By Zhang Lan, South Korea
Editor’s Note: In the Bible, it is recorded in Zechariah 14:4, “And His feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Many Christians think after reading this verse that the Lord Jesus will return in Israel in the last days. Nowadays, the Mount of Olives has long since been broken, and we also now see disasters happening more frequently all around the world, with wars and terrorist attacks occurring all the time, blood moons constantly appearing, and all the prophecies in the Bible concerning Jesus’ return have basically been fulfilled. And yet we still haven’t heard the news of the Lord’s return coming from Israel. The place where the Lord Jesus will return to has therefore become something many who long for the Lord’s return would most like to know. The Christian Zhang Lan was no exception but, by seeking, she discovered the place where God would appear in the last days, and she welcomed the return of the Lord. Let’s now take a look at Zhang Lan’s experiences.
Will the Lord Appear and Work in Israel When He Returns in the Last Days?
“Oh, Sister Zhang, why are you so despondent now that we’ve finished our meeting?” I turned around to see that it was Sister Zhao Ping who had asked me this question.
I sighed, and said helplessly, “The pastors and elders just say the same old things in their sermons with no new light at all. The people attending meetings are getting fewer and fewer, and although they may come to meetings, some brothers and sisters do not have their hearts in it. While the sermons are going on, they either chat amongst each other or they drowse and take a nap, and some even fall fast asleep. I’m a leader of a small group in the church and even I can’t solve the problems the brothers and sisters have. Although the church often organizes various kinds of different assemblies and tries to motivate the positivity of the brothers and sisters, it can’t remedy the desolation that is happening within it. What will happen if things carry on this way?”
Sister Zhao nodded and said, “Yes, this is a real problem! At the end of the Age of Law, without the work of the Holy Spirit, the once glorious temple became increasingly desolate, and people began to sell livestock and change money in the temple, turning it into a den of thieves. We are now in the last days and the entire religious world is experiencing desolation on an unprecedented scale, disasters are growing more and more terrible all around the world, wars are breaking out all the time, and the prophecies in the Bible concerning the Lord’s return have basically all now been fulfilled. Will the Lord soon return, I wonder? If the Lord does return, where do you think He will come to welcome us into the kingdom of heaven?”
Without needing to think, I said, “The Lord has always worked in Israel. Zechariah 14:4 says, ‘And His feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.’ I think that when the Lord returns, He shall certainly come to Israel.”
“Yes, this is indeed what the Bible says,” said Sister Zhao. She mused for a moment and then said, “But anything to do with God’s work is of the utmost importance, and we have to seek in earnest. Oh yes, that’s right, I have a friend who believes in the Lord who invited me over to her home a few days ago. She has unique insights into biblical passages, and her fellowships are very enlightening. Why don’t we go together? Who knows? Maybe we’ll find the answers to some questions!” I happily consented to this idea.
We Cannot Use Our Personal Opinions to Interpret Prophecy
Two days later, I went with Sister Zhao to Sister Li’s home. Although this was the first time I’d ever met Sister Li, I felt her to be an exceptionally cordial person. No matter what question I asked, she answered every one with patience. When we got onto the topic of the desolation in the church, Sister Li said, “The church is now desolate for two reasons. The first reason is because there are more unlawful things happening in the church, and church leaders are not keeping the Lord’s way or practicing the Lord’s words, but instead just maintain the traditions passed down through generations. They focus only on expounding biblical knowledge and theological theories in order to show themselves off, or they talk about their experiences of how they busy themselves, expend themselves, suffer and work for the Lord, and so on. They don’t exalt God or bear witness to God at all. They have strayed entirely from the Lord’s way, and God now detests and rejects them, and He will weed them out. The second reason is because God is now performing a new work, and the work of the Holy Spirit has now shifted.” Sister Li then said, “Actually, the Lord Jesus whom we have long yearned for has returned already as the incarnated Almighty God. God long ago appeared and began His work in China, expressing His words to purify and save mankind and launching the work of judgment beginning in the house of God. Now, the work of the Holy Spirit has already passed from the churches of the Age of Grace into the church of the Age of Kingdom. All who accept God’s work of the last days are raised up before God’s throne, they attend the wedding feast of the Lamb, they are watered and supplied by God’s words, and they enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit. Those who don’t accept God’s new work, however, all lose the work of the Holy Spirit and fall into darkness, their spirits barren and weak, with nowhere to turn. Only by accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, therefore, can we regain the work of the Holy Spirit and rid ourselves of the barrenness in our spirits once and for all!”
Sister Li’s words amazed me, and they seemed beyond belief. I said, “The Lord Jesus has returned? And He has appeared and is working in China? God has always worked in Israel, so how could He appear and work in China in the last days? The Bible says, ‘And His feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south’ (Zechariah 14:4). When the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He should still appear in Israel! What’s more, China is an atheist, authoritarian dictatorship where the resistance to God and persecution of Christians is at its worst and is vehemently condemned by global human rights organizations. How could God appear and work in the flesh in China?”
