Over the past several weeks we have covered a lot of territory, as it relates to end times prophecy. We have looked at subjects like, The Tribulation, The Battle of Armageddon and The Second Coming. The Bible discusses in great detail all these events and time periods. We also noted that in each of these God gave prophecies which were specific to the nation of Israel and its people, as well as the city of Jerusalem.
This is also true with regard to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ here on earth. Many prophecies with regard to this 1,000 years is also specific to the Jews. God has never let this small nation out of his sight. He is not finished with the Jews yet. The city of Jerusalem still will become what God has said it would.
This all goes back to the covenant God made with Abraham, which begins in Genesis 12:1. In some cases, the promises given by God were made specifically to Abraham. But some of the promises were related to Abraham's seed, the Jews.
So, today we are going to look what the Bible says about:
1. The full restoration of national Israel
2. Jesus as the Jewish Messiah
3. Israel - the chief of all nations
4. Jerusalem - the capital of the earth
5. Worship during the reign of Christ.
6. Israel's full inheritance of the promised land.
The full restoration of national Israel
Many groups in Christendom think that God has permanently cast away Israel and that Israel has no part in any of God's plans for the future. Whenever they see a passage on Israel, they read it as applying to the church. They think that the church has inherited all the Old Testament promises made to Israel. To them, when Israel became a nation in May of 1948, they see no relevance for modern day Israel in the events surround the Second Coming of Christ.
However, I believe that if you do not separate the nation of Israel from the Church, there is no understanding of many of the prophecies given in both Old and New Testaments. The restoration of National Israel and the earthly reign of Christ go hand-in-hand. The person who is wrong on one is wrong on the other. It is inevitable that those who do not believe in the physical, earthly reign of Jesus Christ, will also not believe in an earthly restoration to the nation of Israel.
I believe that all through the Bible, the Scriptures connect the earthly reign of Christ with the restoration of national Israel. For instance, in Jeremiah 3:17-18, the Lord is sitting on His throne at Jerusalem and it is connected, in that Passage, to the regathering of the whole house of Israel to the land which God gave to their fathers.
In Jeremiah 23:4-6, the reign of the Branch of David on the earth is connected with Jerusalem being safely inhabited.
In Obadiah 17-21, the possessing of their possessions on the part of the children of Israel is connected with the Kingdom being the Lord's.
In Micah 4:6-7, the regathering of Israel is connected with the Lord's reign over them in Mount Zion.
In Matthew 19:28, Jesus taught that when He sits in the throne of His glory, that the 12 apostles should sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel
Over and over again, the literal regathering of the nation of Israel into their land, is connected with the personal, visible reign of Christ on earth.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NIV) says:
5 "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.
This Passage tells us a number of things. First, it is obviously speaking of Christ who will reign but the prophecy of this reign is couched in His Jewish linage. Jesus will one day sit as King on the throne of David.
Secondly, this passage tells us that while Christ reigns, He will do so with great wisdom and will do what is just and right in the land.
Thirdly, we are told that both Judah and Israel will dwell is safety. This tells us that the 12 tribes of Israel will be restored as one nation. God has promised to bring them back from all the nations. And each tribe will occupy a certain area of the country.
Back to point number 1, above. It tells us that Christ, "the Lord our Righteousness", will reign on throne of David, amidst Israel and Judah. Listen to what the Psalmist says about God's promise to David and about his throne.
Psalm 89:34-36 NKJV
34 My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David:
36 His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me;
God says He will never break the covenant He made with David. Most definitely, the Jews have a significant part in the future plans of God. Over and over again He has said He would bring them back from all the nations where He had scattered them.
Jeremiah 30:10-11 NIV
10 So do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel,' declares the LORD. `I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid.
11 I am with you and will save you,' declares the LORD. `Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.'
Many Jewish people have migrated to the land of Israel in the last 50 years, and there are some 4.7 million Jews there today. But there are more than 10 million additional Jews living outside the land of Israel today. And God says He will send out his angels to draw them back to their land.
