Dr. David R. Reagan
Most people tend to think that Revelation 20 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks of a future reign of the Lord. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The purpose of this article is to provide an outline summary of the key passages in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of the Lord’s future reign.
A. Jesus is returning to reign on earth because the Old Testament prophets say so.
1) The Psalms
a) Psalm 2:6-9 — David says the Messiah will reign over "the very ends of the earth" from Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
b) Psalm 22:27-31 — David again affirms that the Messiah will be given dominion over "the ends of the earth" at the time when He "rules over the nations."
c) Psalm 47 — The sons of Korah rejoice over the day when the Lord will be "a great King over all the earth," and they state that this will take place when the Lord subdues the "nations under our feet."
d) Psalm 67 — An unidentified psalmist speaks prophetically of the time when the nations of the world will "be glad and sing for joy." This will be when the Lord comes to "judge the peoples with uprightness." At that time the Lord will "guide the nations on the earth" so that "all the ends of the earth may fear Him."
e) Psalm 89:19-29 — The psalmist, Ethan, speaks of the Davidic Covenant and proclaims that it will be fulfilled when God makes His "first-born the highest of the kings of the earth."
f) Psalm 110 — David says a time will come when God will make the enemies of the Messiah a footstool under His feet. This will occur when the Messiah stretches forth His "strong scepter from Zion." At that time He will "rule in the midst of His enemies," for . . . "He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath, He will judge among the nations."
g) Psalm 132:13-18 — An unnamed psalmist speaks of God’s fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. He says this will occur at a time when "the horn of David" springs forth to reign from Zion. He says "His crown will shine," and He will make Zion His "resting place forever" for He will dwell there.
a) Isaiah 2:1-4 — Isaiah says that "in the last days" the Messiah will reign from Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the entire world will experience peace.
b) Isaiah 9:6-7 — The Messiah will rule from the throne of David, giving the world a government of peace, justice, and righteousness. (Note: The throne of David is not in Heaven. It is located in Jerusalem — see Psalm 122. Jesus is not now on the throne of David. He sits at the right hand of His Father on His Father’s throne — see Revelation 3:21.)
c) Isaiah 11:3b-9 — The Messiah will bring "righteousness and fairness" to the earth when He returns to "slay the wicked." At that time, the curse will be lifted and the plant and animal kingdoms will be restored to their original perfection.
d) Isaiah 24:21-23 — When the Messiah returns, He will punish Satan and his demonic hordes in the heavens and then will punish "the kings of the earth, on earth." He will then "reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem" for the purpose of manifesting His glory.
a) Jeremiah 23:5 — "‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.’" (Note: The term, "Branch," is a Messianic title.)
b) Jeremiah 33:6-18 — A day will come when the Lord will regather the dispersed of both Judah and Israel and will save a great remnant. At that time the Lord "will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth."
a) Ezekiel 20:33-44 — The Lord says a day will come when He will regather the Jews to their land and will "enter into judgment" with them. He says that at that time "I shall be king over you." He then adds that "the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land."
b) Ezekiel 37:24-28 — The Lord says that He will dwell in the midst of Israel after a remnant of the Jews is regathered to the land and saved, and He promises that "David My servant shall be their prince forever."
c) Ezekiel 39:21-29 — The Lord says that following the battle of Armageddon (verses 17-20), "I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them."
d) Ezekiel 43:7 — While being given a tour of the future Millennial Temple, Ezekiel is told by the Lord: "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet; where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever."
Daniel 7:13-14,18,27 — Daniel says he was given a vision in which he saw the Messiah ("Son of Man") given dominion over all the earth by God the Father ("the Ancient of Days"). And then he adds in verses 18 and 27 that the kingdom is shared "with the saints of the Highest One," and they are allowed to exercise sovereignty with Him over "all the kingdoms under the whole heaven."
Hosea 3:4-5 — The Jews will be set aside "for many days," but a time will come "in the last days" when they "will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king."
Joel 3:14-17,21 — Joel says that following the battle of Armageddon (verses 14-16), the Lord will dwell "in Zion, My holy mountain." He repeats this in verse 21. And in verse 17 He identifies Zion as the city of Jerusalem.
Micah 4:1-7 —Micah repeats in greater detail the prophecy contained in Isaiah 2. Like Isaiah, he says the Lord will make Jerusalem the capital of the world. The world will be flooded with peace and prosperity. All believing Jews will be regathered to Israel, and "the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion."
Zephaniah 3:14-20 — This entire book is devoted to a description of the day the Lord will return to the earth in vengeance. The prophet says that at the end of that day, when the Lord’s enemies have been destroyed, the Jewish remnant will shout in triumphant joy because "the King of Israel, the Lord," will be in their midst.
