Do We Really Want the Messiah?

Many people are saying that with everything going on in the world, the Messiah’s arrival is imminent. Now I know this sounds strange, but I’m not really even sure I want the Messiah to come. I heard that once he arrives, there will no longer be free will. It will be so obvious that there is a God and we must serve Him that life will no longer be a challenge. As a result, we will basically stay on the same spiritual level we were on before his arrival. And I personally am nowhere near where I’d like to be spiritually. Are my feelings justified? Should I want the Messiah in spite of this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

It’s actually an excellent question. On the one hand, the Messiah will usher in an incredible era of world peace and knowledge of God. Mankind will at last recognize the one God of Israel and unite in His service. Israel will no longer be an oppressed people but will lead the nations to enlightenment and salvation. "For the land will become filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).

On the other hand, precisely because God’s reality will be so evident, life will be much less challenging than it is today. Today it is a challenge to recognize God, to overcome temptation and societal pressures, and to elect to serve Him. In the End of Days those challenges will be almost entirely absent. We will serve God wholeheartedly, but it will be so much less meaningful than it is today. And less challenge means less reward. If so, why do we so anxiously await the Messiah?

The answer to this is that the main reason we want the Messiah is not for our sakes. It is not primarily so that we will be able to serve God undisturbed – although that is certainly preferred to not serving Him at all (the fate of many of us due to oppression or assimilation). And we most certainly do not pray for the Messiah to once and for all get back at all those antisemites who have been persecuting us so.

Rather, we want the Messiah for God’s sake. Today so much of the world does not recognize God – or has a very skewed image of spirituality and religion. God created the world so that mankind would recognize Him and devote themselves to Him. And that is simply not happening. Billions of people neither know God nor hear His message to them. And they are either indifferent to or openly despise His messengers to them – the Jewish people.

Likewise, millions of Jews know so little of their heritage. God gave us the Torah to observe His commandments and build a relationship with Him – as well as to be a light unto the nations. And the vast majority of His nation know next to nothing of His covenant with them.

All of this is a terrible disgrace to God’s name and honor. God created a world with a single purpose – to recognize Him and proclaim Him king. And it has failed miserably. God has practically nothing to show for Himself from His experiment.

We therefore want the Messiah to come for God’s sake – so that the world will recognize Him and His honor will be restored.

A further point is that by wanting the Messiah, we show God we truly have a relationship with Him. If we would want the Messiah not to come so that we can earn more reward, we are basically showing that we care more about our own reward than God's honor. It’s okay if the rest of the world does not recognize God so long as I get more reward. Clearly, this is not the point of our relationship with God. Rather, by praying for and awaiting the Messiah in spite of the lesser rewards we will receive, we show that we truly care about and have a relationship with our God – making the mitzvot we do so much more meaningful.

I should add that to be sure we will still earn reward after the Messiah arrives. Even though there will be fewer challenges and temptations, serving God still requires effort and hard work. And naturally we will be rewarded for our every effort.

May the Messiah arrive speedily in our days!

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