Jeremiah 33:6-9 NIV
6 "Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
7 I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.
8 I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.
9 Then this city [Jerusalem] will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'
After the Battle of Armageddon and Jesus delivers Israel from her persecutors, there will be a migration of Jews from all parts of the earth to Palestine. It will be unlike anything we have seen previously. The Bible paints a picture of what Israel will endure to get from the here and now to the there and then. Zechariah 13:8-9 tells us that only 1/3 of the people of Israel will make it to the reign of Christ. The words there indicate that 2/3 still will not accept Christ as their Messiah. Only 1/3 will come through the refining fire.
Four hundred years before Jesus, the prophet Zechariah gave a remarkable series of prophecies. In Zechariah 12:1-6, we find these prophecies.
o The Jews will be back in the land of Israel (verse 1).
o The Jews will be back in the city of Jerusalem (verse 6)
o The Israeli army will be like a "firepot among pieces of wood." (verse 6).
o Jerusalem will become the focal point of world politics (verse 3).
Every one of these have already come to pass.
Then Zechariah adds a number of prophecies about Israel that are yet to be fulfilled.
o Beginning with verse 8, we are told that the Lord will protect Israel during the end-time battles.
o There will be a time of repentance for the remnant of the Jews, who, as verse 10 says, "will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a firstborn."
o In response, the Lord will save this remnant by opening a fountain of salvation in Jerusalem "for sin and for impurity." (Zechariah 13:1)
The next chapter (Chapter 14) details the event of Christ setting his feet on the Mount of Olives.
Verse 3 says Christ will fight against the nations who have come against Jerusalem.
Verse 9 tells us that the outcome of this momentous events will be the coronation of Jesus as "King over all the earth."
Jerusalem and the millennium
Let's continue our study of Israel in the Millennium by specifically taking a look at Jerusalem. Notice again what Jeremiah 33, verse 9 says.
9 Then this city [Jerusalem] will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'
Never in her history has Jerusalem been what this verse says about it.
Zechariah 12:1-3 (NKJV) describes Jerusalem prior to the coming of Christ.
1 The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:
2 "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.
3 And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone [KJV reads "burdensome stone"] for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
Today, it seems that no other city on the face of the earth is as important as the city of Jerusalem. All the other great cities of the earth - New York, London, Moscow, Paris or Tokyo pale by comparison. If anything happens in that little nation or in that city, it is broadcast around the world. Is that true of any other city? Jerusalem is indeed a burdensome stone to all the nations around her.
But the day is coming, however, when this will all change. One day, Israel will be the premier country in the world, and Jerusalem will be the capital city of the world. This will not be because the Jews bring it about, but because God has planned it.
Isaiah 65:18-25 describes the Lord's work as He rebuilds Israel. He says: "But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying."
On September 25th of 1995, the Jewish new year began. For the Israelis it was a very special year. That year the government of Israel designated it as the 3,000th anniversary of the conquest of the city of Jerusalem by King David. What other city can claim to be the "city of the Great King?" (Psalm 48)
God loves Jerusalem. This was obvious way back in 2 Chronicles 6:6, where Jehovah says, "But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there."
Psalm 68:16 says that God has desired the mountain of Zion "for his abode."
Psalm 132:13-14 contains a similar promise. "The Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation."
When you read these kinds of statements, you can understand why Jerusalem is identified in Ezekiel 5:5 as the center the nations. And Isaiah 38:12 describes Jerusalem as "the center of the earth."
Jerusalem is where Jesus shed his precious blood. It is where Jesus ascended into Heaven. It is where Jesus will return to be crowned King of kings. It will also be the scene of the last battle when Satan rallies nations at the end of the Millennium. This is the only city for whose peace we are commanded to pray. Yes, Jerusalem will be the capital city of the world, and the laws of Christ's government will be issued from there. (Isaiah. 2:1-4)
Changes in the topography of Jerusalem
One thing I find of great interest is how God is going to change the topography of this city.
