Stand with Me on the Mount of Olives
As we stood on the Mount of Olives, the words of the prophet Zechariah kept coming to mind, “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east.” (Zechariah 14:4, ESV).
This wasn’t my first visit to the Mount of Olives. But on this particular trip I co-led to Israel just weeks ago, I was especially awed to think that the most spectacular event of all history will take place on this spot…affecting every person who has ever lived on planet Earth.
The Mount of Olives has a remarkable history, but it will have an even more remarkable future. Jesus ascended into heaven from the top of this mountain, an event seen only by the disciples and perhaps a few bystanders. But when He returns to this mountain, “every eye shall see Him” and He will proceed to establish His kingdom.
And when this spectacular event takes place, we will be returning with Him from heaven to reign on Earth! If you are a believer and have never toured Israel, you can be encouraged, for you shall get the “grand tour” at the return of Jesus.
Many of us believe the return of Jesus will take place in two phases: first, the Church (true believers) will be raptured and taken to heaven, and then the great tribulation will transpire. At the end of this period, Jesus will return with His saints to reign on Earth. The same feet that left the Mount of Olives two thousand years ago will return and stand there once again.
Other Christians believe that the Church will go through the tribulation. The rapture will then take place as Christ descends to the mountain, and we will return to Earth with Him to reign.
Either way, our reunion at the Mount of Olives is guaranteed.
At that time, I believe there will be a remnant of Jewish people who will recognize Christ as the Messiah and believe in Him. Paul wrote that a future generation of Jews will believe the Gospel and “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26, ESV).
An event that begins at the Mount of Olives will affect the entire world. Some will believe, some will be lost, and if we trust Christ now while we are alive, we will be witnesses to it all!
In the center section of this newsletter, I’ll explain more of the details of Christ’s second coming, and what it means to you today.
Preparing for Christ’s Second Coming
Studying Christ’s second coming can be intimidating. We all have many questions about where, how, and when certain events described in the Bible will take place. Most of all, we wonder, “what does it mean for me, today?” Join us as we discuss this spectacular event with Pastor Lutzer, as he brings us back to the heart of the matter.
Q: Where does the battle of Armageddon fit into the prophetic picture?
A: The coming of Jesus to the Mount of Olives interrupts the battle. The major world coalitions are fighting for the city, with armies that extend 60 miles north to the Plain of Megiddo. Then, Jesus returns to defend Jerusalem; the armies of the world lay aside their differences to fight Him. But there is no contest; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wins! (Read Zechariah 14:1-5)
Q: Are you saying that Jesus will then reign from the present city of Jerusalem as it now exists? The Jerusalem tourists see?
A: Yes and no. Yes, that the present city is the place from which Jesus will reign, but it will be drastically changed. For example, even when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives, a huge valley will be created to the north and the south. So the topography of the region will change, but Jerusalem will be exalted among the nations and Jesus will reign.
Q: You said in your letter that “every eye will see Him.” How is this possible, since the world certainly cannot see the Mount of Olives from where they live—in fact only those in the local region could witness it.
A: Yes, but what if Jesus returned from heaven to earth slowly, say over 24 or 48 hours so that as the Earth turned, everyone would get to see this “sign” high in the sky? (Jesus, you remember talked about the “sign of the Son of Man” in the sky). Certainly television could bring the event into the living rooms of the world. I don’t know how God will do it, but this will be an event that the world will witness.
Q: Jesus made it clear that at His return the “sheep” will be able to enter the kingdom and the “goats” will be excluded. Help us understand this.
A: Let’s proceed slowly. Those who are living in their earthly bodies when Christ returns will be divided into two camps: on the one hand there will be those who accept Jesus as the Messiah (the sheep) and there will be those who don’t (the goats). One group goes into the kingdom, the others are ushered into eternal fire. All who enter the kingdom will be saved, converted people, who nevertheless will eventually die. As for those who’ve already died, they will already have their glorified eternal bodies, but they will be able to co-exist with those who are still living just as Jesus did with His disciples after the resurrection.
Q: What is the bottom line?
A: Whether we are right about all of these details or not, we must remember, there is so much more to the Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, beyond what eyes could see. He is the Jesus of the manger, but He is also the Jesus of judgment. His hatred of sin cannot be overestimated nor can His love for those who believe in Him be exaggerated. He will return with eyes like a flame of fire, and He will take vengeance on those who don’t know God and don’t obey the Gospel.
When His feet stand on the Mount of Olives, I want to be there, not as His antagonist, but as His follower, as “His sheep.” This can only happen through personal faith in Him. Getting ready for eternity should be our first priority!
The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent
My most important book, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent—an informed response to Islam’s war with Christianity, was released by Harvest Publishers early in this new year.
I began writing this book several years ago after Rebecca and I toured Turkey, visiting the cities where the seven churches of Revelation were located. Of course, those churches disappeared in the early centuries, but Turkey (biblical Asia Minor) maintained a distinct Christian presence until Islam came and conquered the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453. Churches were destroyed or transformed into mosques; Christians either converted to Islam or became slaves to Muslim masters, while others chose to die as martyrs.Is There Hope for Peace in the Middle East?
Why the Middle East Awaits the Coming of Christ
I’ve just recently returned from Israel, a land drenched in history; a land acquainted with war; a land to which all believers will someday return with our great and glorious King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Until then, we can expect conflict, unrest, and the threat of war.
What chance does peace have in the Middle East? In my opinion, none until Jesus returns to establish His kingdom. Naïve politicians speak about a “two-state solution,” “land for peace,” or other bargaining incentives to bring peace. But I believe all of these plans shall fail for one good reason: the Muslim Palestinian leaders cannot allow peace to come to the Middle East under any settlement. For them, it’s not just history and land that’s at stake, but Islam itself.How Should a Christian Vote?
Voting with a Christian Conscience
I believe the evangelical church has finally been forced to conclude we cannot depend upon politics to turn this country around, bring us back to biblical principles, or reverse the anti-Christian bigotry developing in the courts, the media, and the wider culture. Only the church, armed with the Gospel, is able to bring lasting change in the hearts and lives of people. God’s House—and not the White House—holds the key to the future of our nation.
If there’s ever been a time for the church to stand tall, it’s today—whether it’s with or without support from our political leaders. As you look back at history, you’ll see times when God has given nations better leaders than they deserved—at other times, far wares (think of 20th century dictators). Still other times, the leader was a perfect fit for the people. But regardless of the leader, the church must remain faithful to its calling.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus showed us how to pray. In this message, we continue our look at the depth and breadth of meaning found in these sacred words. How should each of us approach God with our petitions?All Sermons by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer