"You have made them to be a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." Revelation5,10
"For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who recive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Romans5,17.
"v.18 I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come to see my glory. 23 All flesh will come to worship before me saith the Lord." Isaiah66,18 and 23.
Not everybody in seminary got to take "eschatology" a Greek word the study of the end things, like eternity, heaven and hell, judgment, "the kingdom of God," the1000 reign of Jesus and His saints and martyrs ("the millenial"), heaven come down and the New Jerusalem (Revelation21,3).
These are some of the most interesting and challenging topics of the bible. But "eschatology" apparently didn't fit into the schedule proscribed for me. So my first course in it consisted in a bumper sticker on the mirror in my post stamp sized room: "Life is short, eternity is long."
This was a good start to this subject, better than the fashion of our modern co-religionists some of whom just ignore or explain away all the difficult parts of God's word and make God pint sized, nice and politically correct, a judgment free God.
Our Eternal Destination Is The Earth, Eternal Jersusalem
Yes, think about dear friends, eternity is long and each of us, no exceptions, is going to spend it somewhere, in a risen bodily form, a spiritual body (1Corinthians15,44). There are several possibilities, not just heaven and hell, but also in the New Jerusalem come down from heaven (Revelation21,10).
Well what about heaven- is that our final destination? No. Earth is our final destination.
In our Christian scheme heaven is important, it is sublime, it is for all the faithful, but it is temporary. Let me keep explaining. Heaven's there now for our souls, but after the millenial it's going to come down to earth. Heaven up there is temporary. Heaven and everyone in it one day is coming down to earth.
So, if we think about it, there's only two eternal places, an eternal hell and eternal new earth, heaven come down, eternal Zion, our eternal Jerusalem, after the millenial reign.
Our emphasis as Christians in the near term is heaven and seing our relatives, praise the Lord Jesus knows this longing, the communion of the saints. But His biblical emphasis is on the transformation of an eternal earth, and the communion of the saints down here, not on eternal heaven up there.
Zion Is Our Eternal Earthly Home
One man got out of his car and stopped me on the street one day, seeing my Jesus sign, I guess he knew that I was a bible believer, and he said to me "Jesus was born in Palestine which was part of the Roman Empire, therefore he couldn't be king of the Jews, Israel didn't exist then and Judaea was just a Roman Province."
I told him "I'm not buying it."
But I forgot to ask him if he thought the Roman territory of Palestine was eternal?
Jerusalem is eternal, Jesus is eternal, the faithful light to all the world, to the Jew first and then to the gentile.
Eternity on Earth With The Person Of Jesus
In heaven, or during the millenial, and during eternity we Christians also believe we are also going to see a person, the risen Jesus, our God who has a Name, that we already know, Jesus.
He is the messiah of Israel, the fufillment of the eternal Davidic kingship line (1Samuel13,14; 1Kings9,5 Acts13,22). At His second coming, which we believe will be soon, we believe that he will defeat the antichrist world leader hostile to the nation of Israel (2Thessalonains2,8), win the battle of Armageddon (Revelation19,15) whereby hostile nations surround Israel, and establish the Davidic kingship in a millenial reign from Jerusalem, during which Jews and gentiles will also go back there to a restored worship and be evangelized (Isaiah66,18ff).
So first and foremost regarding the last things we go to a person, Jesus and we are also going to an eternal place, the eternal land promised to Abraham (Genesis12) whether that place is Israel during the millenial reign, or later heaven come down as the New Jerusalem, in Jerusalem.
Differences With Islam
In this and elsewhere we have several differences with Islam. The biggest and threshold difference is that we follow a God who incarnated Himself, who took on human flesh and walked the earth. People saw this Jesus with their own eyes and we will see Him in the future whereas the God of Islam never incarnated and has no body. No human image or other image can represent him. And if he's seen at all in paradise, there's debate there among Muslim scholars, it will be not as a risen man, as a person, as we expect.
We need to know some of these final things of our faith so we can make some sense of what's going on the world, and what's at stake, and what the bible says about them. The God of Islam inspired prophets such as their chief prophet Muhammad, but the God of Islam never came to earth and took the form of a human being. That would be too condescending of God, to come to our level of humanitty. Earth for Islamicists has never experienced or been graced with a visible earth walking incarnated God. What difference does this make?
This changes their view of paradise and what happens to the earth somewhat, in that their God doesn't so much bring judgment to transform the earth upon which Jesus walked and upon which he will soon institute justice and rule, but the earth is made good by their good deeds and the law of the Koran established on earth.