CAN YOU TELL ME SOME OF THE PHYSICAL CHANGES THAT ARE GOING TO OCCUR IN THE CITY OF JERUSALEM WHEN JESUS RETURNS?
The Bible tells us about several changes to the city of Jerusalem. Two of the major changes are:
1. The size of the city will be greatly increased.
2. The topography of the city and the surrounding area will be changes.
Jerusalem will be elevated.
The city of Jerusalem will be elevated above the surrounding area.
First, look at Isaiah 2:2-3 (NIV)
2 In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
3 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.
The second phrase in verse 2 - "chief among the mountains" - by itself would not suggest that Jerusalem would be a higher mountain than all around it. Many would suggest that mountains in prophecy are referring to governments, and this verse is telling us that the government in Jerusalem will be the chief of all. When we studied the rise and fall of the Antichrist, I mentioned how "mountains" in prophetic Scripture often refers to Governments or Leaders. It certainly is true that the government of Jesus in Jerusalem, will be chief among all other governments. But the next phrase - "it will be raised above the hills, -- presents a problem. Hills are never used to represent governments.
Zech 14:10 (NKJV) will help us here.
10 All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin's Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel to the king's winepresses.
Look at the way the Living Paraphrased Bible puts it.
10 All the land from Geba (the northern border of Judah) to Rimmon (the southern border) will become one vast plain, but Jerusalem will be on an elevated site, covering the area all the way from the Gate of Benjamin over to the site of the old gate, then to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses.
Today, Jerusalem is situated with a number of mountains around it. Psalm 87:1 tells us the foundations of Jerusalem are in the mountains. The prophet here in Zechariah tells us that the uneven terrain around Jerusalem will become a great flat plain and Jerusalem will be elevated so that it can be seen from afar. The Temple Mount will occupy the highest elevation in the region.
A number of years ago, we sang a chorus taken from Psalm 48:1-2. Its title is "Great is the Lord." I have wondered for a long time why we used the KJV for its words. I would like to ask you the meaning of one phrase of that chorus. What does "beautiful for situations" mean?
The King James is the only translation that I looked through (about a dozen different translations) that uses the word "situation." All others, except the NIV, use the phrase, "beautiful in elevation," including the New King James. The NIV renders it, "beautiful in its loftiness." So, once again we are told that during the millennium, Jerusalem will be elevated.
Also notice what we are told about the land around Jerusalem when Satan is released from the bottomless pit and brings and army against Jerusalem.
Revelation 20:7-9 NAS
7 And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,
8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
I love it when I see, over and over again, how the Bible fits so snugly together.
Another topographical change to Jerusalem occurs when Jesus sets his feet on the Mount of Olives.
WHAT HAPPENS THERE?
The mountain separates into two pieces under his feet.
Zech 14:4 NIV
4 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 of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
During the American Civil War, a delegation from the Southern states, from the Confederation came to Abraham Lincoln and spread before him a large map of the United States. The Confederates of the South drew a line, east to west, across the middle of it, dividing the north from the south. They said to Abraham Lincoln: "South of that line it will be alright to keep people as slaves, but north of that line it will be illegal." History tells us that Lincoln placed his huge hand upon the whole of the map and the United States, and he said, "I claim it all in the name of freedom."
There is coming a day very soon when our Lord Jesus Christ will come to this earth and He will land His feet upon the Mount of Olives. And He will put his nail-pierce hand on the whole of this planet, and He will reign and He will claim this world for Himself.
Now, it is really difficult for us to accurately envision what the millennial reign of Christ will be like. It's because our world, as we speak, is so full of sin, immorality, unrighteousness and abomination towards God.
When Christ comes, a whole lot of changes are going to happen in this world. In past lessons, we have discussed many of them.
o Physical earth
o Plant life
o Animal Kingdom
o Mankind (idealistic environment, longevity of life)
But there will also be a number of changes with regard to:
o The Land of Israel, and
o The People of Israel.
