Put your outdoor work in order
and get your fields ready;
after that, build your house. — Proverbs 24:27
There’s a great commercial that aired about a decade ago about UPS that shows a group of co-workers huddled around a computer in a make-shift office. The startup e-commerce business was about to launch its website. As they look on nervously, someone presses the “Go Live” button. Relieved, they watch as one person visits their website. Then, as more enter the site and purchase their product, the co-workers begin to cheer.
But then hundreds of orders are placed, and then thousands. The ecstasy quickly turns to panic as the reality sets in — they never prepared for that level of success. They weren’t ready to handle that many orders. The commercial closes with a promise from UPS to help handle the volume for them.
This entertaining commercial also contains an important message for us, especially in our times: Be prepared!
In the book of Proverbs we read: “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” At face value this scripture teaches about the importance of getting land ready before building a house on it. As I watch new houses going up around Israel, I notice all the preparations that need to be made, things we take for granted afterward. The land has to be levelled, proper infrastructure needs to be put in, and a solid foundation needs to be established before building can begin. If we skip those important steps of preparation, the house would not stand.
Today, we – Christians and Jews – eagerly await the coming of the Messiah. We anticipate God’s Kingdom on earth. But one lesson we can learn from this verse is that we have to make the proper preparations. We need to do what we can to make ourselves and the world a place where God can dwell.
Another important idea to consider is that if we truly believe that the Messiah will come any day – maybe even today – are we really ready? On the Day of Judgment, will our house stand?
The idea that the Messiah will arrive and that we will enter a wonderful messianic era is one that we have been carrying around for two millennia. But do we really live our lives with the knowledge that everything can change tomorrow?
Ask yourself this: If I knew for certain that the Messiah would come tomorrow, would I do anything differently today? If the answer is yes, chances are we need to make changes in how we live every day. I encourage us all to live each day as if the Messiah will arrive tomorrow. He just may!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President