The Study of Jesus Christ
Bringing Truths from Different Books of the Bible into Focus, Perspective, and Understanding.
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:16
Index to Document:
A. Jesus' Credentials as King.
B. Jesus' Present Role as King.
C. The King's Return for His Bride.
D. The King's Return to Earth to Set Up His Kingdom.
E. The Features of His Reign.
F. The King and Law.
G. Jesus' Role as Co-Regent with God from the Throne in New Jerusalem.
A. Jesus' Credentials as King. Return to Index.
1. Jesus had the proper legal descent. Jesus received his legal right to the throne through Joseph, himself a descendant of David (Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38).
2. Jesus had the proper blood descent. His mother Mary was a descendant of David (Romans 1:4).
3. Jesus’ mother Mary was the recipient of a promise and a prediction by the angel Gabriel. He said that her son would be born by the power of the Holy Spirit while she herself was still a virgin. Her son would be the Son of the Most High. Her son would fulfill the promises made to Israel’s greatest king, David (2 Sam 7:16 cf. Luke 1:31-33).
4. Jesus was anointed by God to be King when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him immediately after His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). Up until that point He had been the eternal Word of God (John 1:1-3) and, at His birth, the unique God-man (John 1:14), but He was not yet the Messiah. He became the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, when God anointed Him with His Spirit.
6. Some day Jewish officials will anoint Jesus as their King. Jesus has not yet been anointed by man, but it is my opinion that that is precisely what will happen. One day the people of Israel will look on Him whom they have pierced, and they will mourn because of Him (Zech. 12:10). Then some Israeli officials with great joy will come to Jesus with a ram’s horn of olive oil, pour it on His head, and Jesus will begin His reign as King of Israel, and of the world! Man will finally confirm what God has already ordained. Faith in the King, the consent of the governed, has always been necessary for the Kingdom to appear on earth.
7. Today Jesus sits at the right hand of His Father (Psa. 110:1; Matt. 22:41-46; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Luke 20:41-43; 22:69-70; Acts 2:32-35; 5:30-32; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22). He reigns as co-regent over the affairs of the universe and of mankind as God. He also serves as the great High Priest. But He has yet to assume His reign as descendant of David over the nation of Israel (Luke 1:31-33). And so He sits, awaiting His (human) anointing and coronation as King over Israel and the nations of the world Psalm 2 and 110.
8. Jesus came the first time to earth as Savior (Psa. 22:1,6-8, 14-18; Isa. 52:13 - 53:12; Matt. 1:20-21; 20:28; Matt. 26:28; Matt. 27; Mark 10:45; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 1:29, 36; John 19; Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Tim. 2:6; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-20; Rev. 5:6, 8, 12; 6:1). When He comes the second time, it will be as Sovereign (Psa. 2:1-9; 110:5-7; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-10; 45:23; 66:15-24; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:13-14, 26-27; Zech. 14:1-4, 9, 16-17; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; 26:63-64; Mark 14:61-62; Acts 1:9-11; Phil. 2:9-11; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21; Rev. 20:1-10).
B. Jesus' Present Role as King. Return to Index.
1. The debate over Jesus’ present Reign.
a. There is a great deal of debate between amillennialists on the one hand, and between traditional dispensationalists and progressive dispensationalists on the other hand, as to the precise nature of Jesus’ present reign. Books have been written on the subject, and so WordExplain’s discussion will, of necessity, be concise.
b. Amillennialists, of course, do not believe either in a future for the nation of Israel, nor in a literal one thousand year reign of Christ upon earth. They believe that the Church has permanently replaced Israel in God’s dealing with the world. Consequently they believe that Jesus is presently reigning as King from heaven as much as He ever will. If amillennialism is true, countless passages like Isaiah 2:1-4; Isa. 11; Isa. 60, Zechariah 12-14, and Revelation 6-22 cannot be taken at face value – they mean something other than what the readers in that day would have taken the passages to mean. In the view of WordExplain, amillennialism results from a failure to permit the Old Testament to stand on its own feet exegetically. They believe the New Testament reinterprets the Old.
c. Traditional dispensationalists, operating under a literal, historical, grammatical hermeneutic, have tended to portray Jesus’ ministry as the Christ, or Anointed One as follows: Having been anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah at His baptism, Jesus immediately began serving as prophet (authoritatively speaking on behalf of God) and as priest (solely and authoritatively mediating with man on behalf of God). His ministry as priest included (in the past) His urging people to repent and to place faith in Himself, and His offering of Himself as the spotless Lamb of God, able to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). His present ministry as priest includes his intercession on behalf of believers. Traditional dispensationalists have tended to portray Jesus’ office as King as a future one. In so doing they have emphasized Jesus’ future political reign on earth as the Messiah. They have consistently acknowledged, however, that there is a present “mystery” form of the kingdom in operation right now.
d. Progressive dispensationalists have endeavored to occupy a mediating position between amillennialists and traditional dispensationalists. They maintain strongly that Christ is presently reigning as King. They delight in using the phrase “already, but not yet.” They acknowledge that there is a difference between Christ’s present spiritual reign and His future political reign upon the earth. They have made significant contributions to the debate. But some of them err, I believe, in stating that Jesus is presently sitting on David’s throne. In so doing they ignore, I believe, the truth that for Christ’s kingdom to be fully established, the King must have the consent of those whom he governs. Another way of saying the same thing is that there must be faith in the King. That has always been true in God’s world. To be in a favorable relationship with God, saved from the deadly curse of sin and all its defilements, one has always been required to exercise faith in Him, and, once He appeared on earth, in His representative, Jesus the Messiah. Israel’s lack of consent to the kingship of Jesus is precisely why Jesus cannot possibly now be seated on David’s throne.
e. The position of WordExplain: It is true, as we shall see, that Christ is presently reigning as King. Paul writes that God raised Christ “from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:20-23). It is transparent that, as far as God is concerned, Christ’s rule has begun. He has been granted authority over all rulership. It is also transparent that Christ does not yet exercise all the authority that has been granted Him. So far His authority is being wielded in the heavenly places and in the hearts and lives of those here on earth who consent to have Him as their King (Christians). But it is equally apparent that the world as a whole is inimically opposed to Jesus, and so are the very people over whose country He is to reign, the Jewish people. So we conclude that Christ is seated in heaven as King. But He is presently reigning over a spiritual kingdom, not a physical, political one. We learn from Col. 1:13 that God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Clearly that speaks of a spiritual kingdom, not a political one. The “domain of darkness” is Satan’s kingdom; “the kingdom of His beloved Son” is, so far, a spiritual kingdom, not a political kingdom. It is not accurate to characterize Jesus, in His present reign, as a King in exile, for how can one be in exile if he is master of his own domain? From the point of the view of those of us who dwell on earth, however, Jesus is definitely a king in absentia. It is also accurate to say that Christ’s kingdom has not yet appeared here on earth, and that Jesus is a person of noble birth who has gone from earth to heaven there to receive a kingdom for Himself and then return. Inasmuch as He has not yet returned, He obviously has not yet received His kingdom (Luke 19:11-27). When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He acquiesced. Here is how He instructed us to pray: “Our Father, the one in the heavens, set apart be your name. Come, Your Kingdom. Come to be, Your will – as in heaven, so on earth” (Matt. 6:9-10, author’s literal translation). When will God’s kingdom have come? When His will is being accomplished the same way on earth it is in heaven. To that extent, the kingdom has not yet come. God’s plan has always been to set up His kingdom on earth with man as His regent upon earth ruling beneficently over the planet and over the animals. Just as God reigned in heaven, it has been God’s plan for man to reign upon earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Of course man failed the temptation Satan put forward (Gen. 3), and man forfeited His ability to rule the earth beneficently. Only in Jesus will man be able to fulfill His destiny of ruling benevolently over the planet (Psa. 8:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 2:8). Though Jesus’ present rule is real, and though He has been exalted to the highest position at the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33; Eph. 1:19-21; Heb. 1:2-4), there are a number of enemies over whom He has not yet been granted victory in “real time” (Heb. 2:8). His victory is certain, make no mistake. But His victory is not yet complete. Until Jesus reigns victorious on the earth, His kingdom is far from complete. In this next brief section, we will look at the “Mystery Form” of the Kingdom of the Heavens, that portion over which Jesus is presently ruling. Let us determine the nature and extent of Jesus’ present rule from the throne of God up in heaven. We shall see that His present rule is a spiritual rule in the hearts and lives of those who have consented to have Him as their King (John 7:31; 11:27; 20:31; Acts 8:12, 37; Rom. 3:22; 10:4; Gal. 2:16; 3:22; 1 Tim. 1:16; 1 John 3:23; 5:1). But we shall also see that it is not yet a political kingdom on earth.
2. It is clear from the early portion of the gospel of Matthew that Jesus had been offering the “kingdom of the heavens” to Israel (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 5:3, 10, 19-20; 7:21; 10:7). Both John the Baptist and Jesus emphasized the spiritual nature of the kingdom. Both said that Israelis needed to exhibit a change of mind in order to participate in the kingdom (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). It is also apparent that the leaders of the nation rejected Jesus as their anointed king. The leaders made the fatal decision of attributing Jesus’ power to cast out demons to Satan (Matt. 9:34; 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:14-20). This was an irreversible decision that would not only never be forgiven, but would also seal the fate of the nation. There would be no turning back for Israel. The nation would demand the crucifixion of their king (Matt. 27:22-23; Mark 15:13-14; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 15); the nation would be annihilated by the Roman army in 70 AD; the people would be driven into world-wide exile (the Diaspora) from which they still have not recovered; God would turn, temporarily (Rom. 11:1-12, 15, 23-29) from working with the Jewish people as a nation, and would begin a radical new program hitherto unrevealed in Scripture, at least as far as the details are concerned – saving a multitude of people from among the nations of the world (Rom. 11:11-32; Eph. 3:1-6; Col. 1:25-27). The vehicle through which God would implement His program of saving people would be the Church, an assembly of a remnant from among the Jewish people would believe in Jesus as the Messiah and would spread the good news about His Kingdom around the world. Before it ever began, Jesus described in some detail in Matthew 13 what this previously unrevealed form of the kingdom would look like. He described His teachings about the interim kingdom as “mysteries” (Matt. 13:11). He did so because these truths had not been revealed before. This was “brand new” revelation from God. The “mystery” form of the Kingdom deals with the time between the two advents of Jesus. This time includes the Church Age and the Tribulation, after which Jesus will return to set up a righteous, political kingdom here on earth.
3. The Parables of Matthew 13, the Inter-Advent Era.
a. The Parable of the Four Soils. This time would be characterized by only a fractional appropriate response to the message about the King and His Kingdom (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23).
i. There would be many people whose hearts could be characterized as “wayside soil.” They would hear the message about the King and His Kingdom, but not understand it, and Satan would steal the message from their hearts (Matt. 13:4, 19).
ii. Others would hear the word about the Kingdom with joy, responding emotionally. But, like seed sown on rocky soil, they would have insufficient depth. Hardship and outright persecution would destroy their joy and they would fall away (Matt. 13:5-6, 20-21).
iii. Still others would hear the word, but, like seed sown on thorny soil, would find their response choked out by other things. The cares of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth would choke out the message of the Kingdom (Matt. 13:7, 22).
iv. A small fraction of those who hear the message about the King would respond appropriately. They would be like good soil. They would hear the word, understand it, and bear fruit. There would be differing amounts of productivity. Some would bear a hundredfold harvest, others sixtyfold, and others thirtyfold (Matt. 13:8, 23).
v. The upshot of Jesus’ teaching is that, during the Church Age, most people will not respond appropriately to the good news about the King and His Kingdom. Only a fraction would, and with them, there would be differences in productivity and effectiveness.
b. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares. In a second parable, Jesus taught that His interim kingdom would be marked by evil people dispersed among the righteous (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). They would be separated at the Judgment.
i. Jesus spoke about a man who sowed good seed in his field. While he slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds in the field. The man’s hired hands detected the weeds and asked permission to uproot them. The master refused, saying that if the weeds were to be pulled up, undoubtedly some good wheat would also be uprooted. He advised them to let the weeds grow until harvest. Then the harvesters would collect the weeds and burn them, but would gather the wheat into the barn (Matt. 13:24-30).
ii. When asked, Jesus clearly identified the different components in the parable. The man who sowed seed was Jesus. The field was the world. The wheat represented the sons of the Kingdom. The weeds were the sons of Satan. The enemy was Satan himself. The harvest was the end of the age, and the reapers were the angels (Matt. 13:36-39).
iii. The message is this: In Jesus’ kingdom between the two advents, there would be those who would respond to the message and trust in Jesus. But Satan would attempt to counterfeit believers, planting his subjects in the Church and the world. If any one of us humans were to act as judges and weed out the counterfeits, we would mistakenly send some true believers to hell! True sons of the kingdom and imposters will be sorted out by angels at the end of the age. When Christ returns, the angels will gather the imposters (Matt. 13:39-42), and will send them to hell. They will gather the sons of the kingdom (Matt. 24:31) and permit them to enter the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, the place of safety and Divine protection. Ultimately they will populate New Jerusalem and New Earth in the Eternal Kingdom of God (Matt. 13:40-43).
iv. Several observations can be made about the advance of the Kingdom of Christ between His two advents.