In Zechariah 14, verse 4, we are told that some sort of earthquake will divide the Mount of Olives into two part. Half the mountain will move north - half will move south, with a great valley running east-west between them. To end up with a "great" valley between them requires that the two halves to be moved some distance.
WHAT OTHER PHYSICAL CHANGES HAPPENS AT THAT TIME?
Earlier, when discussing what the Bible says about being elevated above its surroundings, we read Zechariah 14:10. Now let's look at the verses surrounding it.
Zech 14:8-11 NIV
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.
9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses.
11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.
In verse 8, Zechariah tell us that when the earthquake splits the Mount of Olives, it will unleash a living fountain of water. This fountain of water is not a small trickling brook. It forms two rivers, west and east from Jerusalem. One river will flow the 37 miles west to the Mediterranean Sea. The other will flow east 15 miles to the Dead Sea.
Ezekiel, chapters 40 through 48, is a lengthy passage, which talks about the Millennial temple and the division of the land among the 12 tribes. In Chapter 47, we are told of a great river issuing from beneath the threshold of the Temple. I am not absolutely sure, but this is quite possibly the same river mentioned by Zechariah.
Ezekiel elaborates greatly on the river that flows to the Dead Sea. Keep in mind that Zechariah says this river consists of "living water," and the fact that the Dead Sea has nothing living in it.
Ezekiel 47:8-10 NKJV
8 Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.
9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.
10 It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many.
When Jesus touches down on the Mount of Olives, an earthquake occurs, splitting the Mount, with a great east-west valley between. It makes sense to me to think of this valley as being the conduit through which the waters will flow, from the Temple, through Jerusalem, and on to the Dead Sea.
Can you imagine what it's going to be like when this happens. When the earthquake occurs, everyone will know the King of kings has arrived. The nail-printed hands of our Lord will have been put on the map of the earth, and He is claiming if for His own.
For many years, people in the hotel business have wanted to build hotels on the Mount of Olives. And for decade, they wouldn't build there, because it was a well-known fact that a geologic fault line runs east - west directly under the Mountain. In more recent years, some hotels have been built, but with the latest earthquake technology. Unfortunately, they have no idea the magnitude of the quake will be when Jesus arrives.
Zechariah referred to the waters as "living waters." Ezekiel says that when these "living waters" reach the Dead Sea, the waters will be healed, and it will no longer be a dead sea.
Verse 9 says life will come to the sea, as seen in the abundance of fish that will be found there.
Verse 10 says the Dead Sea will contain the same variety of fish that are found in the Mediterranean Sea. That tells me that either Christ miraculously makes the variety of fishes to appear, or, since they are the same variety as the Med. Sea, that they swim upstream as far as Jerusalem, then downstream to the Dead Sea.
Then this passage also mentions two places where fishermen will gather. This is the only verse in the Bible that mentions En Eglaim, so, because of this reference, they assume it to be located near the Dead Sea.
En Gedi, on the other hand, is a known place where you can travel today. It is a tropical oasis, located on the western banks of the Dead Sea, about equidistance from both ends.
Song of Solomon 1:14 NIV
14 My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.
For your information, in Middle Eastern tradition, the henna blossoms were often used in a bride's bouquet
According to 1 Samuel 24:1-4, it was here, at En Gedi, that David hid in a cave from King Saul. It was also here that David snuck up on Saul and cut off a corner of Saul's robe.
According to the writings of the historian, Josephus, the persimmon gardens at En-Gedi provided the fruit for a perfume that, according to Cleopatra, drove men to madness.
Zechariah and Ezekiel are not the only prophets to speak of this river. Joel 3:18 (NIV), speaks of the Millennium this way:
18 In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house and will water the valley of acacias.
This verse not only talks about the fountain flowing from under the Temple, but also says that the ravines, which today are mostly dry, will run with water. And wherever these waters go, trees, luscious fruit trees will grow and will provide abundant nourishment.
While I believe this is a literal Jerusalem, a literal Temple, and a literal river, it is very much like the words of Jesus, when He said, "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him, a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Before moving on, let me bring to you one more of several remaining Passages that speak of this river which has its source under the Temple.
