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Thursday, 24 August 2017
Yom Chamishi, 2 Elul 5777

 



 







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The expectant return of the Messiah

Is Yeshua the Messiah returning to this earth to reign over all the nations of the world? Most professing Christians in the world today would answer, "No!" They argue that Yeshua will never put His feet on this earth again. They scoff at the very idea that the Lord would even be interested in returning to reign.

Where, then, does the minority view come from? Why do some Christians believe there will be a future, literal, and personal reign of Yeshua over all the earth? Are these people victims of wishful thinking? Are they simply harboring a fanciful hope? Or, does their opinion have some basis in Scripture?

Could it possibly be that the majority viewpoint is wrong? If so, then how did the view develop, and what are its scriptural weaknesses and contradictions?

Like Night and Day

The two viewpoints are radically different. For example, the majority view holds that history as we know it will very soon end with the destruction of the earth. In sharp contrast, the minority view looks forward to the continuation of history in a glorious thousand year reign of the Lord here on this earth.

There is no future role for Israel in the majority viewpoint; G-d has washed His hands of the Jews. The minority view sees the Jews as a nation under discipline, temporarily set aside, but they believe a time is coming very soon when the Church will be taken out of the world, and G-d will once again focus on the Jews, bringing a great remnant of them to salvation in Yeshua, their Messiah.

The majority view sees no purpose left for this planet. It is polluted and despoiled. When the Lord returns, He will take the redeemed to live with Him forever in Heaven, and the earth will cease to exist, as will all the material universe. Those who hold the minority view believe that G-d intends to redeem the earth and all of His creation — the plant and animal kingdoms. Further, they believe that the earth will one day be returned to its original perfection and will serve as the eternal abode of the redeemed.

As you can see, the differences are like night and day. An outsider would undoubtedly conclude that the two groups have been reading a different book, for how could people read the same book and come to such totally different conclusions?

The Challenge of Truth Seeking

As the title of this article indicates, I believe the minority viewpoint on this central issue of Scripture is correct, and it is my intention to show you why I believe the Bible teaches that Yeshua will return to reign.

I have not come to this conclusion casually. I grew up in a church that taught the majority viewpoint. It was drilled into me at an early age. The road that led me to a different view was a tortuous and painful one. It cost me friends. It brought condemnation upon my head. It finally forced me to leave the church where I had spent 30 years of my life.

But the rewards that come from following the truth of Scripture wherever it might lead are always greater than the disadvantages that may be incurred. Yeshua said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). But He qualified that promise with one condition that is usually overlooked. It is stated in the previous verse: "If you abide in My word" (John 8:31). That's a big "if."

As you read this article, I want to challenge you to put aside all preconceptions and traditions of men. Have an open heart, and test what I have to say by the Scriptures and not by the creed of your particular denomination.

I challenge you to be like the Bereans whom Paul commended as "more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).

The Biblical Statement

"Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of G-d and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6)

One of the greatest misconceptions about Scripture that exists among Christians today is that Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible that mentions a future earthly reign of Yeshua. Nothing could be further from the truth; for the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is full of references to a future reign of the Messiah on this earth.

But let me make something clear. If this passage in Revelation 20 were the only one in the Bible to speak of a future earthly reign of Yeshua, I would still believe in such a reign. G-d doesn't have to say something more than once for me to believe it. And G-d clearly says in Revelation 20 that Yeshua will reign on this earth for 1,000 years.

The Flow of Events

In chapter 19 of Revelation Yeshua returns to the earth and defeats the Antichrist and his false prophet. His next order of business is to bind Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). He then begins His reign with His saints.

Six times in Revelation 20:1-7 we are told that the reign of the Lord will last 1,000 years. Consider Revelation 20:4 for example. The verse says that the saints "came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." What could be clearer? What would G-d have to do to convince us that He means what He says? Does He have to put the message in the sky with blinking neon lights?

At the end of the thousand years, we are told that Satan will be released "to deceive the nations" (Revelation 20:8). He will rally the majority of Mankind in rebellion against the Lord, and they will march upon Jerusalem to overthrow the Lord's kingdom. Notice that Revelation 20:9 says that all this action takes place "on the broad plain of the earth." This is no ethereal battle between spirit beings in the heavens.

As the millennial rebels approach Jerusalem, they are destroyed by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9), and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire (Hell) where he "will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10).

