Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.
by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.
National, ethnic Israel will turn to their long-rejected Messiah in genuine faith at least three years before they see Him at His second coming and at the inaugural banquet. By the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel, 42 months before He returns to establish His kingdom, 144,000 Israelis will have been sealed by God—12,000 from each of the 12 tribes—to evangelize the entire world (Rev. 7:1-8; 13-14). The Messiah assured His disciples that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14, KJV).
How will these Israelis come to know their Lord? It will not be through a visual encounter with Christ but through the preaching of “Elijah the prophet,” who will return from the realm of the dead “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” Under God, “he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:5-6). That is a description of genuine national revival, beginning in the homes of the people.
When three of the apostles were granted a spectacular preview of Christ’s second coming on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 16:28-17:8), they seemed to be especially fascinated by the appearance of Moses and Elijah. Coming down from the mount, they asked the Savior, “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?” (Matt. 17:10). His answer was emphatic: “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matt. 17:11), just as Malachi had predicted.
Thus, by the middle of the 70th week—not at the end when they see Christ returning to the earth—the nation of Israel will be a regenerated nation. Isaiah was amazed at how quickly this will happen: “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isa. 66:8). Paul assured us that “all Israel shall be saved… . For the gifts and calling of God [i.e., the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant] are without repentance” (Rom. 11:26, 29).
Among the converts of the two witnesses (who will be killed after 42 months of proclaiming the true gospel to Israel, Rev. 11:7-14) will be the 144,000 witnesses. The rest of the nation will flee from the newly resuscitated “beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” (Rev. 11:7) and will be protected by God throughout the remaining 42 months of the great tribulation (Rev. 12:6, 13-17; cf., Isa. 26:20-27:1).
What will the regenerated nation of Israel do when they finally see their resurrected and glorified Messiah at His second coming? To be sure, “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him” (Rev. 1:7).
Especially traumatic will be this experience for Israel. The Lord Jesus Himself announced 550 years before He would be crucified, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).
In fact, the prophet Zechariah was told, “In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon” (i.e., when Josiah, the last godly king of Judah, was killed by Pharaoh Necho [2 Chron. 35:20-25]; Zech. 12:11).
Even more specifically, “And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart” (Zech. 12:12-14). Can anything in the history of the world be compared to this?
The wording of Isaiah 53 will be totally appropriate at that time: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (v. 5).
This will not be a conversion experience but a very deep remorse for having been responsible for His crucifixion and for having rejected Him for many centuries. It will be like the apostle Thomas who, overwhelmed at the sight of his Savior whose resurrection he had denied, cried out, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
| Dr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.