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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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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 them.

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.