Where Will Jesus Return?
The Bible speaks of the Lord returning to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Some may ask, “Why not in New York, London, Los Angeles or Tokyo?” But God chose Jerusalem as the place of his return. Although Jerusalem is tiny among such cities, it is of the utmost importance to God. A brief history explains why.
Jerusalem was the place (originally called Moriah) where God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. But God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, instead providing a ram for him to offer. In fact, God had never intended Isaac to be sacrificed; he was testing Abraham’s faith, and giving us a symbolic picture of his only Son being sacrificed 2,000 years later in Jerusalem, near that very spot.
Solomon built the first Jewish Temple over the same spot where Abraham sacrificed the ram in place of Isaac. It was there that the Holy of Holies was located, the sacred room where God said his presence dwelt.
Five hundred years before Christ, it was prophesied that the Jews would be the occupants of Jerusalem when the Messiah arrives in the end times. However, when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., a million of its inhabitants were killed, and the rest fled for their lives. Jerusalem’s long history as the central place of Jewish worship ceased to exist. Jews could only dream of its future restoration.
However, the Jews’ dreams that Jerusalem would one day be restored were based on God’s promise given through his prophet Ezekiel nearly 600 years before Christ. This prophecy speaks of the dispersion of the Jews to other nations due to their disobedience. It then tells that in the last days, God will send them back to their land from other nations. God said through his prophet: “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.”
For nearly 1900 years following its destruction by Roman armies, there was no nation of Israel, and Jerusalem was a “no-man’s land” under foreign occupation. Then, in the latter part of the 19th century, Jews began populating Palestine. After the Holocaust imposed by Hitler’s Nazis, Jews immigrated en masse to Israel.
On May 14, 1948, the Jews’ 2,000-year-old dream of the rebirth of Israel became a reality, as a United Nations charter granted them partial control of Jerusalem. However, within hours, five Arab armies along its borders vowed to destroy it. Tensions between Israel and its neighbors became explosive.
In 1967, Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies surrounded Israel. Newspaper headlines read, “Egypt Vows to Destroy Israel.” Israel’s army seemed to be hopelessly outnumbered. But a surprise attack by Israel devastated its enemies in just six days. Many spoke of the Jews’ overwhelming victory as a miracle. After Israel’s lightning victory in the 1967 war, Jerusalem finally belonged to Israel, and the peace they had hoped for seemed within reach. Yet, the prophecy that Jerusalem would become a “burdensome stone” to the world has come true.
Israel’s miraculous rebirth has set the stage for the coming of the Messiah which requires the Jews to dwell in Jerusalem. Nearly six million Jews now live in the land God promised to Abraham. In one century, Israel has exploded from virtual non-existence into a nation that dominates the world’s headlines.