Story 6: A New Hope

sunset on Seychelles beach

He came…and the dawn began to break against the darkness of the fallen world.

A Day is coming that will be the end of everything…or at least everything as we know it.  The timing of the End of Time will not be chosen by rulers in the human realm, national politics, environmental disruption, or a chance collision with meteors from space. It will come at the time appointed by God.  No human argument or opinion can change that.  One might as well shake one’s fist at the stars and tell them not to shine.  It is an exercise in wasted effort.  And yet the End of Time is not the Final End.  It is merely the end of The Beginning.

The frightening Day of the Lord, when God comes to judge Israel and the nations of the world, does not close the book on the human story. It is merely the point where the Messiah will have a brilliant victory against all of the enemies of God. Then the Messiah, the Righteous One, will take His throne in Jerusalem. He will rule and reign with His righteous servants over the people of the world. It will be a time of great peace and happiness for all who love God.

The Lord gave a picture of what will happen after that. Look at what Zechariah wrote in chapter fourteen of his book:

“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and celebrate…”

Zechariah 14:16

Somehow, there was going to be a human King…that was also going to be God.

The Jewish people carefully searched through all the prophecies to see how they fit together. They knew there was a Day of the Lord coming when the Messiah would cleanse the nation of Israel and destroy the wicked. Only the righteous remnant would be left. They knew that the Messiah would gather all of Israel together and rule over the nation as King. They knew that He would judge the nations, and that He would rule over them from Jerusalem. But they didn’t know when, and they weren’t sure about how it would all fit together. And they certainly didn’t know how it would work for a man—the Anointed One—and God Himself to reign over Jerusalem!

By the time of Jesus, the people of Israel had been waiting for the Messiah to come for hundreds and hundreds of years.  At that point, their nation was controlled by the Roman Empire.  They hated it. The Romans worshipped idols and took part in the kinds of sin that tear up the soul. Their habits and ways of life were offensive to the Word of God. As the Jews lived with the oppressive humiliation of Roman domination, they clung to the hope of the coming Messiah and His mighty Kingdom.

Part of what the Jews did not understand was that when the Messiah came, He was going to do it in two stages. We call them the First and Second Coming of Christ. Each stage is very important, and each one fulfills a different set of prophecies. The first time Jesus came, He did not come in might and power to judge the nations of the world. It was not the right time for Him to take His throne. It was not the great and terrible Day of the Lord. The first time Jesus came, He fulfilled prophesies like this one from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives…”

 Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah also prophesied about Jesus’ first coming when He spoke about the amazing sacrifice of a Suffering Servant. He wrote:

“…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”  

Isaiah 53:5

When the Jewish people read these descriptions of one who would come and suffer, they didn’t know what to think. It sounded so different from the way the Bible wrote about the Messiah, the Anointed One who would come in total victory. Was this Suffering Servant the same person? Surely he could not be the Great King?

We know now that when God sent the Messiah the first time, it was not His plan to send Him to conquer the nations of the world. Instead, Jesus came to win a far greater, more important victory. The Lord Jesus came to conquer sin and death by offering Himself up as a sacrifice.  The real problems of this world are not the raging nations.  That is a terrible result.  The real problem is the darkness and rebellion of each human heart and the loyalty that we have given to Satan, the embodiment of evil and the enemy of God.  Our desire for sin is greater than our love and devotion to God.  We have been crushed and imprisoned by it.   Through His perfect life and sacrificial death, Jesus destroyed the power of the terrible curse that Adam and Eve brought upon the human race so that we can be set free (see Isaiah 52:13-53:12).

Jesus did not act like the Messiah the Jews were expecting, but the anointing of God’s Spirit was on Him (see Isaiah 61). All those in Israel who truly loved their God saw the work of Christ and recognized that He was the Messiah. But many showed their unbelief and false religion when they rejected the God of Israel when He came to live among them.

One day, the Lord Jesus will return for His Second Coming. He will come in power and bring the great and terrible Day of the Lord. He will fulfill all of the awesome and fearful prophecies that were foretold.  Here is how the prophet Daniel described the vision God gave him of when this will happen:

“‘As I looked,

‘Thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.

His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of His head was white like wool.

His throne was flaming like fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before Him.

Thousands upon thousands attended Him;

then thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.

The court was seated, and the books were opened'”

“…’In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was One like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was lead into His presence.  He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshipped Him.  His dominion was an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed'” 

Daniel 7:9-10; 13-14

As we look at our own section of history, we can see that we live in the time in-between. We can look back at Christ’s first coming, and we can look ahead to when He will return.

We can be sure that some day in the future, the Anointed One will come in judgment, and He will establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem. He will reign over all the nations of the world for a thousand years! This is how the Bible describes this amazing time:

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

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 the fear of the Lord.

And He shall delight in the fear of the Lord.

 

He shall not judge by what His eyes see,

Or decide disputes by what His ears hear,

But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,

And decide with equity for the meek of the earth…”

Isaiah 11:1-4a

Can you imagine how different life will be with such an amazing and powerful Leader? It will be something the world has never seen! And after the time of Christ’s special rule and reign, He will bring about the final end. Death itself will be destroyed   (Is. 25:7-8), and the dead will rise to life (Is. 26:19). Heaven and earth as we know it will pass away, and God will bring a New Heaven and a New Earth (65:17; 66:22). Those He redeems from the curse will live forever in eternal bliss with Him in His Kingdom! As we wait for this mighty work of God, our job is to love Him with all our hearts and serve Him with our time on earth in watchful prayer!

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