a) First, there will be a mixture of regenerate and unregenerate people in the “mystery” form of the kingdom that exists in the world between Jesus’ first and second advent. Satan will make sure this happens.
b) Sometimes the similarity between believers and unbelievers is so great, during this inter-advent form of the kingdom, that if one of us mere humans were to act as judge and send non-Christians to hell, he would accidentally send some bona fide Christians there. The inter-advent form of the Kingdom will be purged from evil only at the end of this age.
c) At the end of the inter-advent age, there will be a judgment. God’s angels will unerringly cull out the “Sons of Satan” from among the “Sons of the Kingdom. The sons of Satan will be burned eternally in hell fire. The sons of the kingdom will be housed in God’s great barn of safe-keeping. They will be privileged to participate in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom here on earth, and later also in God’s Eternal Kingdom.
c. The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matt. 13:31-32). Meaning: The Kingdom of the Heavens will experience dominating growth from a very small beginning. Even so, there will be undesirable elements.
i. Jesus told of a man who sowed mustard seed in his field. The mustard seed is the smallest of garden herbs, yet when full grown, is a tree larger than garden plants. Indeed it is so large that birds lodge in it.
ii. Jesus said clearly that “the kingdom of the heavens is like a mustard seed” (literal translation) (Matt. 13:31). So in between the two advents of Christ, the kingdom from above, over which Jesus is King, will be like a mustard seed.
a) Jesus predicted that, from a very small beginning, His kingdom would grow to great size. The Church has done exactly that. The Church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12) with a few hundred people (1 Cor. 15:6) that quickly blossomed into a few thousand (Acts 2:41). By now there are billions. As the “Mystery” form of the Kingdom morphs into the Millennial Kingdom it will continue to grow in size. Finally, in all creation the Kingdom of the Heavens will exist as the Eternal Kingdom, the only entity insofar as humanity is concerned, all unbelievers having been removed from the universe in the tragedy of Second Death (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).
b) At the same time, Jesus predicted that there would be undesirable elements in the Kingdom. The mustard seed would grow into a tree so large that birds would lodge in it. In the Parable of the Four Soils, birds were an undesirable element, representing Satan, who snatches the Word of God from the hearts of people. Using that as a precedent, we conclude that the birds here are also an undesirable element. During the “Mystery” form of the Kingdom, including the Church and saints of the Tribulation era, Satan will be hard at work and billions will reject Christ and His Kingdom. Even during the Millennium, with Satan absent (Rev. 20:1-3), unbelieving children will be born to believing parents. Many of these children will become believers in the King, but many will not. When Satan is released at the end of the Millennium, he will succeed in deceiving vast multitudes, who in turn will try to overthrow the King and His government (Rev. 20:7-10). Fire will consume them from heaven. Only in the Eternal Kingdom will there be no evil present (Rev. 21:4, 8, 27; 22:15).
d. The Parable of the Yeast in the Dough (Matt. 13:33). The Kingdom has a pervasive influence which dwarfs its size.
i. In yet another parable, Jesus likened the Kingdom of the Heavens to leaven (yeast), which a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until the entire batch of dough began to rise. The measure of flour the woman used was 12 quarts or three gallons. This amounted to a large quantity of flour – nine gallons! It is obvious that a relatively small amount of yeast can affect a great quantity of flour.
ii. Jesus was emphasizing the fact that, in the time between His First and Second Coming, His Kingdom, though relatively small in size compared to society as a whole, would nonetheless have a pervasive influence. Think of the tremendous differences that Christianity has made in our world. It is Western Civilization, with its Judeo-Christian framework, which leaped light years ahead of the rest of the world in the last several centuries. It is Christians who have led the way in the fight to end slavery, who have been among the most brilliant scientists, who led the way in creating a homeland for the Jewish people, who founded America, who have evangelized whole continents of unbelievers and raised their standard of living, who have fought for the rights of the unborn. What pagan hole would this world have been had Jesus never begun His Kingdom? And to what depths will this world sink when all Christians are removed from Earth at the Rapture? There will be virtually no one left to stem the sinister tide of evil and global slavery (2 Thess. 2:3-7)! Truly Jesus’ parable was correct – His Kingdom has been incredibly pervasive, altering society and history in every corner of the globe!
e. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44). Some will see the value of the King and His Kingdom and will sacrifice all to participate with Him in it.
i. In this parable a man was working in a field which he did not own. He happened upon a great treasure buried in the field. Overjoyed, he re-buried the treasure, sold everything that he owned to acquire sufficient capital, and bought the field for himself.
ii. The meaning is this: Some will see the great value of the Kingdom and will sacrifice all to be able to participate in it! “The point of the parable to Jesus' disciples was that they should be willing to pay any price to have a significant part in the kingdom” (Thomas Constable, Notes on Matthew, 2008 Edition, p. 191).
f. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:45-46). Some will see the value of the King and His Kingdom and will sacrifice all to participate with Him in it.
i. In this parable Jesus likens the “Kingdom of the Heavens” to a merchant searching for high quality pearls. Having found a pearl of great quality, he sold all that he had to purchase it.
ii. The meaning appears to be the same as the preceding parable. Some will see the great value of the King and His Kingdom and will sacrifice all they have to participate with Him in it.
iii. This brings to mind that there is always a sacrifice that must be made to follow Jesus. If also communicates that there will be those who are undeterred by any sacrifice because they see the enormous value of the King and His Kingdom. They know that participating in His Kingdom is such a great privilege and benefit that they will be far better off making that sacrifice. They believe in the King and they believe in His Kingdom!
g. The Parable of the Dragnet (Matt. 13:47-50). The Kingdom will encompass both good and evil people. At the end of the age angels will sort out the evil from the righteous, casting the former into the fire.
i. Jesus compared the Kingdom of the Heavens to a dragnet cast into the sea. It gathered fish of every kind. Fishermen pulled the net onto the beach and sorted out the fish. They put the good fish into containers but threw the bad fish away. Jesus explained that so it shall be at the end of the age. Angels will come and sort out the wicked people from among the righteous. They will throw the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
ii. This parable is much like the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. There is a mixture of good and evil people co-existing in the Kingdom in this age. But at the end of the age the ungodly will be sorted out by the angels and will be cast into hell. The righteous will survive to inherit the Kingdom – first, the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, and in the end, the Eternal Kingdom over which God and Christ reign as co-regents from New Jerusalem.
h. The Analogy of the House Owner (Matt. 13:51-52). There are truths about the Kingdom that have been revealed before, but there are also brand new truths about the course of the Kingdom of the Heavens.
i. Jesus asked His followers if they understood what He had been teaching them. They replied that they did, but obviously they could not have comprehended the full implications. Jesus then stated that every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of the Heavens is like a man who is the master, or owner, of his own house. This house owner brings forth from his storeroom items both old and new with which he decorates his home.
ii. Jesus, of course, is a scribe properly instructed in the Kingdom of the Heavens. He had referenced old truths – truths they already knew. There would be a King (He was that King); there would be a Kingdom (they knew that); the Kingdom would have world-wide implications (they knew that). What they didn’t know was that His Kingdom would start small (they thought it would have complete national acceptance); that there would be diverse reactions to the King and His Kingdom (unrighteous as well as righteous people in it); and that the evil people would not be sorted out from the righteous until the judgment at the end of the age (which would take place at His Second Coming).
i. It is readily apparent that the Kingdom of Christ between His First and Second Advent is a spiritual kingdom, not a political one. It is a Kingdom of the Heavens, but not yet established upon the Earth. The sons of the Kingdom exist on the earth, but the rule of the King has not yet been extended over the world, which exists in rebellion against the King and His Kingdom (Psalm 2:1-3). The Kingdom will not exist in its political format until the King has returned to earth and has eliminated all His human opponents. Only then will God’s will begin to be done “as in heaven, so on earth” (Matt. 6:10). A significant number of individuals on earth today may enter Jesus’ Kingdom by trusting in Him, but they remain a minority on the earth. Corporately they have significant size and impact, but the Earth, the place where the Kingdom is destined to prevail, is filled with unrighteous as well as righteous people. The righteous (those who meekly submit to the King) have not yet inherited the earth (Matt. 5:5), and so the Kingdom has not yet been extended from Heaven to Earth, either in the physical presence of the King or in the ubiquity of His rule. That awaits His arrival and the judgment, when all who are impure will be burned from the Kingdom here on Earth (Matt. 13:30, 41-42, 50; 25:41).
4. Psalm 2:1-12. The authorization of and warning concerning the Messiah’s certain future rule from Jerusalem.
a. Presently the nations and peoples and rulers of the earth perceive of Yahweh and His Anointed King as burdensome bondage. They deliberately conspire with one another to cast aside Their restraints, an exercise in utter futility (Psalm 2:1-3).
b. Adonai sits in heaven, laughs and mocks the nations. With anger and fury He announces that He has installed His King on Zion, the holy mountain that belongs to Him (Psalm 2:4-6). In the mind of God this event is so certain He speaks of it as an accomplished fact. In reality this event awaits its certain fulfillment in the time / space / matter continuum we know as terrestrial history.
c. The certain rule of the Messiah from Mount Zion and the Temple Mount will not be based upon the decision of any coalition of nations such as the United Nations, but it is based upon the certainty of Yahweh’s decree. It will be accomplished! The Messiah repeats what Yahweh has decreed to Him – He will be given all the nations of the world as His own personal inheritance over which to rule. And rule He will. He will break unruly nations with a rod of iron and shatter them like clay pottery hurled upon a hard tile floor (Psa. 2:7-9).
d. In view of the Messiah’s inevitable future reign, it behooves the plotting, rebellious kings and judges of this present era to make a huge attitude adjustment. They need to worship Yahweh with reverence and trembling, yet joyful sincerity. They need to embrace God’s Son, Jesus, now, while there is time. The time is coming when the Son will meet each of them personally, and if they have not submitted to Him, He will grow angry with them and destroy them. The time of His wrath is coming soon! All those who take refuge in Him are truly blessed (Psa. 2:10-12).
e. The point is that human rulers and nations in the present had better stop resisting Yahweh and Jesus, His Anointed King. They had better submit to Jesus in humility and worship because His future political reign here on earth is inevitable. If ever they should meet the King personally without having first submitted to Him, they will be destroyed by Him in His wrath. Those who submit to the King are truly blessed!
5. Psalm 110:1-7. The present role of Jesus, Yahweh’s King / Priest with regard to His reign upon earth: to await patiently His coronation and rule.
a. Psalm 110:1-7 is a psalm of David, the anointed messiah (king) of Israel. Yet David speaks of a greater Messiah. Yahweh spoke to David’s Lord (Adonai – the ultimate Messiah) as follows: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet” (Psa. 110:1). Let me paraphrase this so the meaning will be transparent: “God the Father says to God the Son (David’s Lord), ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” Clearly, God the Father instructs Jesus to sit at His right hand until such a time as the Father makes Jesus’ enemies a footstool upon which Jesus can rest His feet. In other words, Jesus is presently sitting on the Father’s right hand, but with reference to His enemies, He is in the waiting mode. He is waiting until the time His Father subjugates His enemies.
i. In Psalm 110:2, it is stated that Yahweh will stretch forth the Messiah’s scepter from Zion, authorizing Him to rule in the midst of His enemies. Of necessity, that must refer to earthly Zion, for there will be no enemies left among which Jesus will rule in the heavenly Zion in the Eternal State (Rev. 22:1, 3). This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.
ii. In Psalm 110:5 it is stated that Adonai is at Messiah Jesus’ right hand, and that He (the Messiah) “will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.” Clearly this refers to Christ’s coming in power to establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Zech. 12:8-9; 14:3-4, 9-13; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 19:11-21; Rev. 20:1-6). This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.
iii. As part of His Second Coming and His subsequent judgment of every living soul on earth, Psalm 110:6 predicts that Jesus will “judge among the nations,” “fill them with corpses,” and “shatter the chief men over a broad country.” To the Scripture cross-references listed for Psalm 110:5 – 5. b. ii. above – I would add the following: (Psa. 2:7-9; Isa. 11:1-5; 63:1-6; Ezek. 20:33-44; Zech. 14:16-19; Matt. 25). Again, this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.
iv. The Messiah, Jesus, is presently sitting at the Father’s right hand. There He is waiting until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Psalm 110:1). But He is not idle.
a) He is presently and actively serving as Yahweh’s eternal priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). As priest He offered Himself as sacrifice once and for all (Heb. 7:27; 9:11-12; 24-28; 10:10). Having done that, our eternal high priest ever lives to intercede before the Father on behalf of those who have placed their faith in Him (Rom. 8:33-34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1-2).
b) He also is serving as King, and for such He has been anointed. But the point of Jesus’ Kingship is not to have His rule confined to heaven, but to be extended to Earth. So His present rule is a spiritual rule, not a political one.
6. This, then, is the present reign of Christ at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He continues to rule there as God’s eternal logos, who created the earth (John 1:1-3; Rom. 11:26; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). He presently holds together this physical universe and all created beings within and without that universe (Heb. 1:3). He continues to do His part as the executor of the Divine Eternal Decree (Eph. 1:11). He is presently reigning over those who have placed their trust in Him and have entered His spiritual Kingdom (Col. 1:13). But Jesus awaits the right time when the Father will authorize Him to take up His Kingdom on the earth, there to rule over all the nations from the throne of David (Ps. 2:6-9; Ps. 110:2-7; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:1-9; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:1-6). Ultimately He awaits the dispensation of the fullness of time, in which God will sum up all things in Christ (Eph. 1:9-10).
