Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 3 – The Restoration of Israel
by Gerald R. Thompson
THE MESSIANIC ERA
The Golden Age
Isa. 11:6 / Isa. 65:17-25 / Ezek. 34:25-31 / Ezek. 36:8-15 / Ezek. 39:21-29 / Joel 3:18-21 / Amos 9:11-15 / Micah 4:1-8 / Zech 8:1-8 / Zech 14:6-21
Similar to the scriptures relating to the regathering of the Jews, the scriptures relating to the Messianic Era (a/k/a the Golden Age) are extensive and comprise a major theme of the Bible. The list of principal texts above is illustrative, not exhaustive. I encourage everyone to read them all fully, and to seek out others I have not shown. For purposes of this discussion, I will only treat them in summary fashion as in the prior section.
The Golden Age is simply that period of time following the regathering of the Jews in which:
1) there is unparalleled peace and safety;
2) there is unparalleled prosperity and a re-habitation of the land; and
3) Israel will be foremost among the nations of the world, which is to say, the throne of David will be restored, and Israel will no longer be a reproach among the nations.
Many of the scriptures relating to the regathering of the Jews also relate to the Golden Age, as the two concepts are necessarily related to each other. Practically speaking, this Golden Age is the same as the Millennium, but from a distinctly Jewish perspective. The Millennium is how the same period is viewed from the perspective of the Church. These are not in conflict or in competition with each other, but are two sides of the same coin, which must be understood together to get the whole picture.
The following texts relate to the Golden Age of a restored Israel. As you examine them, ask yourself: 1) does God exaggerate? and 2) have any of these really happened yet? You might even ask a third question: If God knows all things from the beginning to the end, why would He make all these prophecies concerning Israel as a nation if He just intended it to be replaced by the Church?
Peace and Safety
Isa. 11:6 – The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
Ezek. 34:27 – they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
Zech.8:4-5 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.
Isa. 65:21-22 – They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
Ezek. 34:26-27 – And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase.
Ezek. 36:10-11 – And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt. And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before.
Ezek. 39:25 – “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.”
A king in Zion
Amos 9:11-12 – “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.
Micah 4:1-3 – 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 it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations 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 many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off.
Zech 14:8-9 – On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth.
Reversal of Some of the Effects of the Flood
Gen. 9:2-3 – The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.
Isa. 11:6-9 – The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Hos. 2:18 – And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.
The Noahic flood and the Noahic covenant which followed brought a number of changes to the earth. The seas were undoubtedly expanded (or raised) due to the falling of the vapor canopy above the earth and the release of waters from below the earth (Gen. 7:11). Rainfall and clouds became the new normal (instead of a mist rising from the ground), and capital punishment was authorized. The rainbow was set in the clouds as a promise never again to flood the world, and mankind was authorized to eat meat in addition to plants for the first time.
This last item not only changed the human diet, it completely transformed the relationship between men and animals. “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every [animal].” So not only did men hunt and eat animals, but now some animals also hunted people for the purpose of killing them. This is not how things were before the flood. The main reason Noah could get all the animals on the ark is that there was no enmity between them and man at the time. Apparently, God is going to remove this enmity between people and animals in the Messianic Age, at least to the point where no animal will again pose a danger to people.
The scripture does not explicitly say so – so I am extrapolating here – but it is possible people may also stop eating meat and return to a vegetarian diet. These things seem to me to logically go together. But I could be wrong. As I will emphasize later, no – this will not reverse the curse of the ground, or eliminate any of the other effects of the Fall, as that happened more than 1650 years before the flood. But the new relationship between people and animals is definitely something to look forward to.
Let’s consider life spans for the moment. You may be familiar with Ps. 90:10 (a Psalm of Moses) to the effect that “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty.” And of course you know what is a normal life span now. But life spans before the flood were considerably longer, extending over 900 years in some cases. Thus, Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Jared and Methuselah all lived over 900 years, with Methuselah the longest at 969 years, who also died in the year of the flood.
It appears that along with other reversals of the effects of the flood, life spans will rise, perhaps even to pre-flood levels. Speaking of the Golden Age, Isa. 65:20, 22 declares, “No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, … for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” Since some trees are capable of living several hundred years, I take this scripture to mean that’s how long people will live in the Golden Age.
The onset of the Messianic Era will bring not only spiritual, political, relational and environmental changes to the earth, it will bring a number of key topographical changes as well. Most of these changes will relate to the land of Israel and surrounding areas in the Middle East.
Let’s start with the obvious one – the great earthquake which marks the end of the Tribulation. Rev. 6:14 says that as a result of the quake, every mountain and island will be removed from its place. Rev. 16:19 says that, “The great city [i.e., Jerusalem] was split into three parts [although apparently only a tenth of Jerusalem will fall – Rev. 11:13], and the cities of the nations fell [i.e., completely].” The next verse adds, “every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.” It is on the basis of these verses I have concluded that essentially everything built by man will be thrown down so Jesus can inaugurate His new world order with a clean slate. Any earthquake strong enough to remove mountains is strong enough to topple any man-made structures.