I'm no pessimist- but our word of God ends with Jesus' transforming the earth, the lion will lay down with the lamb (Isaiah11,16), in the millenial rule. I'm all for good deeds (esecially recycling), and loving our neighbor, even our foreign neighbor, but the transfromation of the earth is only coming from His judgment and from Him setting up his Davidic kingdom and ruling over it, not us spreading religious law, or by our good deeds. Jesus said "render under Caesar that which belongs to Caesar," so Jesus did not believe religious law was supposed to supplant secular law govern the earth as Islam believes.
Instead He will govern the earth institute his own law in the millenial from Jerusalem after he judges and renders all the world's secular "Caesars" and reeliogious potentates docile to him.
He will lead this judgement and rendering, not us.
We all can agree on the usefulness of good deeds- faith without works is dead- but if Jesus in the flesh and full of faith failed to institute justice on earth, and postponed his kingdom, it's not likely that we human beings are going to do so now, by any amount of good deeds. That doesn't mean we don't fight for justice and live moral lives, it simply means that only God's millenial judgment, and his institution himself of His Davidic reign is going to make the earth a just and verdant place.
In a sense then, we might say, paradise replaces the importance of the earth for Islam, whereas in our Christian faith the actual earth will be transformed into the Davidic kingdom by Jesus, and then later heaven or paradise comes down to earth.
We Christians are earthbound. Islam is paradise bound.
In our Christian bible view the earth was a holy place in the garden, it fell under the weight of Adam's sin and thereby Satan was given a degree of jurisdiction over it (per John12,31 Satan is "ruler of this world" and per 2Corinthians4,4 is 'god of this world'). The world was partially restored by our faith in Jesus in the church age, but it will be only fully restored in the millenial age with Satan bound, and then finally when it becomes one will heaven after the millenial.
So in our faith scheme, according to God and his biblical point of view, the earth is more important than heaven.
Incarnation Of Jesus Changes The Way God And Us Look At Time, The Earth And Eternity
Jesus came to earth, God in the flesh, and attempted to make Judah His base camp, to first gather Jerusalem as a mother gathers her chicks, but his own, the temple elite and the Roman Empire would not let him. They supressed the Davidic kingdom he tried to initiate on earth.
Then it was the time of the missionary church, whereby the grace and vindication of His resurrection inspired the initially all Jewish church in Jerusalem. There Jesus called and developed a core of Jewish Apostles charged to bring the message of salvation and Jesus' status as Davidic messiah to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" right there among the towns of Israel. That's was plan "A."
But our Lord also knew that Christianity was largely going to be forced out of Jersalem and Israel, and that the church needed the Apostle Paul, and God's "Plan B", taking the message to Jews and gentiles outside Israel.
'Times Of The Gentiles'
As a matter of history, the time between 70AD when the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed the Temple and 1948 is known as the "times of the gentiles," (Luke21,24). This is time period wherein Jerusalem was "trodden down" by the gentiles, the nations, and Jews there were run off and out of the land eternally promised to Abraham and His succesors. This 'time of the gentiles' spanned almost 1900 years. Then in 1948 after the ambitions of the various empires of the world had spent themselves, Israel became a nation again. The 'times of the gentiles' ruling over Jerusalem and Israel had ended, and now we're back to a time of the Jews, the time of the nation state of Israel, who have been gathered up and back to physical Israel against all odds, and all enemies, despite danger and genocides and holocausts and antisemitism that has known no earthly bounds or time constraints.
2Peter3,8 and Psalm90,4 say that in God's viewpoint "a thousand years is like a day," so the "times of the gentiles," was not even two days in mind of God. So even though it was almost 1900 that Israel was without the land, and without seeing their messiah yet, God has not given up on them, on their salvation. The 'times of the gentiles' was just a brief period of exile of Israel and Judah as a nation and people. And as we will see later, His word says He has not brought them back to Israel for evil to be done to them again, but that he will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication for their salvation.
This re-founding of Israel after almost 1900 years reveals, as all our scriptures today do, the eternal territorial emphasis of God right back where it was with Abraham 3500 years ago, on the eternal promise of that land in Canaan, to Israel. God doesn't get distracted from his priorities. We humans do.
Moreover, this re-founding of Israel demonstates once again that what happens to Israel, to God's creation, his earth, is always foremost in His eyes, according to the pattern of incarnation when He himself deigned to come down to this earth and walk the highways and byways of Israel. Once he made that promise to Abraham, and then once He showed up in person on the earth in the land he promised to His people, the earth and territory of Israel became eternally important to Him, so important that Jesus come again to earth, to Jerusalem, Jesus as King, to rule over the earth for a 1000 years, and finally judge it, and bring the new and eternal Jerusalem down from heaven.
