“As the Good Book says,

‘Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed.’

In other words,

send us the cure.

We’ve got the sickness already…

Oh, dear Lord!

You made many, many poor people.

I realize, of course,

it’s no shame to be poor.

But it’s no great honor either.

So, what would have been so terrible

if I had a small fortune.”

– Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof

 

Tevye had just returned from delivering milk to his customers, trying to finish his route before Shabbat began, when his horse injured his leg, making Tevye‘s remaining deliveries more difficult. Tevye began examining his life. He lived in the poor Russian shtetl of Anatevka, fathered five daughters for whom he could not afford the dowry, and was the proud owner of a horse who was out of commission until further notice.

As Tevye walked his limping horse home, he conversed with God. In essence, he asked, “Why aren’t things different? I believe in you, God, so why haven’t you made me healthy, wealthy, and happy, with no problem in the world?” What Tevye desired was a return to the Garden of Eden, a return to a world without problems. In the beginning, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God on a daily basis. They knew God intimately, and the entire world was at peace. God provided for their every need, and there was no sickness, poverty, or sadness.

All of that changed when they decided to disobey God. They were given every possible blessing in the Garden, but they gave all of that up when they did the one thing that God told them not to do: eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All our actions affect others, and their disobedience caused a perpetual cycle of every human’s disobedience against God. Everyone now has an inclination toward selfishness and disobedience toward God. This cycle has resulted in the chronic problems of sickness, poverty, and sadness throughout the entire world.

With this downward spiral set into motion, God chose us, the Jewish people, as His treasured people, a people whom He deeply loves and to whom He made promises (Deuteronomy 7:6–8). One of those promises was the arrival of the Messiah, the one who would redeem Israel out of this downward spiral of sin and disobedience (Isaiah 53). Yeshua came to fulfill these prophesies and provide complete forgiveness. This forgiveness changes people from the inside out. One becomes a new person who desires to show the same love to the world around him that God showed to him. This marks the beginning of a return back to the Garden of Eden, fulfilling Tevye’s desire for health, wealth, and happiness. So, when someone’s heart is changed, God will make him or her healthy, wealthy, and happy, right?

Not usually. Sometimes, God brings worldly blessings when we trust him (Job 42:10), but we should never impose that expectation on God. Many choose to follow God and do not find that their worldly circumstances change much. What God cares most about is our trust in him, no matter what our lot in life may be.   God changes us from the inside out, but we are still living in a world which has been utterly marred by sin and its effects. Yeshua told his followers, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Yeshua did not want them to think that following him made them immune to the effects of sin on this world. Even though we are internally changed, we still live in a world filled with injustice, disease, and death. Yeshua provides internal change, but there is more to come. After he told his followers they would experience suffering in this life, he continued, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Yeshua has overcome the darkness of this world, and he will return to establish his kingdom on the earth, which will be the full realization of his overcoming evil in the world.1

In the Messiah’s kingdom, every mark of sin will be erased from the earth. Yeshua will sit on King David’s throne as Israel’s glorious king. He will judge not according to what he sees or hears but by complete righteousness and justice (Isaiah 11:3–4). He will eradicate all suffering and death from the earth (Revelation 21:4). The earth will again be in complete harmony as evidenced by the wolf and the lamb living together without violence (Isaiah 11:6). At that time, not only will people be changed internally, but the entire world will undergo a complete renewal. The relationship that humanity had with God in the Garden of Eden will be restored. This complete renewal of creation is what Tevye longed for. No longer would he live in poverty since the sin of greed would be banished from the earth, and Messiah would provide his daily needs. No longer would his horse suffer a lame leg since suffering will no longer exist. Tevye desired the day when Yeshua, the Messiah, will come back to reign over Israel and the nations. When Messiah reigns on the earth, health, wealth, and happiness will be restored to humanity in justice and righteousness.

All of creation is longing for this day of renewal. Have you experienced the internal renewal and forgiveness that Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, is offering to you today?

Footnotes

  1. In the Greek, the end of John 16:33 is a proleptic statement, something that is currently true but finds its full realization in the future. Gerald Borchert, John 12–21 (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002) 25B:184.