A mystery of the Bible is the fact that the Messiah will come to the earth on two separate occasions. The absence of this fact in the knowledge of many Jews today is a primary reason that they cannot see Jesus as the One True Messiah.
As we examine this next section of Psalms 102, we see that it was the intention of the Hebrew scriptures to convey the idea of a Messiah, who appears on the earth twice.
You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, And all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory.1
New Testament Fulfillment:
For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.2
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.3
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.4
Revelation 12:5 She (Israel) bore a male Child (Jesus) who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God (Resurrected) and His throne.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”5
This prophecy, from Psalms 102:13-16, has two parts: one to be fulfilled earlier; the other, much later, at the end of the age.
- First: You will arise and have mercy on Zion.
- Second: He shall appear in His glory.
Earlier Fulfillment: The Messiah will appear at Zion (Jerusalem) to bring the mercy of God. The Messiah will come to offer His life for the sins of the world.
Later Fulfillment: The Messiah will return in the last days, to appear in Glory, to rule and reign over the whole earth—forever.
This prophecy, from Psalms 102:13-16, is an advanced look into the detailed and precise events that will occur as a part of both appearances of Jesus on the earth—as the world’s Savior, and King.
In many of the Old Testament prophecies of the Bible, there is an earlier as well as a later fulfillment of the prediction made.
An example of this is found in Isaiah Chapter 61:
“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…”6
Compare Isaiah’s words to those spoken by Jesus when He came to the synagogue at Nazareth and quoted from this verse, found in Isaiah 61:
So Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “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.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.7
Notice that Jesus omitted the text: And the day of vengeance of our God…
At Jesus’ first arrival on earth, He was coming as the suffering Servant of God—the Lamb who would lay down His life for the sins of the world. At Jesus’ second appearing on earth, at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, He is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords.
When Jesus finished reading the words of Isaiah Chapter 61, He rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the attendant. As He sat down, the eyes of all those in the synagogue were transfixed on Jesus. Then He said these words:
Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.8
Those who had heard Jesus speak in the synagogue were utterly astonished. The words of these prophecies, from Isaiah Chapter 61, could only be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah. By stating that this prophecy had been fulfilled as Jesus spoke, He was claiming to be the Messiah. Jesus said that He would fulfill the first part of Isaiah 61, the acceptable year of the Lord, during His first arrival; and then the day of vengeance of our God, at His return.
Jesus revealed something to us that was hidden in verse 12 of Isaiah 61. There were two parts to the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Isaiah 61:2 (Part 1) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD; (Part 2) And the day of vengeance of our God…
- Part one: to fulfill the Acceptable year of the Lord—the time when God would pardon the sins of anyone who came to Jesus and believed upon Him as their Savior.
- Part two: would be fulfilled at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (the time of vengeance) when Jesus would return to earth with His church (Revelation 19) and rule over the whole earth for one thousand years as absolute King and Lord.
We should remember that Jesus is speaking from the synagogue at Nazareth, the place where He had grown up. Many of those in attendance had known Jesus since He was a little boy. Imagine your response if, suddenly, someone whom you had known for several years stood up to read a verse of scripture from one of the Old Testament prophets, and declared that he was the one whom the prophet was writing about. This must have come as a complete shock to the men who were listening to Him on that morning.
So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” 9
The people who had known Jesus, as He was growing up in Nazareth as Joseph’s son, found that it was impossible for them to accept that He was the promised Messiah. This gives us an idea that the early life of Jesus was likely as normal as any other young boy. It is certain that He had many wonderful attributes; nevertheless, they had not considered that Jesus was anything more than a normal human being. This makes the story of Jesus’ life truly extraordinary for us today. When Paul described Jesus as tempted in all points as we, yet without sin, in Hebrews 4:15, we understand that Jesus experienced all of the same difficulties that every other human being goes through during their life, with one notable exception: He did not give in to temptation and sin.
