One similarity between Christianity and Judaism is that both have within their religion, a wide spectrum of thinking. Within Christianity, their is the Catholic/Protestant divide, and within the Protestant camp is an even wider spectrum — Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals, ad infinitum. Within Judaism, there are the ‘secular’ Jews who do not believe in God (but superficially adhere to Judaism as a cultural/ethnic identity) and the religious Jews. Among the religious Jews are the Reformed, the Conservative, the Orthodox, and even the Millennium Jews (who believe in Jesus but also follow the traditions of Judaism). The diversity of opinion among the various schools of Judaism are probably even greater than that found in Christianity. However, found within both Christianity and Judaism are schools of thought that believe that the coming of the Messiah at the End of Days is not some allegory, but that it will actually happen and at that point of time, the messianic period will begin. I will compare and contrast beliefs of the evangelical school of thought and the ‘mystic’ school of thought in Judaism (those who believe God is real and still active in the lives of men). You may find the results startling — at least I did. Now, with this said, my caveat is that I am not a biblical scholar, nor a student of Judaic thinking — all information is gleamed from books and websites that I have read.
There are amazing similarities between the respective beliefs, but whereas they may agree on events that will happen during the End of Days, they could not be any more different as to their meaning. Just as both Christians and Jewish people agree that Jesus was an actual historical person, Christians see him as the Son of God, whereas Jewish people see him as a crazed false prophet. You will see something similar as we can find agreement on what will happen during the End of Days, but how the events are viewed will find a similar dichotomy.
There is one key agreement between the two schools of beliefs, both in form and substance — the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 was crucial to start the countdown to the coming of the Messiah (for the first or second time, depending). Throughout history, both Christians and Jews were often looking for the imminent coming of the Messiah, but now that the state of Israel exists, both Christians and Jews can agree that the coming of the Messiah and the End of Days is now possible. This the extent of any true agreement between Jewish and Christian beliefs — now come the interesting part.
Whereas Christians believe the End of Days will see the return of Christ as the coming of the Messiah, Jewish people see things differently (natural, given their view Jesus was a crazy false prophet). Jewish belief is that the coming moschiach (Hebrew for messiah) will be a secular, political figure. He will be a son of David (i.e., naturally he will be Jewish), he will be a king of Israel ( i.e. he will not be bound by democratic process), he will come to not only rule over Israel but also over the whole world. In contrast, Revelation says the returning Christ will descend from heaven, and establish His spiritual kingdom. Though we can see little in common between the secular Jewish moshiach and the returning Christ, we do find amazing similarities between the secular Jewish moshiach and someone else — the Anti-Christ.
When we look at the prophecies of Revelations, we can find a number of similarities between its prophecies relating to the Beast and the Jewish beliefs that relate to their secular moshiach. First, both are expected to be secular, political figures. The Beast is to initially rise to take power over a ten nation, revived form of the Roman Empire. The secular moshiach is suppose to rise to rule both gentile nations (i.e. any nation that is not Israel), as well as Israel — establishing his control over the secular governments. Secondly, both of them are expected to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The Orthodox Jews have already made all the necessary preparations for the restart of religious services for when the Temple is rebuilt. The Israeli government continues its step-by-step absorption of eastern Jerusalem, a necessary step for rebuilding the Temple as they will need to tear down acMuslim holy site that currently occupies the Temple site. The Temple will be rebuilt — and the question is will the man responsible be the Beast, as foretold by Revelation, or will he be the true secular moshiach, as believed by the Jewish people?
When we look at Jewish beliefs regarding the coming of their secular moshiach, we find even more amazing similarities between their beliefs surrounding the secular moshiach and Revelation’s prophecies that relate to the Beast. Jewish beliefs say that the prophet Elijah will arise sometime during the coming of the secular moshiach, in order to help him in establishing his world rule. This perfectly coincides with Revelation 13:11-18, which says that a second beast, a false prophet will arise, who will similarly aid the Beast. Jewish tradition also says that whereas the initial rule of the moschiach will be ‘non-miraculous’, it says that this will be followed by a ‘miraculous’ rule. Again, this perfectly coincides with the prophecies of Revelation, that say the false prophet will bring the Beast back to life (after being assassinated?). It also says that he will call down fire from the skies and that he will bring a statute to life — and that statue will call for everyone to worship the Beast. This would definitely qualify as ‘miraculous’. Just as the prophet Elijah is expected to aid the secular moshiach in establishing his world rule, the false prophet will perform miracles and will force all those under the Beasts dominion to take his mark, and worship him.
Matthew 24:23-27 gives a warning, saying that there will be rumors of the appearance of a messiah, and that there will be false messiahs. This is perhaps more of a warning to the Jewish people. The Old Testament says that the people of Israel have been led astray by false Gods in the past — the golden calf during the days of Moses and later, by Baal. I would argue that the Beast, the Anti-Christ, will wrap himself in the mantle of the long awaited secular moschiach of the Jewish people, and that he will simultaneously fulfill both the expectations of Jewish traditions and at the same time, fulfill the prophecies of Revelation. He will not only deceive the Jewish people into worshiping him, but he will also seek to force every gentile under his dominion to worship him as well.
In Revelation 17, it describes the whore of Babylon and the Beast. The traditional biblical interpretation of this has been that the Beast will betray the church. In the past, this church has been thought be the Catholic Church, or perhaps some unknown world religion of the future. However, given the similarities between the coming Beast and the long hoped for Jewish secular moshiach, I would argue that it will be the Jewish ‘church’ that will be betrayed by the Beast.
This argument is not part of established evangelical thinking and maybe an argument that is only particular to this site. However, the glaring similarities are too vivid and real. This argument would also serve to explain why the political and social agenda of groups looking to bring about the messianic age also seem to be preparing the way for the rise of the Beast.