As God said in his word, "if I ever forget you Jerusalem, let my right hand whither." (Psalm137,5) No, he hasn't forgotten.
Whereas for Islam what's important is not the redemption of the earth, or any particlar city, but judgment day, the "day of standing" in judgment, and the destinations of heaven or hell. The earth itself will be destroyed on judgment day. (www.religioiusfacts.com/afterlife/islam) At judgment, Muslims are not looking for a promised land like Jews and Christians, ie a millenial reign, a transformed earth, and then a transformed heaven come down to earth, but Mulims are looking for paradise. Heaven or hell.
So we see and recognize differences between Islam and Christianity regarding the last things. The Prophet Muhammed walked the earth, but he wasn't God incarnate. Certain cities in the world are important to Islam, where Muhammed walked, such as Mecca and Medina in Arabia. As to Jerusalem, Muslims believe that before a heavenly journey the angel Gabriel miraculously transported him to a rock in Jerusalem and led him to heaven where he met Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muslims believe this same Gabriel had earlier identified him as a messenger of God and that the Koran was revealed to him. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad ; en.wikipedia.org/Isra_and_Mi'raj)
But we know Jesus walked the streets of Jeruselam, as the messiah of Israel, as Israel's lamb pf God, who takes away the sin of the whole world, starting from there.
In many ways today we're asking the same question again and again and we're getting the same answer: why is the God of Israel in the person of their messiah, our Lord Jesus, so keen on redeeming the earth and particularly Jerusalem, and reigning 1000 years from Israel, and then have the new Jerusalem come down from heaven for eternity?
Our Glorious Risen Man Has Unfinished Business Regarding Salvation And Judgment
It has to do with the eternal nature of God's word and his faithfulness. It has to do with the holiness of Jesus who was treated worse than a dog and put on a profane cross. It has to do with the holiness of the land, set apart by the decree of God. But mostly, for us Christians, it has to do with justice to Jesus' incarnation and to his Holy blood spilled on Calvary by a foreign occupier. God humbled Himself to the point of encapsulating in a mere human body, and then in agony, and in total rejection, shed his precious blood for our salvation. Praise him for His holy courage and faith.
But the risen and glorious man-God, known as Jesus, the first glorified man, isn't finished with the earth.
God thought very highly of the earth in coming as a man to save us his people, just as he thought very highly of the earthly garden of Eden when his very person and presence was there too. So highly that Jesus deigned that the fullness of the Godhead, would reside bodily in a Jew from Bethlehem (cf Colossians2,9). God thought so highly of our redemption, and the redemption of the earth He created that He subjected himself to human sin and death, all to show us how to live and treat each other right here on earth. And he's going to redeem the earth, the very earth, that largely rejected his saving word and his saving blood.
He has unfinished business, not because he is in any way vengeful, not just because most of the world has continued to follow the god of this world, Satan. Most of the world, to this day, has no king but Satan. He's coming back because that's his choice and His word and his justice to do so. He backs up his word. It has never failed.
Satan Now Still Has A Degree Of Rule On Earth
Revelation2,13 depicts the city of Pergamum, in ancient Turkey, about 2000 years ago, as the site of Satan's throne. This is well after Jesus' resurrection, so while we say Jesus is king of kings and Lord of Lords, and seated at the right hand of God, and we mean it, Satan still has his throne here on earth. When Jesus was tempted by Satan after his fast and hunger strike in the desert, Jesus didn't contradict that Satan had jurisdiction over the world, that he could have given Jesus anything he wanted so long as He served Satan.
That seat of Satan's throne might not be Pergamum today, but somewhere else. Where do you think it is? I have some ideas. Regardless, He still has a hierarchy of angels, and a certain percentage of human flesh working for him. My point here is not to glorify Satan, or revile him, but to say that though the battle was won at Calvary and the resurrection, Jesus' sentence of judgement has not been fully carried out. Satan's been convicted, but he hasn't been incarcerated yet. The rule of Jesus and the saints in the millenial has not been made fully visible, O come Lord Jesus. Maranatha.
When John the Baptist was waiting in jail for Jesus to bust him out forcefully, he asked Jesus if he was the expected messiah. And Jesus answered in so many words by "Yes the kingdom of God has come to you, the blind see and the deaf hear and poor have the good news preachd to them," (Matthew11,3-5). But the fact is in His incarnated trip to earth Jesus refused to inaugerate him Davidic kingship and reign through violence. That reign awaits His judgment of the earth and the forceful overthrow of his enemies before the millenial reign. So, in some sense, Satan and his team, who threw John into jail and martyred folks throughout the history, still runs loose. Satan and his team is not bound in jail yet. This is unfinished business prior to the millenial.
