Was it normal for Jewish people to believe that God’s salvation is eternal? Was it normal for them to think of the coming Messiah in “eternal” terms? Was everlasting salvation on their radar?
Consider some verses in Daniel.
Daniel prophesied about a coming kingdom. How long did he say that kingdom would last?
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44).
“Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:27).
He says the kingdom will be everlasting, right? When Jews thought about the coming kingdom, it was in eternal terms. They were expecting a kingdom that would last forever. Don’t you agree?
But was that expectation connected to a Messiah? Did the people think Messiah was involved in bringing eternal salvation?
Well, who does Daniel say will receive and rule over this everlasting kingdom?
“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).
It sounds to me that Daniel expected a coming Messiah—the Son of Man—to rule forever in an everlasting kingdom. Do you see that, too?
So we have an everlasting Messiah in an everlasting kingdom.
But what about individual salvation?
Were they also expecting to have everlasting life? Is that something they believed the Messiah would give them?
Notice that, in the above passages, Daniel has already mentioned there would be people in the everlasting kingdom (“the people of the saints” in 7:27 and “all the peoples, nations and men” in 7:14). If there are people in an everlasting kingdom, that implies they have everlasting life. But does Daniel teach that doctrine more explicitly?
Yes, he does:
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
So, was it normal to expect a Messiah to bring everlasting salvation? Is that what people believed in a Messiah for?
I think the answer is yes.
Daniel is clear proof that Jewish people expected that an everlasting Messiah, would give everlasting life, to be enjoyed in an everlasting kingdom.
Have you believed in Him for that life, too?