7. There are so-called “progressive dispensationalists” and “amillennialists” who maintain that Christ is presently sitting on the throne of David. I respectfully disagree. He is sitting on the Father’s throne at the Father’s right hand. He is waiting until the Father makes His enemies a footstool for His feet (Ps. 110:4). The angel Gabriel promised to Mary that her son would sit on David’s throne and reign over the house of Jacob forever in an unending kingdom (Luke 1:30-33). Mary would rightfully have understood that to mean in Jerusalem. If Jesus is presently sitting on David’s throne, why on earth do the Jewish people not know about it? The vast majority of Jewish people, sadly, reject Jesus as their king. (One day that will change (Zech. 12:10-14), praise God!) How can anyone claim with credibility that Jesus is presently sitting on David’s throne? David’s throne is, in the first place, an earthly throne, not a heavenly one. David’s throne was and will be upon the earth in Jerusalem, upon Mount Zion, God’s favorite city (Psalm 87:1-3; 125:1-2; 132:13-14). The first instance of Jesus’ sitting upon David’s throne will be when He returns to reign for a thousand years from Jerusalem (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 20:4-6). The second instance of Jesus’ sitting upon David’s throne will be when He sits as a co-regent with His Father on the throne in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1, 3), associated with New Earth. Both of those prospects are a matter for future discussion.
C. The King's Return for His Bride. Return to Index.
1. Perhaps nowhere in the discussion of eschatology, the study of last things, is there more controversy than in the nature of Christ’s return. Clearly in Scripture, there are passages that teach that Jesus will return for His bride, the Church. Clearly there are passages that teach that Jesus will return to this earth to triumph over His enemies and set up His kingdom upon earth. But the timing of these events is at the crux of the controversy. There are those who think that both of these events happen at the same time. To me that presents some problems. Why, for example, would Christ resurrect church saints, and have them meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18), only to turn around and immediately come back down to the earth (Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-32; Rev. 19:11-21)? Is it not more reasonable to understand that He is meeting them in the air to take them back to His Father’s house, just as a Jewish bridegroom would do for his bride (John 14:1-3)? Furthermore, why are there passages which teach Christ’s return but include no intervening events that must occur before He returns (1 Thess. 4:13-18), while other passages which teach His return incorporate event after event that must be fulfilled before He can return (Matt. 24:4-31)?
2. The best explanation of these anomalies, it seems to me, is to understand that Christ will return in two stages: (1) Second Coming Stage 1: Christ will return for His bride the Church and take her back up to heaven with Him (John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; and Titus 2:13). (2) There will be a period of at least seven years upon earth that will include the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). Meanwhile up in heaven, the Church, the Bride of Christ, will be purified at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). (3) Second Coming Stage 2: His bride having been purified and made fit for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9), Christ will return with His bride to establish His kingdom upon earth (Matt. 24:29-31; Matt. 25:1-13; 31-32; Rev. 19:7-21; 20:1-6).
a. The passages in Stage 1 of Christ’s Return have a common characteristic of imminency. There are no signs attached to Christ’s coming for the Church. The Church has always believed that Christ could return at any time. Furthermore, only in Stage 1 Return passages is there any mention of living believers being given glorified, heavenly bodies without having to die first (1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). We call Christ’s return for His bride “the Rapture,” taken from the Latin Vulgate term (rapturo) for “caught up” (see Thomas Constable, Notes on 1 Thessalonians, page 26 [.pdf file].) Passages in this Stage 1 category include John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; and Titus 2:13.
b. The passages in Stage 2 of Christ’s Return also have a common characteristic – multiple signs are given that must take place before Christ returns in power. A short list of such passages includes Matt. 24; 2 Thess. 2:1-10; and Rev. 6-19. This two-stage return of Christ fits in beautifully with the motif of a Jewish wedding.
c. According to Charles C. Ryrie, in his note on Matt. 25:1 in his Ryrie Study Bible, we read the following: “There were two phases to Jewish weddings. First the bridegroom went to the bride’s home to obtain his bride and observe certain religious ceremonies. Then he took his bride to his own home for a resumption of the festivities. Christ will take His bride, the church, to heaven before the tribulation period begins; then He will return with His bride at His second coming to the marriage supper on earth. The virgins [in Matt. 25:1-13] represent the professing Jewish remnant on earth at His return.”
3. There are numerous passages that reveal that there is a Bridegroom / Bride relationship between Jesus and the Church. Some of these passages are more explicit than other. These passages include the following:
a. In John 3:29-30, John the Baptist pictured Jesus as a bridegroom. He himself was the friend of the bridegroom.
b. In Romans 7:1, the Apostle Paul stated that we humans were bound under the jurisdiction of the Law until such a time as we died. But we Christians died to the Law through our identification with Jesus in His death. Since we are dead to the Law, we are now free to marry someone else, namely Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. The purpose of this union with Jesus is so that we, with Jesus, might bear fruit to God (Rom. 7:4) as opposed to our previous “fruit for death” (Rom. 7:5). This “fruit for God” would consist of the works and services we perform as to the Lord, with eternal results.
c. In Ephesians 5:22-33 there is a marvelous picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ. This relationship serves as a foil for the proper relation of earthly husband and wife to one another.
d. The Wedding and Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9).
i. In Revelation 19:1-5, there is great joy and praise to God up in heaven that the Great Prostitute (the religious/political entity of Babylon – Rev. 17:1-5) has been eternally destroyed. Immediately thereafter, what sounded like a great multitude in heaven praised Yahweh that the Almighty Lord God reigned (Rev. 19:6). Evidently the regnal act referred to is the overthrow of the Great Prostitute.
ii. This same thunderous multitude exhorted all who heard – to be rejoicing and exhibiting gladness and to give the praise to God, because the wedding of the Lamb had come, and His woman (literally) had prepared herself (Rev. 19:7).
iii. The woman referred to as having prepared herself to be Christ’s bride can be none other than the Church. Her preparation in proper wedding attire is described as her righteousness (Rev. 19:8).
iv. One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth (Rev. 17:1) instructed the Apostle John to write the following: “Blessed are the ones having been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). Of course the bride will be present at the wedding feast. That goes without saying. These invited guests who are called to attend will, I believe, include the redeemed, both of the nation of Israel and the Gentile nations who are not part of the Church.
v. This wedding feast will evidently begin here on earth during Christ’s 1000-year reign (Rev. 20:1-6), but it will culminate in the eternal feast conducted in New Jerusalem on heavenly Mount Zion (Isa. 25:6-9; Rev. 21:1-11 and following).
e. The Bride of Christ is further identified as “the holy city, new Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2, 9-10).
i. In the same way that Babylon (Rev. 14:8; 17:1, 5, 15-16; 18:2; 9-10, 21; 19:1:1-3), a city, represented a people, a religion, and a government in terms of a Great Prostitute, adulterating the true worship of God, so new Jerusalem, a city, represents a people, a religion, and a government as the holy Bride of Christ, fulfilling the true worship of God (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10).
ii. Who are the primary inhabitants of this gargantuan (Rev. 21:16) city?
a) First of all, redeemed Israelis of all ages will inhabit the beautiful city of New Jerusalem. Israel’s presence is documented first of all by the name of the city, Jerusalem! It is impossible to have a more Jewish name than “Jerusalem!” It is documented, second, by the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel inscribed upon the twelve gates of the city (Rev. 21:12-13). Israel appears as the guests invited to the wedding feast.
b) Second, New Jerusalem is the home of the Church, represented by the twelve names of the twelve apostles, which are inscribed on the twelve foundation stones of the city wall (Rev. 21:14). New Jerusalem will be the eternal home of the Church, the Bride of Christ.
iii. Where do the redeemed of all ages who are neither Israeli nor part of the Church make their home? Evidently these citizens from many different nations will live on New Earth. They conduct their business by the light of that great city, and they bring, at any time of the day, the works of their hands into that city to honor the King and God Almighty (Isa. 60:11; Rev. 21:23-26). They, like the city’s inhabitants, will have perpetual access to the city, its co-regents (Rev. 22:3-4) and its benefits (Rev. 22:2).
4. Let us now examine the passages which teach that Christ will return first to retrieve His bride.
a. John 14:1-6. The events of Jesus’ ministry occurred between A.D. 26-30. Jesus’ instruction to His disciples in John 14:1-3 concerning his departure and eventual return would have occurred in A.D. 30. Though the Gospel of John was written much later, likely between A.D. 65 and 95 (Dr. Constable’s Notes on John, .pdf file, p. 3), Jesus’ instruction about his departure and return here recorded occurred before any of Paul’s letters were written. For that reason we are discussing His instructions first.
i. In John 13, Jesus celebrated Passover (“the Last Supper”) with his disciples. Subsequently He taught His disciples at great length in what has become known as the “Upper Room Discourse” (John 13-16), based on the parallel passages (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12). His betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion were hours away.
ii. In John 14:1-6, Jesus taught His disciples of His coming departure, but He did so with the assurance that He would come back to get them so that they might be with Him always (John 14:3).
iii. The language that Jesus used with His disciples as recorded in this passage is the language of a Jewish bridegroom of that era. A Jewish couple were betrothed to one another. This betrothal period was a year in length. The couple did not live together, but they were legally considered to be obligated to one another at that point. During that year betrothal period, the groom would prepare a room for himself and his bride as an apartment within the larger confines of his father’s house. At the appropriate time, usually at night, the groom would come to the bride’s home. Certain ceremonies were observed, whereupon he would take his bride back to his home, part of his father’s domicile. The marriage would be consummated, and a marriage feast would ensue, usually a week in length (Matt. 22:1-14; Luke 12:36; 14:8-10; John 2:1-11; Rev. 19:7-9).
iv. Observe what Jesus said:
a) He told His followers not to be troubled by His coming absence. They are to trust God and to trust Him (John 14:1).
b) His Father’s house (heaven) has many dwelling places. There is ample room up there for every person who will comprise His bride (John 14:2).
d) As their loyal Bridegroom, He promises to return to retrieve His bride from this earth so that they might ever be with Him as He returns to His Father’s house (John 14:3).
e) He assures them that they know the way to the Father’s house (John 14:4).
f) When Thomas objects that they do not know where He is going, and thus are unable to know the way (John 15:5), Jesus assures him and the others that He Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other way to the Father other than through Himself (John 14:6).
g) Absent in this passage are any details as to when Jesus might return for His bride. There are no preliminary signs given or events predicted that must occur before He does so. As believers down through the ages we have always looked forward eagerly to Christ’s return for us to take us back to His Father’s house. It is an imminent event, meaning it could take place at any time.
h) Summary: In this central passage (John 14:1-6) concerning Jesus’ return for the Church (the Rapture), Jesus tells His followers, the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20) that though He is leaving, He will one day return. He is so close to them, and they to him, that he treats them and subsequent followers (John 17:20-21) as His bride. Presently He is in His Father’s house, preparing suitable accommodations for His bride. But He will return to take them back to live with Him in His Father’s house. They are not to be fearful at His departure, but are to trust both Him and His Father. He is the way to the Father and the way to the Father’s house.
b. 1 Thess. 4:13-18. 1 Thessalonians is the first letter Paul wrote that deals with Christ’s return for the Church. It was penned some time in A.D. 51 (Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 Thessalonians, .pdf file p. 2).
i. Evidently Paul had taught the Thessalonians, while he was among them on his second missionary journey, A.D. 49-50, that they could anticipate at any time Jesus’ return to take them to be with Him. This event we call the Rapture. The difficulty was that, as some of their number began to die, the Thessalonians became increasingly fearful that these who were dying had missed the Rapture, and thus were unable to participate in the blessed event! Now, in order to reassure them, Paul wrote to these new Thessalonian believers that he did not wish them to be uniformed about fellow believers who had already died. He did not wish them to grieve the same way unbelievers, who have no hope, grieve. So he was writing to them to clarify and solidify a correct understanding of this event (1 Thess. 4:13).
ii. Paul continued, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again” (and we do believe it, he indicated), Jesus, when He returns to come get us, will bring [the souls of] those believers in Christ who have already died along with Him (1 Thess. 4:14).
a) (By souls, psuche, G5590, I do not mean disembodied spirits. Apparently believers in heaven have some kind of spiritual body in which they exist. See Rev. 6:9-11, where John saw the souls of those who had been slain and were being housed underneath the altar. John observed that these saints who longed for justice were given white robes. One cannot give a robe to a ghost.)
b) Paul’s point was that Jesus was bringing believers who had previously died back with Himself to be reunited with their now-to-be-glorified bodies that had died on earth.
c) Notice that there will be a restricted number of believers who return with Jesus. It will be “those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” This refers to Church age saints. The Church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), when Jesus sent forth His Spirit as He had promised (Acts 1:1-8). Abraham, for example, will not be returning with Jesus. His resurrection awaits another time (Dan. 12:1-3).
iii. Paul continued to reassure the distressed Thessalonian believers that not only would their departed friends and relatives who were believers in Christ not miss the Rapture, they would actually be given priority! Paul stated that those Christians who were still alive when Christ returned (parousia, G3952) would not precede those who had died (1 Thess. 4:15). In other words, the dead in Christ would be the first to benefit from this glorious return of Christ! Paul is revealing truth that had been first revealed to him by Jesus Himself.
iv. Paul continued to elaborate, specifying the sequence of events (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
a) First, Jesus Himself will descend from heaven. The following phrases describe how He will descend. He will descend …
1) With (a) shout (1 Thess. 4:16). Precisely who shouts is not revealed. The word shout is the word keleusma, G2752, meaning a shout of command or a summons. This is the only occurrence of this word in the Greek New Testament. It makes the most sense to believe that Jesus, with a shout, will summon the dead in Christ from their graves, much as He successfully summoned Lazarus from his grave (John 11:43-44)! It also would not surprise me if this shout is also the Lord’s summons of living believers up into the air to meet Him!