Sister Zhao chimed in. “Indeed, the Israelites are God’s chosen people and God has always appeared and worked in Israel, and so when God returns in the last days, He should appear in Israel. How could it happen in China? We don’t understand this at all, Sister Li. Please could you fellowship with us about it?”
Sister Li nodded and said, smiling, “Thanks be to God! When we talk about the prophecies related to the Lord’s return, we must first understand this: These prophecies are God telling us beforehand about the work He will do in the future, and each one contains His wisdom and wondrousness. These prophecies certainly cannot be understood by us relying on our own ideas or going by the literal meaning of scriptures. They are fulfilled and accomplished only when God performs His work, and only then will we know what the prophecies really mean. In relation to prophecies, therefore, we must not decide what they mean by relying on our own thoughts and imaginations, much less cling to our own imaginings to delimit God’s work, for the consequences of doing this are unthinkable. The Pharisees in the time of Jesus read the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Messiah and went by their own notions and imaginings to believe that, when God came, He would definitely be called ‘Messiah,’ that He would be born in a palace, that He would grow up to be a ruler and that He would lead the Jews to overthrow Roman rule. But when God did come, He wasn’t called ‘Messiah’ but ‘Jesus,’ and He was born in a manger. Nor did the Lord Jesus lead the Jews to overthrow Roman rule. Instead, He preached the way of repentance everywhere He went and taught people to love their neighbors as themselves and to love their enemies. Because the work and words of the Lord Jesus were at odds with the Pharisees’ notions and imaginings, they frantically condemned and resisted the Lord, they fabricated rumors to slander and blaspheme Jesus, and they even crucified Him upon the cross. Thus, they offended God’s disposition and God cursed them and punished them. From this, we can see that it is up to God to decide how His work begins and that He does not act in accordance with the imaginings of man. How prophecies are fulfilled is also unlike our literal understanding, and that is why we must not approach prophecies relying on our own notions and imaginings. Instead, we should have a God-fearing heart and seek with an open mind the facts of the fulfillment of God’s work, for only by doing this will we be able to welcome the Lord’s return. Actually, whichever country God chooses to appear and work in in the last days, God’s will and wisdom are behind it, and it is unfathomable to us human beings. I used to believe too that the Lord should return and appear in Israel, but then I read in the Book of Malachi, Chapter 1 Verse 11, Jehovah God saying: ‘For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles.’ Also, the Lord Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 24 Verse 27: ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ After carefully contemplating these two verses, I realized that the Son of man would come in the last days into the East of the world, and that the name of God would be great among the Gentiles. Later, I was fortunate enough to hear the kingdom gospel of Almighty God. Through reading God’s words and listening to fellowships given by the brothers and sisters, I became certain from the bottom of my heart that God truly has appeared and is working in China in the last days. Because China is in the East of the world, because it is also known as ‘the land where the sun rises’ and, what’s more, it is a Gentile nation where atheism rules, that God has appeared and is working in China in the last days entirely fulfills these prophecies.”
Sister Li’s fellowship caused me to sink into deep thought. “Yes,” I thought. “There are mysteries within these prophecies, so how can we interpret them using our own personal opinions? The sister has now testified that the Lord Jesus has returned, and that He has appeared and is working in China, and this precisely fulfills the prophecies in the Bible. Could it be that the Lord truly has appeared and is working in China in the last days?”
God Is the Creator, and He Can Launch His Work in Any Nation and Amongst Any People
Sister Li went on, saying, “On this issue, Almighty God’s words explain it very clearly. Let’s read a couple of passages of God’s words together. Almighty God says, ‘Actually, God is the Master of all things. He is the God of all creation. He is not only the God of the Israelites, and He is not only the God of the Jews; He is the God of all creation. The previous two stages of His work took place in Israel, and in this way, some conceptions have taken shape within people. People think that Jehovah was at work in Israel and Jesus Himself carried out His work in Judea — additionally, it was through incarnation that He was at work in Judea — and whatever the case, this work did not extend beyond Israel. He was not at work with the Egyptians; He was not at work with the Indians; He was only at work with the Israelites. People thus form various conceptions; additionally, they plan out God’s work within a certain scope. They say that when God is at work, it must be carried out among the chosen people and in Israel; save for the Israelites, God has no other recipient for His work, nor does He have any other scope for His work; they are particularly strict in “disciplining” the God incarnate, not permitting Him to move beyond the scope of Israel. Are these not all human conceptions? God made all of the heavens and earth and all things, and made all of creation; how could He restrict His work to only Israel? In that case, what use would there be for Him to make the entirety of His creation? He created the whole world; He has carried out His six-thousand-year management plan not only in Israel but also with every person in the universe. … Actually, if He were to act according to human conceptions, God would only be the God of the Israelites; in this manner He would be unable to expand His work into Gentile nations, because He would only be the God of the Israelites rather than the God of all creation. The prophecies said that Jehovah’s name would be great in the Gentile nations and that Jehovah’s name would be spread to the Gentile nations — why would they say this? If God were only the God of the Israelites, then He would only be at work in Israel. Furthermore, He would not expand this work, and He would not make this prophecy. Since He made this prophecy, He would need to expand His work into Gentile nations and into every nation and place. Since He stated this, He would thus do so. This is His plan, for He is the Lord who created the heavens and earth and all things, and the God of all creation. Regardless of whether He is at work with the Israelites or in all Judea, the work He does is the work of the entire universe and the work of all humanity. The work He does today in the nation of the great red dragon — in a Gentile nation — is still the work of all humanity. Israel can be the base for His work on earth; likewise, China can also become the base for His work among the Gentile nations. Has He not now fulfilled the prophecy that “the name of Jehovah will be great in the Gentile nations”?’ (“God Is the Lord of All Creation” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“‘You also have never thought about how God could personally descend in a Gentile land. He ought to descend on Mount Sinai or the Mount of Olives and appear to Israelites. Are not Gentiles (that is, people outside of Israel) all objects of His loathing? How could He personally work among them? All these are the deep-rooted notions that you have developed over many years. The purpose of conquering you today is to smash these notions of yours. You thereby have seen God personally appearing among you — not on Mount Sinai or on the Mount of Olives, but among people whom He has never led in the past’ (“The Inside Truth of the Conquering Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).”
