Truth, Understanding, Insight

Return of Christ

26th May 2008, mgh


5) Jesus' Return in the Old Testament

The Old and New Testaments of the Bible are intimately connected. The prophecies of the Old Testament should have prepared the Jews to recognise their Messiah (or in Greek the Christ). Some did. However the religious leaders did not accept him as their Messiah and as prophesied in Isaiah Chapter 53, they crucified their saviour. The Old Testament prophecies are still relevant today, as they give us an understanding of the work that Jesus will do when he returns to the earth.

Paul writing to the Romans demonstrates this connection between the Old and New Testaments. He points out that Jesus Christ confirmed the promises to the Patriarchs of Israel and through his sacrifice had opened the way of salvation to non-Jews, the Gentiles. Jesus, Israel's promised Messiah, that is king, would reign over the Gentiles.

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (of Israel): And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto your name. And again he said, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Isaiah said, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. (Romans 15:8-12)

Jesse was the father of King David who ruled Israel approx 1000BC. Paul, speaking in the synagogue in Antioch, emphasises that Jesus was the promised seed of David and the Saviour, who would ultimately reign on David's throne in Jerusalem.

And afterward they (Israel) desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man's seed has God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (Acts 13:21-23)

Luke in his gospel record, describes the incident when a faithful Israelite called Simeon saw the child Jesus and held him in his arms. He was an old man and he knew he would not live to see the Kingdom established as it would not be for many years, but he recognised Jesus' role in the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.

He came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, according to your word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:27-32)

In Romans 15:12 (quoted above), Paul was quoting from Isaiah 11. If we look closely at Isaiah 11 we can see clearly that it is a prophecy. A selection of verses from this chapter will show the connection between the words of Paul and the work of Jesus when he returns to the earth.

Firstly Isaiah refers to the 'rod out of the stem of Jesse', who Paul without any hesitation identifies with Jesus Christ as Israel's saviour, who is righteous, wise, faithful and to be judge in the earth. He will also 'smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked', which describes judgement. An earth filled with peace will be established under his rulership. The chapter gives a time setting. This occurs when the scattered Jews return to their homeland after being regathered from all the lands into which they had been scattered after their nation had been scattered by the Romans in AD70 and their city Jerusalem destroyed. Since 1948 Israel has been revived as a nation.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, .... And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

And in that daythere shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt,.. and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:1-12)

Zechariah was a famous prophet of ancient Israel. In prophesying of an invasion of many nations that will come upon Israel in the last days, there is a section that clearly identifies the Messiah.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son , and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zechariah 12:9-10)

There are hundreds of prophetic references in the Old Testament that give details of the work of Israel's Messiah, which still remain unfulfilled. The following will show some of them and that Jesus' return to the earth is essential for these prophecies to be fulfilled.