THE SECOND COMING OF THE MESSIAH
In Chapter II of this volume the entire redemptive career of the Messiah is set forth, which consists of the two comings of the one Messiah separated by the interval during which He is rejected by the Hebrew people, but is exalted at the right hand of God the Father, awaiting the time when Israel, having seen the fatal mistake of the centuries, pleads for Him to return and to take over the government of the world. As seen in the volume Messiah: His Historical Appearance, the Messiah came on scheduled time and performed many miraculous works, which proved that He was the God-man who came to make atonement for the sins of the race. Having been rejected by His people Israel, and having made atonement for the sins of the world, He accepted the invitation of God to ascend to heaven and to sit enthroned in majesty, awaiting Israel's repudiation of the national sin of rejecting Him. Whenever the people of Israel make this confession and plead for Him to return, He will speedily come back to earth and assume all authority and will reign from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. The next and last step in this investigation is to ascertain what the Scriptures say regarding His imminent coming.
I. MESSIAH'S SECOND COMING ACCORDING TO MOSES
In Deuteronomy 32:1-43 appears a song which Moses taught the children of Israel just before his departure, and which might properly be called "Israel's National Anthem." In this song the entire course of Jewish history from Moses' day to the time when Israel will be brought back into fellowship with God is graphically set forth. This hymn, therefore, naturally concludes with a vivid description of the Second Coming of the Messiah:
See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; And there is none that can deliver out of my hand. 40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, And say, As I live for ever, 41 If I whet my glittering sword, And my hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine adversaries, And will recompense them that hate me. 42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, And my sword shall devour flesh; With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the head of the leaders of the enemy. 43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: For he will avenge the blood of his servants, And will render vengeance to his adversaries, And will make expiation for his land, for his people. (Deut 32:39-43).
According to verse 39, Jehovah, the God of Israel, is the only true and living God. This truth is set forth in Israel's great confession of faith: "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah a unity" (literal translation). The facts demanding this interpretation are set forth in volume I of this series, The God of Israel.
There is no god along with the God of Israel. He is the One in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is the Creator of all things and beings; all are dependent on Him.
27 These wait all for thee,
That thou mayest give them their food in due season.
28 Thou givest unto them, they gather;
Thou openest thy hand, they are satisfied with good.
29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled;
Thou takest away their breath, they die,
And return to their dust.
30 Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created;
And thou renewest the face of the ground (Ps. 104:27-30).
Not only does the Lord create and make alive; He also kills.the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise shall come even to the end of the earth; for Jehovah hath a controversy with the nations; he will enter into judgment with all flesh: as for the wicked, he will give them to the sword, saith Jehovah. 32 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth. 33 And the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of the ground. (Jer. 25:29-33).
For, lo, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name; and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished; for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith Jehovah of hosts. 30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, Jehovah will roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he will mightily roar against his fold; he will give a shout, as they that tread
No one can deliver out of God's hand: "For I lift up my hand to heaven, And say, As I live forever, If I whet my glittering sword, … I will render vengeance to mine adversaries, And will recompense them that hate me" (Deut. 32:40,41).
According to verse 42, He goes into battle, His arrows taking a terrible toll of His enemies.
According to verse 43, when Messiah has won complete victory over all His foes, the Lord calls upon the nations surviving to rejoice with His people Israel. In this final war which is fought to stop all wars, Messiah avenges the blood of His servants and makes expiation for His land and for His people Israel. Thus Moses in this national anthem foretells Messiah's coming to earth as a mighty warrior who conquers all foes and delivers Israel, solving the Jewish question once for all.
II. MESSIAH'S SECOND COMING ACCORDING TO DAVID
David, the king and sweet singer of Israel, was granted many visions of the future, especially the marvelous vision of the reign of King Messiah when the glory of God shall encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea. He was given the following revelation:
7 Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations also of the mountains quaked
And were shaken, because he was wroth.
8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
And fire out of his mouth devoured:
Coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down;
And thick darkness was under his feet.
10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly;
Yea, he soared upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his hiding-place, his pavilion round about him,
Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
12 At the brightness before him his thick clouds passed,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
13 Jehovah also thundered in the heavens,
And the Most High uttered his voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
Yea, lightnings manifold, and discomfited them.
15 Then the channels of waters appeared,
And the foundations of the world were laid bare,
At thy rebuke, O Jehovah,
At the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from them that hated me; they were too mighty for me.
18 They came upon me in the day of my calamity;
But Jehovah was my stay.
19 He brought me forth also into a large place;
He delivered me, because he delighted in me. (Ps. 18:7-19).