The N.T. is not alone in referring to this quake. Ezek. 38:18-20, in describing the consequences of Armageddon, notes that “On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. … [T]he mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground.”
But that isn’t the only topographical change coming. Several others are mentioned in Zech. 14. Verse 4, speaking of the Second Coming, notes that “On that day [Jesus’] feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.”
Concurrently, according to Zech. 14:10, “The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site …” See also Isa. 40:3-4, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” Both literally and symbolically, the mountains of Israel will be made flat, but Jerusalem itself will be raised up.
This passage in Isa. 40 is often understood as having been fulfilled by John the Baptist, because it is specifically quoted in reference to John in Lk. 3:4-6, as well as the other gospels. However, I suggest this is an obvious instance where double fulfillment applies. I say this mainly because Isa. 40 tells us exactly what it means to make a straight road in the desert, namely, you have to make the land flat before the road can be made straight. And this plainly did not happen in the time of John the Baptist. Yes, John was a voice in the wilderness, but no, the land around Jerusalem or Israel was not made flat.
I think this helps explain why John and Jesus disagreed about whether John was the Elijah who was to come or not. Jesus said John was (Mat. 11:14), but John said he was not (Jn. 1:21). It’s easy to assume Jesus was right and John was wrong, but it is also possible that Jesus meant John had partially fulfilled prophecy, whereas John meant he had not completely fulfilled prophecy. In any event, I believe the flattening of the land of Israel, based on Zech. 14:10 and other scriptures, will literally occur at some future time.
Finally, Zech 14:8 says that, “On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea.” In other words, water will flow from Jerusalem in two directions – west to the Mediterranean, and east to the Dead Sea. To get a fuller picture of the water flowing eastward, we must turn to Ezek. 47:1-5, which describes water flowing from underneath the threshold of the temple to the east. The river is described as ankle deep 1,000 cubits from the temple, knee deep at 2,000 cubits, waist deep at 3,000 cubits, and too deep to pass at 4,000 cubits (about 6,000 feet) downstream.
The use of the term “living waters” in Zech. 14 should immediately call to mind verses in Jeremiah to the effect that God is the fountain of living waters (Jer. 2:13; 17:13) and Jn. 4:10 & 7:38 where Jesus also claims to be the source of living water. In each instance, living water refers to the healing and restorative power of God. The fact the living waters will flow outward from the Messianic Temple foundation indicates the absolutely unique and unending favor of God poured out on Jerusalem. When all these things take place it will be a time as close to the perfection of heaven that mankind will ever experience on this earth.
It should therefore be no surprise that the living waters flowing into the Dead Sea will have a healing and restorative effect, as per Ezek. 47:8-9:
“This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.”
The Dead Sea is so named because it currently has such high mineral content that no fish or wildlife can survive in its waters. But all this will change when Jesus returns. Ezek. 47:12 goes on to say, “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
One other topographical change worth noting is mentioned in Rev. 16:12, although this one occurs during the Tribulation and not afterwards. Namely, “the great river Euphrates and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east.”
I think what makes all these topographical changes important is that they – along with the changes which will be made to the relationship of mankind to the animal kingdom, the rebuilding of society and all social institutions from scratch, the restoration of Israel and the defeat of its enemies, and the establishment of a worldwide government, theocracy and religion – show the extent to which Jesus, upon His return, will be lord and master over the whole earth. Not one aspect of life on this planet will escape His being in control of it, and all things will be altered to suit His pleasure.
All these changes will be brought about to show His mercy and goodness, His provision and care, and His everlasting dominion. Thus, the waste and uninhabitable places such as deserts and mountains – with a few exceptions to serve as reminders of His judgment – will be made flat, filled with vegetation and wildlife, and yet the wild beasts will not prey upon mankind. There will be universal peace worldwide – not a tense standoff or temporary cessation of hostilities – but a genuine and lasting peace because old rivalries and hatreds will literally disappear.
Most of the topographical changes to the land of Israel seem designed to increase its prosperity and habitability. Jerusalem, being God’s chosen place to show His favor, will remain aloft as a visible reminder of its prominence in all the world. I am sure the Temple Mount, a/k/a God’s most holy mountain, will remain raised up for that same reason. Zech. 14:10.
Finally, I am struck by the fact these topographical changes, in particular, highlight the absolute necessity that the kingdom of Christ will be established on this earth, i.e., the present world. These changes are not referring to the new earth to be created, since that earth will be perfect and need no alterations. Further, topographical changes – described with precision and detail (including measurements) – are not things which are given to allegory or spiritualizing. These things will be real, physical, and part of human history. The kingdom is really coming. To earth.
ENDNOTES * Ver. 8.0. Copyright © 2013-2020 Gerald R. Thompson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version.