So while Jesus' blood has redeemed us as individual believers, by faith in Him, praise God, by the grace of faith, justice has not ben fully done on his earth, not for him, not for his martyrs, not for Israel. Justice has not been done on this same earth on which he walked and taught, prayed and healed. Justice has not been done on the very land where he attempted to restore, and for which he died. Yes, He generously left us his new covenant word, and the use and power of his name, and His baptism, and His gospel, and His Spirit and His Supper, all of which is sufficient that we overcome the world, but He has unfinished work! He'll be back.
This unfinished work begins with His judgment, His institution of justice, and then His kingdom reign, His millenial.
I don't trust our human institution of justice, or any "religious" law imposed on me by "christian" insiders or outsiders in the name of some god or prophet, I only trust His institution of justice. To trust men is vain, to trust God is faith unto salvation.
His salvation of Israel is also another huge part of His unfinished business, we'll talk about that in a bit. He also has the unfinished business of molding the earth where he walked and for whom he died, to make it fit for eternal habitation by Himself and His saintly people. This is going to take the form of victory at the battle of Armageddon and judgment on all the enemies whereby then He will conduct his reign openly, and in his own way, from Israel.
He alone will decide who he gives a second chance, he alone will decide whose repentance he will accept during the millenial, and who he eternally judges, as he institutes his millenial reign.
Cries In Heaven About Unfinished Business On Earth
At Revelation6,9 the martyrs in heaven, slain for the cause of the word, slain because they kept the word and their testimony, are depicted as under an altar (under the risen Jesus per Hebrews13,10). They are clamoring to God for justice to be done for their spilt blood. Brace yourselves for what this scripture says: they are not fully happy in heaven! Think about that for a minute- they are in heaven, but they are still not satisfied. We all have met people like.- no matter what they have they are never happy. But seriously, this is different, the bible is telling us they rightly want something more than heaven can offer! They are not fully happy. And Jesus, God and risen glorious man does too. What could that be?
They want justice to be done on earth! For themseves and for the beautiful earth Gop created. Are you getting this? For their blood, for His blood, mostly spilt in Israel. Their cry for justice includes more than an escape from earth and an escape from hell, more than their own individual salvation, as important as that is.
It includes a remolding and remaking of the earth itself in the millenial- so that justice to them to Jesus, and to Israel will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This remaking includes the judgment and neutralization of the very evil powers and systems that unrighteously killed them and our Lord Jesus, and that have hated Israel right up to this very day!
Just as the innocent blood of Abel cried out, so the innocent blood of Jesus and their innocent blood still cries out. It has not been fully vindicated. And the first fruits of the blood of Clavary have not brought it's full harvest yet. Yes, His kingdom is come in Spirit, in our hearts, and yes that's important. But oh how we, and him, and the martyrs in heaven long for the day, come Lord Jesus, when we will reign in fact, in the millenial, on earth, from Jersualem, with the restored and faithful people of Israel when Jesus comes again and finishes the salvation he began the first time. Praise His Holy Name.
Most gung ho church believers believe that we'll be raptured (1Thessalonains4,16-18) before a seven year tribulation, saved from the millenial judgment, prior to Jesus' millenial reign. We believe according to Revelation20,4-6 that the martyrs who have served and died in Jesus' cause, and the tribulation martyrs who refused to take the mark of the beast, and the leading saints (Apostles etc) throughout the whole history of the faith now sitting on thrones, ie ready to judge and rule (1Corinthians6,2: "Don't you know the saints will judge the world.") will rise at the "first resurrection" and be rewarded with a mutual reign with Jesus during the millenial.
Reigning Even Now
And yes we reign in some sense even now in the Spirit realm, as kingers and queeners in the faith Romans5,17, healing and deliverance power has been shared and given to us, upon baptism in the Spirit. But we're happier still that our names are written in the Book of Life. Because one day we, as His holy-priestly people, redeemed by his blood, will see and will reign as a line of kings and priests to rule the earth with Him during the millenial (Revelation5,10). We know and take comfort knowing that that this actual earthly reign is coming, to an earth near us, to an eternal earth, yes transformed when heaven comes down, but eternal nonetheless, praise Jesus.