Commentators and expositors are not unanimous in their interpretation of this passage. Some see in it a prediction of the coming of the Messiah at the end of the Tribulation; others see in it a statement by David of God's having answered his prayer for deliverance from his enemies. The king, being overjoyed by God's delivering him from his enemies, speaks in exalted terms of this miraculous experience, borrowing phraseology from some historical accounts of certain theophanies. How is one to determine the meaning of this passage? The answer is by looking at the facts of the context.
In verses 4-6 one sees the desperate condition in which the writer is ensnared. Or the expression "the floods of ungodliness made me afraid" possibly indicates a time when ungodliness is the order of the day. Verses 20-30 discuss various phases of God's character. In verse 27 the statement "thou wilt save the afflicted people" shows that a nation is afflicted. The reference in this connection probably points to the Jewish people who, according to other passages, will be in dire distress in the end time. Verses 31-45 are indeed illuminating and help to determine which of the interpretations is the correct one.
31 For who is God, save Jehovah?
And who is a rock, besides our God,
32 The God that girdeth me with strength,
And maketh my way perfect?
33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet:
And setteth me upon my high places.
34 He teacheth my hands to war;
So that mine arms do bend a bow of brass.
35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation;
And thy right hand hath holden me up,
And thy gentleness hath made me great.
36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me,
And my feet have not slipped.
37 I will pursue mine enemies, and overtake them;
Neither will I turn again till they are consumed.
38 I will smite them through, so that they shall not be able to rise:
They shall fall under my feet.
39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle:
Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.
40 Thou hast also made mine enemies turn their backs unto me,
That I might cut off them that hate me.
41 They cried, but there was none to save;
Even unto Jehovah, but he answered them not.
42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind;
I did cast them out as the mire of the streets.
43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people;
Thou hast made me the head of the nations:
A people whom I have not known shall serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me they shall obey me;
The foreigners shall submit themselves unto me.
45 The foreigners shall fade away,
And shall come trembling out of their close places (Ps. 18:31-45).
In these verses the Psalmist speaks of God's miraculously giving him wisdom, clear understanding, skill in the art of warring, power, and might. God girds the Psalmist with strength (v. 32), gives him speed in running (v. 33), supernaturally teaches him how to war (v. 34), and enables him to bend a bow of brass (v. 34). God's power holds him up (v. 35), gives him space to fight (v. 36), prevents his feet from slipping (v. 36), gives him complete victory over his enemies (vv. 37-42), and makes him the head of the nations (v. 43).
A careful study of Isaiah, chapter 40, shows that this message is to be given to Israel in the end time. It is a message that God commands believers to deliver to them. It concludes with the following promise of supernatural strength and endurance in the last war to those who await the appearance of King Messiah:
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? The everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isa. 40:28-31).
A like promise of divine assistance is held out for the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah which will enable them to triumph over the nations in the war of the great day of God the Almighty, foretold in Zechariah, chapters 12-14.
7 Jehovah also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem be not magnified above Judah. 8 In that day shall Jehovah defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of Jehovah before them (Zech. 12:7,8).
The power of God will energize the feeblest ones in the ranks of the nation of Israel so that they will be as powerful as David, who was one of the greatest military geniuses of the centuries; and the leaders of the house of David will be supernaturally strengthened with power and endued with understanding, so that, relatively speaking, they will become as the Angel of Jehovah. That God does at times energize men by His Spirit in order to equip them for the task at hand is seen in the case of David, the shepherd lad, who, by the power of God, slew a bear and a lion that were attacking the flock of sheep which he was tending.
From Isaiah, chapter 40, and Zechariah, chapter 12, it is clear that God will supernaturally enable the forces of Israel in the last great war to withstand their foes. When Psalm 18:31-45 is studied in the light of these chapters, one learns that these passages hold out the same promise of divine assistance and deliverance from Israel's enemies.
Throughout Psalm 18 the author speaks of himself as having had the various experiences narrated. This type of language frequently occurs in the prophetic Word. According to II Peter 1:21 (literally rendered), the prophets were often borne along in vision by the Spirit of God across the centuries to a given time in the future and were, so to speak, let down in the midst of the scenes of the environment which they were to reveal. Obviously, in this Psalm David is carried forward in vision to the end time. He identifies himself with the remnant of the Hebrew people and speaks of himself as fighting along with them in their ranks. Further confirmation of this position is seen in the statement, "Thou hast made me the head of the nations ..." (v. 43). In Deuteronomy 28:13 the promise is made that Israel will become the head of the nations. The people of Israel are promised this exalted position if they will only be obedient to the Lord, according to Deuteronomy 28:1ff. From these facts and others that might be adduced, it is clear that the coming of the Lord described in Psalm 18:7-19 is a plain prediction of the Second Coming of the Messiah, when He will energize the forces of Israel, enter the field of battle, and conquer all foes.
