Plain Papers on the Second Coming of Christ: Part 8

Zechariah 14  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Having considered the period of Israel's passing through her time of "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be," and the coming of the Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, we will now look at those scriptures which describe the vast change that will take place on earth, and especially with regard to Israel, the chosen of Jehovah.
His "feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives," "and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." Jerusalem immediately becomes the center of God's operations in the earth, the metropolis of all its worshipping peoples. "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth." (Zech. 14) Then shall the feast of the new moon be fulfilled. Just as the moon is hid for a time in darkness, so has Israel been hid in gross darkness, having refused the Light of the world. But then shall God say to her, " Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (Isa. 60) It is now twenty-three centuries since the Spirit of God uttered this prophecy. Can we deny the truth of one part being fulfilled before our eyes? Not only at this moment does darkness cover the earth, but gross darkness the people—that is, Israel: but, oh, how soon the other part shall be fulfilled, the burst on Israel of heaven's glorious light, the coming of Jehovah Jesus, Messiah! The light of His glory in Jerusalem shall command all nations that are left on earth. " Kings to the brightness of thy rising."
Oh, reader, awake from thy dreamy sleep, lift up thine eyes to survey this coming glory on earth! Look at this marvelous scene at Jerusalem! Watch the ingathering of the long-lost and scattered sons of Abraham. They fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows. "The ships of Tar-shish first, to bring thy sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee." See the sons of strangers delighting to build up its walls. Read the whole chapter in faith: every word must be fulfilled; it is God that hath spoken. As surely as Zion hath been hated, and her sons scattered amongst all nations; so surely does God say, " I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations." We have already seen that the Lord Jesus makes it most certain that these words cannot be applied to the church, because, all through the period of Christianity, this very same Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:24-2724And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:24‑27).) When the Lord has made it so plain, is it not sad to misapply scripture, which speaks of Jerusalem's future glory, as though it meant the church?
How exceedingly important is a right understanding of the dispensations of God. Mark the Lord Jesus, infinite in wisdom; see Him enter the synagogue of Nazareth. He turns over and unrolls the prophet Isaiah. Why does He stop in the middle of the second verse, and close the book? So far He reads, and so far He could say, a This scripture is fulfilled in your ears." If we examine Isa. 61, we find three distinct periods in it -the period of grace, of vengeance, and of millennial blessing. The Lord reads those words which refer to the first, and closes the book. The second, the period of tribulation such as never was, has not yet come, and therefore that which follows it cannot have come. Hence the cities and towns of Palestine are yet in ruins. But when the days of the kingdom are come, then " they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations." How deeply interesting are these words of God, when we believe He really means to do as He says!
Do not mistake one fact—that all these prophecies refer to Zion and Jerusalem in the days of the kingdom. "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory," &c. (Isa. 62) These words cannot possibly refer to the church, for in it there are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but all are one in Christ Jesus. But in the days of the kingdom, in all the prophets, we find the Jews, or Israel, and the Gentiles. Thus, then, there will only be two things on earth, while now, in the days of the church, there are three things -the Jews, the Gentiles, and the church of God. (1 Cor. 10:3232Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: (1 Corinthians 10:32).) During these days of the gathering of the church, Israel as a nation is cut off, and Palestine a desolation; but in the days of the kingdom of God on earth, they shall say, "This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, and desolate, and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited." (Eze. 36:3535And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. (Ezekiel 36:35).)
Oh, how few who read these inspired scriptures believe them! How few of Palestine^ tourists believe that that waste land is soon to be restored- nay, more than restored, to be like the garden of Eden. Yet such is surely the case. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.....They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11)
How many say, "Thy kingdom come," who have never searched these scriptures to see what that kingdom will be when it comes. The happy peaceful scenes of paradise will then be more than restored.