3) And with trumpet of God. Trumpets were used extensively in the nation of Israel in connection with battles (Num. 10:9), signals for the people (Lev. 23:24; Num. 10:2), and in connection with praise and worship (Num. 10:10; Psa. 150:3). In the NT trumpets are associated with the “trumpet” plagues described in the book of Revelation during the Tribulation (Rev. 8:2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13; 9:1, 13; 10:7; 11:15 [note that the verb form of the noun trumpet (G4536 salpigx) is, literally, “trumpeted” (G4537 salpidzo), though it is usually translated “sounded”] ), and also with the return of Christ (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). If, as I believe, Christ’s coming is in two stages, the trumpet described in Matt. 24:31 is not the same trumpet that is described in 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:16. The trumpet in 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 4 is the same trumpet; it announces Christ’s return for His bride, the Church, prior to the Tribulation period. The trumpet in Matthew 24 announces Christ’s return in power with His bride, to take possession of the earth and set up His Kingdom after the Tribulation.
b) The next event, as Jesus descends from heaven, is that the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thess. 4:16). All those who have died as believers in Christ, from the Day of Pentecost until this Rapture event, will rise from the grave. This is not a general resurrection, but a specific one. Only believers will arise from the grave, and these will be only Church Age believers. Old Testament believers, such as Job, Abraham, and David await another resurrection. Even John the Baptist, who lived in the New Testament era but was executed before the Church was formed, will not partake of this resurrection. Observe that when Christ returns, deceased Christians will be resurrected before anything happens to living Christians.
c) Immediately following the resurrection of deceased Church Age believers, living believers in Christ will be privileged to participate in a truly monumental experience! We will be transported into the air and given resurrection-type bodies without having to die first! Paul stated, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).
1) Without having to undergo death, man’s grisly enemy, living Church Age believers will be caught up from the earth. The word that describes this event is the future passive plural form of harpadzo (G726). It describes a forcible taking or seizing of something, and is often used of thieves and wild, predatory animals (Friberg Analytical Lexicon of the New Testament). Jesus will forcibly seize us living believers from the troubles and trials and evils of this world. This seizure will be a joyous, exhilarating, liberating event!
2) We will be given resurrected bodies without having to die first!
3) Furthermore, we will no longer be separated from deceased believers in Christ. We will be caught up together with those who have just been resurrected moments earlier.
4) We will be caught up together with them in the clouds! This will be a heavenly rendezvous!
5) But the most exciting moment in this adventure will be when we all meet Jesus in the air! What a joyous occasion that will be!
6) The net result is that all of us Church age believers will always be with the Lord Jesus from that point forward! What a privilege that we will be to see for the first time with our own eyes the most powerful, glorious, majestic, compassionate human being the world will ever know!
v. Paul concludes this portion of his letter by commanding that these Thessalonian believers to whom he is writing comfort one another with the information he has just supplied them (1 Thess. 4:18)!
vi. Though the language of bride and bridegroom is not used in this text, it squares neatly with what Jesus described in John 14:1-3. The bridegroom, Jesus, is coming back to get His bride, the Church. He will retrieve from the earth all of those who compose His bride, both the dead and the living believers! We who are believers in Christ can comfort one another even at a funeral. This is not the end! We will see one another again, and see Jesus as well for the first time at that grand and glorious meeting in the air! No wonder Paul describes Christ’s return as a blessed hope for which we are to be constantly looking (Titus 2:13)!
c. 1 Cor. 15:50-58. 1 Corinthians 15 is the most extensive and explicit discussion of resurrection in the entire Bible. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in A.D. 54 or 55 (David Lowery, 1 Corinthians, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament) or perhaps as late as A.D. 56 (Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 Corinthians, .pdf file, p. 3).
i. An over-view is in order:
a) Paul first discussed the importance of the resurrection – it is a part of the gospel (good news) by which the Corinthian believers were saved (1 Cor. 15:1-11).
b) He next noted the dismaying consequences of denying the existence of any resurrection at all (1 Cor. 15:12-19).
d) He stated that the continual struggle we Christians experience makes sense only if there is, indeed, a resurrection (1 Cor. 15:29-34).
e) He gave a graphic description of the reality and nature of resurrection (1 Cor. 15:35-49).
1) He illustrated the plausibility of resurrection by comparing the different kinds of bodies that presently exist in the natural realm. For example, a kernel of wheat that is planted is completely different from the wheat plant which emerges. The glory of the sun as observed from earth is completely different than the glory of the moon or the stars (1 Cor. 15:35-41).
2) So the human body is sown into the ground, dead, as a natural (soulish, psuchikos, G5590) body, and it is resurrected as a radically different body – a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-44).
3) There also is a contrast between the inferior heritage we receive from the first Adam and the superior heritage we Christians receive from the last Adam, Christ. We received a natural (soulish) body from Adam, but we will receive a spiritual body from Christ (1 Cor. 15:45-49).
ii. The description of the event of resurrection (1 Cor. 15:50-58).
a) Two incompatibilities exist without resurrection. (1) Mere flesh and blood with which we humans are born is utterly incompatible with the kingdom of God! (2) Furthermore, the decaying bodies we possess because of our sinfulness and approaching physical death are utterly incompatible with the perfection and non-decay that exists in God’s realm (1 Cor. 15:50).
b) Paul revealed a mystery. (A mystery is a revelation from God to man of a truth never before revealed. It is brand new information that man has never heard before.) This brand new truth was that not all Christians will die, yet the mortal bodies of all Christians will be transformed into resurrected bodies! What this means is that some believers in Christ will experience the dramatic reality of having their mortal bodies transformed into immortal, resurrection bodies without having to die first (1 Cor. 15:51)!
c) This resurrection / transformation will be rapid and sudden. It will occur in a moment, in the blink of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52). The word moment is atomos (823), meaning something that is indivisible, the smallest moment in time. (We derive our English word atom from this word.)
d) The signal for this resurrection will be the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52). Post-tribulationists (those who believe Christ is returning for the Church at the end of the Tribulation) believe this last trumpet refers to the seventh trumpet that sounds in the book of Revelation (Rev. 11:15-19). Paul, however, included himself in the group that anticipated being alive when Christ returned for His Church (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:15-17) (Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 Corinthians, pp. 180-181). That shows that Paul perceived of this event as imminent, without any prophesied events that must intervene before it could occur. That remains true today. There are no events that must occur before Jesus returns for His Church. The Rapture will take place before the Tribulation, for believers are not appointed to God’s wrath, which will be poured out on the world during the “day of the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:1-11). The “Day of the Lord” commences after the “man of lawlessness” (Antichrist) is revealed to the world (2 Thess. 2:1-5). The Holy Spirit in the Church is the One who restrains the “man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist). When the Holy Spirit in the Church is removed from the world scene (the Rapture event), then the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed to the earth in all his mesmerizing and deceptive power (2 Thess. 2:6-12), and the Tribulation will begin. So the trumpet described here in 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:16 is the “last trumpet” for the Church (David Lowery, 1 Corinthians, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT Volume). There will be many more trumpets for the unbelievers (Rev. 8:2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13; 9:1, 13; 10:7; 11:15).
e) The crux of this event is that all dead Christians will be raised from the dead with bodies impervious to decay, while living Christians at that time will also have their bodies transformed instantly into non-decaying bodies (1 Cor. 15:52)!
f) The resurrection of dead believers, as well as the transformation of the bodies of living believers into resurrection bodies, is essential. Why? Because in order to exist in God’s eternal kingdom, that which is susceptible to decay must be replaced by that which is unsusceptible to decay; and that which is able to die must be replaced by that which is unable to die (1 Cor. 15:53).
g) When believers’ bodies that are susceptible to decay have been transformed into bodies that are not susceptible to decay; and when believers’ mortal bodies have been transformed into immortal bodies, the Scriptures will have been fulfilled which say, “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” (1 Cor. 15:54, a quotation from Isa. 25:8), and “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55, a quotation from Hos. 13:14).
h) Paul noted further that the “sting of death” spoken of in Hosea 13:14 is sin, which receives its power from the Law of God, which, when broken, results in death (Gen. 2:16-17). From this gloomy pronouncement, Paul broke into praise, thanking God that He gives us the victory over death through our Master, Jesus the Messiah (1 Cor. 15:56-57)!
i) Since we have victory over sin, death, and decay through Jesus, Paul concluded, we Christians ought always to be plunging ourselves with dedication into the work of serving God. Since we are assured of an after-life in perfected bodies, we can also be assured that everything we do to serve Jesus will have eternal significance which we will be able to observe (1 Cor. 15:58)!
a) While 1 Cor. 15:50-58 does not address specifically either the issue of Christ’s return or the issue of His return as a bridegroom, it nevertheless seems to fit into the genre of Scriptures which describe that event.
1) This is one of only two passages which describe the instant metamorphosis of the bodies of living believers into glorified bodies without having to die. The other passage is 1 Thess. 4:13-18, which clearly pictures the Lord coming to retrieve those who believe in Jesus so that they might always be with Him. That motivation aligns itself clearly with the notion of Jesus returning to retrieve His bride (John 14:1-3).
2) Two of these three passages specify a trumpet blast (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16).
3) All three portray it as a time of blessing for believers, not as a time of judgment for unbelievers.
b) As with other passages in this genre, 1 Cor. 15:50-58 does not present any events whatever that must occur before this resurrection of dead believers and metamorphosis of living Christians takes place. It is presented as an imminent event, one before which no other prophesied events are necessarily stated to occur. Of course, the deeper into the church age we travel, the closer to the rapture and the subsequent tribulation we find ourselves. If the rapture should occur in say 2015, and the tribulation shortly thereafter, of course the stage of geopolitics will more and more appear as they must necessarily appear when the Tribulation actually begins. We know, for example, that at the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will break his seven-year peace treaty with Israel and will enter the Jewish temple and seat himself as God (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). For that to happen there must first exist a nation of Israel. It was a sea change when the Jewish people formed the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. A huge component necessary for end time prophecies to be fulfilled was now in place for the first time in nearly 2000 years! It seems impossible now, but some day, apparently, a Jewish temple will be built in Israel. It will take a miracle of God for that to happen, but some day it will inevitably happen. As we near the rapture, the events of the Tribulation will cast a shadow backward into the Church Age so that we can see the stage being set. Nevertheless, the New Testament has always presented the imminent return of Christ for His Church. The Second Coming of Christ in power to establish His Kingdom is not an imminent event. There are many things that must take place before that momentous event can be fulfilled (Matt. 24:1-31; Rev. 6-19).
d. 2 Thessalonians 2:7. It is clear that the Apostle Paul taught the Thessalonian believers a great deal about eschatology, the study of last things (1 Thess. 4:13 – 5:11; 2 Thess. 1:6 – 2:12). His motivation in doing so was, first of all, to comfort them in their loss of loved ones (1 Thess. 4:13-18); to explain to them the nature of the “Day of the Lord” and how they should live, once again providing comfort (1 Thess. 5:1-11); to comfort the suffering Thessalonian believers, assuring them that Jesus would pay back vengeance against their persecutors when He returned in power (2 Thess. 1:4-12); and to comfort the misinformed believers who erroneously assumed that, because they were suffering so much, they had somehow missed the Rapture and were being forced to endure the beginning phase of the “day of the Lord,” the Tribulation (2 Thess. 2)! It should be clear that a study of Biblical eschatology is vital in providing a comforting perspective to Christians who suffer on earth today! Studying the prophetic portions of Scripture is essential in order to keep one’s sanity! In any event, it is this last eschatological portion of Scripture in 2 Thessalonians that we wish to explore briefly.
i. Paul began this section exhorting the Thessalonians not to fear that the “Day of the Lord” had already arrived (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Apparently some unnamed person had sent a letter “as if from us” (Paul and his associates) insinuating that the Tribulation period had already arrived. Paul implied that there was a (demonic) spirit behind this false information.
