All the Old Testament prophecies regarding the arrival of the Messiah can be divided into two different categories. The one contains references to the suffering Messiah – the One who came as a Servant and as the Lamb of God. The other category contains references to the Messiah as King and mighty Ruler. The Jews were not able to distinguish between these two categories, and that was the reason why they had such a misconception about the coming of the Messiah in the first century. They expected the reigning Messiah who would only come once to free them from the Roman yoke, and then re-establish the throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6). They simply could not, or would not, accept the fact that He first had to come as the suffering Messiah to pay the price for the sins of His people. That is why they were not well disposed to recognise Him.
The term “Messiah” is often used in this book. Please note that “Christ” and “Messiah” have the same meaning, since Christ was derived from the Greek word for “The Anointed” and Messiah from the correlating Hebrew word. For a complete exposition of the names and works of Christ, see Malan (2011).
The following are examples of the two categories into which the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament are divided:
In Psalm 22, the suffering and death of the Messiah have been foretold in vivid terms:
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me? ... I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All those who see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying: He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him! ... Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. ... They gape at Me with their mouths, as a raging and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to my jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Ps. 22:1, 6‑8, 11, 13‑18).
Psalm 2 describes the Messiah’s judgements upon the rebellious nations during His second coming:
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying: Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me: You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2).
One of the most striking prophecies about the suffering Messiah who died to pay the price for our sins, has been recorded by Isaiah:
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked – but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53).
Mention is also made by Isaiah of the reigning Messiah and His righteous government:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6-7).
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say: Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isa. 2:2‑5).
Israel was told to look out for a humble Messiah riding on a donkey:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9).
In Zechariah 12:10 it was foretold that the suffering Messiah would be pierced by his own people after they had rejected Him in ignorance. This serious mistake would be the cause of many trials for Israel.
The arrival of the reigning Messiah will be quite different to the way in which Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey at His first coming:
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. ... And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. ... And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. ... And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zech. 14:4, 9, 12, 16).
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
In accordance with the original Hebrew manuscript, the word “almâh” has correctly been rendered “virgin”. The Strong’s Concordance explains the Hebrew word “almâh” as follows: “a lass [as veiled or private]; damsel, maid, virgin”. This noun was derived from ‘âlam, which means: “to veil from sight, i.e. conceal [lit. or fig.]; hide [self], secret [thing].”
The word “almâh” definitely indicates an unmarried but marriageable girl who is still a virgin. She is ‘concealed’ and did not yet have intercourse with a man. If this word is rendered “young woman”, as in the RSV, it should be done with the clear understanding that she is still an unmarried virgin. The Amplified Bible says: “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel – God with us (Matt. 1:22-23; Isa. 9:6; Mic. 5:3-5).” These facts are corroborated by the New Testament account:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. ... So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us. Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus” (Matt. 1:18, 22-25).
Apart from the fact that the Messiah’s birth was to be a sign which is clearly above the natural order of things (in this case the assertion that Mary was a virgin) there is also another very important reason why Jesus could not be conceived by a man: this concerns the sinful nature of humans which is hereditary (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22). It was imperative for Jesus not to have a biological father, in order that His blood (and life) should not be contaminated by the original sin. The genetic information in terms of which the blood of the unborn child is formed is determined by the DNA of the father. That is the reason why paternity tests can be conducted.
Unlike other people, Jesus did not inherit a sinful nature through His birth (Heb. 4:15; 7:26-28), and was therefore the spotless Lamb of God who could be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. By spiritual conformity to Him in His death and resurrection we are able to partake of His divine nature (1 Cor. 15:45-49).
There was yet a further reason why Joseph could not be the biological father of Jesus, as that would have disqualified Him to claim the throne of David. According to a statement in Jeremiah 22:28-30, none of the descendants of King Coniah would sit on the throne of David. In the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, Jeconiah is mentioned (Matt. 1:12). But through adoption Joseph accepted Jesus as his eldest son and main heir, and for that reason He qualifies to be the heir to the throne of David, and was generally addressed as the Son of David (Matt. 9:27; 21:9).
The genealogy of Jesus through His mother, as recorded in Luke 3:23-38, also links Him to David. This genealogy is reckoned through David’s son, Nathan, while the one in Matthew 1:1-17 is reckoned through David’s son, Solomon. Through His mother Jesus is, therefore, also the Son of David, and this line of descent is not affected by the prohibition against Jeconiah’s biological descendants to become king of Israel.
The scribes and high priests in Israel were in a position to check any claims on the descent of Jesus, as well as His hereditary right to the royal throne of David, but they never disputed it on these grounds. Among the people He was generally known as the Son of David, and was accepted in this capacity without questioning it. Even before the birth of Jesus an angel appeared to Mary and said: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:31-32). The time will come when He will rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem. An angel also appeared to Joseph and told him that Jesus would save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). He would, therefore, be a Messiah-King to Israel – not only a Ruler but also a Saviour.