This brings us to a point that Nicodemus ought to have known as a ruler of the Jews. Let us bear in mind that the words of the Lord Jesus to him refer not distinctively to the church, but to the kingdom. He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." And again, He says, " Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' And, further, He tells him how this must be by the sovereign act of the Spirit. These are truths of the greatest importance, whether to the individual believer now, or as regards the coming kingdom of God on earth, of which our Lord spake. Jesus said to him, "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" As these things were so distinctly foretold in scripture, as characterizing the coming kingdom, he ought to have known them. One word more, before we turn to those important prophecies. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Yes, this was equally needed, whether for believers now, or the kingdom of God to come. The adorable Jesus must be lifted up on the cross. What a moment that is when this is first made known to a sinner! And what a day that will be when Israel discovers that He was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities!
We will now turn to some of the prophecies that describe the restoration and blessing of Israel. (Eze. 36:22-3622Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 32Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. 33Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. 34And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. 36Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it. (Ezekiel 36:22‑36).) Mark, their restoration is entirely of God. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." God says, " 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 ye shall be clean.....from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh.... And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them, and ye shall dwell in the land," &c.
Nicodemus, therefore, ought to have known these things. Thus the restoration of all things, in heaven and on earth, as spoken of in the prophets, is entirely of God. God will gather Israel out of all nations, for His great name's sake. But all who enter the kingdom must be born again, wholly anew, entirely of God. He will sprinkle clean water upon them. That is, He will cleanse them from all their filthiness, and make them a holy people. God will give them a new heart. He will put the Holy Spirit in them. God will cause them to walk in His statutes. Thus they will not only be brought into the kingdom of God on earth, but be made capable of enjoying God. All is in direct contrast with the covenant of the law given at Sinai. (Read Jer, 31:31-34.)
What delight it gives to the heart to contemplate all this, as the result of the faithfulness of God! The covenant engagement is entirely on God's part in every particular. He says, " Behold, I will gather them out of all countries whither I have driven them.....I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart.....And I will make an everlasting covenant with them..... I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good." (Jer. 32:37-4337Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. 42For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. 43And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. (Jeremiah 32:37‑43).) And mark, there is no thought of the church blest in the heavens here. It is evidently the kingdom come on earth, (Jer. 33:7-177And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. 8And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. 9And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it. 10Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast, 11The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord. 12Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. 13In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord. 14Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. 17For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; (Jeremiah 33:7‑17).)
In keeping with all this, immediately after the judgment on the nations, the Lord says, " For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.".... " Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, Ο Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, Ο daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.....The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing." (Zeph. 3:9-209For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent. 10From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering. 11In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. 12I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. 13The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. 14Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. 16In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 17The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. 18I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. 19Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. 20At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:9‑20).)
Thus we know that when the Lord shall restore Israel, and set up His kingdom on earth, He will cleanse them from all iniquity—He will give them a new heart. They must be born wholly anew; they must be fitted for the presence of the King, the Lord of Hosts. He shall dwell in their midst, rejoicing over them with joy. Still, we must remember the distinction between the church and the kingdom on earth. Both of God. One shall be the display of the glory of God in the heavens, the other the display of His glory on earth.
Oh, view the once desolate mountains of Palestine, now restored to the freshness and beauty of Eden. See her re-built cities filled with holy, happy inhabitants. Hearken to the bursts of praise. High Hallelujahs sound from every vale and every hill. See those happy nations, joyfully they come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts.
Oh, bright contrast to this world's surging scenes of sorrow and of sin! All then is peace: God rests in His love. No tempting adversary -Satan is put into the abyss—the nations learn war no more—Messiah reigns—all iniquity immediately judged. Oh, blessed Father, then shall thy kingdom have come, and thy will be done on earth as in heaven!
How strange that the scriptures, so full of these wondrous promises, should be so neglected, or denied. But bright as is the glory of the kingdom on earth, brighter far the church's glory above -" descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal." (Rev. 21) Well may the beloved inspired John say, " It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Could there be anything, or any glory, beyond this? May the Spirit of God awaken the whole church to the blessed hope of our Lord's return!
The value of the work of Christ can never be altered, diminished or increased.