Jesus is Coming Back to Jerusalem

In the same way Jesus left, visibly, bodily, from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, He will return, visibly, bodily, to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

By Michael Brown Published on November 23, 2023

Jesus is coming back to Jerusalem. As the angels said to the disciples as they watched the Lord ascend to heaven from the Mount of Olives, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10–11, my emphasis). Yes, in the same way He left, visibly, bodily, from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, He will return, visibly, bodily, to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

As noted by the late Bible teacher David Pawson in his book Defending Christian Zionism, “Once you accept that his return will be physical as well as personal, tangible as well as visible, in a word ‘bodily’, then another adjective has to be added: it will be ‘local’. Once that has been said, the location needs to be identified. I have never heard anyone claim it will be Rome or Geneva, Canterbury or Moscow. Every opinion that I have come across plumps for Jerusalem.”

But this is not merely a matter of opinion. Zechariah 14 confirms this explicitly, stating, “On that day, He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:4a). It is also confirmed by other passages, which will we examine shortly, affirming the central importance of Jerusalem during the Lord’s millennial reign.

For those Christians who deny the prophetic significance of modern Israel, ask yourself a simple question: Why, then, is Jesus returning to Jerusalem, and why will this city be the site of the final, end-time conflict (see Zechariah 12 and 14)?

“But,” Pawson continues, “that raises real problems for the anti-Zionist. It is one of their basic axioms that the land of Israel and its capital city have long since ceased to have any significance for the Lord, even if he still has plans for the Jewish people. The question: ‘Why on earth would Jesus return to Jerusalem of all places?’ becomes a real embarrassment. The only possible answer is that the place as well as the people is still integral to his purposes.”

The Nations Streaming to Jerusalem, God Deciding Their Disputes and War Forever Ceased

Exactly! Why would Jesus return to Jerusalem if the city no longer has significance? Or, to turn this question around, to what other location would the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the King of the Jews return? One of the most famous prophecies in the Bible is found on the lips of the prophet Isaiah, presenting a glorious picture of the Messianic reign:

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall 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 his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:1–4)

How beautiful this day will be, and how this hope has inspired millions through the centuries. No more war. No more strife. The nations of the world worshiping the God of Israel. The Messiah ruling and reigning with justice and with truth. And all of this will flow out of Jerusalem!

Does the Nation of Israel Still Have Good Promises of God Yet to be Fulfilled?

Christian antisemites, however, have a very different take. In the words of one contemporary leader,

For the record, I totally reject Evangelical Zionism. … I am not a religious Zionist, nor a secular Zionist. I am a New Zionist! Old Jerusalem is not my eternal capital. Old Jerusalem is the harlot, the great city, Sodom and Egypt, the city that killed our Lord. It will be completely destroyed by fire when Jesus Christ returns to establish His everlasting kingdom on the new earth. Unlike today’s Evangelical Zionists, I do not idolize the State of Israel. I desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called my God: for he hath prepared for me a city.

That is quite a contrast: Jerusalem the praise of all the earth (see Isaiah 62:7) or Jerusalem the harlot. Which is it? And why does it matter?

If replacement theologians are correct, then there are no future promises for Israel as a nation or for the earthly city of Jerusalem. Individual Jews can be saved like anyone else, but the only Jerusalem that matters is the Jerusalem from above, the New Jerusalem, our eternal home. As for the earthly city mentioned so often in the Bible, it is of no significance anymore — other than to be judged at the end of this age.

What About These Prophesies From Isaiah?

The problem is that for this view to be true, scores of verses from the Hebrew Scriptures would have to be voided out entirely — or, at the least, reinterpreted so radically as to be completely unrecognizable. Just look at these promises about the future of Jerusalem all taken from the Book of Isaiah:

  • Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders (Isaiah 24:23).
  • And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).
  • Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken. … And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity (Isaiah 33:20, 24).
  • On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6–7).
  • But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress” (Isaiah 65:18–19).
  • “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.” For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:10–13).
  • “And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord” (Isaiah 66:20).

None of these prophecies have yet been fulfilled, but all of them will be fulfilled. And not just prophecies from Isaiah but from all the other prophets that prophesied about Jerusalem’s glorious future as well. Yeshua will return to Jerusalem, and from there He will rule and reign, sitting on David’s throne, as the prophets foretold and as the New Testament reaffirmed.

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In the words of Gabriel to Miriam (Mary), the mother of Jesus, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32) — and that throne is on earth, not in heaven. That is when God will fulfill His many promises to Israel. Those promises remain true as surely as God is true!

What Right Do Theologians Have to Radically Reinterpret the Plain Meaning of God’s Promises?

The big question is: What right does anyone have — any author or theologian or preacher or scholar or leader or believer — to change the meaning of scores of clear and plain verses in the Bible? What right does anyone have to claim that a later meaning voids out or makes null what God has previously stated? What right does anyone have to so radically reinterpret the plain sense of scripture verses so as to make them completely unrecognizable?

For those Christians who deny the prophetic significance of modern Israel, ask yourself a simple question: Why, then, is Jesus returning to Jerusalem, and why will this city be the site of the final, end-time conflict (see Zechariah 12 and 14)?

I say we let the Word speak for itself.

(Excerpted and adapted from Michael L. Brown, Christian Antisemitism: Confronting the Lies in Today’s Church.)

 

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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