The two genealogies of Jesus emphasise His two capacities as King of Israel and Saviour of humanity. The genealogy in Matthew is only reckoned up to Abraham, who was the first Hebrew. That is a Jewish genealogy by which Jesus’ position of King is emphasised. In Luke, the genealogy of Jesus is reckoned further back to the first man, Adam, and from him to God. Adam is described as “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). As a descendant of Adam, Jesus is the Son of Man who came to seek and to save all the lost descendants of Adam (Luke 19:10). This fact ties up with the worldwide perspective of the Gospel of Luke, as opposed to the more restricted Jewish perspective of Matthew.
Adam and Jesus are both described as sons of God. Adam was the first human being who was created by God – he was not born from a human family. Because Adam heeded the devil’s advice to disobey God’s orders, he died spiritually and received a sinful nature. These spiritual and moral attributes were transmitted to all his descendants on earth (Rom. 5:12), resulting in all of them being born with a sinful nature, which renders them children of God’s wrath (Rom. 3:10; Eph. 2:3). The unsaved Jewish leaders who only had a form of godliness, found themselves in the category of children of the devil (John 8:44) – that being the reason why they rejected Jesus as Messiah and tried to kill Him.
As man, Jesus was begotten by the Father (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:1-5) and is the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). All people who put their trust in Him and are born again as new creatures, are saved from the coming wrath of God upon the wicked (1 Thess. 1:10). People who were dead in their sins and iniquity are made alive by Him (Eph. 2:1-2).
Through the first Adam, who was a disobedient son of God, the entire human race has fallen into sin. Through the last Adam, who is the perfect and sinless Son of God, those who believe in Him can share in God’s new creation. All people (Jews as well as Gentiles) who realise their lost state and receive the Lord Jesus as Saviour, are accepted as children of God. The Holy Spirit regenerates them, and thus becomes to them “the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15). Through Jesus Christ we are adopted as children of God (Eph. 1:5).
All Israelites who were under the law must also be redeemed by the Messiah to receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:5). If salvation by virtue of law observation was possible, they would not have needed the last Adam as Messiah, but now they are deeply dependent on Him (Acts 15:7-11).
To be able to do this redemptive work, Jesus not only had to be the Son of David and King of Israel but also God Himself who could walk among men and pay the price for their salvation. According to John, He is indeed God and the Creator of the world, who was incarnated in order to transform all those who believe in Him into children of God (John 1:1-14). Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). If someone does not believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus he cannot be saved (John 8:23-24).
The Jewish scribes refused to believe the facts on the deity of Jesus. Jesus posed the question to them on how the Messiah could, at the same time, be the Son of David and the Lord of David (Matt. 22:41-46). They could not answer Him because they did not believe in the deity of the Messiah. People who accept the Lord Jesus as the promised Messiah know that He is God. The doubting Thomas later said: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
Paul understood the great extent of the revelation of God the Father through God the Son, and confessed: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Jesus is Lord (Kurios – Acts 10:36) and God (Theos – Rom. 9:5). In his epistle Peter refers to “our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1). John says: “...we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Long before the first coming of the Lord Jesus, Zechariah already wrote about His glorious second coming: “Thus the Lord my God [Yahweh my Elohim] will come, and all the saints with You” (Zech. 14:5).
Many of the modern scribes deny the deity of Jesus. The inevitable consequence of their unbelief will be that they, as well as all those who entertain similar views, will die in their sin (John 8:24, 58). All people who reject the virgin birth and deity of the Lord Jesus have a very limited comprehension of Him to whom all things are possible. Jesus Christ came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Only He can offer to Israel and the nations new life and hope for the future.
In Isaiah 61 we find one of the various Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The Messiah was sent to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the opening of the prison to those who are bound therein by Satan. At His second coming, the Messiah will judge all those who refused His saving grace. He will then save the remnant of Israel from the bondage of sin and establish them in their land:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn” (Isa. 61:1-2).
Isaiah 61 refers to aspects of both the first and second comings of the Messiah. Verse 1 refers to all three Persons of the Trinity: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me”. The Messiah was anointed by the Lord’s Spirit (Matt. 3:16-17) to be Israel’s Priest-King as well as the Saviour of the nations (Isa. 49:5-6).
The Lord Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2a during a sermon in Nazareth’s synagogue and applied it to Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
It is conspicuous that the Lord Jesus only quoted the first half of Isaiah 61:2 as far as “the acceptable year of the Lord”. The second part of the sentence, “and the day of vengeance of our God”, was not mentioned in His teaching. In this way, He clearly indicated that His works would be divided between two comings. During His first coming He accomplished the works mentioned in verse 2a, which is the announcing of God’s grace upon sinners, and at His second coming He will fulfil the role which is described in verses 2b-3 – that includes the pouring out of God’s wrath upon a wicked humanity, as well as saving, comforting and establishing the remnant of Israel after they have passed through the great tribulation (Jer. 30:7).
