Most of the Christian world believes Jesus is returning to the earth, but so many don’t understand the purpose in this. In part 1 of this article in our previous issue, we laid out six reasons Jesus Christ must return to the earth. We encourage you to read part 1 before proceeding into part 2, where we lay out six more reasons for a total of 12.
By way of review, the first six reasons were: 1) to fulfill prophecy and promises; 2) to save mankind from total destruction; 3) to resurrect and transform His followers to immortality; 4) to appear in glory for vindication and honor; 5) to reign as King over all nations; and 6) to deliver and elevate Israel.
Yet these are not the only things Jesus is coming back to do. As revealed throughout Scripture, He has much more to accomplish. We list six more here, but this is still a broad summary of the vast agenda for the world to come. No doubt many more aspects could be highlighted.
Continuing on then from what we’ve already seen, what else is Jesus coming to do? Again, why will He return to the earth?
7. To establish His throne in Jerusalem
Concerning the nation of Israel at His coming, the last point we mentioned, the Lord further declared: “I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary [or holy place] in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle [or dwelling place] also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
The final chapters of Ezekiel, starting in chapter 40, show that a rebuilt physical temple at Jerusalem will be functioning during the Millennium. Some dismiss this as mere spiritual symbolism, but the level of detailed description found in these chapters makes that idea untenable. The temple system always contained symbolic aspects, but it was nevertheless literal, as the new one will be.
The physical temple is regarded as the place of God’s throne on earth—the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant between the cherubim modeled on God’s throne in heaven. So Jerusalem will be the capital of the world: “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts” (Jeremiah 3:17, emphasis added throughout). From here Christ will rule: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
8. To judge the world, rewarding the faithful and removing evil
The world today is filled with corruption and injustice. The righteous suffer wrongly while the wicked often prosper. Will a just and good God allow this to go on without end in parallel to merely continuing to take decent people away to an afterlife in heaven? As Abraham asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
Consider that ongoing evil in the world is used as an argument against the existence of God. For those of us who understand that Jesus came to die for our sins, are we to imagine that God will tolerate sin and its consequences forever and ever and ever? Will death and misery and pain never cease? No! It is allowed for a time for the building of faith and character. But there must eventually be a conclusion—and there will be!
At Jesus’ return He will bring justice to the world—to set all things right. He will reward the righteous and punish the unrepentant, working toward ultimately ridding the world of all sin.
We earlier saw in Jude 14-15 and Psalm 96:13 that the Lord is coming to execute judgment on the world. This refers to Christ, for He said “the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
God through Christ “‘will render to each one according to his deeds’; eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth . . . indignation and wrath” (Romans 2:6-8).
Jesus showed in parable that at His return He will reward His servants, giving them different levels of authority in His Kingdom according to how they have used their spiritual gifts in His service, growing in His character—with those who fail to do as commanded losing their reward (see Luke 19:11-26). And His enemies who ultimately refuse to be ruled by Him will be destroyed (verse 27).
Jesus will triumph over enemies at His coming. The nations of the world, under the sway of Satan the devil (1 John 5:19), will be angry at Christ’s return and, resisting Him, will face His judgment (Revelation 11:18; Joel 3:2). An alliance of rulers “will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them” (Revelation 17:12-14). Paul writes of a human leader of the lawless system that will then dominate the world, “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
Then Satan himself, along with his demons, will be seized and banished from the world to an abyss or bottomless pit for the 1,000 years of Christ’s rule—cutting off his deception of the nations and his spiritual influencing of people’s minds to wrong attitudes and disobedience (Revelation 20:1-3; see Ephesians 2:1-3). He will be briefly released at the end when he will go out to deceive the nations again—but he will then be cast into a lake of fire and be finally gone for good (Revelation 20:3, 7-10). Later, unrepentant human beings will also be cast into the lake of fire and destroyed, with death and the grave, the final enemies, gone forever (verses 14-15; 21:8; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
The removal of Satan and evil will allow all people to learn righteousness and live in harmony with God and one another. Jesus will finally receive the full praise and honor due Him. Those who follow Him will share in His glory. And Satan and those who refuse to repent will get the humiliation and dishonor they deserve.
This will commence when Christ returns in judgment to set everything right and bring healing to our broken, upside-down world!
9. To teach the world His ways and bring world peace
When Jesus rules the world from Jerusalem, “many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For [as we read earlier] out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:1-3). Instead of war, the world will be taught the way to peace (verse 4).
