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Psalm 22:25-31

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him – may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. 

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him – those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!

When I was in university in the early 2000s studying history, we had a lot of discussion around the thesis of the book by Francis Fukuyama, The End of History. Fukuyama's thesis was that the end of the Cold War marked the end of humanity's ideological evolution and the resulting in the primacy of liberal democracy. Liberal democracy, according to Fukuyama, is the ultimate form of government and has been proven to be the most effective and morally legitimate system. Recognizing that there will still be challenges and conflicts, he nonetheless concludes that the ideological struggle that has shaped history for millennia prior to this point has come to an end, with liberal democracy coming out on top.

Of course, there are very valid criticisms of this conclusion. For instance, Fukuyama seems to presuppose a historical determinism that suggests the inevitable end point of human development, socially and politically, is liberal democracy. However, outside of experiential arguments, it would be impossible to prove this to be the case. Similarly, it seems like this argument overlooks or undervalues the significance of religious differences in shaping political ideologies. For example, there are religious and cultural groups that preferred theocratic arrangement for social order. Finally, since Fukuyama's writing, we have seen the rise of illiberalism; for instance, in the rise of nationalism and authoritarianism in countries like Russia, Hungary, or Türkiye – as well as the forms populism becoming dominant in contemporary western democracies. 

Now, for Fukuyama, this wasn't a literal end of history, although there have been many of those pronouncements as well. For example, I can remember back in 2000, the terror of the Y2K bug. The fear was that computer systems worldwide would crash because of an inability to compute the new date format. I remember being at a New Year's Eve party and as we counted down from 10, when we hit the Happy New Year shout, the parents of the house I was at switched the main breaker off and the entire house when pitch dark. Of course, the actual impact was relatively minor.

Harold Camping, Christian radio evangelist, made predictions in 1994 and 2011 about the rapture and the impending tribulation. These attracted a lot of media attention but obviously failed to materialize.

In 2012, a number of people argued from the Mayan calendar the world would come to an end in December. And for some, there was panic and for some parties.

Still others point to the “sixth mass extinction” event: the name given to the current and projected significant loss of biodiversity currently underway. Associated with catastrophic environmental changes, some have suggested that this may be the end of the world as we know it.

My point in drawing all these out is simply to show that there have been utopian, dystopian, evolutionary, and apocalyptic visions of the end of the world for a very long time; contemporary modern society is not immune to the mythological visions of what is to come.

And now, contrast those views of the end of history with the one offered in Psalm 22:25-31: “The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him… All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.” Far from a picture of bleakness and destruction, and far greater still than any current “culmination of history” we might suppose now, in that great Day of the Lord none will hunger and all will praise him. Feasting and worship are again connected in vs. 29, “All the rich of the earth will feast and worship.” There is a sense of fullness and completeness, a sense of enlivened shalom, at the true and greater “end of history.” Verse 30 is a synonymous parallelism – a poetic form of repetition used to emphasize and amplify the idea being conveyed. In this case, “posterity (literally, “seed” – here meaning “offspring”) will serve and worship the Lord.” (The Hebrew word used for serve means both “work” and “worship”); and “future generations will be told about the Lord.” Together this means that the end of the world will be a time with everyone – absolutely everyone knows, serves, worships, and hears about God. This is further underscored in the Psalm by the use of Adonai in Hebrew rather than Yahweh – as is used in the rest of the Psalm. Not using the covenant name for God opens the reality of those who will hear and see, worship and serve, to include more than God’s covenant people.

This is an expansive vision of the end of history, the goal of all that is, that I find incredibly compelling.

What’s even more compelling to me is how Jesus is the culmination of the Psalmist’s hoped for future reality in Psalm 22 – a theme that is clear from the very first verse with the cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (vs. 1 & Matthew 27:46); continued in vs. 14-18 with the one who cries out being “poured out like water…” and Jesus words in Luke 22:20, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you;” along with vs. 18, “they divide up my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” and Luke 23:34b, “they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

In our verses, the Psalmists declares the universal scope of the kingdom and sovereign rule of the Lord (vs. 27-28), and Jesus tells us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18-20) Jesus tells us he comes to “proclaim good news to the poor” (Lk. 4:18) saying also, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Jn. 6:35)

The psalmist declares, “He has done it!” (vs. 31) and Jesus says, “It is finished.” (Jn. 19:30)

With Jesus, the end of history has been inaugurated – we are awaiting its culmination. And that will be a day like no other story yet told. That will be a day to behold!

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the true end of history begun already in your life, death, resurrection, and exultation in the ascension. Grant me a hope that is shaped by your return and the making of all things new. Help me to see in you the fulfillment of my deepest desires and longings; and to live in eager anticipation and obedience. In your name, Amen!