THE TWO COMINGS OF THE ONE MESSIAH
THE FIRST FULFILLED, THE SECOND UNFULFILLED
A THOROUGH examination of the prophetic Word shows that there are four general types of Messianic prophecy. A failure to recognize this fact leads to endless confusion and misunderstandings and beclouds many vital teachings of Moses and the Prophets.
The first type presents the first coming of the Messiah or some event or events connected with it. An examination of Deuteronomy 18:18 in the light of its immediate context reveals the Messiah's first coming. Psalm 16:8-11 assumes the death of the Messiah and foretells His Resurrection. Psalm 40:6-10 is a marvelous prophecy concerning the God-man for whom, as is seen in related passages, God prepares a body. Isaiah 7:14 foretells the miraculous conception and virgin birth of the Messiah.
The second classification of the Messianic prophecy embraces those predictions which foretell Messiah's Second Coming. The prophets constantly speak of the Second Coming and events connected therewith. See the following passages in their connections which focus attention on the Second Coming: Psalms 2; 48; 72; and 132; Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah, chapters 24; 32; 33; 35; and 60; and Jeremiah 3:11-18.
The third kind of Messianic prophecy consists of those predictions which blend the two comings of the one Messiah into a single picture. Examples of this kind of prophecy are found in Genesis 3:15; 49:10; Psalm 22; Isaiah 9:5-7; 11:1-12: 6; Zechariah 6:9-15; 9:9,10. In this type of prophecy the interval separating the two comings is omitted. The predictions concerning the two comings are blended into a single prophecy.
The fourth and last type of Messianic prophecy presents the entire redemptive career of the Messiah. Examples of this kind of prediction are found in Psalm 110; Isaiah 42:1-4; 61:1-3.
I. THE REDEMPTIVE CAREER OF KING MESSIAH
110 Jehovah saith unto my Lord sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people offer themselves willingly
In the day of thy power, in holy array:
Out of the womb of the morning
Thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent:
Thou art a priest for ever
After the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:1-4).
The first statement of this Psalm, "Jehovah said unto my Lord," is a revelation which the Lord God AlmightyGod the Father makes to Him whom David recognizes as his Lord. When this statement is examined in the light of related passages, it is clearly seen that David is here speaking of the Messiah as his Lord.
The exhortation "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" assumes that Messiah, David's Lord, has enemies and is in some way associated with them. He is, therefore, urged to leave the place where He isamong the enemiesto ascend to heaven, and to sit at the right hand of God Almightyfor a given time, "until I [God the Father] make thine [Messiah's] enemies thy footstool." Who are Messiah's enemies in this passage? The answer to this question is found in verse 2. As is well known by all students of the Hebrew language, what is known as Hebrew parallelism in verse 2 gives the answer. The first line makes a positive prediction concerning Messiah's reigning in Zion, Jerusalem. Line two of this verse repeats the thought of line one and speaks of the people of Zion, the Jews, as Messiah's enemies. This verse, therefore, shows who are the enemies of the Messiah mentioned in verse 1.
Since the passage shows that the people of Zion become Messiah's enemies, it is clear that Messiah, the God-man, leaves heaven, comes to earth, and in some way becomes associated with the Jewish people. Instead of welcoming Him as they should, they become hostile; they become His enemies. When they assume this attitude, God the Father invites the Messiah to leave earth, to ascend to His right hand in heaven, and to be seated there in honor and glory. He is to remain there until God providentially makes these "enemies thy [Messiah's] footstool." The period beginning with the rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish people, during which He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, is known as the Christian Dispensation. When God providentially brings the faithful remnant of Israel to the point of repudiating their national sin of rejecting Messiah and also of pleading for His return, the Messiah will come to earth and champion the cause of Israel. Their doing so is foretold in verse 3: "Thy people offer themselves willingly in the day of thy power, in holy array: Out of the womb of the morning Thou hast the dew of thy youth."