Though Jesus was of exceptional character, the people of Nazareth were not prepared to receive Him as the Messiah. This is an important lesson for all of us today. The people who have known us for the longest period of time will find it more difficult to receive our testimony about Jesus. It is very hard for anyone, including Jesus, to go to those whom we have known for a great period of time, and be an effective witness for the gospel.
Perhaps, you have tried to tell your family or close friends about your new relationship with the Lord, and have been rejected. This is due in large part to the fact that these are the people who have known us for a long period of time. When we were growing up, we were not without sin. There were many moments during our childhood when we were selfish, rude, rebellious, and disobedient. When, suddenly, we begin to proclaim that our life has been changed by coming into a knowledge of Jesus Christ, people will find this hard to accept.
My father was an automobile dealer in Southern California from 1969 to 1987. I worked alongside him in the family business for about 15 years. It is sufficient to say that during my childhood, I was not of the same character that Jesus possessed when He was growing up in Nazareth. In 1975, when I received Jesus as my Savior, and returned to tell my father and others at the automobile agency about my relationship with Jesus, they were not ready to receive my testimony. It took many years of consistent observation of my life, before those I had known the longest were ready to believe that I was truly a different man. My father did not receive Jesus as his Savior until 2007, just prior to his death. During those 32 years, I did not cease to follow and serve Jesus. My testimony was not always perfect, but it was consistent over a very long period of time. This is what convinces those we love the most and have known for the longest period of time. We should never give up in telling our family and friends about Jesus. We will find that in later years, they will be more willing to receive us, and perhaps a few will also believe upon the Lord and be saved.
Jesus spoke this truth to those who had known Him from Nazareth—that a prophet can be accepted almost anywhere, except in his own hometown.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”10
The people from Nazareth did not receive Him as the Messiah on that day. They found it impossible to reconcile that someone they had known since he was a boy could be the Savior of the world.
This example from Isaiah 61, which is partially fulfilled in Luke Chapter 4, demonstrates that there can be an earlier fulfillment as well as a later fulfillment of the same prophecy.
Matthew Chapter 24 is also an example of an earlier and later fulfillment of the same prophecy.
In Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus foretells the coming destruction of the temple in Jerusalem that occurred in 70 A.D. The disciples had brought Jesus to the temple to show Him the building. While the disciples are focussed on the material structure of the temple building, Jesus opens their eyes to the world of the Spirit—where the temple is merely a component in a much larger plan that God has for the whole world.
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”11
Jesus informs His disciples that not one stone shall be left upon another in the temple, that will not be thrown down. The Lord is predicting the future destruction of the temple that took place just 38 years later. The disciples wanted to know when these things would take place. Jesus reveals the details of this future destruction, by describing the events immediately preceding the Tribulation as well as the specific details that will take place during this unprecedented seven-year period of human history.
- Religious deception
- Wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes
- The Abomination of Desolation in the Temple
- Persecution and death for those who receive Jesus
- The gospel preached all over the world
- The wrath of the antichrist against Israel
- The return of Jesus with His church at the end of the seven-year Tribulation
There is an earlier and a later fulfillment within the text of this single verse of scripture. Part one of Jesus’ prophecy, from Matthew’s gospel, took place in 70 A.D. as Israel was destroyed by the Roman army. The second installment would take place much later, upon the arrival of the antichrist. The final portion of Jesus’ prophecy, from Matthew 24, will not be fulfilled until the seven-year Tribulation period is concluded.
What we learn from the way Jesus recited this verse from Isaiah 61:1-2 is that the Messiah will appear twice on the earth:
- Once for salvation
- A second time for judgment
First, He will arrive as the suffering and dying Messiah to pay for the sins of the world. This is the acceptable year of the Lord, the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy. Then, in the last days, Jesus will return to earth a second time, at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, to proclaim the day of God’s vengeance. Jesus will return with His church to defeat the antichrist and all those who are gathered together against Him at the Valley of Megiddo.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True (Jesus), and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses (Jesus church). Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (at the valley of Megiddo). And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.12
This event takes place at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
Revelation Chapter 19 describes Jesus, returning to earth from heaven with His church. All those who had committed themselves to Him as their Savior before the Rapture occurred were removed from the earth by Him, just prior to the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.