Imagination vs. Plain Sense

The message of Revelation 19 and 20 is very clear. A little child could understand it without interpretation. It takes a fanciful flight of imagination to explain away its obvious meaning.

But that is exactly what St. Augustine very successfully accomplished around 400 A.D. when he developed the Amillennial interpretation of Revelation 20. He did it by applying his imagination to the passage and spiritualizing it beyond recognition.

When he got through interpreting the events described in these two chapters, Revelation 19 had been transformed into a description of Christ's battle on the Cross, and Revelation 20 had been turned into a description of the Lord's spiritual reign over the world from Heaven through His Church. Satan's binding was attributed to the Cross and not to the Second Coming.

In other words, Augustine argued that the Millennial reign of the Lord began at the Cross and will continue until He returns for His Church. That means that according to the Amillennial viewpoint we are in the Millennium now! It also means that the 1,000 years mentioned six times in chapter 20 really doesn't mean 1,000 years. Rather, it is a symbolic number that stands for an indefinite period of time.

This incredibly imaginative interpretation that conflicts with the plain sense meaning of the passage was immediately adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in 431 A.D. It is still Catholic dogma to this day. It has also been adopted by all the liberal, mainline Protestant denominations. In short, this view of end time events is the one that is held by the vast majority of all professing Christians today.

The Imagination Trap

The basic flaw in the whole Amillennial interpretation of Revelation 19 and 20 is rooted in its denial of the plain sense meaning of the passages.

G-d knows how to communicate, and He desires to communicate. You do not have to have a Ph.D. in hermeneutics or an active imagination to understand His Word.

The book of Revelation begins with the words, "The revelation of Yeshua Christ..." (Revelation 1:1). The word, revelation, in the Greek is "apocalypse," which means "an unveiling." The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal or unveil the ultimate triumph of Yeshua over Satan. If G-d's purpose is to reveal something so significant, why would He write it in a code language that a person cannot understand unless he has graduated from a seminary? It makes no sense.

Advocates of the Amillennial view usually respond by saying that Revelation is full of symbols. Yes, there is a lot of symbolic language in the book, but symbols have a plain sense meaning. They are not used pell-mell, and the reader does not have the freedom to assign any meaning to them that he pleases.

Furthermore, the fulfillment of First Coming prophecies provides the best rule of thumb for the interpretation of Second Coming prophecies. And any cursory examination of First Coming prophecies will quickly reveal that they were fulfilled in their plain sense meaning.

Take for example the prophecy in the book of Zechariah that says the Messiah will come on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). If today's Amillennial spiritualizers had lived in Old Testament times, I feel certain they would have denied the plain sense meaning of this verse. "Zechariah is apocalyptic literature," they would have said, "and such literature never means what it says. Therefore, this verse must simply mean that the Messiah will be a humble person." No, the verse meant what it said, and in fulfillment of it, Yeshua made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

The bottom line is that when you interpret Scripture imaginatively rather than for its plain sense meaning, you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean, and G-d's message gets lost in flights of fancy.

Satan's Activity

Another flaw in the Amillennial approach is its contention that the binding of Satan that is mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3 occurred at the Cross.

The first thing that must be kept in mind regarding this point is that Satan has always been bound in the sense that he has never had the freedom to do whatever he pleases. Many scholars consider Job to be the oldest book in the Bible. That book begins with Satan standing before the throne of G-d requesting permission to touch Job, his family, and his possessions. Satan is not omnipotent. He has always worked within parameters laid down by the Lord.

It is true that Satan was further bound by the Cross. As a result of our Lord's work on the Cross, believers since that time have received the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), and the Scriptures assure us that "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Thus, we now have greater power in resisting the temptations and attacks of Satan than did believers in Old Testament times.

But the binding of Satan that Revelation 20:1-3 says will mark the beginning of the Millennium is a special type of binding that did not occur at the Cross. Revelation says that Satan will be bound in such a way that he will no longer "deceive the nations" (Revelation 20:3).

As you look around the world today and observe the behavior of the nations, can you truly believe that they are no longer deceived? The fact of the matter is that they are terribly deceived. As in the time of David, the nations are "in an uproar," and their rulers continue to "take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed" (Psalm 2:1-2).

Satan's Continuing Rule

The third critical flaw in the Amillennial view is the idea that Yeshua is reigning today over the nations of the world. This contention is really an insult to the Lord, for if He is ruling, He is doing a very poor job! We live in a world characterized by injustice, poverty, pestilence, and terrorism — to name only a few of our planet's maladies.

