His Return And Its Purposes

By Roger Penney

The Lord Jesus now sees in us “of the travail of His soul” (Isa. 53:11 KJV*), which gives satisfaction to Him and satisfaction and pleasure to the Father in the work of His Son (Mt. 17:5). In the prophecy of Daniel we read how the Lord Jesus is putting His victory into effect. Daniel wrote: “Seventy sevens [of years] are determined upon Thy people and upon Thy holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness and to seal up the vision and prophecy” (9:24).

There are eight outcomes of the victory of the Lord Jesus over sin, death and Satan. These are:

  1. The completion, resurrection and glorification of His body and bride, the Church;
  2. The salvation of Israel and their promotion to head and to teach the nations;
  3. To judge the nations;
  4. To set up His kingdom on the earth;
  5. To judge the world in righteousness;
  6. To put His victory over Satan into effect and to put down the forces of darkness and of evil;
  7. To fulfill all prophecy; and
  8. To make all things new.

Let’s consider some points in connection with these outcomes.

To Take His Church To Heaven
In this age the Lord Jesus is present, in and among His people. He has sent the Holy Spirit to call out from the nations a people for His name (Acts 15:7-8,14). The Lord has promised as well that “I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:3).

The end of this age will be marked with the great and triumphant sound of the trumpet of God and of the voice of the archangel. The trumpet and a voice were heard at the giving of the law (Ex. 19:19). They will be heard again calling God’s people, the saved of earth from this age, to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. Our bodies will then be changed to be like His glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21). “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4:16-18).

Job, in his day, knew about this wonderful event and longed for it, saying, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

To Restore Israel
Paul put a rhetorical question about Israel in his letter to the Romans: “Hath God cast away His people?” Many falsely believe that God will have nothing more to do with the nation of Israel. Paul answered this thought by saying, “God forbid. For I am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew” (Rom. 11:1-2).

Isaiah and Micah both spoke of a future time when Jerusalem will be the religious and political capital of the world. The two prophecies are identical in all but a few words. “And it shall come to pass in the last days; that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills. And all nations shall flow unto it” (Isa. 2:2; see Mic. 4:1). These passages go on to tell of a time of peace and prosperity, with Israel teaching the ways of God and the law to the nations, leading to worship.

The disciples asked the Lord in their day, “Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” His answer was that the time for that event was not for anyone but the Father to know (Acts 1:6-7). Though we do not know the times when these things will come about, we do know how: At the end of the great tribulation the Lord Jesus will step onto the Mount of Olives.

Just prior to this, the forces of darkness will gather from all four corners of the earth an army greater than has ever been seen before. This multitude of demon led, and in some cases demon possessed, soldiers will be gathered before Jerusalem and fill the Valley of Jehoshaphat. John added a further explanation: “And I saw three unclean spirits … come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:13-14).

As the main army marches south toward the city, the first units will already have surrounded it, destroying the suburbs and selling the children into slavery. It will be the shortest lived slavery in all the world’s cruel history of servitude. The prophet Joel wrote concerning this army: “A great people and a strong; There hath not ever been the like … A fire devoureth before them … and behind them a desolate wilderness” (2:2-3).

This demon-disciplined mass will have been called together by Satan’s agents on the earth: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision” (3:14). Zechariah explained, adding to Joel’s prophecy, “For I [God] will gather all nations against Jerusalem … Then shall the LORD go forth and fight against these nations as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:2-4). At last the Lord will go forth to judge and to defeat His enemies with a word and by the brightness of His presence.

The trigger for this cataclysmic event is that the Jews finally come to repentance for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, their rejection of the Lord their God, and their idolatry. This is also explained by Zechariah, “And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications. And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced. And they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son. And shall be in bitterness for Him as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem. As the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart … Every family apart, and their wives apart” (12:9-14).

The very moment the mourning begins, God will hear them and another prophecy will be fulfilled – the nation speaking the very words of repentance: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him … Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:3-5). With the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon them suddenly they at last will see clearly what they were not able. The blessed truth will dawn on them, and they will be saved. Israel will see their Savior – the very one who died for them and whom their ancestors had been instrumental in putting to death. Yet future, this is real and true.

To Judge The Nations
Shortly, the world will go through terrible events: judgments poured out through God’s angels upon the unbelieving earth. They will see Him to whom all judgment is given, the Judge of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. We believers look with longing for the return of the Savior in the air to take us home, before these judgments, to be with Him forever. The apostle Paul gave us words of comfort and assurance: “You who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe” (2 Th. 1:7-10).

