According to the Jewish calendar, we are currently in the year 5783 since the creation of the first man. That leaves us 217 years until the year 6000 when the Messianic age begins.
Jewish tradition compares the course of world history to the course of a week, and 1,000 years correspond to a day in this parallel, as Psalm 90 says:
“A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.“
The week has six working days and one divinely-appointed day of rest. Accordingly, human history has 6,000 years of labor and 1,000 years of “Shabbat.” The Jewish sources only hint at what these 1,000 years will look like, but they correspond to the Shabbat, when no work is done, people find closeness to God and spend a peaceful, spiritual time.
The parallel goes even further, as anyone who has ever prepared for a Shabbat knows that the Friday just before the start of the Shabbat is the most stressful. One must make the final preparations, the meal must be ready, the children showered, the table set, so that one is free from all worldly activities when Shabbat begins.
Accordingly, we are working very hard today in the year 5783, for we are in the last few hours of “Friday.” There isn’t much time left before we have to stop our work.
What is this work that must be completed in the next 217 years? It consists of the return of the Jewish people to God, the preparation of Israel for the coming of the Messiah, the building of the Third Temple. In short, Israel is to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy people.” (Exodus 19:6)
With the return of the Jews to their land, a great step was taken in this direction. We have gained most of our physical independence, although Israel remains under the close scrutiny of the other nations. It seems the UN, EU and America are having a hard time relinquishing their rule over the Jews and are constantly interfering in Israel’s internal affairs. These international shackles still prevent Israel from becoming a true Jewish state.
But domestically, too, the country is still a long way from realizing its spiritual potential. The Bible and its divine commandments are rejected by large sectors of Israeli society, and the religious parties in government are doing little to change that.
In addition, the return of the Jews to the Promised Land is far from complete. There are still many Jews in the Diaspora who will have to return sooner or later – at least most of them. However, the rise of antisemitism worldwide, the war in Ukraine and economic factors are doing a good job of eliminating this problem.
The spiritual and physical independence of Israel still seems a long way off, but one can clearly see we are moving rapidly toward this outcome.
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