should one proceed to give God due praise, and honor Him as He'd have us honor Him?
"Let all who walk the earth recognize and know that You alone are the God over all the kingdoms of the earth."
Take a sincere non-Jew, a Noachide, who loves HaShem, who follows Him and only Him. Maintaining reasonable consciousness of God and love for God and "fear" of God isn't some mere one-off calculation where everything gets settled once and forever. Nothing human is that simple! Keeping confident in the efficacy of righteousness and good deeds is not easy!
To recognize and know HaShem is a discipline. It takes will and effort but it's the only way to live the truth that HaShem is God: a very good and glorious God Who wants - Who deserves! - the whole heart of His servants.
In the Hebrew Revolutionary Tradition, the men of Israel, particularly, are commanded to work very seriously at this. They are blessed with a genuinely wondrous body of Teachings and prayers - including a brilliant liturgy that developed over thousands of years - to build their God-consciousness. They try to follow the halachah, "the Walk," directing each adult male to follow the Torah's instructions, including the recitation of scores of prayers and blessings, often in the company of like-minded others, from earliest rising to finally going to sleep.
We - the men of Israel - pray to recognize and know HaShem. We tie ourselves to God and each other, reciting words which we try to live up to, always trying to reinforce our faith, our emunah. People being people, we gain from the solidity, confidence and emunah of others. So we say, for instance, when we finish any of the Five Books of Torah: Chazak, chazak, venes'hazeik, "Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other."
So, what do non-Jews get?
Over more than 30-years I've watched Noachides using lots of different techniques to help in the work of cleaving to God, to better "know and recognize" Him.
Now, through this article, I'd like to invite everyone interested in such techniques to weigh in and share them... everything that works.
From the study of history - the Faith of Israel is historical monotheism; God reveals His Name through history - to intense meditation on Torah-passages ("I've set the LORD before me at all times" (Psalms 16:8); "Search out the LORD and His strength, seek His presence always" (Psalms 105:4); "Make for me a pure heart, God" (Psalms 55:10); "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Psalms 145:16), to general Torah-study, and engagement in rote communal prayer.... Just as the Torah itself is said to have "seventy faces," the techniques that lead to greater God-consciousness are many.
Let's hear from you, if you please.
One thing is sure: HaShem loves the Noachides - the Gentiles - who seek Him out, who turn to Him and stay with Him despite all challenges. Such a one can attain actual prophecy.
“Dearer to God than all the Israelites who stood at Mt Sinai is the convert. Had the Israelites not witnessed the lightning, thunder, and trembling mountain, and had they not listened to the sounds of the shofar, they would not have accepted the Torah. But the convert, who did not see or hear any of these things, surrendered to God and accepted the yoke of Heaven. Can anyone be dearer to God than that?” (Midrash Tanchuma Lech Lecha 6:32)
[Of course, in these pages we're not talking about converts to Judaism, but of Noachides - not necessarily extremely spiritual people or zealots but just normal people - cleaving to HaShem and not converting. Furthermore, obviously, it's impossible to claim that one group is dearer to HaShem than another, because we can't know exactly how HaShem values different people or their service.]
Scripture gives us Job - Iyov - a Noachide, who attained actual prophecy. So did even the evil Balaam (a truthful God-empowered seer despite his bad habit of cursing Israel) - Numbers 22. They communicated clearly one-on-one directly with the LORD and Creator of the Universe! Or - take Isaac Newton, who, besides inventing calculus and "discovering" gravity, etc., learned enough Torah to "recognize and know" the LORD. Knighted, and showered with honors throughout his long life, in 18th Century England he could never publicly worship or acknowledge the God of Israel. But what an example He left us - of a man who, despite everything that kept others from ever recognizing God, pierced the darkness personally. Surely, the power of His witness, on behalf of Torah and HaShem, entitles such a person to infinite rewards.
Israel's Proposed Judicial 'Reform'
The Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel is plowing ahead with a scheme to change Israel's judicial system, to "reform" the way judges are appointed, to take power away from independent jurists and give it to elected officials, and to give elected officials the power to reject or ignore certain decisions of judges. Just about half of the Israeli electorate favors the "reform" and the other half fiercely opposes it.
While it would be nice to see more expressions of mutual respect and compromise in all this, it's struck me, again and again, that any change that's made can be reversed fairly quickly and easily by political means. That is, we aren't talking about anything carved in marble or a hallowed constitution that's practically impossible to amend, but only a change in a body of legislation, which can be revised or tossed-out right after the next election, when whoever gets elected can make new laws.
The World's Birthday!
Happy birthday, world! The anniversary of the legendary Creation of the world's first true man, starting with Adam, begins now, on Rosh HaShanah, the beginning of the ancient Hebrew calendar's seventh month and, literally, beginning of the year. We remember how it was just 5,784 years ago - how has the time flown!