ii. It should be explained that “the Day of the Lord” is the time during which God directly intervenes in punishing man upon earth for his evil revolt against God, and in which God sets up His own righteous regime administered by Jesus Christ. It is true that there were Old Testament instances of the “Day of the Lord” enacted in a local setting against Israel. The prophet Joel predicted a localized “Day of the Lord” embodied in a terrible locust plague which punished the people of Israel (Joel 1-2). But in Joel 2:10, the language hints at far broader and more spectacular devastation! There is coming a time when the “Day of the Lord” will be unleashed upon the whole world! This time of catastrophic judgment upon man and the world in which he lives will begin with the Tribulation. The Tribulation, broadly speaking, is a seven-year time period during which God and Jesus unleash their great wrath upon the earth for its corruption and evil (Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19). This time of punishment during the Tribulation was described in graphic detail in the Old Testament (Isa. 13:6-16; Ezek. 30:3; Joel 3:1-15; Amos 5:18-20; Obad. 1:15-16; Zeph. 1:1-18; 1 Thess. 5:1-3). When Christ returns, he will complete His purging of evil people on earth (Joel 2:30-32; 3:14-16) preparatory to His Millennial reign, which is also an extended portion of the Day of the Lord (Joel 3:14-21; Obadiah 1:15-21). But evil is endemic in the heart of fallen man. Our present universe has been corrupted by evil and decay due to man’s sin, and it must also be purged. So the Day of the Lord even includes the fiery destruction of rebels at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:7-10) as well as the explosive destruction of the existing heavens and earth (2 Pet. 3:10-12). That will enable God to create a New Heaven and Earth, over which both Christ and God will reign forever from New Jerusalem over unblemished peoples in a universe in which only righteousness exists (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-4, 8, 27; 22:15).
iii. With that background in mind, the Thessalonian believers were under the misguided impression that, in view of all the troubles they were encountering (2 Thess. 1:4-5), the “Day of the Lord” was already upon them, and that somehow they had missed the rapture (2 Thess. 2:1-2)! Paul encourages these believers not to lose their composure!
iv. To alleviate their dismaying misinformation, Paul laid out a sequence of events that must occur in connection with the “Day of the Lord.”
a) First, there will come the great apostasy, a time of falling away from God and His values (2 Thess. 2:3). This seems to be a world-wide event.
b) Then the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed to the world. He is also called “the son of destruction” both because he will destroy any vestige of goodness in the world but also because he himself is destined for destruction (2 Thess. 2:3). Elsewhere he is identified as “the Antichrist” (1 John 2:18).
c) The “man of lawlessness” is described as a rebel who exalts himself above any other God or object of worship. He will actually seat himself in the Jewish temple (yet to be rebuilt), “displaying himself as being God” (2 Thess. 2:4)! Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he had told them this before (2 Thess. 2:5).
d) Paul then reminded the Thessalonians of the restraining force that was then [and is even now] preventing the “man of lawlessness from being revealed (2 Thess. 2:6). The “mystery of lawlessness,” a previously unrevealed time of unprecedented departure from God and His ways, was already at work in Paul’s day, and is at work in our day. It is being restrained by the restrainer identified in the preceding verse. [The Holy Spirit in the Church is the One who restrains the “man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist).] He will continue to restrain this galloping evil until he is taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2:7).
e) When the restrainer is removed from the scene, then the apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3) and lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3, 7-8) will explode upon the world scene with overwhelming force, Satanic miracles (2 Thess. 2:9), and deception (2 Thess. 2:10-12). This lawlessness will coalesce in the “man of lawlessness,” the false Messiah. As it turns out in real-time sequence, the removal of the restrainer (2 Thess. 2:7) actually precedes both the apostasy and the revealing of the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3, 8).
f) When Jesus returns (His Second Coming in Power), He will destroy the “man of lawlessness” simply by speaking a word of command, and He will render him helpless by means of the visible appearance of His presence (2 Thess. 2:8).
v. There is much debate over the identity of the restrainer. That debate is somewhat complicated by the observation that Paul, in 2 Thess. 2:6, spoke of “that which restrains” in neuter gender; yet in the next breath he spoke of “the one who restrains” in masculine gender. Without discussing all the options, the best explanation, I believe, is that the restrainer is none other than the Holy Spirit indwelling the Church. The Greek word for spirit (pneuma) occurs as a neuter gender noun. Yet, since the Holy Spirit is a person, not a force, it is also appropriate to use the masculine gender. So in Paul’s day, as in our day, the Holy Spirit, dwelling within Church-Age believers (Romans 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13) restrains a tremendous amount of evil in this world. When the Church is removed from the earth, the Holy Spirit departs this world as the Indweller. Divine restraint upon evil is withdrawn, and mankind almost universally plunges into great evil and rebellion against God, lured by the deceptive charisma and miracles of the “man of lawlessness,” the Antichrist, Satan’s false version of the Messiah.
vi. When the Holy Spirit, indwelling the Church, is removed from the world (the Rapture event), then the “lawless one” will be revealed to the world. He is also called “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26). He will be a man of great charisma, and he will charm the world. He will apparently seem to solve the millennia-old Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, granting Israel a seven-year peace treaty (Dan. 9:27). This treaty will evidently grant Israel the authority to rebuild the Jewish temple (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4). But he will double-cross the Jews in the middle of the seven-year period. He will defile the temple, putting an end to sacrifices and worship there (Dan. 9:27). He will do so by seating himself in the temple as God-come-in-the-flesh, the Satanic version of the Messiah (2 Thess. 2:4).
vii. This ruler will be energized and empowered by Satan, and will be able to perform all manner of “powers and signs and wonders of a lie” (2 Thess. 2:9, literal translation). This means he will have supernatural powers, just as Jesus did in His earthly ministry. But these miraculous powers will be meant to deceive people, not lead them to the truth!
viii. Not only is his coming characterized by deceptive miraculous powers, but by every kind of trickery of unrighteousness to those who are being destroyed, who did not receive the love of the truth in order to be saved (2 Thess. 2:10). It is on this account that God sends to them an energizing of deception so that they believe “the lie” (2 Thess. 2:11) in order that they all might be judged – the ones not having believed the truth, but rather having taken pleasure in the unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:12).
ix. His worldwide governance will be the ultimate in an oppressive, global “nanny-state.” His administration will enforce a totalitarian, state-run economy in which, no one can legally buy or sell anything unless he has signed up with the central tracking system, in which, to participate, one must give total allegiance to and must worship the head of state (Rev. 13:1-18). For a time it will seem like the liberal-progressives’ dream-come-true utopia, but people will quickly discover they have embraced a terrifying nightmare.
x. The upshot of this passage is that believers in Jesus in the Church Age need not fear the Tribulation or the “Man of Lawlessness,” the sinister world ruler who is “the Antichrist.” Believers in Jesus, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, will be removed from this earth as an entity restraining evil. This event is Christ’s return for the Church, the Rapture, or as Paul states it here “our gathering together to Him” (2 Thess. 2:1). When the Holy Spirit in the Church is removed from the earth, evil will be unrestrained. There will be a world-wide apostasy as earth’s citizens gladly forsake any semblance of Judaeo-Christian morality. The “man of lawlessness” will be revealed and gain a strangle-hold on the globe, but his success will be short-lived. When Jesus returns to the earth in power (His Second Coming), He will destroy this deceitful, ungodly world ruler, and he will burn forever in the lake of fire and sulfur (2 Thess. 1:6-10; 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21).
e. Titus 2:13. The Apostle Paul wrote to his assistant Titus that God’s grace had appeared (in Christ at His first coming), and it had brought salvation within reach of all men (Tit. 2:11). God’s grace “child-trains” us that, denying irreverence and the strong desires associated with the world around us, we should continually, in this present age, live lives that are characterized by spiritual sanity and righteousness and reverence before God (Tit. 2:12). As we do so, we must also constantly be anticipating the blessed hope and visible manifestation of the splendor of the great God and Savior we have, Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13).
i. It is possible that this passage refers in general to both the Rapture event and Christ’s Second Coming in power. However, Christ’s return for His Church cannot be eliminated from Paul’s frame of reference.
ii. This brief passage argues that Christ’s return is an imminent event, one we should be constantly anticipating, or “looking for” (note the Greek present tense).
iii. Paul states that this event of Christ’s visible and glorious appearance is a blessed hope (Tit. 2:13). That is entirely consistent with the model of an imminent, pre-Tribulation Rapture, one which delivers living believers from the wrath of God exhibited during the Tribulation period (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15). If Church-age believers were forced to go through the Tribulation before Christ returned to them, their hope would be sullied by anxiety. They would have to anticipate with great dread years of hardship, persecution, deprivation, and probable death. If Paul knew that, it would be strange and even misleading of him not to at least have informed them of the agonies that awaited them. His description of Christ’s return as a blessed hope is best explained in a Pretribulation Rapture model as best fitting the evidence that we find. Paul’s clear teaching on the order of events is consistently that, in this age, people turn to God from their idols (whatever they may be) in order “to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, … Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
D. The King's Return to Earth to Set Up His Kingdom. Return to Index.
1. His Return to gather His elect. Matt. 24:29-31.
b. At the end of the tribulation period there will be some terrifying signs up in the heavens (Matt. 24:29).
i. The sun will be darkened.
ii. The moon will not shed its light.
iii. Stars will fall out of the sky.
iv. The powers of the heavens will be shaken.
c. Then will appear up in the sky the sign of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:30).
i. What is the sign of the Son of Man? No one knows exactly. It is my opinion that the glory of Jesus, veiled during His life on earth, will be unveiled to the world at that time. That, after all, is the title of the Book of Revelation – “The Unveiling of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). The unveiled glory of Jesus will illuminate the heavens, then reflect off the clouds which will accompany Him (Rev. 1:7). He will be accompanied by armies from heaven, all clothed in bright linen clothing. His glory will reflect off the white clothing of the millions who descend to earth with Him. The combined effect of this brilliant light reflected off the clothing and the clouds will be overwhelming. Until they figure out what is causing this bright light up in the heavens, earthlings will fear they are being invaded by a UFO. They will be absolutely terrified.
ii. Finally, the world’s peoples will figure out that Jesus is coming back. He is the One behind this brilliant light phenomenon. The terror will turn into guilt. All the different families of the earth will mourn because of Jesus (Matt. 24:30). These will be tears, not of repentance, but of culpability. People will mourn because they have been caught and will be forced to pay for their ungodly lifestyles. Jewish people, especially, are mentioned as mourning. They will mourn because they were responsible for His crucifixion (Rev. 1:7). Their mourning, however, seems to be one of genuine repentance (Zech. 12:10-14).
i. In this passage, Jesus speaks only of the action of the angels in collecting the righteous. But their sorting action is fully revealed in Matt. 13:36-43. There, Jesus states that He will send forth His angels to gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks and those who commit lawlessness” (Matt. 13:41). That is not all. The angels will throw these “lawless” ones into “the furnace of fire” a place where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42). Clearly this is a reference to hell.
ii. Jesus does not, in Matt. 24:1-51, reveal immediately what will be the destiny of the righteous. But He does so very succinctly in Matt. 13:43. There He said that “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.” So the righteous will be preserved alive to inherit the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ here on earth!
iii. Who are these “elect,” or “chosen ones”? Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., in his commentary on Matthew in The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol. II, p. 78) states the following:
a) “He will then send His angels forth to regather His elect from the four winds, which relates to the earth (cf. Mark 13:27), from one end of the heavens to the other.
b) “This involves the gathering of those who will have become believers during the Seventieth Week of Daniel and who will have been scattered into various parts of the world because of persecution (cf. Matt. 24:16). This gathering will probably also involve all Old Testament saints, whose resurrection will occur at this time, so that they may share in Messiah’s kingdom (Dan. 12:2-3, 13).”
e. Jesus does give some additional details about the nature of His future return (Matt. 24:36-41). His coming will be unpredictable (Matt 24:36). It will take place just as did judgment in the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39). Life was going on as usual, with an emphasis on partying and celebrating weddings right up until the day of reckoning (Matt. 24:38). Then the Great Flood came and swept them away to judgment. Jesus said that is just how His coming would be (Matt. 24:39). Two men would be farming together out in the field, but one would be taken away in judgment. The other, the chosen one, would be left to inherit Christ’s Kingdom (Matt. 24:40). Two women would be together preparing food. One would be taken away into judgment while the other, the chosen one, would be preserved alive to inherit Christ’s Kingdom (Matt. 24:41).
