I was reading a monthly magazine put out by one of the Churches of God the other day, when I came across something that I feel is worth commenting on.
Basically it was saying that Christ returns to earth alone, and then a thousand years later, God the Father comes down to earth and brings the New Jerusalem with Him.
As I read the Bible, I think that the time that God the Father comes down to this earth is a lot earlier than what is described in the magazine.
Possibly the problem starts with Acts 1:11 "... Jesus ... will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven".
In this verse, only Jesus is mentioned as coming to earth, and it is easy to jump to the conclusion only Christ returns. However, with careful reading, v11 is talking about the "manner" of His going and coming - in the clouds. We have to look elsewhere to see how many return to earth "in the clouds".
Mark 14:62 gives us some extra information (NLT) Jesus said, "I AM [as you say, the Son of God]. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God's right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven. "
NIV puts it "sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One". The NET Bible has a note (28) "The expression the right hand of the Power is a circumlocution for referring to God".
Mat 26:64 says a similar thing. Then the final piece of the puzzle is found in Zec 14:5 NET. ".... Then the LORD my God will come with all his holy ones with him.". We can see that many angels are also involved. Mat 16:27 and Mat 25:31 also confirm that angels will be with them.
People sometimes get confused over which "Lord" is being talked about in Zech 14. What has been translated as "Lord" in v3 is God (H3068 - Jehovah). God comes down to earth to fight the nations v3,4. It is His feet - God the Father's - that also stand on the Mount of Olives. I think it is a mistake to take YHVH (Strongs - "the Jewish national name for God") and apply it to Christ. The fact that God and Christ come together, fulfills the prophecy of Ps 110:1. Christ as the Master or important person (H113 - adoni) sits at God's right hand, and no doubt assists, but it is God the Father (H3068 - YHVH, Jehovah) who is the prime mover in sorting out the rebellion of the nations at that time. This is further brought out in:
Isa 24::21-23 NLT In that day the LORD will punish the gods in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth. (22) They will be rounded up and put in prison. They will be shut up in prison and will finally be punished. (23) Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the LORD (H3068 YHVH) of Heaven's Armies will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem, in the sight of all the leaders of His people.
1Th 4:14 NET. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.
that both Jesus and God are mentioned in the above verse, yet it is God
that is referred to as coming to the earth - and Christ accompanies Him.
Rev 21:3 makes it clear that God will be on the earth while there are still "people", and "God himself will be with them". Verse 4 ("wipe away every tear") makes sense if it is talking about physical people just after the tribulation, but makes little sense if it is after all people have been "changed" into spirit beings.
I think the way Rev 21:1 has been translated doesn't help. "Renewed" heaven and earth is possibly a better translation. After the seven last plagues - and all that comes before it - some cleaning up will need to be done to make it suitable for human habitation again. The "sea" in verse 1 can have a number of meanings (the mass of uninformed humanity, the Dead Sea), and we need to careful about taking it to mean that every last drop of the oceans has gone.
Rev 21:24 is talking about the saints having access to the New Jerusalem, but it then goes on to talk about the "kings of the earth" and v26 talks about the "nations". To me this is clear that it is talking about physical human beings during the millennium.
Rev 22:2 indicates that the nations will still need "healing", which also implies that they are physical and not spirit.
In Rev 11:15 NLT " ... The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.", we can see that "Our Lord" is G2962 (kurios - supreme in authority) and therefore God, and Christ is G5547 (christos - anointed). God is very much the one in charge, with Christ at His right hand to help.
However, one of the strongest indications that God the Father will be involved with physical people at the start of the Millennium, are the over 15 prophecies about God restoring Israel, making them the model nation for the rest of the world to follow, and bringing to pass His promise to Abraham. Some of these are Ezek11:17-20, Ezek 28:25-26, Ezek 34:12-15, Ezek 36, Hosea 2:15,16, Amos 9:11-15 (the "Lord" of v12 is again H3068 - YHVH - Jehovah), Zech 2:10,11, Zech 8:3-5
I know that not all are going to agree with this next statement, but I feel that the 144,000 of Rev 7 are the physical Israelites that God will work with to finish the job He started with the Exodus, and the 144,000 of Rev 14 are the saints who come up in the first resurrection and then work with Christ in ruling the world for the 1000 years.
As I understand it, God and Christ and some of the angels, return to earth at the START of the millennium, not the end. It does make a difference to our understanding of the events at the start of the millennium, and it does help to show that God the Father is much more "hands on" than we have given Him credit for in the past.
Bob Orchard June 2009
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