Haggai 2:20-23 — The Lord says that a day will come when He will "overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations." Then, using Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, as a type of the Messiah, the prophet adds: "‘On that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord of hosts." The reference to the signet ring means the Father will grant His Son ruling authority.
a) Zechariah 2:10-13 — The Lord says that when He comes, He will "dwell in the midst" of the Jews, possessing Judah as "His portion in the holy land" and again choosing Jerusalem.
b) Zechariah 6:12-13 — When the Messiah ("the Branch") returns, He will build a temple and "rule on His throne," and the offices of priest and king will be combined in Him. Thus, "He will be a priest on His throne."
c) Zechariah 8:2-3 — The Lord promises that when He returns to Zion, He will "dwell in the midst of Jerusalem," and Jerusalem will be called "the city of Truth."
d) Zechariah 9:10 — The Messiah will bring peace to the nations and "His dominion will be from sea to sea."
e) Zechariah 14:1-9 — The Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives. The Mount will split in half when His foot touches it, and the Jewish remnant left alive in Jerusalem will flee the city and hide in the cleavage of the Mount. Verse 9 says that on that day, "the Lord will become king over all the earth."
B. Jesus is returning to reign over the earth because the New Testament prophets say so.
Acts 3:21 — In his sermon on the portico of Solomon, Peter says Jesus must remain in Heaven "until the period of the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." The period of restoration spoken of here will occur during the Millennium when the curse is partially lifted and nature is restored (Romans 8:18-23).
a) 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 — Paul says that when Jesus returns "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel," He will also come for the purpose of being glorified before His saints. The return of Jesus to be glorified before His saints and all the nations of the world is one of the persistent themes of Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 24:23, Isaiah 52:10,13, Isaiah 61:3, and Psalm 46:10).
b) 2 Timothy 2:12 — Paul says "if we endure, we shall also reign with Him."
a) Revelation 12:5 — John sees a vision in which a sun clothed woman (Israel) gives birth to a male child (Jesus) "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron."
b) Revelation 19:15-16 — In his description of Jesus returning to earth, John says He bears the title, "King of kings and Lord of lords," and John says He will "rule the nations with a rod of iron."
c) Revelation 20:4,6 — John says that after the return of Jesus to the earth, He will reign with His saints ("those to whom judgment has been given") for a thousand years.
C. Jesus is returning to earth to reign because the Heavenly Host say so.
Luke 1:26-38 — When the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he told her that she would bear a son named Jesus who would be called "the Son of the Most High." He then added three promises that are yet to be fulfilled: "the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."
2) The Four Living Creatures and the 24 Elders
Revelation 5:9-10 — When John is raptured to Heaven and finds himself standing before the throne of God (Revelation 4), he hears "the four living creatures" (special angelic creatures called seraphim in Isaiah 6) and "the twenty-four elders" (probably representative of the redeemed) singing a song of praise to Jesus. In this song they say that Jesus is a Worthy Lamb who has made His redeemed a kingdom, "and they will reign upon the earth."
3) The Angels of God
Revelation 11:15 — Voices from Heaven make a proleptic proclamation in the midst of the Tribulation: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." (Note: A proleptic statement is one that speaks of a future event as if it has already occurred. This is a common form of expression in prophecy because all future events are settled in the mind of God as if they had already happened in history.)
4) The Tribulation Martyrs
Revelation 15:3-4 — At the end of the Tribulation, right before the final pouring out of God’s wrath in the form of the bowl judgments, all the Tribulation martyrs who are in Heaven join together in singing "the song of Moses . . . and the song of the Lamb." In that song, they declare the Lamb (Jesus) to be the "King of the nations," and they proclaim that "all the nations will come and worship before Thee."
D. Jesus is returning to reign on the earth because Jesus said so.
1) Matthew 19:28 — Jesus said that during "the regeneration" (the same time as "the period of restoration" referred to by Peter in Acts 3:21), He will "sit on His glorious throne," and the Apostles will join Him in judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
2) Matthew 25:31 — Jesus said that when He returns in glory, "the Son of Man . . . will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him" for judgment. The throne of Jesus is the throne of David which has always been located in only one place — in Jerusalem (see Isaiah 9:6-7 and Psalm 122).
3) Acts 1:3-6 — Luke says that Jesus spent 40 days teaching His disciples about the kingdom of God. Then, as He was ready to ascend into Heaven, one of the disciples asked, "Lord is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" The question indicates that Jesus taught a time would come when the kingdom would be restored to Israel. Jesus’ response to the question indicated the same thing. He did not rebuke the question. Rather, He simply said it was not for them to know the times and seasons when the kingdom would be restored to Israel.
4) Revelation 2:26-27 — Jesus says that He has a special reward for any "overcomer" who keeps His deeds until the end: "To him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
5) Revelation 3:21 — Jesus makes it clear that the overcomers will reign jointly with Him: "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Again, the throne of Jesus is the throne of David (Luke 1:32 and Revelation 3:7). The throne of David is in Jerusalem, not in Heaven (Psalm 122). Jesus currently shares His Father’s throne. He is not sitting on His own throne and will not do so until He returns to this earth. Then He will allow the redeemed to share His throne with Him.