I'm going to focus now in on five endtime biblical priorities and principles, that all, in one way or the other, keep pointing us back to the importance of the redemption of the earth, of the land and nation of Israel, the land and nation Jesus chose to save, and will save. These priorities remind us that while heaven- yes we all want to go- is important, heaven is a temporary way stop. If we haven't taken the mark of the beast in the stressful last age of the church, or we have been martyred for Jesus sometime in the church age, we're coming down to rule in the millenial. Or, if after the millenial, if we're still in heaven, we're coming down when all heaven comes down, and we will eternally reign with God from earth, a city with an improved foundation!
That heaven is temporary is counterintuitive for us Christians. Many of us have been taught that we want to leave this earth behind and not succumb to its ways or be overcome by its temptations, and that's all true. But just as God is making a bride out of his sinful people of the church, so he is making a shining jewel out of his once trodden down and defiled land and nation, praise Jesus. This same bride and same nation will one day all be together in Jerusalem for eternity.
Four Endtime Biblical Priorities All Point To The Redemption Of The Earth and Israel
1. No nation or city will replace Israel and Jerusalem as the center of God's salvation and world history focus.
Here's a sample of just 10 scriptures for the bible priority that the earth will outlast heaven. These are all unfinished promises of God's word, promises that will not reurn unto him or us void:
I. "Zion shall be redeemed by justice and her returning people by righteousness." Isaiah1,27
ii. "Behold the righteous shall be repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner." Proverbs11,31
iii. "But the meek shall inherit the earth..." Psalm37,11
iv. "The righteous shall inherit the land [Israel], and dwell therein forever." Psalm37,29
v. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled.' Matthew5,5-6.
vi. "Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew6,10 and Luke11,2
vii. "Blessed and Holy are those who share in this first resurrection! [millenial resurrection] Over them the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ [showing the world how to properly worship], and they shall reign with him for a thousand years.' Revelation20,6
viii. "Month after month at the new moon, week after week on the Sabbath, all mankind will come to bow [in Jerusalem] before me, says the Lord. 24 as they go out they will see the corpses of those who rebelled against me, where the devouring worm never dies and the fire is not quenched. All mankind [assembled in Jerusalem] will view them with horror. Isaiah66,23-4.
ix. "I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the lamb and with him were a hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and the name of his father written on their foreheads." Revelation14,1 [symbolic number of saved Jews in millenial].
x. "I saw the Holy City, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband." Revelation21,2
In the face of scriptures such as these how could we Christians have almost exclusively put our focus on heaven rather than the redemption and salvation of Israel and all the earth? How did this happen? Historic Christianity has made a point of minimizing the Jewishness of Jesus, and the unfulfilled prophetic and biblical promises to Israel, the fogotten idea of vindication of Israel by their messiah, the risen Jesus.
There are several other reasons why our focus on heaven replaced the bible's focus on earth. There was the Christian heretic Marcion who by 140AD rejected the Hebrew scriptures. He was a symptom of early Christianity's rapid distancing itself from its Jewish biblical roots. There was the replacement of the name of Jesus, the revealed name of God, according to Acts9,5-6 with the philosphical creedal name "Christ" which made "Christ" king of the Roman creeds, rather than Israel's once and future messiah of Israel, king of the Jews.
There was Rome's pre-christian and poetic claim from Ovid and Virgil that Rome is the earth's eternal city when the word clearly teaches that only Jerusalem is that. Further, the almost 1900 year vacancy of Jews in Israel wrongly suggested that the New Covenant had replaced the Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic dynasty covenant, both of which were eternal promises to Israel according to Genesis 12,1-7 and 2Samuel7,8-17.
And finally, there was the wooly headed historic Christian notion that the church itself constituted the reign of God, and that therefore there was no need for God's further intervention for Israel or any millenial reign.
We might slice and dice vegetables to make healthy food, but slicing and dicing the eternal word of God, as historic Christianity has done, makes God's people unhealthy, merely picking and choosing bits and pieces of revelation and salvation.
2. The Gathering Of Israel Back To The Land And Then To Faith In Jesus As Their Messiah
You don't have to be a Christian or any sort of Zionist to look at the refounding of the nation of Israel in 1948 as a miracle of sorts. This gathering as a nation and people, was the begining of the fulfillment of Ezekiel 34,11-16,28 which promises that once regathered they would dwell there permanently.
This re-gathering is the first biblical step to faith in Jesus as their messiah. We're always short of time, but we must have time to sample Ezekiel's prophecy in chapter 34,11ff which is precisely accurate of what the Lord has already done for Israel in the last seventy years:
"I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness [70Ad and 134 AD]. 13 I will bring them out from among the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. ... 28 They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid."
