God's Master Picture

by Joseph Hunting

The way in which the Bible is written is very much like a mosaic, where many of the events still awaiting fulfilment have yet to find their place in the great master pattern designed by the Creator.

The Bible has a completely Jewish atmosphere. It was written by Jewish men in Jewish surroundings. For many centuries they had yearned for a Jewish kingdom to be established once again upon the earth, when through the glorious reign of King Messiah the whole world would be restored to the beauty and peaceful conditions which existed in the Garden of Eden.

We need to understand from the Jewish standpoint and Jewish atmosphere of Bible times if we are to get the correct perspective from three prophetic pictures presented in the prophets relative to the Messiah's Second Coming. Many signs are clear and quite distinct to those who are waiting and watching for the Messiah, who long ago said that He would come again.

Those who are familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures dealing with His coming know that the prophets often blended His first and second comings into one picture. Let us look at three well-known Scriptures which do just this.

The Prophet Daniel

In Daniel's ninth chapter, verses 24 to 26, the untimely death of the Messiah is predicted: "Seventy sevens are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.

"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.

"And after sixty-two sevens the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself ..."

Daniel tells us that from the going forth of the commandment given by Cyrus to build the Temple and Jerusalem, 490 years would elapse, when there would be an end of sins, everlasting righteousness established, and the anointing of the most holy place. But he distinctly tells us that after 483 years the Messiah would be cut off.

Sir Richard Anderson, the eminent mathematician, after very exhaustive research proved without doubt that the only event in history coinciding with Daniel's prophecy was the Messiah's entry into Jerusalem riding upon a colt, the foal of an ass, just four days prior to His Crucifixion.

This manner of entry into Jerusalem strikingly fulfils Zechariah's prophetic word: "Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey" (9:9).

On the other hand, the fulfilment of the section of the prophecy concerning finishing transgression, making an end of sins, making reconciliation for iniquity, bringing in everlasting righteousness, sealing up vision and prophecy, and anointing the most holy place awaits the second coming of the Messiah. Not one of those seven wonderful events has yet been achieved. But they will. Indeed they will.

The Prophet Micah

The next picture which blends the two appearances of the Messiah is given by the prophet Micah in chapter 5. In this Scripture the town of Bethlehem is named as the Messiah's birth-place, and the prophet sees Him suffering at the hands of people: "They shall strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek."

In His first appearing He was thus abused, but this is not the last word. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

He will yet be ruler in Israel; He will yet "stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God ... for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth ..." This is the day of His second appearing, when He will come to judge the earth and all its inhabitants, and when he will be "ruler in Israel" and to "the ends of the earth."

The Prophet Isaiah

Thirdly, the miraculous manner of the Messiah's virgin birth burst upon the vision of the prophet Isaiah, and once again His first and second comings are blended into one picture: "Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (7:14).

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

"Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (9:6,7).

The only event in the history of the world which fits perfectly this prophecy of Isaiah is the virgin birth of the Messiah as recorded in Matthew's gospel: "Now the birth of Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah was as follows: After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put here away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

"'And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins'" (1:18-21).

Thus His first appearing. Regarding the "increase of his government and peace … to establish it with judgement and justice ... even for ever" -- that awaits His second appearing when the remainder of the angel's word to Mary will be literally fulfilled: "And he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:33).

Why Two Appearings?

Can there be any explanation from the Scriptures why the Messiah must make two separate appearances upon the earth? The answer lies in the refusal of the Jewish rulers to recognize Him as the Lord's Anointed. To the High priest's question: "I adjure you by the living God that you tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God" Yeshua replied: "It is as you said" (Matthew 26:63,64).

Yet the grave could not hold Him, and He rose from the dead and later ascended triumphantly into the heavens in full view of those who were watching. David writing of the nation's rejection and His ascension to heaven said: "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool'" ( Psalm 110:1).

And the prophet Hosea likewise clearly saw the rejection of the Messiah when he exclaimed: "I will return again to my place till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek my face; in their affliction they will diligently seek me" (5:15).

Out of all the chaos which will envelop the world during the last days of this age Israel will emerge as a purified nation ready once again to be "a light to the Gentiles." The Scriptures tell us that when all hope of survival is lost, when the Lord will "gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem" that then His people will recognize Him and call upon Him and say:

"Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9).