Judgment is mounting and will continue until the very moment of the Lord’s presence again on earth, when the Mount of Olives will split apart. The geography of Egypt will be radically altered and the Nile River will become but seven streams (Isa. 11:15). The invading armies will be burned up and the Lord Jesus will set about cleansing the nations of the world.

The angels of His power will be sent out once again “with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mt. 24:31). Many of God’s dear people will be in hiding in the deserts, preserved by God along with those who refuse the mark of the Beast (Rev. 12:6,13-17). His people will greet Him with praise and jubilation, and again with the words of Isaiah, “Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah?” (Is. 63:1). These events also fulfill a prophecy of Ezekiel: “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean: From all your filthiness will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you” (36:24-26).

Meanwhile the Lord will send out His angels once more, this time to bring all the nations before Him. “And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left … and these shall go away to everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Mt. 25:32-33,46). The sheep are the blessed who inherit the kingdom which is in the process of being set up on earth. The goats hear the dreaded words, “Depart from Me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v.41).

To Set Up The Kingdom On The Earth
Ezekiel 36 to the end of the book gives the most complete account of events following the return of the Lord Jesus for Israel and the judging of the nations. The prophet describes the new birth of Israel and gives an account of the land, the tribal territories, the temple worship and its buildings. Other items of importance to the whole picture are found in Isaiah.

In Ezekiel 37 we read how the prophet was taken to a valley of dry bones, representing Israel’s current state. He was told, “Prophesy upon these bones” (v.4). The Holy Spirit then set to work to clothe the bones with sinews, flesh and skin. Being clothed, the living bodies stood up, signifying Israel’s imminent resurrection and restoration. In the chapters which follow we have the descriptions of the nation and the temple throughout the 1,000-year reign of the Lord Jesus. The Church has a heavenly calling while Israel is to rule on earth – a happy and prosperous reign.

We see this principle in Genesis – the garden and a river flowing out of it, dividing to go to all four quarters of the earth and bringing fertility and blessing – operating in today’s age as the Holy Spirit works through true Christians (See Jn. 7:37-39). In the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus the river which flows out from the temple gets wider and deeper as it goes, healing the land and the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:1-12). In the eternal state we have a river also flowing, bringing joy, healing and fertility to the earth in its eternal state, and with healing leaves on trees as in Ezekiel (Rev. 22:1-2).

Isaiah and Micah both show Jerusalem as the center for the whole earth, where God is to be worshiped and out of which goes the law for all the nations of the world. The Lord Jesus “shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off. And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree. And none shall make them afraid” (Mic. 4:3-4; see Isa. 2:4).

This is by no means all that will change, for predatory animals become vegetarian and mingle happily with those on which they once preyed. Even the baby will be able to play near the lair of the deadly serpents. What is the reason for these miraculous changes? “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). Isaiah describes this blissful time: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them. And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing … They shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God” (35:1-2).

To Judge The World In Righteousness
Paul warned his listeners in Athens that God “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent, because He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained: Whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Since Adam’s fall this world has been one of violence and cruelty. Injustice and exploitation will go on while this present system lasts. Wars, plagues, lies and deceit are all around us, and they have been since those earliest times when man first disobeyed God. Nothing has changed nor will change until God wills it, for God has decreed, ”I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is and I will give it Him” (Ezek. 21:27).

The clamor of revolution and human discontent will only be silenced when the trumpet call of God decrees everlasting peace. One law, one ruler and one worship will replace idolatry, hypocrisy and fraud. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11; see Isa. 45:23).

The Lord Jesus is coming to judge the world. He is the supreme Judge who rules, defends and administrates. All these roles He will fulfill perfectly with absolute authority, power and justice. In fact, God has already “committed all judgment to the Son” (Jn. 5:22).

Towards the end of Revelation we read: “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away … and I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God … and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged … And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15).

To Fulfill Prophecy And To Bring God’s Purposes To Fruition
We have already seen that God has a plan and timetable. Everything is on time and according to that universal plan which was “determined … to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy” (Dan. 9:24).

John’s vision ends with a repetition of that most beautiful word “come,” as from the mouth of God. There are so many beautiful, happy and joyous scenes, but the tenderness with which our God brought His Book to a conclusion brings to the heart joy, gratitude and love. He declared, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men. And He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said. ‘Behold I make all things new’” (Rev. 21:3-5).

*Quotations are from KJV, but there may be changes deemed more accurate according to the Newberry edition.