After listening to Almighty God’s words, I thought: “These words explain it so clearly. God is the Lord who created all things in heaven and on earth and He is the God of all mankind. He can not only work in Israel but can also work in any place outside Israel as well, including China — this is God’s authority. It looks now as though what I’d been thinking before was wrong and it was at odds with the facts of God’s work!”
Sister Li continued with her fellowship. “God is the Creator who rules over and controls the entire universe, the entire world, and even more so He controls the fate of mankind. God is not only the God of the Israelites, but even more so He is the God of all creation, from one end of the cosmos to the other. God has the right to perform the work of His plan within any nation and amongst any people. But no matter what country He appears and works in, His work is done for the sake of all mankind. In the Age of Law, for example, Jehovah God used Moses to proclaim His law and began the Age of Law in Israel. Then, using this land as a center, He gradually expanded His work to other lands, so that all nations and peoples would accept Jehovah’s gospel and magnify Him as great. In the Age of Grace, God became flesh and incarnated as the Lord Jesus in Judea (wherein lived a branch of the Israelites), and thus He began the work of redemption. But the Lord Jesus didn’t just redeem Jews, He redeemed all of mankind. After He was crucified and the work of redemption was completed, the Lord’s gospel gradually spread to all nations of the world. Similarly, in the last days, God has become flesh and has appeared and is working in China, expressing His words to judge and purify man. But God doesn’t just judge the people of China — He judges all of mankind. God is just testing the waters in China first of all and making complete a group of overcomers. Thereafter, God turns His attention toward the entire universe and will judge all of mankind, thus allowing all who are possessed of both heart and spirit to hear His gospel and receive His salvation in the last days. It is evident, therefore, that no matter the age and no matter what country or people God chooses to appear and work in, He always chooses a place to work first and then, using this place as an example, gradually extends His work to other places. It is not that, once God has appeared and worked in one country or people, He is then only the God of this one country or people — this is wrong. If we go by our own notions and imaginings and we believe that, because God’s previous two stages of work were performed in Israel, then God will always appear and work in Israel and cannot work in any Gentile nation, and only the Israelites deserve God’s blessings and no Gentile can attain God’s salvation, wouldn’t we then be delimiting God? And how then would these words spoken by God, ‘My name shall be great among the Gentiles,’ be accomplished and fulfilled? Could it be that God is only the God of the Israelites? Could it be that God must first solicit the opinions of man about where He performs His work? Would to believe that not be too arrogant and self-conceited? And would we not be resisting God?”
Sister Li’s fellowship was right, and I nodded and said, “Yes, I saw that God had always worked in Israel and so I delimited Him, saying that He could only appear in Israel. If God had appeared and performed His work in Israel again in the last days, then I would have delimited Him still further as the God of the Israelites, and that would have been to deny God as the Ruler of all mankind! I would have been resisting God by doing that!”
Sister Li said, “Through the fact that He has returned in the flesh in China where atheism rules, God has destroyed all our notions, and He has allowed us to see that the appearance and work of God are not bound by any rules, and to see that He works according to His own plan. At the same time, God has done this to show us that not only does He save the Israelites, but that He also saves the Gentiles — God is the God of all mankind. In short, no matter where God appears and works, it is all done for the sake of His work, and it is all done to better save mankind and to enable the whole of mankind to come before God and worship Him. This also fulfills and accomplishes the prophecy, ‘For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles’ (Malachi 1:11).”
(To Be Continued…)
Source From: Gospel of The Descent of The Kingdom