III. MESSIAH'S SECOND COMING ACCORDING TO HABAKKUK
B. God's Coming From Edom
The caption of the prophecy in Habakkuk, chapter 3, is "A Prayer of Habakkuk the Prophet, set to Shigionoth." The Hebrew word translated prayer has a broader significance than is conveyed by the English word prayer. A study of the use of this word shows that sometimes it signifies praise; on other occasions, prophecy; and in other instances, prayer. In Habakkuk 3:1 it refers to a prophecy introduced by a short prayer (v. 2). This prediction was to be used in connection with the temple service, for it is dedicated to the Chief Musician, as stated in the last line of the chapter. It was set to a familiar tune called Shigionoth (v. 1).
A. O Jehovah, Revive Thy Work
O Jehovah, I have heard the report of thee, and am afraid:
O Jehovah, revive thy work in the midst of the years;
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy (Hab. 3:2).
Habakkuk, chapter 3, is cast in a mold of Hebrew poetry, the simplest form of which is known as Hebrew parallelism. A statement is made by the selection of certain words. This line is followed by another which is parallel to it, and which repeats the exact thought of the first line or adds a supplemental thought. In this way the second line is a comment on the first. Often the simple parallelism is expanded, as in the present case, and may be changed to an introversion. In the present case line one is supplemented by line four; and line two, by line three. Thus arranged, the verse reads as follows:
O Jehovah, I have heard the report of thee, and am afraid ...
In wrath remember mercy.
O Jehovah, revive thy work in the midst of the years;
In the midst of the years make it known.
In some way or from some prophet, Habakkuk had heard something about the Lord Jehovah which terrified him. What frightened him was that the Lord's wrath is stirred to the very depths. Though the Lord is a merciful, gracious Being, sometimes His wrath rises to white heat. The Prophet, therefore, prays that the Lord will remember mercy, though He is justly indignant. Since this prayer is followed by a prediction of the Coming of the Lord in wrath (vv. 3-15), and since, as is learned from parallel passages, the Lord returns to the earth at the end of the Tribulation, the wrath of which Habakkuk speaks in lines one and four is the wrath of the Tribulation.
According to lines two and three, the work of God on the earth is brought to a standstill. The Prophet, therefore, prays for the Lord to revive His work in the midst of the years. Since the period of wrath is seven years, and since God's work is stopped in the middle of the period, there will be three and one-half years more for the pouring out of God's wrath. When these facts are viewed in the light of related passages, it is learned that the thing which stops the work of God "in the midst of the years" is the assumption of absolute power and control over all nations by the world dictator.
In answer to this prayer, and doubtless to the prayers of myriads of others, the Lord will revive His work in the middle of the Tribulation. It probably will go forward, but not with the same momentum which it has before it closes down. This work of God is that which is foretold in Revelation, chapter 7a world-wide revival in which the greater portion of the human family will turn to God.
3 God came from Teman,
And the Holy One from mount Paran. [Selah]
His glory covered the heavens,
And the earth was full of his praise (Hab. 3:3).
The prayer of Habakkuk reminds one of Deuteronomy 33:2 and possibly is an echo of it:
2 And he said, Jehovah came from Sinai,
And rose from Seir unto them;
He shined forth from mount Paran,
And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones:
At his right hand was a fiery law for them.
Allied with these two verses is Judges 5:4,5:
4 Jehovah, when thou wentest forth out of Seir,
When thou marchedst out of the field of Edom,
The earth trembled, the heavens also dropped,
Yea, the clouds dropped water.
5 The mountains quaked at the presence of Jehovah,
Even yon Sinai at the presence of Jehovah, the God of Israel.
Though these three passages may point backward to the time of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, it is quite certain that Habakkuk is also looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ; for immediately he speaks of the Lord's glorious return to earth at the end of the Tribulation. Confirmation of this interpretation is found in Isaiah's prediction of the Lord's Coming in Isaiah 63:1-6C. God's Coming As A Warrior
63 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save, 2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winevat? 3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in mine anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my wrath, it upheld me. 6 And I trod down the peoples in mine anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.
