Looking at the first coming of Jesus

Looking at the first coming of Jesus

Looking at the first coming of Jesus

Jesus' first coming teaches
about His second. Christmas is neither here nor there; the
Nativity, however, is very important. If we do not understand how
He came the first time, we will not understand His return. There
are differences, of course, but one is a picture of the
other.

I have spent a lot of my time for the past 20
years as an evangelist to the Jews thinking about one question:
How could it be, with 2000 years of history preparing for the
Messiah to come, being in a covenant relationship with God and
having the Scripture, that so few Jews were ready for Jesus to
come the first time? Paul tells us that the devil blinded their
eyes. There were 2000 years of preparation for Jesus to come,
Israel had a covenantal relationship with God, and they had the
Scriptures. Yet in spite of all this, only a remnant was ready
for Him to come. The same thing will be true when He comes back,
only it will not only be Israel, but also the so-called
church.

What kinds of Christians are going to be ready
for Jesus to come again in the Last Days? If you want to know the
answer to this, look at the kinds of Jews who were ready for Him
to come the first time. If you want to know what kinds of
Christians are not going to be ready for Him to come back, take a
good look at the kinds of Jews that were not ready for Him to
come the first time. His first coming teaches about His second;
we will never understand His second coming until we understand
His first. Obviously He will not come as a baby the second time,
being born of an earthly mother. There are differences between
the two comings, but essentially one prefigures the other.

The Kinds of Jews Who Were Not Ready

Before we look at what kinds of Jews were
ready for Jesus to come the first time, let's look at Jews who
were not ready. When we see what kinds of Jews were not ready, we
will know what kinds of Christians will not be ready. A is to B
as B is to C.

Turn with me, please, to Matthew's Nativity
narrative in Matthew 2:1: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem
of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the
East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born
King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have
come to worship Him.' When Herod the king heard this, he was
troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered
all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he
inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to
him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the
prophet: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the
least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a
Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel."'

The Magi: Those Who Were - Surprisingly - Ready

What we see here is that some of the people
who were ready for Jesus to come the first time were people whom
you would not have expected to be ready. These Magi, or wise men,
were from Persia. They were the chaplains of the ancient Medes
and Persians. Somehow in ancient Persia there was a religion that
has been changed over the centuries, called Zoroastrianism. It
was monotheistic; they believed that there was one God and that
man was responsible for his own sin. They believed there was a
battle between the sons of light and the sons of darkness; they
held similar beliefs, in other words, to those of the Essenes and
the Christians.

During the Babylonian Captivity, when Persia
overtook Babylon in fulfilment of Daniel's prophecies, some of
the Persian kings came to believe in the Jewish God, having
already been predisposed to monotheism. There was a lingering
Jewish influence in that place; we read about Esther, for
example, and Darius the Mede, as well as the prophecy of King
Cyrus by Isaiah the prophet over 200 years before Cyrus' birth.
We read in Ezra and Nehemiah what happened there. All the way
through the Hasmonean period to the time of Jesus, the Persians
favored the Jews. In fact, until the Shaw of Iran fell, the
Persians - Iran - favoured Israel. I have no doubt in my mind
that the Prince of Persia, the principality against which Daniel
prayed and fasted for three weeks, is still there today in the
form of Shia Islam, that Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. People
in modern Christian circles like to call demons like this one
'territorial spirits', which is not a good translation or
interpretation. The Greek word is arche, the Hebrew word shadeem;
a better translation for these words is 'principalities', meaning
demonic powers over nations. We have many crazy people today
doing 'binding and loosing', among other nonsense, but there is
no doubt about the fact that there are principalities over
nations. The book of Daniel reveals that, and in Gerasenes the
demons going into the swine begged Jesus not to send them out of
the region. There are territorial spirits, if you want to use
that term, although it is not a particularly good interpretation.
They do exist. In Belfast, you see murals of ancient Celtic war
gods on the walls - both in the neighbourhoods where Protestants
are recruited and in those where Catholics are recruited.

You see, those wise men understood how to
interpret the signs of the time. Sadly, there are born-again
Christians who cannot see the significance of contemporary events
in the Middle East. They are blind to it, as if the book of
Zechariah was not in the Bible. They cannot see what is happening
in the EEC - they don't understand the globalization of the world
economy, the destruction of the environment, or any of these
other signs, as wise men do.

'All Jerusalem Was Troubled'

So the Magi came to see the Messiah, non-Jews,
people you would not have expected, because they saw the Star in
the East. Here we see that they come to Jerusalem, where Herod
heard them and was troubled - and all Jerusalem with him. This
was the city where David said that the Messiah would come. This
was where the Temple was; the focus of their identity and their
Messianic hope, yet almost nobody who lived there wanted Him to
come.

You will find many churches with the same
attitude; drive up the road, look at the churches you pass, and
ask yourself how many of them really want Jesus to come back. All
Jerusalem was troubled; oh, they had the rituals, the liturgies,
the festivities and the holidays, but when it looked like He was
showing up, they were all troubled. Especially troubled were the
national and religious leaders. Think about this.

It gets even more frightening, however - these
guys knew the Scriptures. Herod wanted to know where the Messiah
would be born, and they told him what Micah 5:2 said, that He
would be born in Bethlehem. They had head knowledge of the
Scriptures, but not heart knowledge. When He showed up, it was
the last thing in the world that they either expected or wanted.
Do you think it will be any different when He returns?