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The Return of the King (Christmas Sermon)

The Return of the King (Christmas Sermon)

Peace is not only a desire during the Christmas season but is a longing of the world throughout the year. Global peace is possible, but it will only take place when the Prince of Peace returns to set up His kingdom on earth. Sadly, our world often attempts to solve global problems ignoring or rejecting the solutions given by the Creator of the world, the Prince of Peace. Fortunately, the God of the heavens and earth provides us with a future plan "a Kingdom filled with peace, joy, and comfort for 1,000 years and beyond!

Additional messages in this series are available here: The King Is Here


In the year 2020, the United Nations will and has already begun announcing 17 sweeping goals which they believe can be achieved over the next ten years. Among the 17 goals include their number one priority to end poverty and their number two priority to end world hunger, as well as to diminish disease, avoid wasting water, develop energy efficient practices, find ways to repurpose old materials, end discrimination, and eliminate pollution. Their last two goals are to build a world of peace and justice and to build partnerships between the governments of the world. These are admirable goals; let’s all work together to build a better society – a safer, cleaner, healthier, more efficient, more educated, and prosperous world.

What is it in the heart of mankind that makes him optimistic enough to think all of this can happen? And what is the missing piece to make it happen?

The United Nations is actually close to the discovery. In fact, it is just across the street, literally. Across from the United Nations Headquarters, on First Avenue, is a quarter of an acre park called The United Nations Plaza. The primary feature in this park is a towering monument, a granite wall built and dedicated in 1948, and carved into the wall is a message. Believe it or not, the message happens to be a quotation from the prophet Isaiah.

The inscription reads, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war any more.” This is a quotation from Isaiah 2:4.

Around 30 years later, in 1975, Isaiah’s name was etched into the bottom line of that inscription to identify that it came from the Bible. The reference in Isaiah wasn’t added though, probably because they were afraid people might look it up. Because if you do look it up, you will notice that they actually cut the verse in half; they left off the fact that this will actually come true one day when the Lord reigns in His coming kingdom on earth following the Tribulation period when Israel repents and welcomes His return, when the nations are governed by Messiah, and when we the redeemed return with Him and rule and reign with Him.

Read this inscription from Isaiah in its fuller context:

Come, let us go up . . . 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 the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war any more. Oh house of Jacob, come let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:3-5).

This quotation from Isaiah about global peace only takes place when the Prince of Peace comes back and sets up His glorious kingdom on earth with Jerusalem as His headquarters. 

You can’t experience the middle part of these verses without the rest of these verses. Our world wants to solve the problems of the world without acknowledging the Creator of the world. The missing piece to world peace is the Prince of Peace.

You might be familiar with a painting from several decades ago where the artist pictured Jesus Christ knocking for entrance on the side of the headquarters building of the United Nations, as if to say, the nations of the world want solutions without any allegiance to the Savior.

It struck me as I was reading the 17 goals for 2020 and beyond, that these goals of the United Nations, for the most part, are going to come true one day – on that day when Jesus rules the world.

According to the Old and New Testament prophecies of the coming King of Kings, one author writes,

Imagine a world dominated by righteousness and goodness, a world where there is no injustice, where no court ever renders an unjust verdict, and where everyone is treated fairly. Imagine a world where what is true, right and noble marks every aspect of life, including interpersonal relations, commerce, education, and government. Imagine a world where there is complete, total, and permanent peace, where joy abounds and good health prevails, so much so that the population lives for hundreds of years. Imagine a world where the curse is removed, where the environment is restored to the pristine purity of the Garden of Eden, where peace reigns even in the animal kingdom, so that the wolf will lie down with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion . . . together; and a little boy shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6).i

Sounds like some of the goals of the United Nations.

The Millennial Kingdom

This description of the world and the animal kingdom in this amazing kingdom also comes from the prophecies of Isaiah. This is a description of the Millennial, the 1,000-year Kingdom of Christ on earth.

At Christmas time we celebrate Christ’s birth, but that was only the beginning. He actually grew up, but, as I’ve said already, the world is happy so long as Jesus stays in a manger. But He grew up, fully God-fully man, died on a cross to pay the penalty for all our sin, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father.

The Bible has double the prophecies that He will rapture His church, instigate judgement on the planet, win Israel and millions more to repentance, return with His redeemed, and set up a literal 1,000 year kingdom on earth. In fact, there’s an entire Book of Prophecies about these future events called the Book of Revelation.

A decade ago we as a church studied the Book of Revelation over three years on Sunday morning, but, today, I am going to summarize it all in one sermon. This will be another Christmas miracle.

Think of it this way - there are 109 prophecies in the Old Testament that were literally fulfilled with the first coming of Jesus Christ. We have looked at a number of them together in this series. One hundred and nine prophecies were fulfilled in His first coming, but there are 220 prophecies describing His second coming when He will return to earth to set up His kingdom. We have twice as many prophecies about His second coming than we do about His first coming.

Think about this rather staggering statistic: in the Bible, ten different prophets referred to Christ’s first coming. Ten prophets and their prophecies came true down to the address of his birth, the donkey he rode on, what He would say on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead.

