Introduction

When Jesus returns to this earth he is to be manifested as king in Jerusalem—“Jerusalem the city of the great king”. All are agreed upon this. But how does Jesus come to Jerusalem? There are two views. One view, embodied in our title, “The Way to Jerusalem,” believes that the judgment seat will be at Sinai, the accepted will be made immortal there, and the Christ community will come up from the South to deliver Jerusalem when it is overrun by the northern invader. The second view has Jesus returning to the Mount of Olives with the angels of heaven at the crisis of the capture of Jerusalem, the angels destroy the enemy, Jesus becomes king in Jerusalem, and afterwards the resurrection takes place. The first view has been held by brethren generally for a hundred years, and it is now being displaced by the second view.

What is Involved.

Let us look in a little more detail at the two views, to ascertain if anything of importance lies between them. In the first view the judgment takes place at Sinai some time before the invasion of the land as described in Ezekiel chapter 38, and this period before the invasion is occupied by Christ and the saints in controlling the affairs of the earth to “gather the nations together to Armageddon”. When the Christ community comes up from the South to Jerusalem, it is a march of conquest of the assembled nations in the land. In this view the coming of Christ and the call to judgment is something to expect at any time.

The second view in its bearing on ourselves is substantially different. Resurrection and judgment does not take place until after Jesus is on the throne of his glory in Jerusalem. We are not to expect the return of Jesus until we have seen the invasion of the land. When he comes, Jesus will be visibly manifest in the earth, and we shall know that the time of judgment is approaching. In fact we shall be living for some time aware that Jesus is back in the earth, before we are called to judgment. Such a belief as this will materially affect our way of living. It ought not to do so, but at least unconsciously it will do so. If the first view should be the right one, and the second view is wrong, then at the present time many brethren and sisters are being deceived and misled, and put off their guard regarding the nearness of the call to judgment. In such a situation one can easily devote one’s time and energy to the things of this world, and so be caught unready to stand before the Master.

The Mount Olivet Prophecy

The new view claims support from the teaching of Jesus in the Mount Olivet discourse. In Matthew chapter 25, in the last parable, Jesus “comes in his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from his goats”. This shows, it is argued, that Jesus is sitting on the throne of his glory in Jerusalem before the judgment takes place. Those who hold the first view reply by saying this is a judgment of nations, not of individuals. A section of chapter 24 of Matthew is also brought to bear on this question. Verses 30 and 31 read: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”. The holders of the second view maintain that the sequence in these verses requires their interpretation of events. The coming with the clouds of heaven is taken literally—Jesus will be seen by the world in splendid physical glory, the shekinah glory of old. The mourning of the tribes must mean that the prophecy of Zechariah, chapters 12-14, has been fulfilled, and Jesus has delivered Jerusalem. After this the angels are sent to gather the elect—the saints—to judgment. This, it is said, is the obvious sense of verses 30 and 31. But those who hold the first view say that the gathering of the elect refers to the re-gathering of Israel, not the call to judgment of the saints; and that Jesus “coming with clouds” is a figurative expression for Jesus being revealed with the saints: the resurrection has already taken place by the time Jesus manifests himself in power.

Old Testament Evidence

The first view claims that there are various Old Testament scriptures that show the judgment is at Sinai; and also that there are prophecies to be fulfilled in the lands south of Jerusalem. On the opposite side, the adherents of Christ coming from heaven direct to Jerusalem, claim that Old Testament scriptures show that eternal life is given at Jerusalem and therefore the judgment seat must be at Jerusalem.

It will be seen that there is apparent substance on both sides of the argument. The matter is of importance to each of us personally. The reader is now invited to examine the case set out for the first view, and the answers given against the case made for the second view. A glance at the contents page will show that the scriptures about the judgment at Sinai are first dealt with; and after several chapters mostly on Old Testament scriptures, the “coming in clouds” and the Mount Olivet prophecy are then considered.

 

Graham Pearce.

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