The entire redemptive career of the Messiah is set forth in Psalm 110, consisting of His first coming, which occurred nineteen hundred years ago; His being rejected by His people; His death, burial, Resurrection, and Ascension to heaven; His session at the right hand of God the Father throughout the Christian Dispensation; His Second Coming in the near future; and His reign of righteousness over all the nations of the earth.
A. The First Coming Of The Messiah
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15). In this verse the two comings of the one Redeemer, Immanuel, are seen. But special emphasis is placed upon His coming to earth as the seed of the woman, who at His Second Coming will deal a fatal blow to the seed of the serpent, Satan's man. Genesis 49:10 is also an example of the third type of Messianic prophecy, with special emphasis on His first coming.
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh come;
And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.
A passage which is purely of the first type of Messianic prophecy is Isaiah 7:14, which reads: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."B. The Age Of Grace
In a scholarly volume such as The Virgin Birth of Christ, by J. Gresham Machen, may be seen the evidence proving the miraculous conception and virgin birth of the Messiah. Isaiah 7:14 deals with the first coming. Micah 5:2 likewise speaks of the place where He is to be born when He enters the world the first time, assuming the form of man.
Another verse of importance is Isaiah 9:6, which, though it falls into the third type of prophecy, lays great emphasis on the first coming: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting-Father, Prince of Peace." In discussing the destruction of all the weapons of war and the cessation of all human conflicts, Isaiah speaks of the birth of a Child upon whose shoulders will rest the government of Israel. Following this statement is a list of the names by which this One will be known. The birth mentioned in this verse can refer only to the miraculous conception and virgin birth of Messiah, foretold in Isaiah 7:14.
While He was yet upon earth, He wrought many marvels and miracles which astounded those who had eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand. But the miracles which He will perform when He returns will far surpass those wrought at His first coming, and also those performed at the time of the Exodus (Jer. 23:7,8) so that the former things will fade from the minds of the people in their contemplation of the marvels wrought at the time of His return. Hence His name shall be called "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
The passages, dealing with the first coming of the Messiah turn the spotlight on the various phases of His entrance into the world and His activities for the redemption of the human family.
61 The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified (Isa. 61:1-3).C. The Second Coming Of The Messiah
Although this passage deals with the entire redemptive career of King Messiah, in this connection it is the interval following His first coming which interests one especially at this time, but one must see the specific prophecy in its connection in order to evaluate it properly.
In verse 1 appears the prediction of the coming of the Holy Spirit from Jehovah God in heaven to the Messiah on earth. The coming of the Spirit is to equip the Messiah, the God-man, for the special work of redemption, for which He comes into the world. He is thus equipped and assisted by the Spirit to preach the good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-heartedto regenerate the lost who accept Himto liberate the spirits of the saved (Old Testament believers) held as captives in Sheol, and to proclaim the year of Jehovah's favor and the day of vengeance of our God. Messiah function's in the various capacities which have just been enumerated when He comes the first time. Though His death, burial, and Resurrection are not stated in this passage, they are assumed by the statement "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." The connection between these items becomes apparent by the study of related passages.
Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, spoke in the synagogue of Nazareth when He was invited to do so. When the scroll was given to Him, He found Isaiah, chapter 61, the very passage under consideration. Having read this Scripture, He declared that it was being fulfilled at that time. In saying that the prediction was being fulfilled on that day, the Lord did not mean that the entire passage was being fulfilled, but that it began to be fulfilled on that day. This interpretation is demanded by the facts of the context. This idiom is a common one, which is easily understandable. In other words, Jesus asserted that He was the one spoken of by the Prophet and that He was beginning the work foretold by Isaiah.
According to this prediction, the Messiah proclaims, or makes an announcement, concerning two periods of time: the year of Jehovah's favor and the day of vengeance of our God. The first period is thought of, or compared with, a year; the second, with a day. One has a right to believe that an approximation of the ratio exists between these two periods that obtains between a day on the one hand and a year on the other. The longer period is thought of as one of Jehovah's favora time when God is especially extending grace and mercy to mankind. The shorter period is a time of vengeance of our God, a period when God is forced to deal with mankind in wrath and indignation. This period of wrath, or vengeance, is mentioned in the Scriptures under different names. It is called the day of Jehovah, the great day of Jehovah's wrath, and the time of Jacob's trouble. From various Scriptures one learns that this period of wrath is one of seven years. Since the day of vengeance is seven years long, the day of Jehovah's favor, which is compared with a year, would be approximately 365 times as long as the day of vengeance. This day of Jehovah's favor is the Christian Dispensation, in which God is extending His mercy and grace to mankind in a way He has never done before and never will afterward.