Yes, as part of Jesus setting everything right, the age-old dream of world peace will finally be a reality. Man’s attempts to bring it about have failed. We must come to acknowledge: “Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us” (Isaiah 26:12)—as Christ will work in and through people to bring this about, God’s Spirit then being poured out on all humanity (Joel 2:28).
Jesus and His resurrected followers, as a royal priesthood, will be the world’s teachers, calling out to people, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:20-21). Soon “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
10. To bring restoration to all creation
With the transformation Jesus will bring, even the animals will be at peace: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” (verses 6-9). This mountain refers to God’s ruling Kingdom, which will expand and encompass the whole earth (compare Daniel 2:35, 44).
The war-torn and devastated world, starting at Jerusalem, will be restored to a paradise resembling that of the Garden of Eden. “For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord” (Isaiah 51:3). “So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited’” (Ezekiel 36:35).
At that time, both the natural realm and mankind will experience amazing healing: “The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose . . .” (Isaiah 35:1). “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert, the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water” (verses 5-7).
This rejuvenating water is literal but also symbolic of the Holy Spirit and all God’s blessings. As God says: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).
An abundance of trees along the banks of a river that flows from God’s new temple in Jerusalem will be for food and healing (Ezekiel 47:1-12)—this picture also being both literal and symbolic. Because of sin, mankind was cut off from the Garden of Eden and access to the tree of life there. But that access will ultimately be restored (see Revelation 22:1-3, 14).
When Jesus returns from heaven, He will bring “the times of restoration of all things” proclaimed by all God’s prophets (Acts 3:21). And the whole creation will be freed from its bondage to decay (see Romans 8:18-23).
11. To offer salvation to everyone
We earlier saw God’s intention to save all Israel (Romans 11:26; compare Isaiah 45:17). And He intends the same for all mankind, as expressed in the inspired prayer of Psalm 67:2: “That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among the nations.” It was foretold of Jesus as Messiah that besides raising up and restoring Israel, He would bring salvation to the whole world: “I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
The whole world will be offered salvation when Jesus reigns in power and glory over the nations. Yet we might wonder: What about all those who died in past ages without the opportunity for Christ’s salvation? For instance, we read in Zechariah 12:10 that those who pierced Christ will be remorseful and repentant. In one sense this refers to the Jewish nation of the end time, and even to all people, as we all bear responsibility in Christ’s death. But what of those who actually took part in Jesus’ day? Are they forever lost even if they did not understand or come to see what they were part of? (compare Luke 23:34).
The reality is that these people too will have the opportunity for salvation extended to them.
Jesus will raise His followers from death immediately at His return, “but the rest of the dead,” we are told in Revelation 20:5, will not live again “until the thousand years were finished.” So they will be raised up too. Many think this is to immediately condemn them again. But that is assuredly not the case. A judgment period will follow (verses 11-12)—a period of evaluation with the Book of Life opened, representing an open opportunity.
Thus Jesus is returning not just to offer salvation to all those alive at His return and the generations that follow, but to offer salvation to all who have ever lived who never had sufficient understanding or opportunity. (To learn more about this amazing truth, read “The Eighth Day: Eternal Life Offered to All” in our free study guide God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.)
12. To usher in a new heaven and new earth
Finally, after the Millennium and last judgment period and the removal of all those who ultimately refuse to repent and obey God, those who remain will experience an extraordinary change in the whole of creation, as earth and sky are changed from subjection to physical decay to an eternal state (Revelation 21:1). We won’t then go away to a different earth. Rather, God will make the earth we dwell on and all things new (verse 5). Then the New Jerusalem, a city of vast dimensions, will descend to the earth with God the Father.
It is ironic that many read the descriptions of this city in the vision of Revelation 21-22 as detailing life in heaven, when the reality is that this city will come down to the renewed earth as the permanent dwelling of the Father and Christ and all the saved of mankind. Heaven will thus come to earth! The tree of life will then be here for the nations (Revelation 22:1-2, 14). “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (verse 3). There is no temple seen in the vision “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22), shining in it as light brighter than the sun (verse 23).
What this means is that not only does Christ have much work to do here on earth for which He must come back, as we have seen, but His work here will never end! He will reign here with the Father and all His followers in awesome joyous existence through eternity to come, world without end.
Yes, the hope of Christ’s return is certain. The Bible ends in affirmation of this abiding promise and a prayer for its swift fulfillment we should all join in with. Revelation 22:20 concludes, “He [Jesus Christ] who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”