2. His return to defeat His foes. Zech. 14:1-15; Isa. 63:1-6; Rev 19:11-21.
a. Zechariah 14:1-15.
i. Christ’s return will come at a time of great duress for Israel during the “Day of the LORD” at the end of the Tribulation period. Yahweh will gather all the nations against Israel to do battle. The nations of the world will conclude, as most of them now believe, that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace. They will attack her savagely. United Nations troops will invade Jerusalem, capture the city, plunder the homes and businesses, rape the women, and capture half the citizens and deport them (Zech. 14:2).
ii. Then Yahweh Himself, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, will fight against those nations as He did in the day of battle in the Old Testament as Israel conquered the land of Canaan. He will return to the Mount of Olives, the precise place from which He ascended to heaven centuries earlier (Zech. 14:3-4; Acts 1:9-11).
iii. Jesus’ return will cause remarkable alterations in the landscape and in the heavens.
a) The Mount of Olives will split along an east-west fault line. Half of the mountain will be moved to the north and half to the south, creating a “very large valley.” This valley will create an escape route for multitudes of beleaguered Israelis. Then Jesus, accompanied by His heavenly angelic armies, will begin to wage a fierce war against His human opponents (Zech. 14:4-5; Rev. 19:14).
b) Jesus’ return will be marked by catastrophic signs in the heavens. Light will fail, yet there will be visibility (Zech. 14:6-7).
c) Christ’s return will cause sensational hydrological changes. Fresh water will flow from Jerusalem in two directions – toward the Dead Sea and toward the Mediterranean, presumably along the fault line already created (Zech. 14:4-5). The waters that flow into the Dead Sea will be incredibly beneficial, turning the Dead Sea into a fresh-water sea inhabited by fish! Fruit trees with remarkable healing powers will grow along this river (Zech. 14:8; Ezek 47:1-12)!
iv. The Messiah will set up His throne in Jerusalem and believers around the world will exult! Jesus, whose name means “Yahweh Is Salvation!” will reign as King over the entire earth! His name will be exalted world-wide (Zech. 14:9; Phil. 2:9-11)!
v. More topographical changes will ensue! The land south of Jerusalem will sink into a plain, while Mount Zion and Jerusalem itself will rise in height precipitously. The elevation of Jerusalem from the plain below will be utterly magnificent to behold (Zech. 14:10)!
vi. People will live in Jerusalem. The ravages of international warfare against Jerusalem will be healed. Jesus will remove the curse from nature placed on it by God after man’s fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24). For the first time in millennia, Jerusalem will be a place of safety where Jewish people who believe in their King will be able to dwell securely! International peace will prevail (Zech. 14:11; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-10).
vii. But before this happens, Jesus will take vengeance on all the troops who have savaged Jerusalem. He will strike the troops with a fast-acting plague. While these enemy United Nations soldiers are standing in awe at the return of Christ, they will come to a horrifying end. Their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet. Their eyes will rot in their sockets so they cannot see. Their tongue will rot in their mouths so they cannot speak intelligibly. Screaming and blind, they will lash out at one another and kill one another. Finally, they will all collapse in a heap on the ground and die a horrible death. This same plague will afflict horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and cattle in their camps (Zech. 14:12-13, 15)! Evidently petroleum products will be in such short supply at this time that armies will be forced to rely on livestock for transportation as well as for food rations.
viii. The citizens of Judah will also fight in this great battle. As the winners of the battle, Israel will inherit great wealth from the surrounding nations, including gold, silver, and clothing, all in great abundance (Zech. 14:14)!
b. Isaiah 63:1-6.
i. This startling and somber passage begins with two questions by an unnamed speaker (Isa. 63:1-2).
a) The first question: “Who is this who comes from Edom with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength?” The answer of the “Marcher”: "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save” (Isa. 63:1).
b) The second is a curious question, but as the reply unfolds, it is seen to be entirely appropriate: “Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?” (Isa. 63:2).
ii. What is utterly shocking is the reply.
a) The “Marcher” responds, “I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me” (Isa. 63:3a). This reply at first seems innocuous enough, yet incongruent. Why are we discussing a harvest of grapes? More striking, why does the “Marcher” lament that he had no assistance, and that he had to tread the wine press alone?
b) The “Marcher” continues, and the listener instantly goes into shock at the ferocity and intensity of the reply: “I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment” (Isa. 63:3b). What causes the shock is this: The reader quickly realizes that the red garments of the “Marcher” have nothing to do with grapes and wine. They have everything to do with human blood! The “Marcher” has been trampling humans underfoot and squashing them just as a treader in the wine press would squash grapes. What a gruesome harvest!
c) But the “Marcher” continues on: “For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come” (Isa. 63:4). The reader discerns that the “Marcher” had a two-fold purpose – to redeem some, but to destroy others! Presumably those he was destroying were the enemies of those he was attempting to save! Notice that the vengeance of the “Marcher” was only for a day, while his redemption was for a year, a relatively much greater period of time.
d) The “Marcher” continues his former lament of working unaided: “I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold” (Isa. 63:5a). His lament turns now to astonishment. He made a great point of searching everywhere, but there was no one who could assist him in his dual mission of redeeming some by annihilating others. He was appalled!
e) Undaunted, the “Marcher” redoubled his resolve. If no one was able to help, he would accomplish the task single-handed! “So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me” (Isa. 63:5b). Notice his dual task: to bring salvation and to vent his wrath!
f) To fulfill His dual purpose, the “Marcher” finished his explanation for his blood-red garments: “I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth” (Isa. 63:6).
iii. To understand this remarkable reply, we must ask ourselves several questions:
a) What is the significance of Bozrah? Bozrah was the capital of Edom, an inveterate enemy of Israel. Bozrah (modern day Buseirah), stands 25 miles southeast of the Dead Sea. Edom is the southernmost of three nations – Ammon, Moab, and Edom – that make up the modern day country of Jordan. Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau. Though all three of these nations were related to Israel by blood, there was a consistent enmity toward their relative, Jacob, and his descendants. Bozrah is named only twice in Isaiah – here (Isa. 63:1) and also in Isa. 34:6. One only needs to peruse Isa. 34:1-8 in order to answer two questions: (1) Who are those the “Marcher” will destroy? And (2) who are those the “Marcher” will redeem?
b) Who are those the “Marcher” will destroy?
1) Through the prophet Isaiah, Yahweh issues a summons to the “nations,” the “peoples,” “the earth and all it contains,” and “the world and all that springs from it” (Isa. 34:1). Clearly Yahweh is addressing all the nations of the earth! This expands and clarifies the targets of the “Marcher’s” wrath in Isa. 63:6.
2) Yahweh is indignant and filled with wrath against all the nations of the earth and their armies (Isa. 34:2; 63:6)!
3) His wrath against them is so great that He has annihilated them! The decaying corpses of the earth’s slain armies litter the landscape and the mountains are drenched with their blood (Isa. 34:2-3)!
4) When will this slaughter of earth’s armies take place? Evidently it is at the close of the Tribulation period, when there will be massive celestial disturbances! It is at a time when “the host of heaven” (the stars and other celestial bodies) will “wear away” and the sky itself will be “rolled up like a scroll.” The heavenly bodies will “wither away” like a dying leaf on a vine or fig tree (Isa. 34:4)! These massive disturbances in the sky will signal the Second Coming of Christ (Matt. 24:29-31).
5) It is Yahweh who takes direct responsibility for this immense destruction of earth’s armies. It is “My sword” which is “satiated in heaven” (Isa. 34:5). It is “the sword of the LORD” that is “filled with blood” (Isa. 34:6). It is Yahweh who has a sacrifice (Isa. 34:6), and it is Yahweh who “has a day of vengeance” (Isa. 34:8).
6) Yahweh singles out one nation and one capital city as illustrative of His terrible judgment of all the earth’s nations. His sword will judge Edom (Isa. 34:5). Yahweh “has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom” (Isa. 34:6). Clearly, both Yahweh in Isa. 34:6 and the “Marcher” in Isa. 63:1 single out Bozrah, the capital of Edom as representative of all the nations of the earth who have gathered in battle.
7) So the “Marcher” in Isa. 63:1 vengefully destroys in his fury the earth’s nations who have gathered as his enemies against a people both Yahweh and the Marcher wish to preserve and redeem.
c) Who are those that both the “Marcher” and Yahweh will preserve and redeem?
1) Yahweh is said to have a “day of vengeance” and “a year of recompense for the cause of Zion” (Isa. 34:8, emphasis mine).
2) Immediately after describing the awful slaughter wrought by “the Marcher” in Isa. 63:1-6, Isaiah bursts out in praise of Yahweh. He mentions the abundant loyal love of Yahweh, the praises of Yahweh, and the great goodness and compassion of Yahweh “toward the house of Israel” (Isa. 63:7, emphasis mine).
3) We conclude, then, that the people on whose behalf Yahweh is acting are the Jewish people, the people of Zion (Isa. 34:8). We conclude that the ones for whom the righteous Marcher, mighty to save, battled to bring redemption and salvation, are the people of Yahweh, the house of Israel (Isa. 63:7-8).
d) A final question remains – who is the “Marcher”? The Marcher is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah. He is both Man and God in the same person. (Note the capitalization of the personal pronouns by the editors of NASB in Isa. 63:1-6.) The time of this event is His Second Coming. He descends first to rescue Jerusalem from the world’s united nations who have gathered at Jerusalem to annihilate Israel (Zech. 12:1-9; 14:1-15). But Jerusalem is not the only place of battle. Hordes of enemy combatants will flood the Middle East. The Messiah will travel as far as modern day southern Jordan to defeat Israel’s enemies in a horrific blood-bath that leaves his garments stained blood-red. Isa. 63:1-6 pictures the Messiah returning to Israel having vanquished His enemies in Jordan. A partial list of passages which describe this cataclysmic war between Jesus and the enemies of God and Israel and the events leading up to it include the following: Isa. 34:1-8; 63:1-6; Joel 3:1-17; Rev. 14:18-20; 16:13-16; 19:11-21. It should be noted that, in Isa. 63:1, there is a play on words. Edom means red and Bozrah is similar to the word for grape-gatherer. Notice the theme of the winepress of God’s wrath and the presence of blood in Rev. 14:18-20. Observe also that when Jesus returns He is wearing a robe that is dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13).
c. Revelation 19:11-21. The King’s Return with His Armies to Destroy Earth’s Rebels.
3. His Return to Judge the Survivors of the Tribulation. Matthew 25:1-46
a) The Parable of the Ten Virgins. (Matt. 25:1-13).
b) The Parable of the Man, his Journey, and his Three Slaves. (Matt. 25:14-30).
ii. The King’s Judgment of the Survivors of the Nations of the Earth. The Judgment of the Sheep and Goats among the Nations (Matt. 25:31-46).
a. Wedding talk. In the gospels, Jesus frequently compared himself to a bridegroom (cf. Matt. 9:15; 22:2-14; 25:1-13; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35; 14:15-24; John 3:29).
b. The Bride of Christ. In the case of Jesus, he remained single, at least in the conventional sense. The Scriptures, however, speak of Jesus as having a bride. The Church is portrayed as being the bride of Christ in Eph. 5:24-27. Paul viewed the Church as espoused to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). To John it was announced that “the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). An angel told John, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). One of the angels who poured out the seven bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth told John, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9).
c. A Middle Eastern Wedding. A Middle East wedding took place in three phases.
i. In the first phase parents selected a bride for their son, typically in consultation with the bride’s parents. In the case of Jesus, His Heavenly Father has selected a bride for Him. This bride is none other than the Church (i.e. the Church Universal, see part C, p. 5 ff.), comprised of the elect of this age (Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Tit. 1:1). As each person places his trust in Jesus in the Church Age, he becomes part of the bride of Christ.
ii. In the second phase, the groom leaves his home and comes to retrieve the bride from her home and bring her to his. The bride does not know at what time the groom will come, so she must be ready. This is exactly what Jesus was predicting He would do for His bride in His comments to His disciples (John 14:1-3). This Jesus will do for His bride when He returns to retrieve His bride from her residence and take her to the place He has prepared for her in His Father’s house. There the wedding ceremony takes place. In Jesus’ case this event is known popularly as the Rapture, though it is never so-named in Scripture (John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:50-58; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 4:13-18). In Revelation 19:7 the Rapture has taken place seven years earlier. During the process of the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:9-15; 2 Cor. 5:10), the bride, the Church, has been completely purified and made ready for the final phase of the marriage. She is now clothed in fine linen, the righteous acts of the saints, deeds which have survived the purifying process of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
iii. In the third and final phase of a Middle Eastern marriage, the groom provides a feast for his bride, a feast that may last several days. Such a wedding feast was the context of Jesus’ turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). In the case of Jesus and His wedding feast, the angel speaking to John instructed him to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). In the context of Revelation 19:11-21, Jesus is prepared to descend to earth to reclaim it as His territory from His enemies, gain possession of it, and set up His Kingdom. There His Kingdom will serve as a thousand year wedding feast.
d. A Description of the Wedding Feast. Isa. 25:6.
i. Most of Isaiah 24:1-23 describes the devastation that God will wreak upon the earth during the Tribulation as a judgment for her terrible sins.
ii. Isa. 24:23 begins a section describing the glories of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom: “Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders.” This refers to none other than the glorious worldwide reign of Jesus Christ from Mount Zion (see also Zech. 14:9).
iii. Jesus will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on Mount Zion (Isa. 25:6). The banquet will consist of the choicest of vintage, aged wines and the most expensive cuts of meat. This will be a real meal or series of meals that Jesus celebrates with earth’s redeemed inhabitants who have entered His Millennial Kingdom. One thousand years will be plenty of time for all citizens of the Kingdom to attend the festivities in Jerusalem! Death will be a distant memory for the citizens of the Kingdom (Isa. 25:7). Jesus’ reign of peace, righteousness, justice, and prosperity (Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-10; 60:1-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-8) will all but banish tears from the faces of all people, and especially from Jewish faces, who for so long have been reproached around the world (Isa. 25:8-9).
iv. But Isaiah 25:7-9 does more than speak of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. There will still be death and tears in the Millennium, if at no other time, at least at the very end. Yet Yahweh announced through the prophet Isaiah that human life would be incredibly prolonged, apparently equal to that of our first ancestors (Isa. 65:20; cf. Gen. 5:1-27). And at the terminus of the Millennium, Satan will be released from the Abyss, and he will deceive millions of earth’s inhabitants into revolting against King Jesus, His administration, and His capital city. Fire will descend from heaven and destroy the rebels! There will be death, and I suspect the survivors will shed tears, unable to believe that human beings, living under the most benevolent and just of rulers, could ever revolt against Him (Rev. 20:7-10)! So as beautiful and long-lived as Christ’s Wedding Feast will be, it will be neither beautiful enough nor long enough.
v. The Eternal State will be the time when Jesus and His Father reign together from their throne in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1, 3). God will create New Heavens and New Earth (Rev. 21:1) with New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2) as New Earth’s capital city, replete with the towering, heavenly Mount Zion (Rev. 21:16). That is when Christ’s Wedding Feast for His Bride will go on forever with luscious fruit and the water of life (Rev. 22:1-2). There will be no tears, and death will be forever eliminated for the redeemed (Rev. 21:3-4)! New Jerusalem will be forever inhabited by Christ’s Bride, the Church (Rev. 21:14). And it will be the forever-capital city of Israel (Rev. 21:12). Millions upon millions of Gentiles who, because of their allegiance to the King, will have accepted invitations to the Wedding Feast and as citizens of New Earth (Rev. 21:24-26), will have 24-hour access to the Holy City (Rev. 22:1-2) because they have been transformed into “Born-in-Zion” citizens (Psalm 87:4-6) of the Eternal Kingdom!
