Friday, December 8, 2017

the two advents -- part 1

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 14
1 Corinthians is absolutely loaded with spiritual answers. At the same time, it raises just as many spiritual questions!
Stand in the Rain has been waiting for 1 Corinthians, because it's the perfect place from which to launch a series of articles that will (we hope) sort out some of the Bible's paradoxes.
Ten years ago, I stumbled across a reprint of the original (1909) Scofield Reference Bible. Printed in the back was a lengthy article called "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth."
As I read it, so many of scripture's internal "contradictions" melted away. And so, leaning heavily on Scofield's original, we present this abridgment to you. We hope, pray, and expect that some concepts which once seemed logically irreconcilable will start to make seamless sense!
'Advent' is a pretty, Christmas-y word. That's because the baby in Bethlehem was the first advent, or appearing, of Jesus Christ.
His second advent is just as certain. We know how, where, and why he will return. The only question is when, which only the Father knows (1); scripture does not reveal that secret.
Both of Jesus' advents are clearly and vividly prophesied in scripture. The Bible student who can identify which is which--which prophecies refer to the first advent, which prophecies refer to the second advent--will avoid unnecessary confusion.
Moreover, when we understand the two advents, we clarify our understanding of the overall purpose, plan, heart, and character of God.
Whoever carefully considers Old Testament prophecies is struck by two contrasting (and seemingly contradictory) lines of prediction concerning the coming Messiah.
One body of prediction speaks of him as coming in weakness and humiliation:
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
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 crushed for our iniquities;
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with 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. (from Isaiah 53)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
"He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (from Psalm 22)
And if one asks him, 'What are these wounds on your back?' he will say, 'The wounds I received in the house of my friends.'
"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me," declares the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 13:6-7)
The other line of prophecy foretells a splendid, conquering and unconquerable Sovereign, purging the earth with judgments, regathering dispersed Israel, restoring the throne of David to unparalleled splendor, and introducing a reign of profound peace and perfect righteousness:
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. (Isaiah 9:7)
And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. (Malachi 3:1-3)
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity. (Psalms 98:9)
Behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
The Old Testament prophets, as they looked ahead, were understandably puzzled by what the Spirit was telling them:
They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ's suffering and his great glory afterward. They wondered when and to whom all this would happen.  (1 Peter 3:11)
Today, as we stand between the first and second advents--between Christ's suffering and his great glory--these once-perplexing prophecies have come into focus.
Tomorrow we will learn what Jesus' first appearance can teach us about his Second Coming.
(1) Matthew 24:36

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