World leaders have been meeting and failing for 29 years to try to curb global warming, and in that time Earth has become a much hotter and deadlier planet. Trillions of tons of ice have disappeared, the burning of fossil fuels has spewed billions of tons of heat-trapping gasses into the air, and hundreds of thousands of people have died from heat and other weather disasters stoked by climate change.
Since 1992, global temperatures have increased on average almost 1.1°F (0.6°C), shattering the annual high-temperature record eight times, resulting in extreme weather disasters. Worldwide there have been nearly 8,000 climate, water and weather disasters, killing 563,735, according to the EMDAT disaster database.
As a Reform Rabbi who also believes that the world wide upheavals we see are part of the birth pains of the Messianic Age, I offer Muslims some insights from the Jewish Prophets and Rabbinic Sages.
In France an estimated 216,000 children were victims of sex abuse by some 3,000 people — two-thirds of them priests — within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a major reckoning with clerical sex abuse covered up by Catholic authorities. Pope Francis expressed “shame” for himself and the Roman Catholic Church for failures in putting the needs of victims first.
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Today, many Jews, Christians and Muslims believe the war of Gog and Magog (Gog u-Magog in Hebrew and “Yajuj and Majuj” in Arabic) is coming in the 21st century. The very worst period of human caused spread of Gog and Magog was the 30 years between the autumn of 1914 and the summer of 1945, when 150 million people were killed in World War I and World War II. In addition, nature caused the spread of Gog and Magog according to Patterson and Pyle (1991) added between 24.7 and 39.3 million people worldwide who died from the Spanish flu pandemic.
A 2022 survey from the Pew Research Center, summarized by CNBC, revealed that 78% of Democrats consider global heating a “major threat,” while only 23% of Republicans believe the same.
The Biblical Prophetic reading on the Shabbat that occurs during the week of Sukkot is Ezekiel 38, which predicts the war of Gog and Magog which will be a harbinger of the Messianic era. And the midrash anthology Yalkut Shimoni on Leviticus 23 lists the rewards in the World to Come that the Jews will earn for observing the holiday of Sukkot in the present World. One of these rewards is God’s protection from the catastrophic Gog and Magog war that will destroy many people of the non-Jewish nations that will culminate in a gathering of former enemy nations at the Jerusalem Temple in harmonious worship of God (Yalkut Shimoni on Lev. 23, paragraph 653)
Prophet Isaiah (2:2) states: “In the days to come, the Mount of the Lord’s House shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above the hills; and all the nations will gaze on it with joy 2:3 And many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of the Lord to the House of the God of Jacob; that He (God) may instruct us in His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.” (see also Isaiah 56:7; and 60:5-6)
It is true that human society changed more rapidly, violently and fundamentally in the last 150 years than ever before in history. Doctors saved the lives of millions. Dictators sacrificed the lives of millions. Populations are exploding in Africa and populations are declining in Europe. Technology produces both worldwide prosperity and worldwide pollution at the same time.
Should we look upon the future with optimistic hope or with fatalistic trepidation? Is the world and our society heading towards a wonder-filled new age, or toward a doomsday? Or are both occurring almost concurrently because breakdown is always a prelude to breakthrough?
Jews, whose Biblical prophets were the ones who first wrote about a future Messianic Age, recognize that the birth of a Messianic Age must be preceded by its birth-pangs. But the prophets of Israel also emphasize the glories of a future world living in peace and prosperity with justice for all.
Ancient Jewish prophecies did proclaim that there would be an end to the world as we know it. But they did not prophesy that the world will come to an end, nor did the Prophets of Israel offer an exact date for the transition.
The exact advent of the Messianic Age is not knowable because humans have free will and thus the exact time and manner of redemption cannot be determined in advance. Much depends on what we humans do.
The beginning of the Messianic Age is a time of transition from one World Age into another. How we move through this transition, either with resistance or acceptance, will determine whether the transformation will happen through cataclysmic changes or by a gradual reform of human society; which will lead to a world filled with peace, prosperity and spiritual tranquility.
The Prophets of Israel conceived redemption as a transformation of human society that would occur through the catalyst of the Jewish community. This transformation, which will take place in this world at some future time, is called the Messianic Age. The transition to the Messianic Age is called the birth pangs of the Messiah. The birth of a redeemed Messianic world may be the result of an easy or difficult labor. If everyone would simply live according to the moral teachings of his or her religious tradition, we would ourselves have helped bring about the Messianic Age.
But, if we do not do it voluntarily, it will come about through social and political upheavals, worldwide conflicts and generation gaps. The Messiah (Mahdi) refers to one or more human agents of God who help bring about this positive transformation.
gent of God (together with several forerunners and many disciples) will be a human being, a descendant of Prophets Abraham and David, with great qualities of national leadership similar to Prophet Moses and Prophet Mohammed.
The arrival of the Messianic Age is what’s really important, not the personality of the agents who bring it about, since they are simply the instruments of God, who ultimately is the real Redeemer.
The Islamic 1400s we are now living in, is the age of the coming of Hazrat Mahdi. Prophet Jesus will also return to Earth in this century, Hazrat Mahdi will appear, and the moral values of Islam will rule the world. As Prophet Micah proclaims: “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.
“The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD GOD has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we (Jews, Christians and Muslims) will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” (Prophet Micah 4:1-5)
One of the signs of the End of Days is the arrival and defeat of Gog and Magog (Ya’juj and Ma’juj or Ajuj and Majuj). Gog and Magog appear in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Islamic Quran as individuals, tribes, or lands.
The Quran mentions Gog and Magog twice: “He said: “This (barrier) is a mercy from my Lord: but when the warning of my Lord comes to pass, He will reduce it to dust (and Gog and Magog—the Colonialist Empires, the Nazis, and the Communists would be released into the world); and the promise of my Lord is true.” (18:98) So Gog and Magog are destructive groups like the Colonialist Empires, the Nazis, and the Communists, who near the time of the end of days will penetrate into every part of the world.
The other mention of Gog and Magog in the Quran is: “But there is a ban on a town which We have destroyed: that they (the people of the town) shall not return (to reclaim that town as their own); until Gog and Magog are let through (the barrier), and swiftly spread out in every direction.” (21:95-96)
This verse refers to Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, and only reclaimed 18 1/2 centuries later as the State of Israel’s capital, during the era of the defeat of of the Nazis, the Communists, and the Colonialist Empires, who had been Gog and Magog for generations.
Thus, humanity has so far passed through the most devastating era of human history. However, we have not yet reached the goal of the Messianic Age when “They (all nations) will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD GOD has spoken.” (Prophet Micah 4:2-4)
This era will come about when Israelis and Palestinians make a long lasting two state partnership peace; thus fulfilling the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”… (Isaiah 19:23-5)