Prophecy: good news/bad news
The first arrival of Jesus Christ was foretold by many of the Old Testament prophets.
The earliest prophecy of Jesus Christ’s birth occurred about 4000 B.C. and is recorded in Genesis 3:15. The most significant prediction is found in Daniel 9:25-26. It was written somewhere around 538 B.C. and gives the exact year, A.D. 33, in which Jesus Christ would die. From that prophecy one can estimate the earliest year in which Jesus could have been born. That prophecy and six other prophecies are given about His birth.
While Jesus Christ’s birth was good news, sometimes the prophets were chosen by God to deliver difficult messages. Prophets were not fortune tellers (as many people mistakenly believe) but “forth tellers”. Forth tellers proclaimed what “thus says the LORD God”. Their prophecies outline what we can expect from God in the future.
During the final days of Israel and Judah, God communicated through the prophets a message of judgment. The divided kingdoms were to be sent into captivity in Assyria and in Babylon for 70 years. Why? Because of their disobedience and their divided allegiance to Yahweh. Put more simply, they were under God’s judgment because of their sins. There is always a natural consequence of sin. In this case, the consequence was captivity (1 Kings 14:15).
Expecting something better
The prophets were not only responsible for proclaiming a message of judgment. With that judgment message God also included a message of restoration. God in always merciful and faithful. Even in our faithlessness He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).
Israel’s story would not end in captivity in a distant land. They would ultimately return to the land that God promised to the Patriarchs (Gen. 17:8). God would sovereignly orchestrate Israel’s physical return to Jerusalem.
God would also sovereignly send His Son Jesus to arrange Israel’s spiritual return to Himself. God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). The promise of a savior would create an “expectancy” of something better for their future.
“I’ll be back”
While Christ’s first arrival marked the offering of salvation and deliverance to all mankind, His second coming will be ”very different” (Rev.19:11-16). The child that we celebrate at Christmas will return as the “Righteous Judge” (2Tim. 4:8).
Jesus spoke openly about the certainty of His return (Matt. 24:27-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28). The disciples pressed Jesus for the “day and hour” (Matt. 24:36). Instead Jesus emphasized expectancy. Expectancy requires that we be both faithful and watchful until He returns.
Our expectancy allows us to anticipate and plan for events that could potentially impact our life. We rise early to watch the morning traffic report and weather forecast for the day. Why? Because we want to be prepared–no surprises!
Expectancy influences preparation
Christ is coming again. He will first return for His Church at a time called the Rapture and take us back to heaven to be with Him (1Thess. 4:13-18). Nonbelievers, however, will be “left behind” to enter a seven-year period of trouble and desolation known as The Great Tribulation. At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will return to the earth to judge mankind for their unbelief and their sins (Rev. 20: 11-15).
We expect Jesus Christ to return. It is a certainty (Acts 1:11). With His arrival the world, as we know it today, will change forever. That being the case, should we not give special attention to prepare for His return?
It is important that we fully expect and embrace the reality of Christ’s Second Coming. It is equally important that we prepare for it! For nonbelievers, the reality of Christ’s return is an invitation to repent and turn to Him TODAY. For believers, it reinforces our need to share the Good News of Jesus Christ EVERYDAY to EVERYONE God places in our path.
Just as we prepare for Christmas morning, we would be wise to expect and prepare for Jesus Christ’s return. The prophets were 100% accurate with their prophecies of Jesus’ first arrival. You can be sure, they’re also correct about His second return.