CHAPTER 10: THE FIRST
COMING OF JESUS
Many of the incidents in the first
coming of the Lord Jesus are intended to point us forward to events
which will happen at the his second coming. Thus Zech. 9:9-11 speaks
of the Lord Jesus coming to Zion with salvation, establishing his
Kingdom and resurrecting the dead. This is all about his second
coming, but the idea of him coming into Jerusalem with salvation
is obviously applicable to his triumphant entry in the last week
of his ministry (Mt. 21:5). There is clear indication in the records
of Luke 1 and 2 that there were a faithful remnant in Jerusalem
at the time of our Lord's birth, whose attitude points forward to
that of the latter-day remnant at the time of His second coming.
Whilst only Zacharias, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna are mentioned,
we can be sure that there were others in this group - Anna "
spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem"
(Luke 2:38); " many" rejoiced even at the birth
of John, on the understanding that he was Christ's forerunner (Luke
1:14 - unless the " many" refers to Angels?).
It is possible that the shepherds, too, were in this group, which
would confirm the impression that the 'remnant' were in the lower
ranks of society - Zacharias a superannuated priest, Anna a servant
of the temple (Luke 2:37) - the equivalent of a 20th Century office
cleaner. This connects with the 'remnant' left in the
land by Nebuchadnezzar being the poorest of the poor (2 Kings 24:15
cp. 25:11,12), and suggests a working-class Jewish 'remnant' in
the last days.
There is much language used concerning
the birth of Jesus which is easily applicable to His second coming.
This in itself encourages us to see the record of those awaiting
His first coming as typical of the last days. The birth
of John and Jesus is described as God 'visiting and redeeming his
people' (Luke 1:68); what better way of describing God's latter-day
intervention? " The sunrising from on high hath
visited us" (Luke 1:78 A.V. mg.) was Zacharias' comment upon
God's purpose in John and Jesus, making an unmistakeable allusion
to Mal. 4:2 concerning Christ's second coming being like the rising
sun. Note how this sun rising is upon the righteous
remnant of the last days (Mal. 4:12) - identifying Zacharias with
The Angels rejoiced that through Christ's
birth there was " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14), although this will
only be fully done in the Kingdom. Simeon spoke of the
baby Jesus as " a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory
of thy people Israel" (Luke 2:32), although this will only
be fully true after the second coming (Isa. 42:6; 49:6).
The remnant " looked for redemption (to appear) in Jerusalem"
(Luke 2:38); they could only have figured this out from realizing
that the Old Testament 'kingdom' prophecies concerning Jerusalem,
which we normally associate with the second coming, had a primary
fulfilment in the birth of Christ.
John the Baptist commented that he preached repentance
and baptized in Israel, so that the Messiah might be manifest
to Israel (Jn. 1:31). His work was a pattern for the Elijah ministry
of the last days. It could be argued that Messiah was only manifest
in the first century because of the success of John's work- for
large numbers were baptized of him. Could it be that the timing
of the final revelation of Messiah likewise depends upon the success
of the Elijah ministry in leading Israel to repentance? And what
implications are there in this, if actually we are the
voice of that ministry...
We can now scan the record for more
detailed latter-day typology:-
- The remnant were in or around
Jerusalem - as it seems the latter-day faithful will also be.
They looked for Messiah to appear in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).
If latter-day Jewry are persecuted to the extent that the only Jews
left alive in the land are in Jerusalem (see previous studies, especially
Chapter 8), then they, too, will expect Messiah to come to them
in that same city. Note that the woman whose intense pleadings represent
the prayers of the latter day remnant (Lk.18:2-8) " was in
a city" - Jerusalem?
- They eagerly looked for the
Lord's birth as a fulfilment of the Abrahamic promises, that through
his seed " we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
might serve (God) without fear" (Luke 1:74). Likewise
the latter-day remnant will meditate how the Abrahamic promises
concerning freedom from their (Arab) enemies are so relevant to
them - perhaps due to the Elijah ministry turning their hearts to
the Jewish " fathers" , a phrase often used about the
patriarchs who received the promises (Mal. 4:6).
- Israel in the first century
were under the domination of Rome, the fourth beast of Dan. 7:23.
In the latter-day application of this, necessitated by the image
upon which the beasts are based standing complete in the last days,
the fourth beast with its horns corresponds to the Arab coalition
which will then dominate Israel.
- Some of the remnant had the
Spirit gift of prophecy (Luke 1:41,67; 2:26,36).
The latter-day remnant may also experience this - their old men
(cp. Zacharias and Simeon) and young people (cp. Mary), may have
the gift of prophecy around the time of the Lord's return - "
before the great and terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:28-31).
- The shepherds watching at
night while the Lord was born (Luke 2:8) echoes the Passover.
There is good reason to think that the second coming may be associated
with Passover time (see 'Passover and the Exodus' previously).
The vision of Angels which they saw may correspond to the remnant
in Jerusalem seeing a literal " sign of the (coming of the)
son of man in (literal) heaven" (Matt. 24:30), composed of
the Angel-cherubim. This " sign of the son of man
in heaven" must be alluding back to the literal portent which
the shepherds saw in the sky, pointing to the Lord's first coming.
Thus there will be no need to say " See here; or see there"
, because the Lord's return will be so evidently public (Lk. 17:23).
- Zacharias and Elisabeth "
were both righteous before God" (Luke 1:6) amidst a corrupt
Jewish world that refused to prepare itself for God's manifestation
in Christ, despite the availability to them of God's Word, which
clearly prophesied it. This recalls the description
of Noah as being " righteous before God" (Gen. 7:1) in
the context of the flood coming upon the world. We have
earlier shown this to be full of reference to the last days.
- There is a triple emphasis
on Israel praying to God in the lead up to Christ's birth (Luke
1:10,13; 2:37). We have seen from Joel 2:17 and
many other passages that the remnant will likewise devote themselves
to prayer in the last days, as will spiritual Israel.
- The appearance of Angels before
Christ's birth (Luke 1:12,26) is similar to their visiting Israel
under persecution during the times of the Judges, bringing the news
of deliverance from their Arab enemies through a 'saviour' ('Jesus').
- The conception of John (the
Elijah prophet of the first century) preceded that of Christ - he
was Christ's forerunner - there is therefore a necessity for this
type to be fulfilled in the literal coming of the latter-day Elijah
as a prelude to Christ's manifestation to Israel.
- The " joy and gladness"
(Luke 1:14) of the remnant at Christ's birth will be but a dim foretaste
of the ecstasy which the embattled remnant of the last days will
experience at their Lord's return.