When the Messiah returns, it will be “the day of vengeance of our God”. That refers to the day of the Lord’s wrath during the coming tribulation, when all those who did not accept the message of the Messiah’s first coming, will be judged. Panic-stricken people will call out to the mountains and rocks: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).
At His second coming the Messiah will change the sorrow of the remnant in Israel into joy. He will remove their mourning and give them a garment of praise (Isa. 61:3). They will rebuild the old ruins of their country, and strangers shall tend their flocks (v. 4-5). The saved Israel will be called priests of the Lord (v. 6), and everlasting joy shall prevail in their land (v. 7).
The Lord says that, during this time, He will conclude an everlasting covenant with Israel (v. 8). Jeremiah also refers to this new covenant: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. ... I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:31, 33).
Israel will be known and respected by all nations as a people who serve the Lord with all their heart (Isa. 61:9). Zechariah says: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23).
The saved Israel will proclaim the praises of the Lord during that time, and abundantly rejoice in His mercy: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isa. 61:10).
The righteousness of Israel will be a blessing to all nations of the earth, among whom they will proclaim the Messiah with great zeal (v. 11). “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6).
Is the Lord Jesus also your Saviour? If so, eternal joy awaits you. Upon those who reject Him, the wrath of God will be poured out. Seek the Lord while He may be found, and call upon Him when He is near! (Isa. 55:6). The acceptable year of the Lord, which was announced at the Messiah’s first coming, still prevails. The way to Golgotha and a new life is open to all who are heavy laden under a burden of sin. No repentant sinner will be turned away, since the heavenly Shepherd has come to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). He promised that: “...the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). He breaks the power of sin and delivers you forever from the shackles and bonds of Satan. Paul says that Christ has blotted out the charges proved against us, by destroying them and nailing them to Christ’s cross (Col. 2:14). We can no longer be confined in Satan’s prison as slaves of sin, by remaining there under his power and authority. Believe it, accept it, and stand firm in the liberty by which Christ has set us free, and do not again become entangled with a yoke of bondage to sin (Gal, 5:1).
Apart from various Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, there are also a number of types of the Messiah. The sacrificial lamb that had to be slaughtered when the Jews left Egypt was a type of the Messiah who had to shed His blood to deliver His people from their sin. The analogy between the Passover lamb and Christ is obvious. Paul said: “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
Jesus was introduced to Israel by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Peter used the same symbol of the lamb when he wrote to Messianic Jews: “...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). From these scriptures it is evident that there first had to be a suffering Messiah who could lay down His life for the sins of the people before He can reign over His liberated people at His second coming.
The rock that was cleaved in the desert, from which the water flowed for the people of Israel, was a symbol of our rock, Jesus Christ. He is the rock that was broken for us (1 Cor. 10:4). Because Christ was cleft like the rock (crucified) He could become to us, through the Holy Spirit, streams of living water to quench our spiritual thirst forever. For this reason He calls all who are thirsty to come to Him and drink from the well of life (John 7:37-39). This image of Christ also emphasises the fact that He first had to come as the suffering Messiah who, through His death on the cross, could become the water of life to His people and also to the whole world.
The manna that fell from heaven in the wilderness was a type of Jesus, who is also described as the Bread of life: “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to them: Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him: Lord, give us this bread always. And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:31‑35).
The work of grace of the suffering Messiah who gave Himself to us to become the bread and water of life, is indispensable to every person. He must first, spiritually speaking, become your Saviour before he can become your King.
The serpent that Moses made in the desert and put on a pole, was a type of the work that Jesus did when He died on the cross: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). The people were bitten by poisonous snakes in the wilderness, and would surely have died if they did not look up at the serpent for healing.
Israel and all the nations of the world are facing certain death because of the lethal venom of the serpent, Satan. Through Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, his evil has permeated all of mankind. Therefore, all people must in faith lift up their eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ where He delivered us from the curse of sin (Gal. 3:13). Only in Him there is salvation and healing for everyone who truly believes. Our glory is in the crucified Messiah who laid down His life for us, and by virtue of His redemptive work we will one day be able to reign with Him in His kingdom.
Furthermore, there are quite a number of Old Testament persons who are types of Christ, the Messiah, of which Isaac and Joseph were two of the most well-known ones.
Abraham loved his son Isaac dearly, so it must have been a very traumatic experience to receive the following order from the Lord: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen. 22:2). Abraham obeyed, and willingly gave his only son to die. Likewise, Jesus was the only-begotten and beloved Son of the Father, who was willing to give Him over to die in order to become a ransom for our sins.
Isaac and Jesus were both prepared to do what the Lord had said. Isaac even carried the wood on his shoulders and climbed the mountain on which he was to die as a burnt offering. Many years later the temple of the Lord was to be built on that very same mountain. Thousands of animals were sacrificed there and became types of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who was to be offered in Jerusalem for the sins of the entire human race. Like Isaac, Jesus was prepared to lay down His life, and He carried the wooden cross on His shoulders on His way to the place where He was to be sacrificed.
