Solid Snippet Article #025
Who Is This King of Glory Part 4: The King is Coming Again
OT Prophecies of Christ's Return
Darkness covered the earth in the midst of the day as the huddled masses of soldiers and tanks cowered in the corners of the Middle East. Deafening blasts of rockets and attack planes roared overhead. The nations have gathered to stand against Israel and against its Messiah. There He is, standing on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. He looks so other-worldly, almost like an alien glowing like that. And you must not catch His gaze, or He might burn right through your soul. At least these are some of the rumors sweeping through the encampments. So this then is the secret weapon of Jerusalem, the Messiah Jesus on the mount. But what can one Man do against the whole of the earth's military might? And then the earthquakes start as His feet touch the Mount of Olives and it separates from east to west! What happens next, no one knows, or do we?
While this fictional account of an event yet to happen may be rife with inaccuracies according to this theological framework or that one, it does refer to a future event that we can know some things about. Many people think that the book of Revelation would be the only place that we can know about these events, but there are actually many Old Testament prophecies about the return of the Messiah. Many of them are in the prophets of the Old Testament, but there are also several psalms and some other places that are about Jesus' return.
First of all, I want to clarify that the second coming of Christ refers to the time in the end when Christ will physically return to the earth itself. Some people might say that the rapture is the second coming, but it is not. Christ will not come to earth, but will be seen in the clouds. At the rapture, these prophecies I am about to share are not completely fulfilled. It will take the return of Jesus to the same place that He ascended from 40 days after His resurrection, the Mount of Olives.
Now to some of the Old Testament prophecies that proclaim key truths about the second coming of Jesus Christ. One of them is actually given around Christmas and starts out talking about the incarnation of Christ, the child that is born to us, from Isaiah 9:6. In the second part of that verse, after the promise of a son being born, Isaiah says that the government will be upon His shoulder. This is an image of Jesus ruling and running the government. This did not happen when He was incarnated in his first coming.
I believe that many of the prophecies about the Messiah have a connection to Christ's second coming. Old Testament prophecy tends to have multiple fulfillments. It usually has at least three points of partial or complete fulfillment. Most of the time, a prophet would prophecy something that would be at least partially fulfilled in his time or soon after. Then there would be other points of partial fulfillment, but also a final fulfillment that fully completes the prophecy. There could be other points of partial fulfillment along the way in human history.
Let's take an example from Isaiah 7:14. You hear this quoted around Christmas time as well, but the reason is quite biblical because Matthew quotes from this verse in talking about Jesus' supernatural virgin birth. And in fact, that is the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in chapter seven. But let us look at the context to see the original fulfillment. Read Isaiah 7:10-17 and see a bit more of the context. Historically, Ahaz was a wicked and idolatrous king for Judah. He was worried about the Northern Coalition of Assyria and Syria with the northern kingdom of Israel that wished to attack Judah. However, instead of trusting in the Lord to save Judah, the king wanted to turn to Egypt in the south for help, the house of Israel's slavery.
Isaiah goes to the king to counsel him not to look to Egypt but to the Lord instead (Isa 7:3-4). He insists that the kings of the northern coalition will come to nothing, that they are mere smoldering firebrands that will fade in time. The king does not need to do anything about them or fear them, because they are short-lived threats. But the king does not believe him that they will be no problem for Judah within 65 years (Isa 7:8). To prove this point, the Lord through Isaiah gives a sign that the king would know that this prophecy about the nations falling in 65 years would be true. Enter our verse from Isaiah 7:14, part of a proof that the other prophecy will come to pass.
The king does not believe the prophecy (Isa 7:10-13). So Isaiah confirms it with this word: there will be a virgin that will give birth to a son and name him Immanuel. This boy will eat curds and honey, and then he will be the age of accountability when these lands the people of Judah fear will be desolate. Now, we could get bogged down in the details of the word for virgin or what the age of accountability might be, but what I want to stress here is that this is a sign for Ahaz that shows that the nations will be destroyed within 65 years. Isaiah said this so that Ahaz would know that. So the first fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 is historically within the time of King Ahaz. However, Matthew 1:23 quotes from Isaiah 7:14 as fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus is the Messiah because of His supernatural birth through a virgin. So this example shows us that a prophecy can have more than one point of fulfillment, partial and complete fulfillments throughout human history. Now, let us look again at Isaiah 9:6 and following with this in mind.
In Isaiah 9:6, as I have mentioned, the prophecy states that the Messiah will essentially run the government. "Being on his shoulder" might refer to an insignia of some kind worn on the shoulder of a uniform, like the Roman soldiers. This part of the prophecy is not directly fulfilled in Christ's first coming. The closest one could get to fulfillment of this government idea would be to say that Jesus is King of the Kingdom of God, and that He instituted this kingdom in His first coming. But, if we look at the Millennial Reign of Christ, then we have a different idea of this fulfillment. Jesus will be that king of the government and will rule with strength and protection for God's people. Take a look at Zechariah 14:16-19, where there is a plague and no rain for crops for those who do not worship the Lord Jesus during His kingly millennial reign.