Now God didn't miraculously re-gather Israel for judgment or another calamity. This would make our Jewish God a sadist. He gathered them for the safety and salvation of his people. Yes one day, while enjoying their regathered state, while enjoying their new found prosperity and blessings, they will experience what Zechariah prophesied at Chapter12, verses 8-10. This passage is both a promise of eternal protection and a prophecy that Israel will look upon the risen Jesus in faith, and turn to him. There is no reason to think this scripture couldn't come true today, or tommorrow, as the Lord wills, as Israel is now truly in need of the Lord's shield and eternal safety:
"On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jersualem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. 10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace [unto faith] and supplication. They will look upon the on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a first born son."
Israel will grieve for the their first born son, their eternal Son of David, for the Jesus many mistook for a rabble-rouser. But amidst their grieving, how long it will be we do not know, on the brink of Armageddon, facing down the union of the Antichrist, and the "false prophet" Christian church speaking for him, and the image of the beast, Babylon's media system, droning on about how evil Israel is, they will turn in joy to their messiah. http://www.vermontcam.org/show/endtime-faith-lifts-nine-veils-part-1
They will turn to him upon realizing that he is their only safety, their only shield, their only salvation, their eternal Davidic king who will protect them now, and rule with them for a thousand years, and then for good measure, forever after too.
The second aspect of the endtime bible priority of coverting the Jews is Revelation11, where two prophets, two witnesses, take to the streets of Jerusalem so to speak, likely in the last three and one half years of the seven year tribulation that will come upon Israel. For the first three and one half years the gentiles will trample on the Holy city of Jerusalem (V.2) and then at that time God will give Israel, in Jerusalem, a booster shot of prophetic revelation and salvation for the second half of the three and half years, just before he intervenes to institute the millenial rule:
"And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed with sackcloth. 4 These are two olive trees and two lampstands [really anointed kingly folks] that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 These men have power to shut up the sky so it will not rain [like Elijah] during the time they are prophesying [thus Israel must and will listen]; and they have the power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want."
Here again we see how the conversion of Israel is about a battle for land, for the very earth that Christ walked, that once rejected him, and for the people now populating that land once again, the nation of Israel and Jerusalem. They will see him pierced, in faith, and also hear from two exceptional witnesses perhaps one a Christian Jew and one a gentile Christian. Their God given power will be so great that the poeple of Israel and the world will not be able to ignore them, but they will be killed because out of the ongoing stubborness of God's people.
But as we have said before God will save His people himself, after Babylon falls (Revelation18) when Jesus comes on his white horse of Revelation19,11. He will have a sword in his mouth, leading the armies of heaven to strike down the nations, and their antichrist, and their false prophet religious system, and decisively win the battle of Armageddon, and binds Satan for a thousand years (Revelation20,2).
And God's people Israel, stubborn or not, will again have a front row seat for this ongoing faith spectacle. This faith spectacle that began with Abraham and continued right into the 20th century with their re-gathering, by their deliverance out of Egypt once again. This faith spectacle that will include their vision of Jesus of Zechariah 12, by the miraculous witness two prophets, and the Lord's victory of Armageddon, and judgment on the hater nations. Israel will see from this ongoing revelatory spectacle, scripture coming true, that Jesus still cares for his first people (Romans9-11), praise his glorious mercy.
When the world in the fullness of its hate hates Israel and us as Christians, the Lord comes and delivers his own, praise His Name, not because we're or they're good, but because that's what He promised, that's what His word says. He's coming down to earth to deliver Israel one more time, worthy or not, because he said so. This deliverance will be the open door to the gospel of Jesus, and then they will get baptized, and worship right, and show the world how to worship and obey the Lord God of Israel.
3. All Who Have Not Set Themselves Up As Enemies of God's People Will Come To Zion In The Millenial For Salvation And Worship
While the evil nations have by now lost out at Armageddon, God is still just, those who have treated Israel and his people well ("what you did to the least of my brothers you did unto me" Matthew25,40-41) will be welcome and be drawn to worship in Jerusalem during the millenial reign. We believe this because we follow a just God who told us from the begining that "I will bless those [any person or nation] who bless you [Israel], and curse those who curse you." (Genesis12,3)
Upon the dawn of the miilenial, the evil nations of Babylon will have been cursed, dethroned, for the way they treated Israel and her people. The regathered Jews will have seen the miracles of the Lord in saving them at the battle of Armageddon. It is now time for proper worship to be restored in Israel, the rebuilding of the temple and all that, which is a topic that I'll leave to another day.
Another scripture that fits here is Zechariah8,23 regarding how eager non believing gentiles will be to worship the Lord Jesus in his millenial reign, now that they have seen Israel turn to him, now that they have seen his abiding love for them: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In those days ten men from all langauges and nations will take hold of the Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard God is with you."
