A Redeemer Will Come To Zion

By Mike Coldagelli

In Matthew 23, in his lament over Jerusalem, Jesus says, “For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Jesus predicts a return to Jerusalem at a time when those in Jerusalem will acknowledge that he comes in the name of the Lord. They will acknowledge that he is sent by the Lord. But more than that, they will acknowledge Jesus as God, with all the attributes and authority of his Father. This change of heart will be salvation for Jerusalem and by extension all Israel. Can this return to Jerusalem by Jesus be located within end times events with any precision? In this article I will attempt to link passages in Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets to this predicted event from the lips of Christ. I will attempt to delineate what must precede this coming and what will follow. First, I will lay some ground work from the prophet Isaiah.

The Reigning God

Is there a relationship between Christ’s return to Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s promised comfort? The most important passage for understanding this relationship, in my opinion, is in Isaiah 52.

Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.” How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:6-12 ESV)

Verse 6 declares that all my people shall know my name (Jeremiah 31:34). In that day, they will know who speaks. They will know the speaker is the “I AM.” He will be in front of them, standing before them. In verse 7, he, the One whose name they know, publishes peace and salvation and brings good news of happiness. He says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” In verse 8, Zion’s watchmen sing for joy and see the return of the Lord to Zion. Verse 9 assures his people of comfort and redemption for Jerusalem.

In verse 10, the Lord has bared or revealed his holy arm. The ends of the earth shall see the salvation (yeshû‛âh) of our God. Is there a play on words here? Is “the salvation of our God” an act or a person? Is the Lord’s “holy arm” an attribute or a person? If a person is in view, consider that this passage may be speaking of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem when they will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Verses 11 and 12 refer to a departure, a going out. We will address these two verses a little later, but the one detail in this passage that must not be missed for its significance is the declaration, “Your God reigns.” Why is this? Does not God reign eternal? Yes he does, but this is not just a restatement of that perpetual condition. That their God reigns is part of the good news. This is a statement that takes on clarification in the light of Revelation 11:15-17.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”  And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. (Revelation 11:15-17 ESV)

The seventh trumpet declares a change, a reclamation. In some sense “the kingdom of this world” was not the kingdom of God, but now it is. Furthermore, the twenty-four elders say that the Lord God Almighty has “begun” to reign. Is the bringer of good news in Isaiah 52:7 making the same declaration as the the voice in heaven at the seventh trumpet, that is confirmed by the twenty-four elders? I believe he is. If he is, then the return of the Lord, in the person of his Son, happens after the seventh trumpet. Why? Because God is reigning in this world at his return. He returns as the reigning God.

If we examine the sequence in Revelation 11, we see the two witnesses finish their 1260 day testimony and then are killed. They lie in the street of the great city where their Lord was crucified for three and a half days and then are taken into heaven. Then the second woe (the second woe is the sixth trumpet) passes; the sixth trumpet ends. The seventh trumpet follows the sixth and then the Lord Jesus returns to Zion.

Jerusalem’s Comfort

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1-2 ESV)

The comfort for Jerusalem comes at her redemption (Isaiah 52:9). Jerusalem’s warfare has also been translated as her hard service. Many ascribe these verses to the Babylonian exile. But might it not be the time of Jacob’s trouble? The forty-two months of the indignation? Or the 1260 days of the two witnesses testimony? If this passage is understood in this way, then the end of Jerusalem’s warfare ends the seventieth week of Daniel. Jerusalem’s comfort must come after Jacob’s trouble.

Isaiah 40 gives us another account of God coming to Jerusalem. He comes after Jerusalem’s warfare, after her hard service.

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11 ESV)

“His arm rules for him.” Here again, there is a reference to the arm of the Lord. And he rules with might. There are several themes that intersect in this passage. Jerusalem is commanded to “behold your God.” So the person that they look upon is God. He also rules. The referent for this person is the given son of Isaiah 9:6. He is called the mighty God (El Gibbor), more literally, God the mighty man. The government is on his shoulders, i.e. he rules and reigns. John, in chapter 12 of his Gospel, links belief in Christ to having the arm of the Lord revealed. (See Isaiah 53:1 and compare to John 12:37-38) The revealing or baring of the arm of the Lord in Isaiah 52:10 is not just a statement of events, but also a work of salvation, a work of redemption. It results in Israel knowing his name and believing on him. It indicates a pouring out of the Spirit on them. The coming One in the above passage brings reward and recompense. He is a good shepherd. This bringer of reward and recompense is depicted elsewhere in Isaiah.

Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:10-12 ESV)

Like Isaiah 40:9-10, Isaiah 62 contains a three “behold” passage. When the word, “behold,” is used three times for emphasis something wonderful is happening. The coming person here also brings his reward and his recompense. He is coming to Zion and he is salvation. He is the ruling arm of the Lord that comes with might in Isaiah 40. He brings redemption to the holy people, Israel. The terminus a quo for these three passages is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15. The beginning of the particular reign of the seventh trumpet brings comfort to Jerusalem and redemption to Israel.