Ten prophets! But get this – 36 prophets speak about events related to His second coming. It is as if God is saying, “Look, I’ve given you ten prophets so you won’t miss my Son’s first coming; but I’ve given you 36 prophets of them so you won’t miss His second coming!”

By the way, when you get to the New Testament, on average, 1 out of every 25 verses refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ. There are nearly 2,000 references to the second coming of the King Jesus. The return of the King is one of the dominant subjects in all of the Bible.

What do we know about this coming King and His kingdom?

As we have already seen in Isaiah’s prophecy, His kingdom capital city will be Zion, the Holy City of Jerusalem.

David prophesied in his 48th Psalm about the coming global reign of Messiah-King as His glory is shines out from Jerusalem; David writes, Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God . . . beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth . . . the city of the great King.

Jerusalem will be the center of joy that will impact the whole earth. Is Jerusalem bringing joy to the whole earth today? Is it the center of joy? Not hardly – it is a place and a picture of unrest and tension and turmoil among the nations today. That is because it isn’t occupied yet as the capitol city of the great King. There is no king reigning in Jerusalem – the King. The King hasn’t returned yet.

According the Bible, when the King returns, those who have come to faith during the Tribulation will enter the Kingdom He immediately establishes (Matthew 25 describes that judgment for us); they will enter as mortals into this wonderful kingdom.

We, however, will return with Christ having already been given our glorified immortal bodies, and we will reign with Christ in this global Kingdom (2 Timothy 2:12). And when He returns and we with Him, His kingdom is prophetically described as a kingdom of peace and prosperity – national and personal peace, at last (Ezekiel 28; Isa. 2 – which we’ve already looked at during previous Sunday sermons). There will be no need for a United Nations because Jesus will unite the nations.

Characteristics of the Kingdom

Nations have historically dedicated untold billions of dollars and manpower to weapons of war, but will no longer have that kind of expenditure in Jesus’ kingdom. In the kingdom, no nation will have a defense budget; the nations will be under the control of the Prince of Peace, and economic prosperity will increase exponentially. World poverty and world hunger will disappear at last.

It will be a kingdom of glory. The glory of God will shine throughout the entire earth (Isaiah 24:60).

It will be a kingdom of comfort. The King will personally minister to every need. The prophets talk about the fullness of comfort in that Kingdom (Zephaniah 3:18-20).

It will be a kingdom of justice. The Lord will reign and rule with a scepter of iron, which speaks of perfect balance and justice over a world population which will explode into the billions during this thousand year reign (Jeremiah 23 and Isaiah 32).

It will be kingdom of instruction and teaching (Jeremiah 3:14-15; Micah 4:2).

At this point it might help to pause for moment and explain what the Bible says about who is actually living and enjoying the Millennial Kingdom.

The graphic above illustrates the subjects of the coming Kingdom. There are two categories of people – the immortals and the mortals.

The prophecies of scripture reveal that the immortals include Old Testament believers who are resurrected to join with Israel in the Kingdom. Imagine, you will be able to meet and talk with Esther, Abraham, Ruth and Boaz, David, Nehemiah, and Job.

The immortals also include those who have already been raptured or resurrected from the church age and have already been given their glorified bodies. Paul writes that our mortality will put on immortality (I Corinthians 15:53). So the subjects of the Kingdom will also include the New Testament church; we will return with Christ as He sets up His kingdom.

Here is the vision of John the Apostle as he writes in the Book of Revelation about this 1,000 year kingdom:

Then I saw thrones – note that it’s plural – and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed (Revelation 20:4).

Who besides the Lord has been given this kind of authority to judge the subjects of the kingdom along with Christ? We are actually told who in the prophetic announcement by the Apostle Paul who was scolding believers to stop suing each other in court and recognize that they should be able to settle their differences seeing that “believers will one day judge the world” (I Corinthians 6:2); and then in verse 3 he adds that we will not only judge the world, but he says, “Do you not know that we are to judge the angels”. This is a staggering prophecy, and, frankly, nobody really knows what that’s going to look like; but the point is, Paul informs the believer that the Christian will one day rule in judgment over angels and the world’s population, and John, here in Revelation, happens to tell us when – during the Millennial Kingdom when the King returns.

Imagine, during the Millennial Kingdom, you, dear Christian, you beloved church, you the redeemed will be robed and seated on thrones. As staggering as it sounds, God has designed your future to be that of royalty. I am speaking today to future kings and queens ruling with our Savior and our Messiah – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You can only imagine! Somebody ought to write a song!

The kingdom will also include (according to Revelation 20:4) all those who trusted in Christ during the Tribulation and were martyred because of it. They will be given their glorified and immortal bodies along with us.

Now on the other side of the column are those subjects of the kingdom over whom the immortals rule and reign. These are the humans who were saved during the Tribulation – and they will number in the millions according to the implications of the Book of Revelation. And they will be the subjects over whom we will reign. Every nation will be represented – every tribe and tongue, John writes. 

We don’t think of it very often, but during this Millennial Kingdom, as the world population explodes, people will be born to believing parents who entered the kingdom from the Tribulation period, but these children and grandchildren and great-grand-children will need to be saved.