From this Scripture one learns that the period of grace began with the first advent of Jesus of Nazareth and is to be followed by the period of vengeance of our God. Words can hardly express the distress and sorrow which will envelop the globe during this time of vengeance. But Messiah will be able to comfort all who mournbecause of their sinsand all who repent, turn to Him, and accept Him as Lord and Saviour.
At the end of the day of vengeance, Messiah appears on earth "to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified" (Isa. 61:3).
From the facts presented in Isaiah 61:1-3, the age of grace, which is called the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, which is the Tribulation, separate the two comings of the one Messiah (Ps. 110:1,2; Isa. 42:1-4). Other passages teach this same general truth, but the limited time and space here do not permit further investigation and discussion.
As has been seen thus far, the redemptive career of Messiah consists of His first coming to earth, entering it by miraculous conception and virgin birth; the age of grace; and His Second Coming. In view of the abundance of evidence already presented, it will be necessary in this connection only to mention very briefly His Second Coming.II. PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE FIRST COMING OF THE MESSIAH
One of the basic passages presenting Messiah's Second Coming is found in Deuteronomy 32:39-43. This prediction is the conclusion of Israel's National Anthem. In Psalm 18:1-19 is a marvelous and graphic picture of Messiah's Second Coming, when He takes the world situation in hand and establishes His reign of righteousness upon the earth. According to Isaiah 63:1-6, Messiah will first come to Edom to deliver the hard pressed children of Abraham there besieged. The Prophet Habakkuk gives one of the most vivid and graphic descriptions of the Messiah's return to earth and the havoc that will be wrought by the mighty titanic strokes of God, enraged over the depths of sin and degradationand defiance of Godinto which the world at that time will have plunged (Hab. 3:1-15). (See Chapter VII of this volume for a full discussion of the Second Coming.)
The sages of Israel saw in the Scriptures the various types of prophecy regarding Messiah. They noted the fact that He would suffer and die according to certain predictions. They also saw those predictions which foretell His achievements and triumphal conquests. They could not harmonize such seeming contradictions. Some of them attempted to harmonize the varying elements by asserting that there would be two Messiahs: Messiah the son of Joseph, the Messiah of suffering; and Messiah the son of David, the triumphant conqueror.
Other expositors of Israel attempted to solve the problem by saying that the two types of prophecy foretell two different ways in which the Messiah may come. According to these interpreters, if Israel is still living in sin and rebellion against God at the time that Messiah appears, He will come meek and lowly riding upon an ass, as foretold in Zechariah 9:9: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass." On the other hand, if the nation of Israel would live one day free from all sin, Messiah would come on the clouds of heaven, as foretold by Daniel 7:13,14:
13 I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
The last passage on the Second Coming to be noted is Revelation 19:11-21:
And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems; and he hath a name written which no one knoweth but he himself. 13 And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure. 15 And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, Come and be gathered together unto the great supper of God; 18 that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight, wherewith he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image: they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone: 21 and the rest were killed with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, even the sword which came forth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh (Rev. 19:11-21).
It is overwhelmingly evident that the predictions of the Second Coming of the Messiah await fulfillment, and that they will be literally fulfilled, as were the predictions concerning His first coming.