Isaac was raised from the altar and given back to his father: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said: In Isaac your seed shall be called, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Heb. 11:17‑19). Many centuries later the Messiah gave His life so that others could be saved, but He rose from the dead and returned to His Father in heaven. He gained victory over death.
In Joseph we find one of the most obvious types of the Messiah in the Old Testament. His life not only portrayed the Messiah with reference to His first coming, but also with reference to His second coming. We see in Joseph’s experiences the suffering Messiah who was rejected and unjustly condemned by His people, but also the reigning King who will rule from the throne of David and lead his people in righteousness. The following excerpts from Genesis 37 to 50 are specifically significant concerning Joseph as a type of Jesus:
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children ... And Israel said to Joseph: Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them. So he said to him: Here I am” (Gen. 37:3, 13). Jesus was also the dearly beloved Son who was prepared to go to His brothers, the Jews, when His father sent Him. He “stripped Himself [of all privileges] so as to assume the guise of a servant (Phil. 2:7 AB; cf. Matt. 15:24).
We read that Joseph’s brothers saw him coming from afar, and “even before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him. ... Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt” (Gen. 37:18, 28). Jesus was also betrayed and sold for the price of a slave: “Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. ... Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said: What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 26:3-4, 14-15).
Joseph was imprisoned by his owner because Potiphar’s wife had accused him falsely. Two of his fellow‑prisoners came from Pharaoh’s palace – one was later freed, but the other one was executed. Jesus, who was innocent and without any sins, was also accused, crucified and sealed in a stone grave with guards outside. Two criminals were crucified on either side of Him – the one received eternal life while the other one died in his sins.
Joseph was finally freed and promoted to the second most powerful position in the country. “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? ... You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you” (Gen. 41:38, 40). We know that Jesus was exalted after returning to heaven and that He sits at the right hand side of the Father: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9).
Joseph had the answer to the problem which faced the starving people: “So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do” (Gen. 41:55). In the same way the Father sends a perishing world with their needs to His Son: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5). The secret to eternal life lies in obeying the words of Jesus Christ (John 6:63).
Joseph’s assistance was offered to famine-stricken people in all the surrounding countries: “So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all the lands” (Gen. 41:57). Jesus, who sits on His Father’s throne, offers the bread of life to an entire perishing world: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35).
Israel was also afflicted by the famine: “When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons: Why do you look at one another? And he said: Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die” (Gen. 42:1-2). So they went to Egypt, where Joseph acted ungrudgingly towards them and saw to it that they had enough to eat: “Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain” (Gen. 42:25). Jesus also accepts all people who come to Him. He satisfies their needs for salvation without reproaching them for the past sins that they have committed against Him. His promise is clear: “...the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
The eyes of Joseph’s brothers were blinded to his true identity: “Joseph recognised his brothers, but they did not recognise him” (Gen. 42:8). Although the people flocked to Jesus when He came the first time, they did not recognise Him as the Messiah and King of Israel. Jesus said: “You know neither Me nor My Father” (John 8:19).
Joseph arrested his brothers and insisted that the youngest one be brought to him. “Then they said to one another: We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying: Did I not speak to you, saying: Do not sin against the boy; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us” (Gen. 42:21, 22). The fathers of Israel’s tribes threw their brother into a deep well without thinking of the consequences.
Jesus received the same treatment. “Then the governor said: Why, what evil has He done? But they cried out all the more, saying: Let Him be crucified. ... And all those people answered and said: His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:23-25). They obviously did not know what they and their children would have to suffer because of this fatal decision.
Joseph saw how anxious his brothers were, and turned away so that they would not see his tears. He knew that they were still suffering because of what they had done to him so many years ago. Jesus experienced the same pain: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying: If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41‑44).
Joseph felt no anger when he saw his brothers again – only love; and his love is a symbol of God’s love for Israel. “Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord” (Jer. 31:20). Joseph’s brothers bowed before him, just as he had seen them bowing in his dreams so many years ago (see Gen. 37:6‑8). In the New Testament we read that every knee will bow before Jesus Christ and that every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).
Joseph revealed his true identity when he and his brothers met for the second time: “Then Joseph said to his brothers: I am Joseph; does my father still live? But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers: Please come near to me. And they came near. And he said: I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:3‑5).
When Jesus comes the second time, the people of Israel will recognise Him as the true Messiah and King whom they had crucified: “And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication. 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 who is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of the city of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddo [over beloved King Josiah, who was mortally wounded at thirty-nine, and for whom the people’s grief was extraordinarily deep. Like that will be the mourning of Israel, when they recognise as their once crucified Messiah Him Who has come to reign]” (Zech. 12:10-11; AB). “And someone will say to him: What are these wounds in your hands? Then he will answer: Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:6). “They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say: This is My people; and each one will say: the Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:9).