The Old Testament believer was saved by looking forward to the cross to their atoning Savior. The New Testament believer today is saved by looking back at the cross at what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection. The Millennial Kingdom believer will be saved by looking back at the cross as well and looking toward Jerusalem where Jesus sits enthroned.

So let me add this characteristic to the Millennial kingdom – it will be a kingdom filled with disciple making.

You would think with Jesus on the throne that everyone throughout the Millennial Kingdom will quickly believe, especially since they can see the glory of His throne in Jerusalem. But, the truth is, millions will not believe; in fact, when Satan is released after the 1,000 year kingdom comes to an end, he will be able to muster a massive army to literally march against King Jesus – and that’s another sermon.

But throughout the Millennial Kingdom, the teaching of scripture, the exposition of scripture, the design and printing and planning strategically for making disciples will carry on like never before.

This kingdom will be marked not only by peace and glory and comfort and justice and instruction and disciple making, but the removal of the curse (Isaiah 11). Our planet and the animal kingdom will experience a return to the Garden of Eden conditions. Further, the kingdom will be marked by an absence of sickness, the healing of diseases, and unusually long life spans for the mortal population over whom we reign (Ezekiel 34 and Isaiah 65:20).

Isaiah tells us that for a mortal to die before the age of 100, he will be considered a young person yet (Isaiah 65:20). For the mortal humans living during the Kingdom, God is going to tweak everything so that long life will be like it was at the beginning of human history when Adam, for instance, lived to be 930 years of age (Genesis 5:5 – that’s a lot of birthday candles).

Let me add to this to the list - the kingdom will be a kingdom with a unified language (Zephaniah 3:9); the effects of the Tower of Babel will be reversed and, although everyone will speak their own language (implied in the multitude of ethnicities and nations), everyone will be able to speak the same language, some universal unifying language, although the Bible doesn’t tell us what language that will be. What we do know is that those who live in the north will finally be able to understand those who live in the south.

It will be a Kingdom marked by the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God as well as the Lord, literally seated upon His blazing throne of glory (Isaiah 32; Joel 2; Ezekiel 11).ii

The Father’s House

It will also be a kingdom of brilliant color and beauty. John describes Heaven, the Father’s House, which he foresees descending during this kingdom era of Jesus’ rule; His throne’s brilliant glory is seen throughout that region. It is a house with 12 foundations – 12 levels. John describes this massive city, the Heavenly City , the New Jerusalem, or the Father’s House, as Jesus described it, as somewhere around 11 miles in all four directions, including 11 miles high – if we have the dimensions right. 

If you set the Father’s house right next to Mount Everest, the Father’s House dwarfs Mount Everest. The Tower of Dubai – that little red speck next to Mount Everest – would fit inside the first level of the Father’s House with plenty of room to spare.

By the way, this is where the believer has a dwelling place. Jesus promised His disciples that in His Father’s House are many mansions; the King James reads that word mansion means rooms or dwelling places; you could even understand Him as referring to an estate (John 14:2). During the Millennial Kingdom, this will be your home, as well as the capital building of the Kingdom, and it is described with gates of pearl and streets of gold, lavishly decorated with precious gems.

An artist shows one level of the Father’s House resting in Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom and then on into the eternal state following the recreation of a new universe and a new earth.

The foundation stones in this city of gold are described by John as having foundation stones either decorated with gems or perhaps even understood as composed of solid gemstones the size of train cars. These massive gemstones are featured in Revelation 21 where John describes:

the red-tinted jasper

the deep blue sapphire

the dazzling green emerald

the teal blue beryl

the golden-green topaz

the pale violet jacinth

the rich purple amethyst

and more.

This is what we buy at Christmas time in little bitty chips or little fragments – why? Because we like being deeply in debt. No, because we want to express our love for our sweetheart. God will be demonstrating His love for us by literally surrounding us with every precious gem possible. Just imagine the brilliant light of God’s glory passing through so many different gemstones and the golden streets; it will be like living in a rainbow of unbelievable, breathtaking color.

The King is Here

Let me give you one more characteristic of the Kingdom as our King returns. It will be a kingdom marked by one particular word which is repeated several times in prophetic scripture – and that word is, joy.

Isaiah writes of this coming kingdom which will, among other things, transform the land of Israel. Here is God promise:

For the Lord will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into the Garden of Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, a place filled with joy and gladness, thankful voices and melodic songs (Isaiah 51:3).iii

Isaac Watts attempted to compose a hymn for the church that described the joy of the coming Kingdom; unfortunately, it has been relegated to the Christmas season, more than likely because of that one phrase where he encourages us to make room in our heart for the Lord. But this hymn had nothing to do, in his mind, with the first coming of the Lord at His birth, but Isaac wanted it to sing about His second coming and His global kingdom.

Listen to these lyrics –

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove,
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love –
And wonders of His love.

Isaac Watts – Joy to the World (composed in 1719)

i John MacArthur, Revelation: Volume 2 (Moody Press, 2000), p. 228

ii Characteristics of the Kingdom adapted from J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Durham Publishing, 1958), pp. 487-490

iii Adapted from The Message and the English Standard Version

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