The Word says that when the Lord reigns, "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). Is this true today? Has it ever been? Of course not!

We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan still prowls about "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." And in 1 John 5:19, written long after the Cross, we are told that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." The Scriptures make it clear that Satan continues as "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31).

The Cross sealed the fate of Satan. He is a mortally wounded monarch who is desperately clinging to his kingdom. One day soon when the Lord returns, Satan will be crushed under the feet of the redeemed (Romans 16: 20). But the total defeat of Satan is yet future. It is one of the benefits of the Cross that has not yet become a reality in history.

Yeshua' Ultimate Triumph

As a result of the Cross, Yeshua has won back the dominion over this earth that was lost by Adam and Eve when they sinned against G-d (Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 5:9-10). But, He is not yet exercising that dominion. The writer of Hebrews makes this point. He says that Yeshua has been crowned with glory and honor and that G-d "has put all things in subjection under His feet" (Hebrews 2:7-8), but then he proceeds to observe: "But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him" (Hebrews 2:8).

Some of the benefits of the Cross are delayed and will not be realized until Yeshua returns. For example, the Cross guarantees the salvation of believer's bodies, but that blessing of glorification will not be realized until "the revealing of the sons of G-d" (Romans 8:19). This phrase is a reference to the resurrection of the saints, something that Paul makes clear a few verses later (Romans 8:23).

In like manner, the Cross guarantees the total defeat of Satan and the ultimate triumph of Yeshua as "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14). But that triumph will not occur in history until the Lord returns. In this regard, Yeshua is like David when he was anointed the King of Israel but then had to wait a long time before he took possession of his kingdom.

Accordingly, Yeshua is not portrayed in Scripture as being a reigning king now. Rather, He is pictured as our High Priest before the throne of G-d (Hebrews 8:1). He is our mediator, our intercessor (Hebrews 9:11-16).

When He came the first time, He came as our Savior. He is now our Mediator. He will return as our Sovereign. Redeemer, Priest, and King — those are the three roles of Yeshua — past, present, and future.

Revelation 19:11 says that when Yeshua returns, His initial purpose will be to judge and make war against the enemies of G-d. But verse 16 reveals that His ultimate purpose will be to serve as "King of kings and Lord of lords." Long before Revelation was written, the prophet Zechariah had revealed the same thing. In portraying the Lord's return, He pictured the Lord destroying the nations rebelling against G-d, and when that work is completed, he states "the Lord will be king over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9).

Revelation 19 and 20 clearly establish the fact that Yeshua is going to return to reign — but there are other reasons I believe in such a future reign on this earth.

 

Most people tend to think that Revelation 20 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks of a future reign of the Lord. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The purpose of this article is to provide an outline summary of the key passages in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of the Lord's future reign.

Yeshua is returning to reign on earth because the Old Testament prophets say so.

1) The Psalms

  • Psalm 2:6-9 — David says the Messiah will reign over "the very ends of the earth" from Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 22:27-31 — David again affirms that the Messiah will be given dominion over "the ends of the earth" at the time when He "rules over the nations."
  • Psalm 47 — The sons of Korah rejoice over the day when the Lord will be "a great King over all the earth," and they state that this will take place when the Lord subdues the "nations under our feet."
  • Psalm 67 — An unidentified psalmist speaks prophetically of the time when the nations of the world will "be glad and sing for joy." This will be when the Lord comes to "judge the peoples with uprightness." At that time the Lord will "guide the nations on the earth" so that "all the ends of the earth may fear Him."
  • Psalm 89:19-29 — The psalmist, Ethan, speaks of the Davidic Covenant and proclaims that it will be fulfilled when G-d makes His "first-born the highest of the kings of the earth."
  • Psalm 110 — David says a time will come when G-d will make the enemies of the Messiah a footstool under His feet. This will occur when the Messiah stretches forth His "strong scepter from Zion." At that time He will "rule in the midst of His enemies," for... "He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath, He will judge among the nations."
  • Psalm 132:13-18 — An unnamed psalmist speaks of G-d's fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. He says this will occur at a time when "the horn of David" springs forth to reign from Zion. He says "His crown will shine," and He will make Zion His "resting place forever" for He will dwell there.