We also read the following regarding to the second meeting between Joseph and his brothers: “And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another” (Gen. 43:33). Jesus, King of the Jews, can also tell the tribes apart. He will establish them according to Ezekiel 48 in the land when He comes again as King. Then, many Jews will again be greatly surprised.
Joseph’s whole family joined him in Egypt where he could look after them and see to all their needs. “Hasten and go up to my father, and say to him: Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me Lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children” (Gen. 45:9-10).
When the Messiah comes again, all the Jews still living in other countries will return to Israel to live with their King: “I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. ... Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I lifted My hand in an oath to give to your fathers” (Ezek. 20:41-42). All prophecies on the occupation of the land only apply to the people of Israel, and cannot be transferred to other peoples or to the church.
What did Joseph’s brothers do after that? They told everyone: “Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:26). When Jesus comes again, Israel will believe in Him and tell the world that the Messiah is alive and that He is King over all the earth. Their witness will be dynamic and powerful.
The disciples, who recognised Jesus as the Messiah at His first coming, didn’t know about the dispensation of world evangelism that would begin after He had been rejected by Israel. They thought that He would re‑establish the throne of David during that time and become the ruler of the restored kingdom of Israel:
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying: Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And He said to them: It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts. 1:6‑8).
Jesus did not deny that He would re‑establish the kingdom of Israel, but He said that the time for it had not yet come. Before that could happen, the world has to be evangelised. The idea of reaching out to the Gentiles was unacceptable to most Jews, but Paul defended his calling to evangelise the Gentile nations in terms of the world-wide mission implied by the messianic prophecy in Isaiah 49:
“When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: We had to speak the Word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the Word of the Lord” (Acts 13:44-48; NIV).
Jesus also used a parable to explain to His disciples that nothing would come of their hopes of Him immediately becoming King of Israel. For that purpose He would return later:
“Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them: Do business till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying: We will not have this man to reign over us. And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. ... But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:11‑15, 27).
This parable referred to Herod Archelaus, successor and son of Herod the Great in Judea. Archelaus reigned between 4 BC and AD 6. It was his father, Herod the Great, who had commanded the killing of all the baby boys after the birth of Jesus (Matt. 2:16). The magi from the east had told him about the birth of the King of the Jews, and he had felt threatened by the news (Matt. 2:1-2). Herod the Great died shortly after the massacre he had initiated, and his kingdom was divided between his three sons. Herod Archelaus became king of Judea, Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee, and Herod Philip the tetrarch of the area east of the Jordan.
Emperor Augustus decided to uphold Herod’s will in Rome, even though the Jews had sent a delegation to complain about Archelaus’ atrocities. “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying: We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). After his return, Archelaus had his adversaries executed.
Matthew 2:19‑23 confirms the fact that Archelaus was a much feared ruler. It was because of him that Joseph and Mary settled in Galilee and not in Judea after their return from Egypt: “But when he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matt. 2:22-23).
The deeper meaning of this parable does not refer to Archelaus as the ruler of the Jews in Jerusalem, but to Jesus Himself. He is the man of noble descent who had been born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2).
Jesus didn’t reign as King when He came to earth the first time. That is why, in the parable, He describes Himself as the Man of noble birth who has to go to a far country to receive His kingdom. Archelaus travelled to Italy, but his status was diminished and he was made governor (etnarch) instead of king. He did not rule for long either.
The description of the ruler’s journey to a far country alludes to Jesus’ ascension. In heaven He now fulfils His High Priestly function as Mediator and Intercessor. When He comes back from the far country, He will rule as King: “After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).
The trumpets will sound when the Messiah comes in all His glory for the second time: “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).
During the time of the King’s absence, which is after His ascension but before His return, His followers are to proclaim His message of salvation to the ends of the earth. They are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all over the world. He saw to it that they would be equipped to do it, for they would receive power when the Holy Spirit had come upon them (Acts 1:8).
The nobleman in the parable of Luke 19 called his servants before he left, gave each of them ten minas and said: “Do business till I come.” The money is not a symbol of Jesus’ salvation and grace, but of the enabling power that all believers receive from the Holy Spirit. The servants already belong to their Master. He has bought them and they are now in His service. Therefore, He also gives them the necessary equipment without which they would never be able to carry out the difficult assignment that He has given them.
“Do business till I come”, is a command for the Master’s servants to attend to the affairs of His kingdom until His return. No servant can attempt this task without being equipped and strengthened by the Spirit of God. As soon as the King returns, He will summon His servants to give account of their handling of the affairs of His kingdom during His absence. Those who have been faithful to Him will be rewarded: “And behold, I am coming quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).
