“And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)
In the gospel of Mark, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a tiny mustard seed. Jesus himself sowed that tiny mustard seed when he died on the cross. That same seed germinated at his resurrection three days later and continues to grow and bloom as the gospel spreads throughout the earth making disciples of all nations. It will continue to grow until Christ returns to earth again to establish his physical kingdom. His return begins a thousand year reign the Bible calls the Millenium. In the meantime, Christ is in heaven preparing for the time he comes to lay claim to his kingdom (Mt 25:14-46).
Here is how the Bible describes the events leading up to and culminating in Jesus’ return to earth.
The Nation of Israel Will Be Restored
First, the nation of Israel must be restored. The nation of Israel was destroyed in 70 AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and razed the temple, the symbol of their national identity. For the last two thousand years Jews have been scattered across the face of the earth and Israel has been overrun by her enemies. But God has not rejected the Jews forever, as some claim. He began to restore the nation of Israel in 1948. He will eventually return all Jews to the Holy Land, completely remove their disgrace, give them victory over their enemies and bring them to repentance and faith in Him.
God will bring to pass all that he promised Abraham and his descendants, regardless of their faithlessness, just as he fulfills all his promises to Christian believers despite their inevitable failures. Both Jews and Christians are elect of God which means we are all God’s chosen people. In Romans 11:1-2 Paul says, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin [as were Jesus and the rest of the apostles]. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew…So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!” Paul also said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek“(Rom 1:16). God promised Abraham that the covenant he made with him would be everlasting, “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8). The prophet Isaiah says, “For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before me,” says the Lord, “so your descendants and your name will remain” (Is 66:22).
Although the Bible prophesies regarding the return of the Jews to their homeland are beginning to be fulfilled in our day, they have not yet been completely realized. The Jews must still repent for their unbelief, including rejecting their Messiah, Jesus. As the prophet Jeremiah predicted:
“Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! …With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn….‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’ Their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him” (Jer 31:4-14).
Peace Will Prevail
The book of Ezekiel also describes the future return of the Jews as a time of peace. In chapter 36 God says to the land of Israel, “And I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord God” (vs 15).
These prophecies describe an event that has not yet occurred. Although the Jews have returned to Israel, they still face threats on every side. Today they live in a land surrounded by enemies who won’t even acknowledge their right to exist and would exterminate them if given the chance. This is not a nation that is like a watered garden and that does not stumble or languish, nor has it been delivered from disgrace and reproach.
There will be no doubt when these prophesies come to pass. Ezekiel describes it as a time when Jews will be regathered from all over the world, when they will repent of their rebellion and turn to God, and when God will vindicate his name and display his glory through them to all nations. It will be a time when all the wastelands will become like the Garden of Eden, when the cities will be rebuilt and filled with people, and when harvests will be bountiful. (Ezek 36:22-27). It will be a time when the apostles rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, “…when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mat 19:28). None of these things have happened yet.
Judah and Israel Will Be Reunited
In Ezekiel 37 God says, “Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the back slidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezek 37:21-23) This must occur after AD 70 because before that time, although they had been taken into captivity by various nations, they had never been scattered all over the world.
Israel has not been united since the northern kingdom was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Although all the Canaanite nations that existed in those days have long since disappeared, God has miraculously preserved the Israelites as a distinct naation. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mt 24:34). The Greek word for generation used here means “the successive members of a geneology.” God has preserved the nation of Israel because he intends to bring all of them back to their native land and reestablish them in their original tribes one day.
As Romans 11:28-29 says, “As regards the gospel, they (the Jews) are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This truth applies to all of God’s elect, including Gentile believers. As Paul says in Romans 8:30, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” He is a covenant-keeping God who always fulfills his promises to those whom he has chosen regardless of their inability to keep their end of the bargain.
Satan will be be deposed
Scripture refers to Satan as the ruler of this world. John 12:31 says, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” In order for Christ to reign supreme, the present ruler of this world must be dethroned. Although he was dealt a fatal blow at the cross, Satan continues to oppose Christ until the appointed time of his torment.
Scripture tells us that when Christ returns, he will bind Satan and cast him into a bottomless pit called ‘The Abyss’ for one thousand years, “Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. He seized the dragon – the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan – and tied him up for a thousand years. The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished” (Rev 20:1-3). During the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan and his demons will be entirely banished from the earth. Mankind will be completely free of Satan’s temptations for the first time in history. This is clearly not true of our time.
Until that time comes, Satan will continue to deceive the nations and evil will increase, reaching a crescendo just before Christ returns. The Bible describes these as times of increasing war, crime, rebellion, and natural disasters accompanied by the spread of the gospel throughout the world (Mat 24:3-14). Paul describes the total depravity of the people of these last days, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, un-appeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” These are descriptions our days, when evil is increasing at an exponential rate by the spread of technology and outright rebellion against God which until only wrecently was concealed.
Jesus Will Take the Throne
Immediately after Satan is cast into the Abyss, Christ will assume complete, uncontested authority over the earth. All of those who have been faithful to Christ, whether dead or alive, will rule with him. Revelation 20:1-3 says, “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Christ’s rule will be characterized by justice, righteousness and equity as the rightful ruler of the earth (Isaiah 9:3-5, 7, 10). Punishment of evil doers will be swift and severe, “From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the wine press of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful” (Rev 19:15). The innocent will no longer suffer at the hands of the unrighteous (Is 11:4). The place where Christ reigns will be filled with glory and all of creation will rejoice at his rule, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness (Ps 96:11).
The Earth Will be Renewed
Jesus referred to the time of his earthly reign as a period of renewal or regeneration, “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). Paul also said that the curse will be removed, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” When Christ comes to reign, he will rule over a creation restored to its original pristine state.
The Old Testament describes this as a time when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, when field and trees will rejoice, when the predator-prey relationship will be removed from the animal kingdom, when swarms of fish will fill the oceans, when barren wastelands will be covered with lush vegetation, when scarcity will be no more, when infirmities will be healed, and when life will be extended to hundreds of years (Amos 9:13; Is 32:15; Ez 47:9-10; Is 35:5-7; Is 11:6-9; Is 65:20; Joel 3:18; Is 43:20; Is 41:18; Is 35:1-2; Is 35:25; Is 44:4-5; Hab 2:14). Nothing remotely like this has ever happened before because Christ has not yet established his earthly kingdom, as some maintain.
In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In light of all that awaits us, our hearts should be filled with eager anticipation for the wonderful promises of eternal fellowship with our Creator and Lord.