2) Isaiah

  • Isaiah 2:1-4 — Isaiah says that "in the last days" the Messiah will reign from Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the entire world will experience peace.
  • Isaiah 9:6-7 — The Messiah will rule from the throne of David, giving the world a government of peace, justice, and righteousness. (Note: The throne of David is not in Heaven. It is located in Jerusalem — see Psalm 122. Yeshua is not now on the throne of David. He sits at the right hand of His Father on His Father's throne — see Revelation 3:21.)
  • Isaiah 11:3b-9 — The Messiah will bring "righteousness and fairness" to the earth when He returns to "slay the wicked." At that time, the curse will be lifted and the plant and animal kingdoms will be restored to their original perfection.
  • Isaiah 24:21-23 — When the Messiah returns, He will punish Satan and his demonic hordes in the heavens and then will punish "the kings of the earth, on earth." He will then "reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem" for the purpose of manifesting His glory.

3) Jeremiah

  • Jeremiah 23:5 — "'Behold, the days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.'" (Note: The term, "Branch," is a Messianic title.)
  • Jeremiah 33:6-18 — A day will come when the Lord will regather the dispersed of both Judah and Israel and will save a great remnant. At that time the Lord "will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth."

4) Ezekiel

  • Ezekiel 20:33-44 — The Lord says a day will come when He will regather the Jews to their land and will "enter into judgment" with them. He says that at that time "I shall be king over you." He then adds that "the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land."
  • Ezekiel 37:24-28 — The Lord says that He will dwell in the midst of Israel after a remnant of the Jews is regathered to the land and saved, and He promises that "David My servant shall be their prince forever."
  • Ezekiel 39:21-29 — The Lord says that following the battle of Armageddon (verses 17-20), "I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them."
  • Ezekiel 43:7 — While being given a tour of the future Millennial Temple, Ezekiel is told by the Lord: "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet; where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever."

5) Daniel

  • Daniel 7:13-14,18,27 — Daniel says he was given a vision in which he saw the Messiah ("Son of Man") given dominion over all the earth by G-d the Father ("the Ancient of Days"). And then he adds in verses 18 and 27 that the kingdom is shared "with the saints of the Highest One," and they are allowed to exercise sovereignty with Him over "all the kingdoms under the whole heaven."

6) Hosea

  • Hosea 3:4-5 — The Jews will be set aside "for many days," but a time will come "in the last days" when they "will return and seek the Lord their G-d and David their king."

7) Joel

  • Joel 3:14-17,21 — Joel says that following the battle of Armageddon (verses 14-16), the Lord will dwell "in Zion, My holy mountain." He repeats this in verse 21. And in verse 17 He identifies Zion as the city of Jerusalem.

8) Micah

  • Micah 4:1-7 — Micah repeats in greater detail the prophecy contained in Isaiah 2. Like Isaiah, he says the Lord will make Jerusalem the capital of the world. The world will be flooded with peace and prosperity. All believing Jews will be regathered to Israel, and "the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion."

9) Zephaniah

  • Zephaniah 3:14-20 — This entire book is devoted to a description of the day the Lord will return to the earth in vengeance. The prophet says that at the end of that day, when the Lord's enemies have been destroyed, the Jewish remnant will shout in triumphant joy because "the King of Israel, the Lord," will be in their midst.

10) Haggai

  • Haggai 2:20-23 — The Lord says that a day will come when He will "overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations." Then, using Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, as a type of the Messiah, the prophet adds: "'On that day,' declares the Lord of hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant,' declares the Lord, 'and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the Lord of hosts." The reference to the signet ring means the Father will grant His Son ruling authority.

11) Zechariah

  • Zechariah 2:10-13 — The Lord says that when He comes, He will "dwell in the midst" of the Jews, possessing Judah as "His portion in the holy land" and again choosing Jerusalem.
  • Zechariah 6:12-13 — When the Messiah ("the Branch") returns, He will build a temple and "rule on His throne," and the offices of priest and king will be combined in Him. Thus, "He will be a priest on His throne."
  • Zechariah 8:2-3 — The Lord promises that when He returns to Zion, He will "dwell in the midst of Jerusalem," and Jerusalem will be called "the city of Truth."
  • Zechariah 9:10 — The Messiah will bring peace to the nations and "His dominion will be from sea to sea."
  • Zechariah 14:1-9 — The Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives. The Mount will split in half when His foot touches it, and the Jewish remnant left alive in Jerusalem will flee the city and hide in the cleavage of the Mount. Verse 9 says that on that day, "the Lord will become king over all the earth."