When His servants have been rewarded, the King will turn to those who rejected Him: “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). From this sequence of events it is obvious that God’s will begin in His house. First, the Christians will appear before the judgement seat of Christ where their works will be tested. Only after that, the sinners who rejected the Lord by refusing His authority over their lives will be judged according to their evil works: “For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:17-18).
From this parable the sequence of events during the revelation of Jesus Christ is very clear. His first appointment is with His servants who have to give account of their lives and to receive awards of grace. After that, His wrath will be poured out upon His enemies as the inevitable consequence of their wicked works. Only then, the kingdom of the Messiah will be revealed.
In order to be able to distinguish the false messiah from the true Messiah, the biblical exposition about the way in which both of them will be revealed, must be carefully heeded. During the first half of the tribulation, Israel will be subjected to the tremendous seducing power of the false messiah. Jesus warned them against the false messiah, who will have such a great influence in Israel at this time:
“And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying: I am the Christ, and will deceive many. ... For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you: Look, He is in the desert! do not go out; or: Look, He is in the inner rooms! do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:4-5, 24‑27).
The Messiah’s public return on the Mount of Olives at the end of the great tribulation will be a highly dramatic event. It will be like lightning that shines from east to west. The whole sky will be lit. Every eye will see Him, also those who crucified Him. Unprecedented earthquakes will occur, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two. Then, sudden darkness will befall His enemies who will be deployed around Jerusalem in anticipation of His coming. They will be thrown into disarray and start killing one another (Zech. 14:4-14).
In spite of the tremendous satanic powers inherent in the false messiah, he won’t be able to imitate the above event. His appearance will, nevertheless, be highly dramatic. He will even cause fire to fall from heaven (Rev 13:13). The main characteristic of his appearance will be an announcement of world peace. He will unite all religions into a false spiritual brotherhood under his personal leadership, and make the following statement: “I am the Messiah and Redeemer of humanity, and I will bring peace to the world!”
Israel and all the other nations are warned against false messiahs who will emerge from the deserts of the Middle East, do astounding miracles and proclaim themselves as the saviours of mankind. They will be deceivers who are not to be trusted. Even if such a person is allegedly in the inner room of a certain building, or for that matter on the television screens in private houses, people are warned not to expose themselves to his lies and false pretences.
That is the reason why Israel must not accept a messiah who comes in any other way than that described in the Bible, or anyone who offers another kind of peace. The false messiah will unite all the spiritual enemies of Israel – that is Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and others – into an alliance of false world religions and seduce Israel to join hands with them. Those who do not enter into this alliance and refuse to accept the false messiah as leader will be persecuted in the cruellest ways possible.
Jesus warned His followers against this self‑acclaimed world messiah (John 5:43). Israel will soon face the hour of their final choice between the true Messiah and the false messiah. When making their choice, they will have to remember that the true Messiah never compromised with the ideologies of this apostate world. Neither will He try to effect peace and unity with the false religions of the world when He comes again. His peace offer is still open to all people, but everyone who accepts it must accept Him as the only Messiah and as the only way to the kingdom of heaven: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
To have the right biblical perspective on the great tragedy of Israel’s long Diaspora, it must be understood against the background of the continuing apostasy and profound spiritual deadness of this nation. With the exception of a few God-fearing men and women, Israel have for many years turned their backs upon God. They were hiding behind a high wall of sin, agnosticism, and a lifeless form of orthodox worship in which there is no room for the Messiah, Yeshua.
It is evident that Israel rejected the Triune God in three stages. First, they rejected the Father, then the Son, and finally the Holy Spirit. In the parable of the tenants (Matt. 21: 33-43) Jesus indicated to the Jewish leaders that they were the tenants who, up to that point, rejected the Husbandman (God) in two stages: firstly they rejected his servants, and then they also rejected and killed His Son.
Israel is the nation that was called and set apart by God. According to the parable they were to Him like a vineyard. He planted it, hedged it around and also built a tower. Israel was well cultivated and guarded, and had every opportunity to bear much fruit. In the persons of Moses and the prophets, God sent His servants to them to act as spiritual leaders so that His purpose with them could be achieved.
Under the provocation of evil kings and false prophets the nation rejected, ill-treated and killed God’s servants (the true prophets). In the time of Jesus this spirit of rebellion against God had for centuries been strongly established. Jesus warned them that God would soon hold the wicked tenants accountable for having killed His servants (Matt. 23:34-36).
Before Messiah, the last prophet that God sent to gather a spiritual harvest among His people was John the Baptist. However, the leaders of the nation also rejected him and did not protest when Herod killed him. Jesus strongly denounced them for not having accepted and believed this great prophet (Matt. 21:25). But they also turned their backs on John the Baptist and approved of his wicked murder.
Jesus is the Son who was, in the fullness of time, sent to Israel as Messiah to lead them as a flock into the kingdom of God. The leaders were even more hostile towards Him: “But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance” (Matt. 21:38).