5. His Inauguration of His Millennial Kingdom.
a. Rev. 20:1-6. After Jesus has returned to earth, slain His enemies (Rev. 19:11-21), and judged all the survivors of the Tribulation (Ezek. 20:33-38; Mal. 3:1-6; Matt. 25:1-13; 14-30; Luke 19:11-27; Matt. 25:31-46), He will set up His Kingdom upon Earth.
ii. During Christ’s reign He will evidently install certain trusted individuals to assist Him in judging the Millennial earth’s population (Rev. 20:4). While He was yet on earth, Jesus had promised His twelve disciples that in His kingdom, they would sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29-30).
iii. Believers in Christ who had not worshiped the Antichrist or the Image made to represent him (Rev. 13:8, 11-15), and who consequently had been put to death by the evil regime of the world ruler during the Tribulation, will be resurrected (Rev. 20:4). They will reign with Christ for the thousand years of His Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:6). Most likely it is at this time that Old Testament believers will also be resurrected (Job 19:25-27; Isa. 26:19; Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:24; 37:12-14, 24-25; Dan. 12:2; Hos. 3:5).
b. Jesus will reign not only as King over Israel (Zech. 9:9), but as King over all the Earth! His regime will be international in scope!
i. He will judge between earth’s nations and render decisions amongst many peoples (Isa. 2:4).
ii. Every knee will bow to King Jesus and every tongue will swear allegiance to Him (Isa. 45:23)!
iii. Micah 5:4. Yahweh will be great to the ends of the earth.
iv. Jesus’ dominion will extend to the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:9-10). “Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zech. 9:9-10). The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled at Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. Taken as a whole, this prophecy will be fulfilled at Jesus’ Second Coming.
v. Yahweh-Jesus will reign as King over the entire earth. He will be the only one and His name will be the only one (Zech. 14:9).
vi. Nations will come up yearly to Jerusalem to worship King Jesus (Zech. 14:16-17).
a) All of the saved from among the nations of those who fought against Jerusalem in the final paroxysm of the War of Armageddon will make a yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship King Jesus, Yahweh of Troops come in the flesh. They will also celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zech. 14:16).
b) If any of the nations of the earth do not take the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship King Jesus, they will experience a drought. The next year they will take the pilgrimage (Zech. 14:17-19)!
1) Sadly, this tells us that the hearts of many people will not be one with King Jesus. Theirs will be a worship of convenience, and their allegiance will be superficial.
2) At the beginning of the Millennium, after the conclusion of the Judgment of Israel and the Judgment of all the Gentiles, all who have survived the Tribulation and the subsequent Judgments will be believers in Jesus. They will be in their natural bodies and will rear families. As is the case today, not all these believers will be able to pass their faith in Jesus on to their offspring. The earth’s population will multiply greatly during this regime of peace and prosperity. Satan will be bound for the entire 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-3).
3) When Satan is released from the Abyss at the end of Christ’s Millennial reign, these unredeemed citizens of earth will fall easy prey to Satan’s deceit. He will galvanize unbelievable numbers of the earth’s nations to revolt against the King and overthrow His government, which they will find too restrictive. Fire will descend from heaven and devour them (Rev. 20:7-9).
E. Features of His Reign. Return to Index.
1. There will be significant topographical changes in Israel.
a. Jesus will return to earth, descending on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). The Mount of Olives will be split from east to west by a very large valley. Half of the mountain will shift to the north and half to the south (Zech. 14:4).
b. Living (fresh) water will flow out of Jerusalem from underneath the Millennial Temple (Ezek. 47:1-6; Joel 3:18). Half of it will flow to the Mediterranean and half of it will flow into the Dead Sea. Ice will not stop the flow in winter, and no drought will quench it in summer (Zech. 14:8). The Dead Sea, incredibly, will be changed into a body of fresh water supporting fruit trees that bear fruit monthly, and the Dead Sea will teem with fish (Ezek. 47:7-12)!
c. The land will be changed into a plain from Gibbon to Rimmon on the south side of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem itself will be elevated. God will cause an orogeny (mountain building) of that area.
2. People will live in Jerusalem securely (Zech. 14:11).
3. There will be no more curse (Zech. 14:11).
4. His regime will be one of peace (Isa. 2:4; 9:7; 32:18; 66:12; Zech. 9:10).
5. His regime will be filled with glory (Isa. 60:1-3, 10-13. 19-20; 62:1-3; 66:12).
6. His regime will endure into eternity (Isa. 9:6-7; 66:22; Dan. 2:44; Luke 1:32-33).
7. His regime will be characterized by worship (Isa. 19:21-24; 27:13; 49:7; 66:23; Zech. 14:16).
8. Jesus will sit on the throne of His father, David (Isa. 9:6-7; Luke 1:32-33).
9. The portion of Jesus’ reign on this present earth will be characterized by great longevity (Isa. 65:20).
10. His regime will be characterized by harmony in nature (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25).
11. His regime will be characterized by great joy (Isa. 65:18-19).
12. In His regime, the nation of Israel will possess great wealth and will be granted ascendancy over all the other nations of the earth (Isa. 60:5-7, 10-17; 61:4-6).
13. His regime will provide for great economic freedom for individuals. Thus it will be a capitalistic society rather than a Marxist, controlled economy. Individuals will own their own private property and will work and they themselves will enjoy the fruits of their own labor (Isa. 65:21-23).
14. In the portion of Jesus’ future reign that is associated with the present earth, there will be a perpetual reminder of past judgment for individual and societal sins (Isa. 66:24).
15. For more detailed characteristics of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom go to the following link: Characteristics of the Millennium.F. The King and Law. Return to Index.
In the American model of government there are three branches of government – the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The bicameral Congress, composed of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, writes the laws. The President and his executive assistants enforce the laws. The Supreme Court and federal judges are responsible to interpret the laws. This is a very inefficient model of government. It was designed to be that way in order to limit federal government and preserve as much power as possible for the American people and the individual states in which they live. In America, government is to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. In actual practice each of the branches of government have arrogated unto themselves powers the Constitution does not provide. But in the Millennial Government of King Jesus, there will be no division of powers. All world government will inhere in Him. The time is coming when Jesus, Yahweh-come-in-the-flesh, will sit in Zion as Judge, Lawgiver, and King (Isa. 33:20-22). When Jesus rules, it will not be a democracy. It will not be a republic. It will be a monarchy. It will be, in fact, a theocracy, a theocratic monarchy, if you will. There will be no wall of separation between “church” and state. All authority will be granted to the King, and the King is God-Come-In-The-Flesh.
1. The King as Law-Giver (Legislative Function).
a. Nearly three and a half millennia ago, Yahweh revealed to the people of Israel that He would one day raise up a prophet among them like Moses (Deut. 18:15-19). Just as Moses was Israel’s greatest prophet as well as its Law-giver, so Jesus replaced Moses as Israel’s greatest prophet and Law-Giver.
i. Yahweh would put His words in this prophet’s mouth, and he would speak to the people all that Yahweh had commanded him (Deut. 18:15-18).
ii. Yahweh would require it of every person who would not listen to His Ultimate Prophet (Deut. 18:19).
iii. That Ultimate Prophet is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the supreme Word of God to man (John 1:1-3, 14; Heb. 1:1-3).
iv. At His first Advent, Jesus exercised the role not only of Prophet, but also of Lawgiver. His decrees advanced beyond the Law. On repeated occasions He said, “You have heard it said” thus and so, “but I say to you…” (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44).
v. When Jesus returns the second time, He will take up His role as Prophet/Lawgiver as part of His portfolio as King.
vi. Jesus will not only issue decrees for the country of Israel, the seat of His power, but for the entire world. His dissemination of His Laws will be so complete that “the earth will be full of the knowledge (of the glory) of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14)!
vii. Undoubtedly, in my view, Jesus’ decrees, interpretations, and discourses will be put into print. These will be incorporated into our present-day Bible, which has not been expanded for 1900 years.
b. Isaiah 2:3. And 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; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
ii. Their destination will be the temple on Mount Zion, the house of Israel’s God.
iii. There motivation will be to obtain an audience with King Jesus. Specifically, they wish willingly to cooperate with Him. They wish Him to teach them the ways of God.
iv. For these people this is not merely an intellectual pursuit. Implicit in their pilgrimage is that they wish to walk in Jesus’ ways. “What would Jesus do?” will become, for them, an explicit reality! No distinction is to be made between the ways of Jesus and the ways of God. They are one and the same.
v. This truth will be abundantly clear during the Millennium: “The Law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Jesus will be the source of personal and international Law. There will be no United Nations International Law. There will be no United Nations Treaty Collection. There will be no United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law. There will be no United Nations International Law Commission. There will be no United Nations Commission on International Trade Laws. There will be no United Nations Sixth Committee (Legal). In fact, there will be no United Nations at all. That is because whenever man has organized himself, he has organized against God (Gen. 11:1-9) and against His Messiah (Psalm 2:1-3).
vi. Jesus will be the only source of International Law.
c. Micah 4:2. “Many nations will come and say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
i. This passage in Micah is nearly identical to the one in Isaiah 2:3.
ii. The significant distinction is that in Mic. 4:2 it is nations, not people, who encourage one another to go to Jerusalem for instruction and edification.
2. The King as Law-Enforcer (Executive Function).
a. Psalm 2. God the Father will install God the Son as the Earthly Messiah on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, there to rule with rigor over all the nations of the earth.
i. In response to the angry rebellion of the nations, their peoples, and their kings against Yahweh and His Messiah (Psa. 2:1-3), Yahweh has decreed that He will one day grant to His Son, seated as King on Mount Zion, the nations as His inheritance and the ends of the earth as His possession.
ii. The Messiah will break them with a rod of iron and shatter them like earthenware (Psa. 2:4-9).
iii. It is for that reason that earth’s kings are warned to be discerning, and earth’s judges are urged to accept admonition: they need to worship Yahweh with reverence and perform homage to the Son. If they do not, He will become angry and He will destroy the impertinent, insubmissive rulers. All those who take refuge Jesus, the Messiah, both now and in His Millennial Kingdom, will be truly blessed (Psa. 2:10-12)!
b. Psalm 110. Jesus the Messiah is presently seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting to be granted His Kingdom over the recalcitrant inhabitants of earth.
i. Presently, Jesus, David’s Lord (the Messiah) is seated at the right hand of Yahweh. There He waits until Yahweh will make His enemies a footstool on which to rest His feet (Psa. 110:1).
ii. The day will come when Yahweh will stretch forth Jesus’ scepter from Mount Zion, and will authorize Him to rule over His enemies (Psa. 110:2). The Jewish people will volunteer freely to assist Him in His conquest (Psa. 110:3).
iii. Jesus will shatter kings in the day of His wrath, and He will judge among the nations of the earth. Corpses of rebels will litter the countryside, showing Messiah’s willingness to use lethal force to install and maintain His regime (Psa. 110:5-6; see Zech. 14:9, 12-13; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:7-10).
c. Luke 19:11-19. Jesus’ followers will assist Him in ruling over His Kingdom here upon earth.
i. After His visit to the home of Zaccheus, “Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). He told of a nobleman (symbolizing Himself) “who went to a distant country” (heaven) “to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return” (to earth) (Luke 19:12).
ii. In the meanwhile, he gave ten of his slaves each a mina to invest. When he returned, he called his slaves for an accounting of their investments on his behalf. One slave had turned his mina into ten minas, and another slave had turned his mina into five minas. The returning king gave the first authority over ten cities, and the second authority over five cities (Luke 19:13-19).
iii. Clearly, Jesus is teaching that when He returns to earth, having been granted His Kingdom (Psa. 110:1-2), He will ask those who have faithfully served Him in His absence to assist Him in ruling over His Kingdom. Having been faithful in a relatively small matter, these slaves of His will be granted much greater authority, even to the extent of ruling over specific cities. This will be fulfilled during Christ’s Millennial reign upon earth.
d. Revelation 12:4-5. Jesus Christ is identified in symbolism as the One who is “to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.”