Yeshua is returning to reign over the earth because the New Testament prophets say so.

1) Peter

  • Acts 3:21 — In his sermon on the portico of Solomon, Peter says Yeshua must remain in Heaven "until the period of the restoration of all things about which G-d spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." The period of restoration spoken of here will occur during the Millennium when the curse is partially lifted and nature is restored (Romans 8:18-23).

2) Paul

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 — Paul says that when Yeshua returns "dealing out retribution to those who do not know G-d and to those who do not obey the gospel," He will also come for the purpose of being glorified before His saints. The return of Yeshua to be glorified before His saints and all the nations of the world is one of the persistent themes of Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 24:23, Isaiah 52:10,13, Isaiah 61:3, and Psalm 46:10).
  • 2 Timothy 2:12 — Paul says "if we endure, we shall also reign with Him."

3) John

  • Revelation 12:5 — John sees a vision in which a sun clothed woman (Israel) gives birth to a male child (Yeshua) "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron."
  • Revelation 19:15-16 — In his description of Yeshua returning to earth, John says He bears the title, "King of kings and Lord of lords," and John says He will "rule the nations with a rod of iron."
  • Revelation 20:4,6 — John says that after the return of Yeshua to the earth, He will reign with His saints ("those to whom judgment has been given") for a thousand years.

Yeshua is returning to earth to reign because the Heavenly Host say so.

1) Gabriel

  • Luke 1:26-38 — When the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he told her that she would bear a son named Yeshua who would be called "the Son of the Most High." He then added three promises that are yet to be fulfilled: "the Lord G-d will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."

2) The Four Living Creatures and the 24 Elders

  • Revelation 5:9-10 — When John is raptured to Heaven and finds himself standing before the throne of G-d (Revelation 4), he hears "the four living creatures" (special angelic creatures called seraphim in Isaiah 6) and "the twenty-four elders" (probably representative of the redeemed) singing a song of praise to Yeshua. In this song they say that Yeshua is a Worthy Lamb who has made His redeemed a kingdom, "and they will reign upon the earth."

3) The Angels of G-d

  • Revelation 11:15 — Voices from Heaven make a proleptic proclamation in the midst of the Tribulation: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." (Note: A proleptic statement is one that speaks of a future event as if it has already occurred. This is a common form of expression in prophecy because all future events are settled in the mind of G-d as if they had already happened in history.)

4) The Tribulation Martyrs

  • Revelation 15:3-4 — At the end of the Tribulation, right before the final pouring out of G-d's wrath in the form of the bowl judgments, all the Tribulation martyrs who are in Heaven join together in singing "the song of Moses... and the song of the Lamb." In that song, they declare the Lamb (Yeshua) to be the "King of the nations," and they proclaim that "all the nations will come and worship before Thee."

Yeshua is returning to reign on the earth because Yeshua himself said so.

  • Matthew 19:28 — Yeshua said that during "the regeneration" (the same time as "the period of restoration" referred to by Peter in Acts 3:21), He will "sit on His glorious throne," and the Apostles will join Him in judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • Matthew 25:31 — Yeshua said that when He returns in glory, "the Son of Man... will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him" for judgment. The throne of Yeshua is the throne of David which has always been located in only one place — in Jerusalem (see Isaiah 9:6-7 and Psalm 122).
  • Acts 1:3-6 — Luke says that Yeshua spent 40 days teaching His disciples about the kingdom of G-d. Then, as He was ready to ascend into Heaven, one of the disciples asked, "Lord is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" The question indicates that Yeshua taught a time would come when the kingdom would be restored to Israel. Yeshua' response to the question indicated the same thing. He did not rebuke the question. Rather, He simply said it was not for them to know the times and seasons when the kingdom would be restored to Israel.
  • Revelation 2:26-27 — Yeshua says that He has a special reward for any "overcomer" who keeps His deeds until the end: "To him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
  • Revelation 3:21 — Yeshua makes it clear that the overcomers will reign jointly with Him: "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Again, the throne of Yeshua is the throne of David (Luke 1:32 and Revelation 3:7). The throne of David is in Jerusalem, not in Heaven (Psalm 122). Yeshua currently shares His Father's throne. He is not sitting on His own throne and will not do so until He returns to this earth. Then He will allow the redeemed to share His throne with Him.