AND THE PRESENT AGE FULFILLED
From Eden down through the centuries, Moses and the Prophets pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah. As an artist begins painting a portrait and makes his first stroke with his brushfollowing it with others until the portrait is finishedthus the men of God, figuratively speaking, guided infallibly by the Spirit, began to paint Messiah's portrait from Eden onward. The first suggestion regarding Him, on the sacred pages of truth, is found in Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enemity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The expression "the seed of the woman," occurring only in this verse, is strikingly peculiar. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures the progeny is always reckoned after the male, not the female. To all who believe that the Scriptures are infallibly inspired by the Spirit of God, the expression "the seed of the woman" is a veiled reference to the virgin birth of the world's Redeemer. This germinal thought is brought out into the clear light of truth and fact by the revelation found in Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."A. In The Birth Of Jesus Of Nazareth
The Apostle Matthew was led by the Spirit of God to write an account of the life and activities of Jesus of Nazareth, whom he presented to the Hebrew nation as the long-expected Messiah. He bases his testimony regarding Jesus upon predictions found in the writings of Moses and the Prophets. The reading is clear, logical, and forceful. Those who believe the messages of Moses and the Prophets, and who read the testimony of the Apostle Matthew, cannot avoid the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the true Messiah, who came at the time scheduled and died vicariously for all who will believe and receive Him as Lord, Saviour, and Messiah.B. In The Life, Death, Resurrection, And Ascension of Jesus
That the reader may have the benefit of the inspired record regarding the virgin birth of Jesus of Nazareth and of His being the fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions, the account is herewith given:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us. 24 And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; 25 and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name JESUS (Matt. 1:18-25).
Luke, the beloved physician and associate of the Apostle Paul, was a historian of the first magnitude. He did research, as is set forth in his introduction to the Gospel Record bearing his name:
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed (Luke 1:1-4).
Luke explored all evidence, tracing it to its source, and has given a scientific account of the conception and the birth of Jesus. After the completion of this research on the life and the activities of Jesus, the Holy Spirit led him, as a true scientist, to select what he should write from the material which he had gathered. Thus he has given this scientific and inspired record of the life and labors of the Lord Jesus Christ in the form of the Gospel according to Luke.
Herewith is the account of the Angel Gabriel's Annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary:
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee. 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her. The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. 37 For no word from God shall be void of power. 38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).
Herewith is also the matchless account of the birth of the Lord Jesus by this reputable, inspired historian:
Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to enrol themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; 5 to enrol himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child. 6 And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. 9 And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: 11 for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased. 15 And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child. 18 And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them. (Luke 2:1-20)
In the courts of Israel the law delivered by Moses was the standard by which all cases were to be tried. By the testimony of two or three witnesses every word was to be established. God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world "that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The Lord chose certain disciples to whom He providentially gave firsthand information regarding His life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension. These witnessesMatthew, Mark, Luke, and Johnwere guided by the Spirit of God to give forth a distinct account of the life and labors of Jesus. By the testimony of four witnesses the case of Jesus stands by itself alone. Nothing in all the records of man can approach the accounts of His matchless life.C. In The Course Of Church History
Moses (Deut. 32:21) and Isaiah (Isa. 65:1) foresaw the body of believers called the "body of Christ," or Church of God. In Matthew, chapter 13, occur the seven parables of the kingdom, which, in a broad way, outline the course of the kingdom of God during the Christian Dispensation. In the Great Commission Jesus charged the disciples to "make disciples of all the nations":
19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:19, 20).
God is now visiting the Gentiles, calling forth all who will believe to a life of consecration and service to Him. "Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After these things I will return,
And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen;
And I will build again the ruins thereof,
And I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men may seek after the Lord,
And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called,
18 Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old (Acts 15:14-18).
By the preaching of the truth, the kingdom of God has been carried forward through the centuries. As this last quotation states, after God has called forth believers from all nations, Messiah will return and will restore the kingdom to Israel.III. THE SECOND COMING OF THE MESSIAH UNFULFILLED
When the New Testament is studied carefully, it is seen that the first coming of the Messiah and the Christian Era, foretold by the prophets, have been fulfilled. There can be, therefore, no question on these points.
Those passages which foretell the Second Coming of Messiah still await fulfillment. There is nothing that has occurred, and that can in any wise be interpreted, as the complete fulfillment of predictions regarding the glorious world-shaking and world-shaping events which will occur when Messiah rends the heavens, comes back to earth, and sets up His reign of righteousness, "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14).