Praise Jesus, this millenial is a time of great learning about Jesus, about Israel, about God's ways and God's mercy and kingdom, how to worship him. And those folks who were least likely to know him are going to eagerly seek out eternal salvation with him. It will be a time when a sermon like this, and all the difficult things of the word will be understood by all, when peace and joy spread over the earth fronm Zion, and becomes a magnet for all the world.
Oh Lord loosen up our minds and spirits to move with your Spirit and your word, as deep and radical as it is. Pro athletes sometimes take hours to strecth out their bodies. This allows the strength and ability of thoer bodoes to be harnessed and ready for gametime. Well if we want to know and begin to undestand God's ways we have to stretch our spirits and souls and grab onto the sleeve of a Jew, someone who really knows the Lord, and His word, and let God's word take us up to gametime, right into a full undesranding of his word,
not afraid to go deeper, not afraid of the gospel, not afraid of such topics as these, not afraid to make the pilgrimage to Zion when Jesus and his martyrs rule the earth from Jersulem, when the lion lays down with the lamb, when Satan is bound and the earth begins to worship God face to face as he is, and tastes up close the goodness of the Messiah of Israel, the goodness of Jesus and the goodness of peoples of the world who did not actively oppose him or take the mark of the beast.
Isaiah66,18ff is a passage that speaks of gentiles from the nations gathering Jews back to Israel. This is happening now, on the eve of the millenial: "And they will bring all your brothers [Jewish brothers] from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord..." This seems to morph into the millenial worship where gentile missionaries gather the Jews back. Verse 21 even says that some of these gentile misisonaries will be made priests, in the temple at Jerusalem.
The idea is that during the millenial both gentiles, and the not yet gathered Jews, will want to come to Jerusalem. That's where The King of the Jews will bring them, to his birthplace, to his death and ressurection place, to the place of his millenial and eternal reign, to the place of his final earthly justice.
This return of all the world to Judah, to their final king is also the story of the Arab girl Ruth from Moab, who is bethrothed to kingly Boaz. Her first husband dies in Moab. She has to come back to the place of Bread to Bethlehem, to be fed there, at harvest time, to meet her husband Boaz on the threshing floor, in the middle of the night.
Even the Arab widow who loves God people is welcomed into the people of God, even the gentile brothers of Abraham are happy to come to know her Jewish king.
That's the third endtime principle that points to God's focus on the redemption of Israel as part of the salvation of the whole world. That is, alll who have not set themselves up as Israel's enemy, will be drawn to the worship and salvation found during the millenial reign of Jesus.
4. The Sharing Of Judgment And Democratization Of The Millenial Rule
Sometimes we Christians forget the initial egalitarian roots of Christianity, where the first believers poor or rich shared and made common cause with each other, Acts2,44-45; Acts4,32and34; Acts5,4. This likely had something to do with the humble nature of many of Jesus' followers (1Corinthians1,26).
At James2,5-7, James the apostle-pastor of the initial and most important church in Jerusalem sees the humble lowly ones of the congregation showing partiality to the rich: "Listen my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of Him that was called over you [in baptism]."
Baptism in Jesus name renders us equals, renders us one, renders us redeemed, renders us changed, renders us in covenant with Jesus and with each other. This egalitarian status points to the kingdom of God.
Jesus set up an egalitarian team of Apostles, mostly fishermen, not a hierarchical team of wealthy priests, like the ones that just arranged his crucifiction. That priesthood sold him out to keep their political and economic power, and all that their temple cult provided them.
Jesus' act of overturning the money changers tables was His definitive judgment on their lucrative practice of charging pilgrims to Jersualem who had to come back three times a year 16% to change their foreign money to Hebrew shekel needed to buy their required sacrifice. They paid the price of the sacrifice, but before that they had to pay the 16% to change the money into the shekel to buy that sacrifice. Not just for the three required pilgrim feasts, but for sacrifcies if they had sin on their soul.
So when Jesus overturned their tables he was saying a lot of things, One of these them is that there is here now and in the future a new dispenser of sin and salvation, Jesus himself. He was killed for this act, because he was overturning the sacrificial system that favored the wealthy priesthood. In this, he was also like James His brother sticking up for the poor of Jerusalem and his people, showing his people not to play favorites.
Isaiah prophesied for the Lord at Chapter 55,1-3 inviting Israel to come to their messiah in the line of David, to come into the kingdom, what we call the millenial: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?"
In other words, "why pay for the sacrificial system anymore?" Verse 2 continues: "Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David."