i. In his apocalyptic vision, the Apostle John is shown a sign in heaven – a dragon and a pregnant woman. The dragon symbolizes Satan (Rev. 12:9), and the woman symbolizes Israel (Rev. 12:5-6).
ii. The woman gave birth to a son. The son refers to Jesus, for after she had given birth to him, he was “caught up to God and His throne.” It is the destiny of this child “to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5).
iii. Jesus’ rule over all the nations of the earth will begin in the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:1-6). His rule will culminate in the eternal state in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3-5).
e. Revelation 19:11-16. In John’s vision, he saw heaven opened and a rider named “Faithful” and “True.” With but a word, He will “strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron.” His name, embossed on His robe and on His thigh is “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Jesus will reign in a rigorous fashion over all of humanity. None will thwart His rule, and to attempt to do so will invite death.
i. Rev. 2:26-27. Those believers who conquer will reign underneath Jesus in His kingdom.
a) To the church at Thyatira Jesus promised that he who conquers and who obeys Jesus to the end will be granted authority over the nations.
b) Just as Jesus will reign over the nations with a rod of iron and will shatter His opponents like pottery, so He will grant authority to people from the Church age to rule underneath Him.
ii. Matthew 19:28. The twelve apostles will govern the twelve tribes of Israel during Jesus’ kingdom.
a) Jesus had urged a rich young man to sell all his possessions, give them to the poor, and come and follow Him. The man walked away grieving, for he owned much property. Peter, speaking on behalf of the other disciples, stated to Jesus that they had forsaken all to follow Him. What would they receive in return for their sacrifice? (Matt. 19:21-27).
b) Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). It is clear that Jesus looked ahead to His coming reign upon earth, and that He had plans for the twelve apostles to assist Him in His governance of Israel.
iii. Revelation 20:4-6. There are those who will be resurrected to rule alongside Jesus during His reign of one thousand years.
a) John recorded that, after Jesus’ return to earth to conquer His enemies (Rev. 19:11-21), he (John) saw thrones, on which were seated unidentified people. Judgment was given to them (Rev. 20:4). So these unidentified individuals will assist Christ in governing His Kingdom.
b) Additionally, John stated that he saw Tribulation saints who had been martyred. He says that they were resurrected, and that they “reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). Clearly, Tribulation saints will assist King Jesus in His rule over the world during the Millennium.
c) John differentiated between two different categories of resurrection – the first resurrection and the second resurrection. The first resurrection appears to be a resurrection to eternal life; the second to a resurrection of eternal damnation, which he described as “the second death” (Rev. 20:5). John pronounced a blessing on all those participate in the first resurrection. The second death will have no power over them, “but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
d) It would appear, then, that all who participate in the first resurrection will reign with Christ in His Kingdom upon earth. This would include Old Testament saints, most, but not all of whom would be Israelis. OT Gentile saints would include people such as Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20; Ps. 110:4) and Job (Job 19:25-27).
g. Revelation 22:1-5. Both Jesus and God the Father, as Co-Regents of the Earth, will be assisted by believers in their rule.
i. Revelation 21-22 portrays a new heaven and earth as replacing the first heaven and earth.
ii. John saw New Jerusalem descending out of heaven (Rev. 21:2). God’s stated intention is to dwell eternally among men (Rev. 21:3). The best deduction is that New Jerusalem will orbit New Earth for eternity. Nations and kings will exist on New Earth and will have ready access to their eternal capital, the gates of which are open around the clock.
iii. The throne of God and of the Lamb is to be found in this eternal city. Their throne will be the source of a river of the water of life (Rev. 22:1-2). His bond-servants will serve Him, will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and the Lord God will illumine them, and they will reign forever (Rev. 22:3-5).
iv. Evidently throughout eternity there will be a need for organization and administration in Utopia. Just as there are ranks of angels in a perfect heaven, so there will be nations and groupings and ranks of humans (Rev. 21:24) to assist God and Christ in their Co-Regency, both in the huge city of New Jerusalem and upon New Earth, around which the city orbits.
v. There is no reason to believe that there will not be a distinction between Israel and the Church throughout eternity, despite the fact that New Jerusalem, a Jewish city if there ever was one, will be the common capital of both entities (Rev. 21:12, 14). The fact that there are presently twenty-four elders in heaven attests to this fact. It is likely that twelve elders represent Israel, and twelve represent the Church. There is also no reason to believe that the twelve apostles will not have a perpetual governing assignment over the nation of Israel (Matt. 19:28).
3. The King as Judge. (Judiciary Function). For a brief summary of this topic, see the author’s Jesus Christ as Judge.
a. Jesus’ First Advent (John 3:14-17). When Jesus came the first time to earth, He did not come to judge. In fact, He came to save people from judgment.
b. The Prediction of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12).
i. In a curious sense, John the Baptist, in a fascinating tirade against Pharisees and Sadducees who were hypocritically coming to him to be baptized, predicted that Jesus would have a judicial capacity (Matt. 3:1-10).
ii. He stated that there was someone coming after him who was mightier than he. Though John himself baptized with water symbolizing repentance, the Mightier One would baptize with two baptisms that would actually accomplish two realities, not merely symbolize realities. The Mightier One would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matt. 3:11).
iii. His baptism by means of the Holy Spirit would result in the recipients’ salvation (like wheat being preserved in the barn or granary). In the terms stated by the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit baptizes (immerses) all believers in Jesus into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
iv. But Jesus’ baptism by means of fire was like burning chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12). Clearly this was a reference to the fate of all rebels against the King being consigned to interminable torment in Hell, known more precisely as the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
v. (See the author’s Chart of Four Different Types of Baptism.)
c. Jesus’ Authorization to Judge (John 5:22-30).
i. The Scriptures are clear that God has designated His Son as the Judge of all mankind (John 5:22). It is Jesus’ resurrection which assures the certainty of His future judgment of all men (Acts 17:31). The fact that Jesus is the judge of all is sufficient cause for all to honor Jesus just as they honor God Himself (John 5:23).
ii. While asserting that the Father had deferred all judgment to Him, Jesus explained clearly how each of us can avoid judgment. He stated it very clearly, and He twice reinforced the veracity of His statement: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
iii. Reinforcing His role as Judge, Jesus stated the time was coming “when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). Clearly, if Jesus has power to resurrect people from death (John 5:26), He also has the power to judge them once they have been resurrected!
iv. In this regard, the Father has granted to the Son, Jesus, all authority to execute judgment upon mankind. This is so because Jesus is the Son of Man (John 5:27). What this means is that Jesus is the Quintessential Man, the Ultimate Man. “Son of Man” is also a Messianic term. Because Jesus, being God-Come-in-the-Flesh (John 1:14), is also perfectly and completely man, and yet without sin (Heb. 4:15), He is the perfect person to judge men.
v. Jesus continued to predict that the time would be coming when all who are buried in graves will hear His voice, and they will arise from the dead. Those who have done good deeds will obtain a resurrection of life, while those who have committed evil deeds will be awarded a resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29).
vi. Jesus continued to explain the basis of His judgment. When He judges each human being, He will not come up with His own set of criteria. It almost sounds as though Jesus is saying that on each case He will listen to the Father prescribe the judgment and He will echo that judgment (John 5:30). This is true even though Jesus said explicitly that the Father had delegated all judgment to the Son. We are facing here the inscrutable mystery of the Triune God at work – an imponderable, indivisible unity, yet comprised of three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In any event, the Divine Communion of Father and Son will ensure that each case Jesus hears will result in supremely fair and just judgment.
d. Jesus’ Judgment of the Church. Jesus will judge the Church after the Rapture, during the Tribulation, prior to His Second Coming to earth. For a complete discussion, see The Judgment Seat of Christ.
e. Jesus’ Judgment of Israel at the End of the Tribulation. When Jesus returns to earth at His Second Coming, He will judge the nation of Israel and all Jewish people who survive the Tribulation period. All rebels will be put to death, excluded from the Kingdom. The primary passages dealing with this judgment include Ezekiel 20:33-38; Matthew 25:1-13, 14-30).
f. Jesus’ Judgment of the Nations (Gentiles) at the End of the Tribulation. After Jesus returns to earth and has judged Israel, He will judge all the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) who have survived the Tribulation. The classic passage is Matthew 25:31-46. This is passage is especially relevant for the present discussion because it states that King Jesus will be seated on His throne to conduct this judgment (Matt. 25:31).
i. Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3. King Jesus will sit as Judge over the entire world.
a) The time is coming when Mount Zion will be established as the ultimate source of political power in the whole earth. Jesus will have returned to earth, and He will have vanquished all His enemies, and judged all the survivors of the Great Tribulation. Then He will install His Kingdom upon earth.
b) Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-5 present a view of the political/spiritual temperature of the earth once Christ’s Kingdom has been firmly established. The picture of what will happen on earth is absolutely fascinating.
c) Nations from all over the globe will stream to Israel. Their goal? – an audience with the King on Mount Zion. They will make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem to learn His ways and to absorb His legal framework (Isa. 2:2-3; Mic. 4:1-2).
d) Inevitably, even in a world which has seen all unbelievers removed, and only believers in Jesus remaining, there will be disputes and differences of opinion. Some of these differences will be between individuals, while other disputes will arise between nations and perhaps other geo-political entities. King Jesus will seat Himself in Jerusalem as the Sole Judge of the World Supreme Court. As King, He will judge between nations, and He will render decisions for many peoples. As a result of His verdicts, the people of the nations “will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” In modern terminology, tanks will be refitted as tractors, and rifles will be smelted into garden hoes and rakes (Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3).
e) Because of the justice of His reign, neither socialism nor communism will prevail. There will be a free market, and people will own their own property, laboring with their own hands and enjoying the fruits of their own labor with great longevity (Mic. 4:4; Isa. 65:21-22). The Jewish people will walk in the name of Yahweh, their God, “forever and ever (Mic. 4:5)!
ii. Isaiah 11:1-5. King Jesus as Judge will grant impartial and just verdicts even to the poor and afflicted. He will constitute the Supreme Court of the entire earth, and despotism will be vanquished.
a) A descendant of Jesse will suddenly flourish. He will be ultimately anointed with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will grant this Anointed One, the Messiah, with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:1-2).
b) Since the Messiah, Jesus, the King, empowered by the Spirit, will delight in the fear of Yahweh, He will make an excellent judge. No one will be able to deceive Him by mere appearances; nor will anyone be able to delude Him with false testimony. People with power, influence, and wealth will no longer be able to purchase a favorable verdict. Jesus will decide equitably on behalf of the poor and the afflicted in society (Isa. 11:3).
c) There will be no international despots or tyrants. King Jesus will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and He will execute evil people merely by commanding their deaths (Isa. 11:4)!
d) The ethics and incorruptibility of His global regime will be breath-taking! He will tie His judicial robes with the belt of utter righteousness and tie Himself to the standard of faithfulness to the precise and holy standards of God Himself (Isa. 11:5).
e) Jesus, as King of the earth, will be the most honest, fair, upright and impartial judge this earth has ever known. His wisdom in judicial decisions will infinitely outstrip even that of proverbial Solomon.
h. His Judgment of the Wicked Dead of All Ages. The Great White Throne Judgment. (Rev. 20:11-15). Having been granted the authority from God to serve as sole judge of the human race (John 5:22, 27-29), King Jesus will serve as the final arbiter for all men who have ever lived. In this final judgment, He will evaluate the works of all those who have rejected Him in their lives. They will apparently receive varying degrees of punishment relative to the deeds they have done. Sadly, they are participating in the “Second Resurrection,” the resurrection to death. Their names do not appear in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12, 15; 21:27). Without exception they are cast into the Lake of Fire, there to suffer eternal torment somewhere outside the New Universe which God will create, and outside the Eternal Holy City. For a complete discussion, go to The Great White Throne Judgment.
G. Jesus' Role as Co-Regent with God from the Throne in New Jerusalem. Rev. 21:1-22:5. Return to Index.
1. After Jesus’ One Thousand Year Reign (Rev. 20:1-6) and after Satan’s Final Revolt (Rev. 20:7-9), God will destroy the existing universe by fire (2 Pet. 3:7-12). Then Jesus will judge all the wicked dead at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). They will be cast into the Lake of Fire, and Hades and Death will also be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Then God will create New Heaven and New Earth, wherein will exist only righteousness and righteous people (2 Pet. 3:13-18; Rev. 21:1-8; 22:14-15).
2. All of Jesus’ enemies will have been conquered, including death. At that point Jesus will hand the kingdom over to God the Father, and He will subject Himself to the Father “so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
3. In New Jerusalem there will be but one throne. God and the Lamb will both be seated on it throughout eternity (Rev. 22:1, 3).
4. There will no longer be any curse (Rev. 22:3). There will no longer be any tears or crying, or death, or pain. All things will be new (Rev. 21:1-5).
5. God will dwell
among men forever (Rev.
21:3). His bond-servants will serve Him and see His face, and
His name will
be on their foreheads. There will be no night because the Lord God will
illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever in a perfect
by the Co-Regency of Jesus, the Lamb and His Father (Rev.
Return to Index.
Prepared by James T. Bartsch
Published Online by WordExplain.com
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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
WordExplain by James T. Bartsch
(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Used by Permission.)
Published September, 2009
Updated September 3, 2015
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