In Habakkuk 3:3, line one, the verb came appears in the text; but on this verb there is a footnote which reads "or, cometh (and similarly to the end of verse 15);" Grammatically, both renderings are possible. As is well known by all scholars, verbs in the original Hebrew and Aramaic languages do not express the time element. The action expressed by the verb is either completed or incompleted. Verbs in the perfect tense express actions which have been completed in the past, and which continue in the completed state; but the facts of each context must indicate definitely the exact meaning intended. Verbs in the imperfect tense always refer to incompleted action, but the facts of the context must likewise point to the exact meaning.
If one adopts the text reading of verses 3-15, he must understand the Prophet as speaking of the vision of the Coming of the Lord as an experience which he had enjoyed in the past. On the other hand, if one adopts the marginal rendering, he is to understand that the Prophet is relating what he sees at the time of the vision. If this second interpretation is adopted, the passage is a prediction of the Second Coming given in terms of the present tense, which has a future significance.
4 And his brightness was as the light;
He had rays coming forth from his hand;
And there was the hiding of his power.
5 Before him went the pestilence,
and fiery bolts went forth at his feet.
6 He stood, and measured the earth;
He beheld, and drove asunder the nations;
And the eternal mountains were scattered;
The everlasting hills did bow; His goings were as of old.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
The curtains of the land of Midian did tremble (Hab. 3:4-7).
Habakkuk's description of the Lord's Coming reminds one of a similar prediction found in Psalm 18:1-19. When the Lord returns at the conclusion of the Tribulation, midnight darkness will envelop the globe (Matt. 24:29-31). Suddenly the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, which will burst forth with a brilliancy that will startle all tribes and peoples living at that time, who will mourn because of Him.
According to Habakkuk 3:4, rays will flash forth from His hand. The word rendered rays means literally "horns," but rays seems to fit the context better than horns. Since it is said that in these rays is the hiding of His power, it is highly probable that they may be some kind of miraculous manifestation which may accurately be thought of as "death rays"as has been suggested by some Bible students. If these rays do not slay men, they will in some way inflict injuries on the wicked.
Before the conquering Son of man, there will go forth pestilence and fiery bolts (v. 5). Without a doubt this passage is related to the one found in Jeremiah 25:30-38. We see by an examination of Jeremiah's prediction that the slain of the Lord will be from one end of the earth to the other. These slain ones will be the wicked who spurn all offers of mercy and love.
As Messiah marches forth against His enemies, He stops and shakes the earth by His omnipotent power. Then He charges forward against the armies of the world, which are under the command of the world dictator. A passage related to this one is found in Revelation 19:19-21. When the strong Son of God goes forth to battle against the armies of the nations, the carnage will be appalling.
According to Habakkuk 3:6, the earth will tremble and quake under His mighty power. The mountains will be thrown down, and every city of the world will become a shamble. The inveterate enemies of God and of His people will then tremble through fear, as is seen in verse 7.
D. The Waters Of The Earth Affected By The Second Coming Of Messiah
8 Was Jehovah displeased with the rivers?
Was thine anger against the rivers,
Or thy wrath against the sea,
That thou didst ride upon thy horses,
Upon thy chariots of salvation?
9 Thy bow was made quite bare;
The oaths to the tribes were a sure word. [Selah]
Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw thee, and were afraid;
The tempest of waters passed by;
The deep uttered its voice,
And lifted up its hands on high (Hab. 3:8-10).
The oceans and the seas cover three fourths of the earth's surface, but there are great reservoirs of water underneath the continents. That this statement is true is seen from the following quotation: "For he hath founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the floods" (Ps. 24:2).
That the waters of the earth will be churned into a raging fury by the events connected with the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ is seen from such a passage as Psalm 46:1-3:
46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change,
And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof. [Selah]
The writer of Psalm 93 likewise speaks of the roaring of the sea:
3 The floods have lifted up, O Jehovah,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.
4 Above the voices of many waters,
The mighty breakers of the sea,
Jehovah on high is mighty (Ps. 93:3,4).
The Lord Jesus Himself, in speaking of the coming events of the end time which culminate with His Second Coming, refers to the roaring of the sea and the billows in connection with supernatural phenomena in sun, moon, and stars: "And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows" (Luke 21:25).
From Habakkuk 3:8-10 one sees that the earth will be rent at the Second Coming of Messiah and that rivers and reservoirs beneath the surface of the earth will be exposed to human gaze.
In verse 8 the Lord is represented as riding upon horses, upon "chariots of salvation." This language reminds one of the description of the Lord's Coming found in Revelation 19:11-16.
In Habakkuk 3:9 the Lord is represented as a warrior with his bow rushing into battle. In the same verse the Prophet calls attention to the fact that God's oaths to His ancient people are sure. God will carry out every threat which He has made and will fulfill every promise.
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