Three Insights to Help our Understanding of His Glorious Return.
One of the most urgent issues for the church is to clear her head of the fog of “muddled thinking” about prophecy. Many believers go on about their days as if prophecy was of little to no value; as if something that God wanted us to know about in advance BUT because it is portrayed by “mysterious symbols” or “figurative language” is thereby too complicated for “mere mortals” to ever understand and therefore has no meaning! (i.e. think of the books of Revelation or Daniel) Nothing could be further from the truth!
”If prophecy was never designed to be understood, there could have been no reasonable object in giving it.“ C. Russell
I don’t want to scare you with talk of figures like a “lion with eagle’s wings” or a “leopard with four heads and four wings” but that is what God has chosen in His Word to use to describe the future. Its God’s Word, people! Instead of quoting you John 3:16 how about if I use 2 Tim 3:16:
”Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness”
With that as a precursor I now offer 3 insights to help our understanding of His Glorious Return.
1. End time prophecy is “Jerusalem-centric”.
Abraham, by faith, made his earthly home is a strange land, living in tents – as did his descendants Isaac and Jacob – because they were “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:10) That city is called in Scripture “the Heavenly Jerusalem”, the city of the living God. (Heb 12:22)
It is not called the “Heavenly New York” or “Paris” or “Beijing”. This city will be our eternal dwelling place, the same place Jesus talked about when He said that He was going to “My Father’s house”, a place with many mansions.
”In My Father’s House are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)
This same city in the book of Revelation is called the “New Jerusalem“ and we are told by Jesus that it is “the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God.” (Rev 3:12) John the apostle also saw this same city, what he called the Holy City: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” (Rev 21:2)
Directly after this vision he heard a loud voice coming from the throne in heaven declaring:
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:3)
We don’t go up to Heaven to live forever with God, sitting on a cloud somewhere playing our harps, BUT He comes down to us with the New Jerusalem! This Holy, Heavenly City will descend out of heaven and will settle upon this “renewed earth” (Rev 21:1) forever! The new Jerusalem will simply replace the old Jerusalem!
Therefore all prophecy can ultimately be called “Jerusalem–centric” because as goes Jerusalem goes the end of this age. What happens in Jerusalem, Israel, near the Mediterranean Sea, sets the tone, pace and mood for the 2nd coming of Jesus!
2. 1967 and the Six Day War – Israel reunified Jerusalem.
“In that day… the inhabitants of Jerusalem [will] again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem.” (Zech 12:6)
Most believers know that Israel became a nation again after WW II on a single day – May 14, 1948. However, Jerusalem remained a divided city after that time, partially under Jewish control and partially under Jordanian. As a result of the Six Day War, the entire city of Jerusalem and its holy sites came under Jewish control for the first time since A.D. 70. For nearly 2000 years Israel was not a nation and had no President or territory. The Jews were literally scattered over the face of the earth as part of God’s judgment against them.
“Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds… Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands.” (Ezekiel 36:17-19)
The tragic events of Hitler’s Nazi Germany created an unprecedented world climate that allowed for the Jews to return to their native homeland – a much prophesied event in the Old Testament. (Isa. 11:11-12; 14:1; 66:7-8; Ezek. 36:24-28; 37:1-12)
Jerusalem is NOW the capital of Israel (under Israeli law) although many other nations do not recognize this fact. But God recognizes it and in effect the “pause button” was taken off His “Prophetic Time Clock”, setting the stage for the Return of Christ in Glory!
It is very hard to get around the fact that Jerusalem is now situated again as the capital of Israel and is in position to activate God’s Prophetic Time Clock! Either Jerusalem will soon see in the near future the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven“ or there MUST BE ANOTHER dispersion and scattering of Israel “once again” to the four corners of the earth; where they will “once again” endure their punishment for their iniquities; so that they can “once again” return to their native land!
I believe the most logical and accurate interpretation to these recent events with Israel is to imagine that Jesus will return to earth for the 2nd time in the next 50 years – for that would allow for “one generation” to literally live through all these end time events, from 1967 onwards to His Return.
3. The Fulfillment of the Great Commission
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mtt 24:14)
The last piece of this “End Times Puzzle” that I want to highlight is the incredible timing of the Gospel witness going to the ends of the earth. Both Campus Crusade for Christ and YWAM President’s have publicly stated that they believe the Great Commission will be completed by 2020! (Dr. Steve Douglas and Loren Cunningham, the respective Presidents of the two largest mission agencies on earth!)
Wycliffe Bible Translators have a plan in place to finish Bible translation for every people group by 2025, which come downs to only 200 million people (or 4% of the world’s population)! Interestingly, even if these 200 million people were to obtain the Scriptures, most of them are illiterate and could not read it anyway. For this reason, missionaries have long looked into reproducing the Bible orally or through stories. This way 1000’s are getting converted and passing the message on in their tribes through the spoken Word!
I don’t believe we can take too lightly these words from Jesus Christ. HE SAID, when asked about the “end of the age” by HIS DISCIPLES, that it would not come to pass UNTIL the Gospel would be preached in the whole world as a witness (or testimony) to all nations AND THEN the end of the age will come. (Mtt 24/Mk 13)
But FIRST Jerusalem would need to be re-settled by the Jews; who would need to re-build their Temple; so that they can re-institute the Sabbath and the sacrifices (Daniel 9:27, 12:11); so that the Antichrist can then set himself up as God in the Holy Place (2 Thess 2:4, Mtt 24:15); so that his image can be worshiped by the whole world (Rev 13) which brings the city into a world-wide controversy whereby they experience the hatred and wrath of all nations (Zech 14:2); so that Christ can come to her defense (Zech 14:3-4) and usher in His “Triumphant Return” to the city He loves and be crowned her King! (Mtt 23:39, Zech 14:9)
Lord Jesus, we wait for THAT DAY… ”When He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.” (2 Thess 1:10)
Until the End,