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Milepost 59: Jesus' Return

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Milepost 59: Jesus' Return

Primary References: Revelation 19:17-21

 

As Jesus returns, conditions on earth are miserable. The battle of Armageddon rages on and Mystery Babylon is a simmering ash heap. Only the tremendous persecution of the battle of Armageddon causes this to occur. How bad will it have to be for the Jews to cry to Jesus for their deliverance? Clearly, it will be extremely desperate. The invaders will have captured Jerusalem and exiled half of the Jews throughout all nations of the world (Zechariah 14:2, Luke 21:24). They will be plundering the homes in Jerusalem, raping the Jewish women (Zechariah 14:2), and forcing their children into prostitution (Joel 3:3). Jewish military strong holds and cities have fallen (Micah 5:10-11). Jerusalem will have depleted her food reserves as her grain will have spoiled (shriveled and dried up), her storehouses will lay decimated and her granaries will be demolished. Jerusalem’s animals will groan, her cattle will have no pasture, and her flocks will be suffering. (Joel 1:17-18) Nations, notably Israel, will be in distress and trembling (Isaiah 64:2). The Jews in Israel are suffering unmercifully and the birds and beasts are flocking to God’s supper. One last thing remains before Jesus can set foot on earth: the Jews on earth MUST call on Him (Luke 13:35).

Under this pressure, the Jews finally call out to God for their deliverance and the return of their Messiah (though they may not understand their Messiah is Jesus). From His temple, God hears the cries of the Jews and responds by shaking the earth at its foundations (Psalms 18:6-7, Habakkuk 3:6). Whether this is the earthquake of Revelation 18’s seventh vial judgment is not clear. While they are most likely, the same, it is easy to argue to the contrary. Many references to this earthquake are scattered throughout the Bible. The most graphic describe the hills melting like wax at the presence of God (Psalms 97:5), the earth rising and falling like the Nile river (Amos 8:8), and the mountains flowing as molten wax/water down a slope (Micah 1:4). Other references to this earthquake include Joel 3:16, Haggai 2:6-7, Isaiah 64:1-3, Psalms 46:3, and Psalms 77:18. Several of these references also mention the heavens shaking as though being torn apart (Haggai 2:6-7, Isaiah 64:1). Probably, this is Jesus’ shaking of the powers of heaven (Luke 21:25-26, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24-25)

Darkness is a consistent theme in many references. Amos talks about the sun going down at noon and it being dark at mid-day on a clear day (Amos 8:9). He also describes it as very dark with no brightness (Amos 5:18-20). Isaiah describes it as a day of darkness and sorrow (Isaiah 5:30). Joel describes it as a day of gloominess, clouds, thick darkness (Joel 2:2), the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining (Joel 2:10, Joel 3:15). Zephaniah repeats this description calling it a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of waste and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, and a day of clouds and thick darkness (Zephaniah 1:15). Psalms 18:9-11 and Psalms 97:2 portray similar pictures of darkness and gloominess. Psalms 77:17 adds the clouds pouring out water and the lightning creating a fierce show.

This is the backdrop for Jesus’ return, a dark gloomy, cloudy day full of catastrophes on the earth, in the heavens, and on the sea. It is the day the BrideGroom and his bride leave their private place (heaven) to return to the earth (Joel 2:16, Luke 12:36). While the bride accompanies her husband, the focus is on the Groom. Jesus comes in a cloud with great power and glory (Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27). He returns as lightning cometh from the east to the west (Matthew 24:27; Luke 17:24). His brightness (lightning) lights up the world and His presence makes the earth tremble (Psalms 97:4, Psalms 77:18). Lightning originates from Jesus and goes out against His enemies and it strikes terror into all Jesus’ enemies. He is bright as lightning with lightning coming out of His hand (Habakkuk 3:4). The contrast of the brightness, the lightning, of the glory of Jesus against the gloominess of the day is overwhelming. His brightness causes the moon and sun to be ashamed (Isaiah 24:23). His glory fills the heavens and His praise fills the earth (Habakkuk 3:3). This is the day where all see Jesus’ glory and on this day, the heavens declare Jesus’ glory (Psalms 97:6).

Jesus comes with smoke coming out of His nostrils and fire out of His mouth (Psalms 18:8) to consume his enemies. In Revelation, Jesus has a sword coming out of His mouth; and in Psalms, He has fire. Both are symbols for the Holy Spirit. Just as David went to battle with Goliath without a sword, Jesus enters the battle without a sword in His hand: the only sword He carries is the Holy Spirit. For three and a half years (since His coronation), He has been restrained from returning and rescuing Israel (Daniel 10:12-13). Now He will no longer be restrained as He returns in great glory on the worst day in the history of the world to rescue the remaining Jews and subdue His enemies. As He returns, those on earth see Him and have ample opportunity to prepare to welcome their new King. Instead, they choose to engage in a hopeless battle to the death – theirs.

The combination of Jesus’ physical appearance, His actions, the various judgments hitting the earth, and the signs and wonders in the heavens strike abject terror into earth’s rebellious citizens. Isaiah shows Zion’s sinners are afraid (Isaiah 33:14) and Joel states people’s faces are in pain before the armies of the Lord (Joel 2:6). His majestic arrival demonstrates His divinity and Lordship. No one on earth can doubt who is about to step onto the earth.

Jesus arrives on earth as He left, at Mount Olivet just east of Jerusalem (Acts 1:11-12). As soon as He touches the mount, it splits in the middle to the east and to the west, creating a new valley. This valley is a place of refuge created to protect the Jerusalem’s remaining Jews. Instead of running away from the earthquake, Jerusalem’s Jews run into the valley. (Zechariah 14:4-5) While it is a day of God’s vengeance (Isaiah 63:4), Jesus is careful to protect the righteous (Psalms 91:2-12). He delivers His people from their enemies (Habakkuk 3:13) who are cut off and beaten in pieces (Micah 4:13, 5:9). The battle in Israel occurs in the valley Megiddo. It is the valley of decision and many are in it (Joel 3:14). The valley that saw the last king of Judah defeated and the reign of David’s royal lineage stopped (2 Kings 23:30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-27), now sees the resumption of the reign of David’s lineage and the long awaited return of the Messiah.