The Warrior

Because of the chapter break from Isaiah 62 to 63 we do not automatically associate the salvation that comes in 62:11 with the one mighty to save in 63:1. Because we have identified the bringer of reward and recompense in Isaiah 62:11 with the ruling arm of the Lord in Isaiah 40:10, it is evident that the one mighty to save is the ruling arm of the Lord.

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:1-6 ESV)

The Lord’s arm brings salvation in verse 5. He is mighty to save in verse 1. He is of vengeance and redemption. He treads the winepress alone. He pours out their lifeblood on the earth and his garments are stained with their blood. These verses in Isaiah 63 are descriptive of post seventh trumpet events, and are predicted in Revelation 11:18 which says that as Christ begins to reign, the time has come to destroy the destroyers of the earth. Christ is coming to Zion from Edom in blood stained garments. A corresponding verse to Revelation 11:18 is Zechariah 12:9. Zechariah says that after the return of the Lord to Zion, he will seek to destroy all the nations that have come against Jerusalem. The destroyers of the earth in Revelation 11:18 are all the nations that come against Jerusalem in Zechariah 12:9. They will be destroyed after the seventh trumpet and after those in Jerusalem are rescued.

The one mighty to save, striding forth from Edom, in Isaiah 63, is referred to in Isaiah 59:16-19. He is the Redeemer (kinsman-redeemer) that comes to Zion in 59:20.

He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. (Isaiah 59:16-19 ESV)

Again it is the Lord’s arm that brings salvation in verse 16. There is no one with him. He puts on garments of war in verse 17, similar to the arm of the Lord clothing himself with strength in Isaiah 51:9. Repayment (recompense) to his enemies is stated three times in verse 18. He comes like a rushing stream and is driven by the Lord. His destination is Zion. He comes to Zion.

The Covenant

Now we will examine a sixth passage from Isaiah that completes Isaiah 59. Paul refers to these two verses in Romans 11 and they contain an abbreviated introduction to the new covenant of Jeremiah 31. A very important timing indicator is imbedded in the language. And so we, again, turn to Isaiah 59.

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:20-21 ESV)

This Redeemer is God. He is the Lord. Isaiah identifies the Redeemer as the Lord in the following verses: 41:14, 43:14, 44:6, 47:4, 48:17, 49:7, 54:5, and 63:16. From the other passages we have looked at we know he is reigning as king over this world. He comes with might. And he is the revealed arm of the Lord. But the operative function of this passage is how his redemption is effected. It is effected with a covenant. “Those in Jacob who turn from transgression” do so because of the Redeemer’s covenant that he makes with them. The covenant is unilateral. It is a promise of a work of God that redeems them. No merit or worth or action on the part of the redeemed facilitates the redemption. It is solely an act of the Redeemer. He makes the covenant with them. He puts his Spirit upon them and puts his words in their mouths. The last phrase, “from this time forth and forevermore,” means that the covenant for Jacob (all Israel) takes effect at the Redeemer’s coming to Zion as reigning king after the seventh trumpet.

Isaiah 51:9-16 confirms that the “arm of the Lord” (verse 9) is the One who comforts Zion (verse 12). He is the same “I AM” of Isaiah 52:6, and Exodus 3 for that matter. And in verse 16 what does he do?

And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” (Isaiah 51:16 ESV)

He puts his words in their mouth. He declares, “You are my people.” This is the Redeemer of Isaiah 59:20, again putting his words into the mouths of his people. They only become his people because of the new covenant of Jeremiah 31, put into effect for them at his coming to Zion. This is the same covenant established in Christ’s blood. But Jacob (all Israel) will not know Christ until he returns to Zion.

“The arm of the Lord,” in Isaiah 51:9, is a title for the Lord’s anointed, for the Messiah. It is he who clothes himself with strength (Isaiah 51:9). It is he who clothes himself with righteousness, deliverance (salvation-yeshû‛âh), vengeance, and zeal in Isaiah 59:17. It is he who comforts Jerusalem (Isaiah 40:1, 51:12, 52:9) by their redemption in his new covenant (Isaiah 51:16, 59:21, Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 16:62). Compare the following verses.

Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.” (Isaiah 52:6 ESV)

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34 ESV)

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, (Ezekiel 16:62 ESV)

Knowing Messiah is the result of the Messiah’s new covenant for all Israel when Messiah comes to Zion. This “knowing” defines eternal life (John 17:3, Matthew 11:27, 1 John 2:22). This “knowing” only comes to those under the new covenant. No one benefits from the effects of the new covenant without this “knowing.” Indeed, the “knowing” is one of the benefits. It is bestowed unilaterally by Christ.

Paul draws on all these excerpts from Isaiah when he writes in Romans 11. He explains that all Israel will be saved after the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25) indicating that the saving of Israel will be future.

And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26-27 ESV)

Paul places a Deliverer at Zion who “banishes ungodliness from Jacob” and takes away their sins with his covenant at his coming to Zion. We have explored the many dimensions of this coming. But Paul says the Deliverer will come “from Zion,” not “to Zion” as in Isaiah 59:20. Paul seems to conflate Isaiah 59 with Psalm 14.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. (Psalm 14:7 ESV)

This verse in Psalm14 emphasizes the location of Zion as the place of the coming event of salvation for “all Israel.” But Paul still leaves the idea of a directional movement out of Zion.