That is exactly what happened to Jesus: “Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” (Matt. 26:3-4). Through this treacherous act the leaders of Israel also rejected the second person in the Godhead, the Son. In this way they explicitly sided with their rebellious fathers who rejected the Father by killing His prophets (Matt. 23:37-39).
Because of the rejection and killing of His Son, God severely punished the leaders of Israel and their misguided followers. Jesus knew that they had sealed their own fate, but He nevertheless took great pity on Jerusalem and its spiritually blinded inhabitants who did not realise that God had visited them through the Messiah, and consequently rejected Him at their own peril (Luke 19:41-44).
In His patience and mercy, the Father was prepared to overlook the times of ignorance, and, after the crucifixion of His Son, to give Israel another opportunity to accept Jesus as their Messiah and thus enter into His kingdom. This opportunity was offered to them during the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the early Christian church in Jerusalem. The final act of rejecting the renewed offer was the stoning of Stephen, who was the first martyr of the Church of the Messiah among the Jewish people.
In a long speech, Stephen reminded the leaders of the sins and rebellion of their forefathers (Acts 6:8–7:60). He likened those who killed the prophets to the leaders of his own time who killed the Messiah, and also accused them of resisting and rejecting the Holy Spirit: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:51-52).
Stephen put the nation in the dock, accused them of repeated rebellion against God, found them guilty, and condemned them to God’s rejection, punishment and extradition from their land. In principle he put the seal on the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the nation that started in 70 AD. The impending tragedy had, by Israel’s own doing, become unavoidable.
The prophetic significance of the three critical murders committed by Israel is discussed by Warren B. Wiersbe (1989:433). He also confirms that the death of Stephen brought judgement upon Israel. It was their third murder directly related to rejecting the Triune God. They allowed the murder of John the Baptist who was sent by the Father; they asked that Jesus as the Son of God be crucified; while they killed Stephen themselves, thereby rejecting the Holy Spirit who spoke to them through the apostles and the early church.
As a result of these events, the commission to be the representatives and witnesses of God in the world, was taken away from Israel and given to the rejected disciples. From their ministries and missionary endeavours the church of Christ among all nations emerged.
Despite all these grave errors and misjudgements, the spiritual restoration of Israel as a nation will definitely occur. In a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit they will realise and confess their sins of rejecting God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced…” (Zech. 12:10). The entire remnant will then be reconciled with the Messiah (Zech. 13:9), after which they will inherit the promises of the millennial kingdom.
A very important sign is given in Mathew 25:1-13 to end-time Israel that Jesus is the Messiah, and this sign will be fulfilled at the rapture when Christ comes as the heavenly Bridegroom to secretly receive His bride and take her away. The rapture will occur during a spiritually dark time of the world history when Messianic Jews as well as evangelical Christians among the Gentiles will be ridiculed and rejected because of their Bible-based belief in Jesus Christ. During that time, shortly before the tribulation period, the spirit of the Antichrist will actively deny the deity of Jesus, question His resurrection, ascension and second coming, denounce the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and also belittle promises such as the rapture.
During the first coming of Jesus there was great hostility towards Him and His small group of true disciples. He said that He would go to His Father but the disciples were afraid to remain behind alone. The night before His crucifixion the Lord Jesus made the following comforting promise about meeting them again and taking them to heaven: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
This promise was made after the analogy of traditional Jewish marriage customs in biblical times. The first important step in the Jewish marriage was betrothal, which comprised the conclusion of a marriage covenant. In the time of Jesus it was customary that such a covenant was concluded because of the initiative taken by the prospective bridegroom. For this purpose he travelled from his father’s house to the home of his prospective bride. There he negotiated with her father on the bride-price (mohar) which he had to pay. After the bride-price was paid the marriage covenant was concluded. From that moment onwards the future bride was declared to be separated and dedicated only to her future bridegroom. As confirmation of the covenant they drank from a cup of new wine over which a blessing for the betrothal was declared.
The first statement that must be made from a study of this analogy, is that the sanctified church of Christ is His bride (Eph. 5:22-23). Just as the Jewish bridegroom took the initiative by leaving his father’s house to travel to the house of his prospective bride, Jesus left His Father’s house during His first coming to the world, which is the abode of His future bride. Through His death on the cross He paid the full price to redeem His bride so she can belong to Him. Paul said to the church: “You were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20), while Peter also confirmed that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
During the same night when Jesus made the promise to the early disciples that He was going to prepare a place for us, He instituted Holy Communion. He passed the cup of wine to His disciples with the words: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood” (1 Cor. 11:25). That was a confirmation of the eternal bond that we have with Him through His death on the cross.