But continuing with Isaiah 9:6, we see then the names that Christ is given in this reign. Now Jesus is the same no matter the time period, so these names, which show His character, are true of Him in both the incarnation and the second coming as King. The first, Wonderful Counselor, speaks of how Jesus will rule with perfect wisdom and will have the best judgment for each situation. He will be a good practical leader that will do what is best. The second, Mighty God, actually speaks of His deity as the King, calling Jesus God here. Often, monarchs would refer to themselves as deity, but Jesus literally bears the name and the nature of deity as King.
The third name, Everlasting Father, speaks of Christ's eternal nature. The word father here is not referring to the familial function of a father but of being a descendant. The word for father can also carry the meaning of a descendant or an ancient in a line of families. Everlasting speaks for itself, as Jesus is everlasting. He has always existed and will always exist. The final name, Prince of Peace, tells us how He will rule. He will bring peace where there was chaos and hostility. He will make peace where there was not peace. These reputations Jesus had even in the incarnation and demonstrated in the Gospels, but He will also demonstrate them in the second coming.
Finally Isaiah 9:7 continues to elaborate on Jesus being the forever king completing the line of kings from David. His reign will be one that ushers in peace and righteousness and justice. These are three elements that are seriously lacking in our world today. These images we get of Jesus' reign are right out of the prophets. Now let's look next at Zechariah 14, another key passage about the reign of Christ, also speaking of the Battle of Armageddon.
Zechariah 14:1-3 tells us of the precursor to the Battle of Armageddon. These verses speak of the worst case scenario for the Israelites in that Jerusalem is taken and exiled and ravaged by war. The nations look like they have won the city and destroyed the people of God. But wait! Here comes King Jesus out of the clouds, descending upon the Mount of Olives, and creating a way for the people of God to escape (Zech 14:4-5)! This will be a unique day in which the Lord fights for the city of Jerusalem before He reigns there as King. Jesus will fight for the people, seen in verses 3 and then Zechariah 14:12-15. He will use plagues, the fighting force of Judah and confusion of the enemy forces. Jesus will be victorious.
But then His kingdom will be set up and He will rule from the prominent city of Jerusalem (Zech 14:10-11). There will be people who reject His rule and do not go up to worship the Lord Jesus who is King, and they will suffer that same plague and also will not receive rain from heaven to be prosperous and have crops (Zech 14:16-19). And Jesus will reign with holiness and each thing will be holy before the Lord (Zech 14:20-21). It will be a great day of reigning!
Let me go to one more passage as we end just a few of the many images of Jesus in the end of human history culminating all of the promises of God. There are so many other places to go to in the Old Testament to see Jesus and to see Him as King in the end, but let us go to Psalm 2. This second psalm is purely concerned with the environment of the Battle of Armageddon. Psalm 2:1-3 are in the perspective of the kings of the earth who gather their nations in battle array to cast off the oppression of God's good and just rule over them, the final atheistic temper tantrum of the world to get God off their backs. They are prepared for battle, or so they think.
As might more often than we think be the case, Psalm 2:4-6 depicts God's reaction to all of this human striving against His will. He laughs. He laughs because these kings cannot handle His Anointed King, Jesus, whom He sends to the earth to fight the battle. He knows these kings put on a big show, but can't handle His Son. God places His pride and strength in His King, whom He sets on His holy hill, Zion. Zion is a name for Jerusalem, where Jesus will rule as King. So the kings of the nations don't hold a candlestick to Jesus in battle or in reigning. They don't have a prayer!
Finally, in Psalm 2:7-9, we have the Father speaking to Jesus, the Son, and telling Him that the time has come for Him to reign as King. God the Father gives the nations to His Son Jesus in this giant mega-battle, the Battle of Armageddon. The nations now belong to King Jesus and He will rule them however He wishes. Jesus will break the nations. The irony is that in verse three, the nations had every intention of breaking His bonds on them, and they will be broken by His leadership. The nations will fall to the iron rod, an implement used for shepherding and leading. Despite the wickedness in the world, Jesus will control it with His righteousness and justice. The final verses, Psalm 2:10-12 serve as a warning, almost a threat, to the kings of the nations. It is a forewarning that their attack will only leave them subservient to King Jesus. It is better to be on Jesus' side than against Him. They should kiss the Son before His wrath comes down on their heads.
These are just a few examples of what is coming in the future! Jesus came here and He taught us about God. He also suffered for each of us, died on the cross and gave His life as a ransom for many. And now we find that all of human history will culminate in all of those promises of a righteous King actually reigning in our history before the beginning of eternity. The finality of all the promises will be ours in this era of time. Jesus is coming back soon and we must be prepared for His return! We will not be left as paupers. The Bible tells us that Jesus never leaves or forsakes us. He is coming back for those who trust in Him, and He will rule this world before He ushers in the new heavens and the new earth!