THE FIRST COMING OF MESSIAH
IN CHAPTER X of the present section is presented the testimony of Moses and the Prophets concerning the redemptive career of King Messiah, which consists of His first coming, rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the throne of God. Exalted, He sits enthroned in glory until God eventually puts His enemiesHis own peopleunder His feet. When God providentially brings the Hebrew people to this point, they will turn with enthusiasm to King Messiah and offer themselves most willinglyin the day of His powerand become His obedient, filial servants.I. TO MAKE HIS SOUL AN OFFERING FOR SIN
At this stage of the investigation, it is most fitting to study the purpose of Messiah's first coming to earth.
The servant of the Lord mentioned in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is none other than the Messiah. As a study of this passage with related ones clearly shows, Messiah, in His death, is made an offering for sin: "Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand" (Isa. 53:10). God is pleased to smite Him and to make His soul an offering for sin. The primary cause, therefore, for His coming to earth is to lay down His lifeto make a blood atonement, as will be seen in Chapter XXXIV of Book Fourfor the sins of His people and for those of the entire world: "and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world" (I John 2:2).II. TO BRING TO NAUGHT THE POWER OF THE DEVIL
The Lord Jesus Christ declared that He did not come to be servedthat is, He did not leave heaven and come to earth to be served by men's handsbut rather He came to serve and to give Himself a ransom for the sins of the world (Matt. 20:28).
In I Timothy, chapter 2, the Apostle Paul insists that prayer and intercession be made for all men, especially for rulers, in order that the people of God living under their authority might lead quiet and peaceful lives in all gravity and godliness. Such a prayer ministry, declares the Apostle, is most acceptable to God.
3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times (I Tim. 2:3-6).
According to this passage, there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and man, who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, and "who gave himself a ransom for all"for all men. In keeping with this statement is the one which declares that He tasted death for every man. "But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9). Thus He made possible the salvation of every human being. To this declaration the inspired writer adds that the testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ is to be borne "in its own times." The time will come that the full proclamation of the gospel will be made to all nations (Matt. 24:14; Revelation, chapter 7). Then all peoples will have a full and free opportunity of accepting or rejecting the truth. This time will come in what is known as the Great Tribulation at the end of this dispensation.
In speaking of men in general, the writer in Hebrews 2:14,15 declares, "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."III. TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTH
As will be shown on page 191 (chapter XX), there is a being who is called Satan, the adversary, the tempter, or the devil. He was the highest, most powerful creature whom God in His omniscience and omnipotence could bring into existence. He was put over all the hosts of the Lord and over all His works. But becoming puffed up with pride, he fell into condemnation and was demoted from his high position. He still is a mighty, powerful being, who transforms himself into an angel of light¹ in order to deceive men and women. Under God's moral government all creatures have the power of free choice. A limited amount of this delegated authority and power is still in the hands of this wicked one. God cannot arbitrarily take this power from him, for the situation involves moral and spiritual issues. The only possible way for the Almighty to deal with the situation was for the Messiahthe God-manto give His life a ransom and thus to bring to naught him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
When Jesus went on trial before Pilate, the latter asked Him, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Jesus then asked whether he had thought of that question of himself or whether others had told him to speak thus. Being enraged by this answer, Pilate retorted: "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?" Jesus replied by saying, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." Amazed by this statement, Pilate asked Christ, "Art thou a king then?" Jesus replied that He was, but added this significant statement: "To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:33-37). Christ affirmed that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Moses and the Prophets declared truth, but they always viewed it from some special standpoint. All men being sinners, God could not speak His message of truth fully and adequately through any of them. He, therefore, sent His only begotten Son, the one perfect man, through whom He spoke the truth to the world. In the last conversation which Jesus had with His disciples just before He was arrested, Thomas said unto Him: "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:5,6). Jesus was the very embodiment of truth. The primary object of His coming to earth to preach was to bear witness of God and of the truth to the world in a perfect manner.IV. TO PUT AWAY SIN
The purpose of the annual national sacrifice on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, was to roll forward the sins of the Israelites one year. This same ritualism had to be performed every year in rolling forward, figuratively speaking, the sins of the people. Thus the power of the annual atonement was efficacious in the plan of God for one year. Every year there was, however, a remembrance of the past sins. Thus no sacrifice of any ritualism that was observed could roll sins away forever. But the sin question had to be solved, and solved eternally. Hence, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the inspired writer declares:V. TO REDEEM MAN FROM ALL INIQUITY
24 For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us: 25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; 26 else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:24-26).
In commenting on the sacrifice of Christ, this same writer in Hebrews 10:10 declares:
"By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Thus the Messiah came nineteen hundred years ago, according to the inspired writer, to put away sins once for all. In doing so, He opened up the new and the living way, the approach to God, whereby men may come by faith and be acceptable to the Eternal God in the light of His holiness.
According to the combined testimony of Moses, the Prophets, and the New Testament writers, all men are sinners and must be saved. Man cannot save himself. He cannot lift himself up by his own bootstraps. He must have a Saviour. As Jesus declared, therefore, He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).
To Titus the young evangelist, Paul stated that one of the purposes of Christ's coming into the world nineteen hundred years ago was to redeem man from all iniquity.
11 For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; 13 looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11-14).
¹ 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. 15 It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (II Cor. 11:13-15).