Isaiah here prophesies that Israel will one day go directly to their God, their savior and messiah, who we know as Jesus. And not only does this Davidic messiah share his food, share himself, directly though his relationship with all his people, rich or poor. We know also from the prophet Daniel that He shares his fight and judgment over the coming antichrist, he shares also his kingdom rule.
We could say this is the democratization of God's reign and rule, all built once again on the incarnation of Jesus in Judah, and the universal faith priesthood that defines Christianity (1Peter2,5 and 9).
In Daniel, during the Babylonian exile, or later as modern scholars say, we learn that in times of crisis it is the prophet who pastors. In Daniel there is a decisive biblical turn away from the temple and priesthood, and toward God sharing his power and strength and judgement and rule, his throne or thrones so to speak, and his priesthood with all the faithful, all Israel, and us Christians, priest or not. Last hour we saw this epistomized at Revelation 20,4 and 1Corinthians6,2 which says "Don't you know the saints will judge the world."
The people and angels of heaven and earth, and the "saints" of heaven and earth, have gathered around the ancient of Days in Daniel's vision at chapter 7,9-10 and they are ready to judge, ready to come to earth to strike the antichrist down, ready for all the blessings of the reign of God:
"As I looked, 'Thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; and the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand time ten thousands stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
Daniel7,24-27 puts this sharing of God's judgment and rule this way:
"After them another king will arise [antichrist], different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the most High and opress his saints and try to change set times [torah festivals] and the laws [moral laws]. The saints [on earth] will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a times [three and one half years, last years of tribulation]. 26 But the court [heavenly and earthly faithful combined] will sit, and his power will be taken away and compeletely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereingty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the most high. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him."
The kingdoms of all the world are not handed over to the idolatrous kings who failed Israel. Their idolatry failed to keep Judah safe from Babylonian exile in 586BC. Neither are the kingdoms of the earth handed over to the Temple priesthood, no that had become just a money making thing.
But the kingdoms of the earth in the millenial will be handed over to the saints, to the wise ones, the maskilim, to the truly faith, to the ones who in faith outlast the crisis, Christian or Jewish: 'Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.4 But you Daniel, close up the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge." Daniel12,3-4
The first Christians seize on Daniel's revelatory genius of God sharing his power and authority and judgment and rule. This is what we long for. So we read in Revelation19,14 speaks of the "armies of heaven" wise ones, the martyrs thoughout the history of the church, the tribulation saints- those who didn't take the mark- and the leading saints throughout the ages coming down to institute the millenial reign with Jesus. Revelation20,4 speaks of thrones on which Christian martyrs sitting ready to reign and judge with Jesus from Israel during the millenial.
As such Daniel is the most interesting and powerful prophet of the endtimes. He unlocks this fourth endtime biblical principle that God's faithful, people Christian and Jew, not the powers and potentates of the earth, but the people of the faith will reign and rule from Israel with their new king and priest.
Daniel bears witness that the meek and the prophets will inherit and pastor the earth, and justice will be done in their name and the precious of Name of Jesus.
Earthbound: Eternally Going Home To Jesus And Zion
We have covered a lot of ground regarding "eschatolgy," final things of biblical study, knowing that time is short and eternity is long.
We saw how the incarnation, God walking as a man in Israel totally influences our biblical study of the last things. It shows how our Lord Jesus, as Lord of Lords and King of Kings must vindicate his blood and that of his martyrs by gathering and saving, and then reigning with his faithful people from Judah, the land where he was born the eternal son of David.
We also looked at Jesus the fulfillment of the Davidic reign, and His second coming to Jerusalem as unfinished on behalf of his nation and new and expanded people.
We respectfully noted escatological differences with Islam in that while we long for heaven, there is even something more and better awaiting us, an eternal inheritance of the earth, a transformed earth, transformed by Jesus' eternal judgment and rule, a judgment and rule according to the prophesies of Daniel and John The Revelator we in some way share.
Our entire study, and drilling down on God's four endtime biblical priorities, all point to the merciful redemption of the Jew first and then the gentile, Jew ands Arab, all the world who does not oppose Jesus. His merciful redemption includes the nation of Israel, and the full revelation of Jesus coming home with all His faithful to rule the earth, from Zion, His birthplace, and our future home, and the place where we will eternally enjoy His prescence, the fullness of our salvation, and the presence and the faith communion of all our brothers and sisters.
This will be something even greater than heaven, heaven come down to earth, the fullness of our inheritance built on the fullness of his promise to Abraham at Genesis12,3: "all peoples of the earth shall be blessed through you."
Praise His Holy Name and His mercy.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...