The Second Exodus

Now we return to Isaiah 52:11-12.

Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:11-12 ESV)

What is this? The Lord has just returned to Zion (Isaiah 52:8). Scholars have explained this passage as referring to the going out from Babylon. But to reason this way one must completely extract these two verses from the context. The location is not Babylon. The location is Jerusalem, Zion. Does the reigning king not want to rule from Zion? The resolution of this apparent paradox lies in Revelation 11:8. And so we return to the two witnesses.

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7-8 ESV)

The “great city” where their Lord was crucified is symbolically called “Egypt.” Why? Isaiah 52:11 makes reference to “unclean” things. Are there unclean things in Jerusalem at the return of the Lord? “The beast that rises from the bottomless pit” makes war on the two witnesses and kills them in Jerusalem during the second woe, or sixth trumpet. So, this beast is active in Jerusalem after the 1260 days of the witnesses’ testimony. Once the second woe has passed, the stage is set for the third woe, which is the seventh trumpet. Then the Lord returns to Zion. The use by John of the names, Sodom and Egypt, for Jerusalem receives illumination in Revelation 18 with regard to the great city (Revelation 17:18).

And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.” Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; (Revelation 18:2-4 ESV)

“Babylon the great” is the third pejorative name John uses for Jerusalem. A voice in heaven calls his people “to come out of her.” Just as in the exodus from Egypt, God’s people will come out of the city symbolically called Egypt. They must come out because the city has become a haunt for every unclean spirit, unclean bird, and unclean, detestable beast. This includes the beast that kills the two witnesses there. And they must come out to avoid the coming plagues reserved for the great city and its unclean inhabitants. The command to depart in Isaiah 52:11 is the command to come out in Revelation 18:4. And so in this way Jerusalem resembles Egypt. Jerusalem will have God’s people come out from her and she will suffer plagues. But how does Jerusalem resemble Sodom. Again we look to what is said of Babylon the great.

They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” (Revelation 18:10 ESV)

So just as Sodom was overthrown in a single hour, so too will this haunt for every unclean spirit, bird, and beast receive her judgment in a single hour. But first God’s people will come out, depart. They shall go out with their Lord before them and the God of Israel as their rear guard (Isaiah 52:12). Zechariah speaks of this exodus from Jerusalem in chapter 14.

On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. (Zechariah 14:4-5 ESV)

What is happening here? The Lord will stand on the Mount of Olives in preparation for his entry into Jerusalem. The same return we have been discussing thus far. The Lord is the bringer of good news whose feet are beautiful (Isaiah 52:7) on the Mount of Olives. The inhabitants of Jerusalem flee out through the parted mountain as they fled Egypt through the parted sea. For further confirmation of this leading out we will go to Micah 2.

Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction. If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people! I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head. (Micah 2:10-13 ESV)

Again we have this imperative, “Arise and go,” depart, come out. Again the reason is uncleanness. The people commanded to “arise and go” are the assembled remnant of Israel. The breacher of verse 13 is the Lord who stands on the Mount of Olives. The breach is the parted mountain through which the breacher goes up before them. They break through and pass by the gate going out, fleeing by the valley of the Lord’s mountains. Their Lord and King (the reigning God of Isaiah 52:7) going before them. This phrase, “before them,” is expressed by the Hebrew word, pânı̂ym, which means face, or face to face, in the presence of one’s face. Zechariah 12:8 says that God, the angel of the Lord, will be in the presence of the inhabitants of Jerusalem using the same Hebrew word, pânı̂ym, used in Micah 2:13.

“And the Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah. On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:7-10 ESV)

The Lord is in their presence. They “behold” him, just as in Isaiah 40 and 62. They “look on” the one they have pierced. It is God, the angel of the Lord, and “him whom they have pierced” that they look on. All three of these qualifications are in the person before them. He is God. He is the angel of the Lord. And he is “him whom they have pierced.” And because of the spirit of grace and pleas for mercy that he pours out on them, they mourn for him. They now know his name (Isaiah 52:6), Jesus. The arm of the Lord, now has been revealed to them (Isaiah 52:10, 53:1). He will open up a fountain for them.

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. (Zechariah 13:1 ESV)

He will cleanse them from sin and separate them from the uncleanness of Jerusalem so that they do not partake of her plagues. He is executing the covenant with them that Paul refers to in Romans 11:27. And so in this manner all Israel will be saved. See also Isaiah 4:2-6 for a depiction of this cleansed remnant.

And since we know that the Redeemer comes to Zion to gather his people and then lead them out of Zion after the seventh trumpet, the departure from the city of Jerusalem must come before her plagues. The plagues that remain are the bowl judgments, referred to as plagues in Revelation 16:9 and 16:21. The redemption of Israel is both spiritual and physical. Christ’s physical standing on the temple mount is the sine qua non for their redemption.

In 1 John 2, John writes:

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23 ESV)

The Son will return to Zion, and the covenant he will execute at that time will result in all Israel being saved. They will be unable to deny the Son when they behold him revealed, standing before them (pânı̂ym).