Jesus Is the Heart of Prophecy :: By Jonathan Brentner

We all know about the time “Jesus wept” at the gravesite of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). But did you know that the sight of Jerusalem also caused Him to weep? Luke 19:41-44 records His lament over Jerusalem as He neared the city during His triumphal entry:

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.'”

Earlier, Jesus had chided the Pharisees, Sadducees, and a Jewish crowd for not recognizing the signs that their Messiah stood among them (Matthew 16:1-4; Luke 12:54-56). Now, as Jesus saw Jerusalem one more time, He wept, knowing the disaster that would come upon the city and its people because they did not recognize Him as the Christ.

Later, in the week leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus again expressed sorrow over the fate of the city He dearly loved:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'” (Matthew 23:37-39).

The Bible says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). These two laments reveal much about the Savior’s passion; He is the heart of biblical prophecy.

Jesus Loves Jerusalem

Jesus’ expressions of sorrow for Jerusalem reveal the Father’s great love for the city, which He clearly shared. Psalm 87 drips with God’s affection for Zion, a hill within Jerusalem that often doubles as a reference for the city.

“On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
the Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken,
O city of God.” (Psalm 87:1-3)

Psalm 48:1-8 pictures a future time when the Lord Jesus will reign from Mount Zion, which during Jesus’ thousand-year rule (Revelation 20:1-10) will be elevated, providing an imposing view of the city. Psalm 110 is another Psalm that prophesies concerning the Day of the Lord, during which time the Lord will rule over the nations of the earth from Zion or Jerusalem.

The Psalms reveal the heart of God and thus provide insight into the Savior’s heart as well.

In eternity, the Lord will name the city of His eternal dwelling place the “New Jerusalem.” Does this not also speak to His great love for the city and its people?

Jesus Will Return to a Repentant Israel

The last sentence of Matthew 23:39 aligns with many Old Testament prophecies of a future restoration of a kingdom for Israel. There will be a time when a repentant Israel will greet Jesus with the words, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Although Jesus foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and an extended time of desolation for the city, He also predicted there would be a time when Israel wouldn’t reject its King but rather joyously greet Him with the blessing of Psalm 118:26.

We know that the people of Israel will someday recognize their mistaken rejection of the Messiah and repent with much weeping (see Zechariah 12:10-13:1). It’s these Jews who have survived the Tribulation period who will gleefully welcome Jesus’ arrival and receive a gloriously restored kingdom.

Today’s Israel is mostly a secular and godless nation, although there are a great many devout followers of Judaism and New Testament saints living there. At a time that must lie in the future, Jesus predicted that the people of Jerusalem will greet Him with the words, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus predicted that someday the people of Jerusalem will embrace Him as their Messiah. Though sorrowful for the future fate of the people, His heart found solace in the prophetic words of Psalm 118, which spoke of a far better day for Israel.

Jesus Desires That We Recognize the Signs of His Return

Just as God gave the Old Testament prophets many signs by which Israel could recognize their Messiah when He first appeared on earth, so we have an abundance of signs concerning the end times given to us throughout Scripture.

Does it not make sense that the Lord desires us to be aware of the signs of His return just as He wanted the Israelites of His day to recognize Him as their Messiah? The One who commands us to watch for His return put in place many signs heralding His arrival with the intent that they would tell us we live in the last days.

We have a myriad of prophecies concerning the rapidly approaching Tribulation period that alert us to its nearness. The precursors to this time are so vividly evident that I often wonder, “How can those who know the Bible not see them? How is that even possible?”

Jesus Laments the Silence Regarding His Appearing

Does the current silence in most churches today regarding biblical prophecy and the signs of the approaching Tribulation grieve the Savior? I believe it does.

As the Tribulation looms ahead for the world, many saints never hear about the signs of the last days. As a result, they plan as though they have decades of normality ahead of them. Some dismiss biblical prophecy because they don’t believe what the Bible says about their future or perhaps dislike its interference with it. Still others need a shepherd to guide them into the glorious truths of their future.

Jesus desires for all New Testament saints to recognize the signs of the times and watch expectantly for His appearing (Matthew 2436-44; Luke 21:25-35). I’m absolutely convinced that today’s silence regarding Jesus’ soon appearing grieves our Savior. He desires that His bride fix its hope on Him and laments the silence in many Bible-believing churches today.

Jesus is the Reason

JD Farag, during his September 3, 2023, prophecy update, stressed the need to keep Jesus first in everything. He criticized churches that make themselves the priority rather than the Savior and stressed the priority of the Savior in everything.

Bible prophecy is not just about recognizing the signs and drawing people’s attention to the lateness of the hour in which we live, although these things are vitally important. Its primary focus must be Jesus and the eager expectation of His appearing (Philippians 3:20-21).

Our “blessed hope” is not simply an event, glorious and spectacular as it will be, but it’s most significantly “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:14).

Jesus wept for the people of Israel long ago because they did not recognize that their Messiah walked among them. Does He not feel a similar grief when pastors and believers push biblical prophecy aside and fix their hope on earthly aspirations? I believe so.

Church programs and growth can never make up for the void in the hearts of believers who so desperately need shepherds who will point them to Jesus as both their Savior and only hope in a world filled with deadly perils.

Sadly, many pastors today never mention the joyous expectation of meeting Jesus in the air with immortal and incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:47-54; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). These truths are fundamental to our faith and something today’s saints so desperately need to hear. It’s a serious mistake to ignore or relegate them to a place of lesser importance because doing so lessens the glory due Jesus’ name. Pastors who recognize the signs of the rapidly approaching Tribulation and thus remind the saints of Jesus’ imminent appearing truly reflect the heart of Jesus.

I’ve been a student of Bible prophecy for fifty years, and I’m convinced that Jesus is most magnified in churches where the pastors boldly incorporate our hope of Jesus’ soon appearing into the proclamation of the Gospel and in their expository teaching of God’s Word.

I provide a detailed defense of the Pretribulation viewpoint in: The Triumph of the Redeemed-An Eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times. I demonstrate, using an abundance of quotes, that the belief in a thousand-year reign of Jesus dominated the church during its first three hundred years. The historic view of the millennium is a literal view of Revelation 20:1-10 that places it between the Tribulation and the eternal state.


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