When teaching on the Psalms, which I haven't done for some time now, one of my favorite Psalm is the 46th. Many of you will probably be familiar to the first verse. It contains a promise that we can claim for ourselves during times of difficulty.
Psalms 46:1 NKJV
1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
That is a tremendous promise - and we should claim it. But this actually is a Messianic Psalm.
I don't think there is any question this Psalm is speaking of the arrival of Christ and His millennial reign on earth.
There's that river again. I believe it to be the same one mentioned by Zechariah, Ezekiel, and Joel.
One of the predominant features of the Reign of Christ is the matter of worship. Worship of God plays a major role. If the millennium is the realization of God's true rule over His earthly creation, it must include a response by those who are here towards their King. Jesus Christ, as the supreme political leader, is the King of kings. He is also the supreme spiritual leader - He is a priest as well as the king.
There will be only one universal religion and worship will be to the only one true and living God. It was always God's intention, back in the beginning of the people of Israel, that He should serve as both civil and religious head of His people. God gave into the grumblings of the people, who argued for a king like all the nations around them.
The separation of the church and state, as it is now practiced in our land, was never the ideal which God wanted for his people. With Christ as the supreme head, the ideal can and will be realized. Also, people today try to separate their lives into two compartments - secular and religious. During the millennium, there will be no secular, for the Laws of God will permeate every part of society at that time. That really is as it should be among Christians today. Our whole life should be motivated by God's Word and his desires for us.
A moment ago, I mentioned that there will be no separation of church and state, and no distinction between secular and religious (sacred) part of people's lives. With that in mind, I believe those who are reigning with Christ (the glorified saints) will provide both political and religious instruction.
With that said, among the mortals, I believe the Jews will take the lead in worship. This makes sense when you consider that Jerusalem, where Christ throne will be, will be the center of worship in the earth. This was Jehovah's desire way back at Mount Sinai, when, in Exodus 19:6, He says the Israelites "shall be a kingdom of priests."
Actually, the gentiles will be required to come to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
It should be obvious that in the Old Testament, education of Jewish children was centered in God. This will be true again during the reign of Christ. In the millennial kingdom there will be no hindrance to teaching the Word of God in every school. Every school will be a Bible school.
During the Millennium, Christ the King and His law will be the central focus of education. This is the way God wanted it from the beginning. We see this often reflected in the Proverbs.
People will recognize that real knowledge and education begins with the ways of God. Nations around the world will see that the laws of God work. They will come to Jerusalem to learn the law and how to apply it in their own lands.
With Christ as King, Jerusalem will be the center of learning for the world. God's Word, the Bible, will provide a solid foundation for the development of education and knowledge. As we read a moment ago, in Micah 4:2, many will go to Jerusalem to be taught directly by the Lord Jesus Himself. Can you imagine being educated by the one who is the designer and creator of the universe. His classes will be packed. One will not have to search through all the contradictory opinions and outright falsehoods that are currently the foundation of modern education.
Nobody will say there is no absolute moral truth. Nobody will say that we descended from an ape rather than being formed personally by God. No one will say that whatever works for you or seems right to you becomes the truth for you personally. Mankind will be free of the endless circle of opinions, and the endless production of books selling those opinions.
Don't get me wrong. I am not against getting an education - even a higher education. I have attended six different universities and colleges, with almost 9 years of classes. Any quest I have for understanding quantum physics will be so much more interesting when I sit and learn at the feet of Him who created it all. The argument among scientists for the last 100 years as to what light really is, will be imparted to me and you through the same lips that spoke the words, "Let there be light."
And I am sure that when He teaches these subject, if they are at all important, He will do it in such a way that makes us stand in awe and praise Him for who He really is, and for what He has done.
While I do believe that education is important here and now, I do also contend that if God went through every university, college and public library and burned everything which was false, there would be very little left.
During the Millennium, only encouraging, edifying and truthful education will be available. Education will be centered in Him.