Which festivals actually appear in the Bible?
What is going to happen when Jesus returns to Earth?
God needs His covenant people to call out to Him, to cry out to Him, before He can really act. In fact, the whole World needs this to happen, as we just read in Matthew, Chapter 23, verse 39, "For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'".
Jesus is giving a key condition for his return. He will only return when they, the leaders of the Jewish nation ask him to return. Jesus will only return when the current leaders of Israel, from the Chief Rabbi to the Prime Minister, ask him to return. And for that to happen we are looking at a real miracle, because, before they can ask him to return, they have to believe in him in the first place. They have to believe that he came, 2000 years earlier, as their Messiah. And to do that they will have to admit that they made a grave, tragic, heart-wrenching mistake, a mistake that led to 1800 years of sheer misery. And to do that their pride has to be broken, so that God can do a mighty work in the heart of the nation of Israel.
Incidentally, Mr. Shoots (supercessionist), if the Jews are no longer God’s people, what could Matthew 23:39 be speaking about? As there are no subsequent Biblical records of Jesus appearing to the Jewish people ‘en masse’, then this verse can only be referring to some future time when Jews will again see their Messiah.
It may seem unlikely, but Scripture says it's going to happen. Returning to Zechariah Chapter 12, we see this theme repeated again and again. In verse 5, “Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, 'the people of Jerusalem are strong because the LORD Almighty is their God'". This is at the time when the nations of the World come against Jerusalem and the warning that I gave earlier concerning these nations must be repeated, because verse 9 pronounces a dire warning, ‘On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem’.
What an awesome day that will be. God will show His power, stronger than any Cruise or Scud missile and the whole World is going to realise what a terrible mistake it has made in turning its back on the One True God. The Jewish people will particularly be affected as the truth finally dawns on them. Their reaction to this knowledge will be significant. We read in the very next verse, verse 10, ‘And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a first-born son’.
The awful realisation of the identity of Jesus their Messiah, the 'one they had pierced', will initiate a national repentance, the like of which the World has never seen before. The next three verses bear testimony to this, speaking of every clan in the land weeping and mourning. Then, perhaps led by their religious leaders, Orthodox and Messianic believers together (though, of course, all will now be 'Messianic'), they will sing the Messianic Psalm, Psalm 118, as Matthew 23:39 tells us, and the Lord Jesus will return.
And where will he return? Certainly not the World capitals of London, Paris, New York or Washington. A clue is given in Acts, Chapter 1. The scene is the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem on the east side. Jesus is with his disciples for one last time, then, suddenly, a cloud hid him from their sight and he is taken back into heaven. His last words to them are in verse 11, ‘This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’
He is going to return in the same way that he went - down from heaven, on the Mount of Olives. If you complain that I'm reading into the text, then head to Zechariah, Chapter 14. We read another account of that final battle over Jerusalem. More depressing details, are given but again we are told that it is God Himself, or specifically, the Messiah who will fight against these armies of the nations. In fact it's the first thing he does when he returns. Verse 4 tells us, ‘On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half the mountain moving north and half moving south.’
It is going to be a truly awesome sight and the very geography of the region is going to be altered as a result. The Mount of Olives will be split in two and we read of a great river forming, flowing from east to west.
Jesus will return as Messiah King. No longer the suffering servant, the Son of Joseph of his first coming. This time he will come to reign among his people, as the Son of David. He will come to live out those Old Testament Scriptures that were not fulfilled by his first coming. For example, Isaiah 2:3-4, “Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in His paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
Did any of this happen in his first coming? Of course not! As Christians we defend ourselves against our scoffers, particularly Jewish ones, who quote from the above verses and say, ‘Your Jesus didn’t bring in this great Messianic age, so, obviously, he failed!’ We answer this by talking of a Second Coming, when he will return as King to judge the World. Yet, as Christians, when some of us say, from a clear reading of Scripture, that the Jews are returning to the land a second time, other Christians become scoffers. It’s strange, isn’t it?
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.