As the Jewish bride was declared to be holy and solely dedicated to her bridegroom, we also have an obligation to appear before Christ holy and without blemish. Paul says that our hearts must be “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 3:13), and further explains the need for sanctification: “...Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
After concluding the marriage contract, the bridegroom returned to his father’s house where he stayed for about a year to prepare a place for his bride and himself. During that time he didn’t see his bride and she kept herself busy with making a wedding garment and collecting necessities for married life. As Christians, we are in the same situation. During the present time of seclusion while we wait on the Bridegroom to return we must work on our wedding garment (Rev. 19:8) and prepare ourselves for our future position in heaven. We also have the responsibility to extend the invitation to become members of the bridal congregation of Christ to all people. There is also a real danger that we may be tempted by Satan during this time and seduced to become unfaithful to Christ, thereby backsliding from our holy relationship with Him.
The carnal Corinthians did not heed the command to holiness (1 Cor. 3:1-17), and Paul warned them that because of the worldly spirit which they harboured, they would fall victim to satanic deception and become unfaithful to Christ: “I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds be may corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2-3). From the parable in Matthew 25 it is also evident that five of the virgins had too little oil in their lamps. That is an indication that they didn’t walk in the fullness of the Spirit and were therefore not worthy to appear before the Bridegroom and accompany Him to His Father’s house. There was a serious shortcoming in their lives.
At the end of the year of seclusion the Jewish bridegroom fetched his bride to come and stay with him. She knew more or less when the time was ripe, but not the exact day when he would come. He usually came at night because it was a secret meeting between him and her. She went out on the road to meet him, and on this occasion he didn’t show himself to the rest of her family members. His arrival was preceded by a shout, which was the good tiding that the bridegroom had come for his bride (Matt. 25:6). By then it was too late to make further preparations for the coming of the bridegroom.
In a similar way the heavenly Bridegroom will secretly come for His bride at the end of the church dispensation. He will meet her outside planet earth in the air, and on this occasion He will definitely not reveal Himself to the rest of the world. His coming will also be announced by a shout: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
When, the next morning, the family members of the bride discovered that she and her friends had disappeared, they knew that the bridegroom had taken them away during the night. As a separate group the family members then departed to the house of the bridegroom to attend the marriage feast.
The moment when Messianic Jews suddenly disappear at the rapture, together with all the other members of the bridal congregation of Jesus, many of the Jews who remain behind will know that the heavenly bridegroom has taken them away to be with Him. That will provide strong evidence to them that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world, and because of that realisation, there will be a big spiritual awakening in Israel in which 144 000 Jews will be saved shortly after the rapture (Rev. 7:1-8). However, the majority of the nation will still be spiritually blinded and conclude a covenant with the false messiah to become members of his false bride of deceived worshippers (Rev. 17:3).
The same shocking discovery of the sudden disappearance of evangelical Christians will also be made elsewhere in the world, where it will be obvious that some people have vanished without a trace from their homes or places of employment (Matt. 24:40-42; Luke 17:34-36). There will be only one biblical explanation for this phenomenon, and that is that the heavenly Bridegroom has taken His bride away from planet earth!
When the Jewish bridegroom and his companions arrived at his father’s house, his bride was still veiled and he took her to the bridal room (“huppah”) where they spent seven days alone to consummate the marriage. In the meantime, the guests started arriving to celebrate the consummation of the marriage. After the seven days the bridegroom introduced his bride unveiled to the guests so that all of them could see her. That was cause for great jubilation and festivities.
In a similar way, the Messiah will take His bride to a secluded place where the rest of the world will not be able to see her. The seven days of the “huppah” prophetically refer to a year-week, which will be the seven years between the rapture and public revelation of Jesus Christ and His bride to the whole world. After the union between Christ and His bride, seven years will indeed elapse before the celebration of the marriage feast of the Lamb here on earth.
At His second coming, the Lord Jesus and His bride will be revealed to the whole world: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). After this revelation, the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated on earth. The remnant of Israel, who will only be saved at the second coming of Christ, will be among the guests: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). As the bride of the Lamb she will appear before Him in a spotless robe.
In a Psalm on the marriage of the Messiah, this illustrious occasion is described as follows:
“All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad. King’s daughters are among Your honourable women; at Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. … The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colours; the virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace. ... You shall make [your sons] princes in all the earth” (Ps. 45:8-16).
After the marriage feast of the Messiah, His reign of peace will be instituted in which His holy ones will rule with Him as kings. With a view to this wonderful prospect they will sing to the Lamb in heaven, before His second coming: “You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10). If you have been bought with the precious blood of the Lamb and you are a sanctified, active member of His bridal congregation you will also share in the glory of His future revelation (Col. 3:4). We will judge the world with Him (1 Cor. 6:2) and also rule with Him as kings.
But as for now, in this dispensation, we are not judges or kings but soldiers for the cross, servants of God, and followers of the suffering Messiah who is still rejected by Israel and the world at large. We enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations, but in all these things we are more than conquerors in Him who loved us and laid down His life for us (Rom. 8:37). If we do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:1), we will please God by living in conformity with the life of His Son, and will consequently be ready when the heavenly Bridegroom suddenly appears to take His bride away!