We see the following set of circumstances that will take place in the last days:
- Those who have received Jesus who are living on earth
- The Rapture occurs; believers are removed from the earth.
- The Tribulation begins; judgement is poured out on the earth.
- The Tribulation ends after seven years.
- Jesus returns with His church.
- Jesus defeats the antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon.
- Jesus establishes His kingdom on the earth.
While in heaven, as the seven-year Tribulation is taking place on the earth, those who have faithfully served Jesus before the Rapture took place are given rewards by Him.
His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”13
The right to rule with Jesus during the new kingdom He will establish on the earth will be determined by the Lord. Based on our faithfulness to Him while alive during our earthly years, He will give “Crowns” or symbols of rulership to those who faithfully served Him.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?14
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.15
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.16
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.17
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.18
These crowns will be given to all those who have loved Jesus and are eagerly anticipating His promised return. When the Rapture takes place, all of our work here on earth, as mere human beings, will be at an end. Everything we have said and done during the period of our sojourn on the earth will be judged by the Lord—not for sin to punish us, but for the purpose of granting rewards for the things we have done for the Lord during our life. This reward process will likely take place immediately after the Rapture occurs, when we are taken by the Lord to heaven.
Upon the Rapture, those who remain on the earth will begin a time of Tribulation that has never been experienced on the earth before, nor will there ever be a time of such distress and wrath again.19 When the seven-year Tribulation is concluded, Jesus will return to earth, with His church, to rule over the kingdom promised to David.
“…the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.”20
The Lord told David that when the Messiah comes again, His kingdom will never end: “And your house and your kingdom (David) shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”21
After receiving our rewards from the Lord in heaven, we will all return to earth at the conclusion of the Seven-Seal, Seven-Trumpet, and Seven-Bowl judgments, described in Revelation Chapters 6-18.
Jesus returns to strike the nations that have worshipped the antichrist. The armies of the world will be gathered at the Valley of Megiddo, north of Jerusalem, waiting for the return of Jesus. The term above in Revelation 19, “He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God,” is a description of this battle the Lord will fight in the winepress of the Valley of Megiddo. This valley will be filled with the armies of the antichrist. Jesus will simply speak (out of His mouth goes a sharp sword) the word of God, and all these armies will be destroyed. The blood from the carnage of the Lord’s judgement will be to the depth of a horse’s bridle (about 5 feet), for the entire 200-mile length of this valley. An angel is said to call all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, to come and gather for the supper of the great God.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.22
And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles (5 feet), for one thousand six hundred furlongs (200 miles).23
When Jesus made this announcement at Nazareth that Isaiah’s prophecy of chapter 61 was in two parts—one earlier, one later—few understood. We learn from this important principle that it is possible that a single prophecy from the Old Testament may contain an earlier and a later fulfillment.
This fact of Hebrew prophecy supported by the text of the New Testament, in which Jesus is observed in Nazareth, telling the people in His hometown that the Messiah will come twice, is compelling evidence for authenticity. The fact that this principle already existed in the pages of the Old Testament prophecy unknown during the time when Jesus appeared in Jerusalem, and is understood by the writers of the New testament, is compelling. What author or authors could contrive such a myth that contained such an elaborate scheme, where authors from different periods of history participated in the same deception?
In order to believe that the narrative of Jesus Christ is a lie, we would have to believe that the entire Bible is also a lie. The men who penned a large majority of the pages of Hebrew scriptures wrote their descriptions of the Messiah hundreds of years before their words would become true. They had no way of knowing who the Messiah would be, or that He would reveal to the world that the promised Redeemer would arrive on the earth twice.
The reality that we see two appearances of the Messiah, which is only understood when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, is empirical evidence of authenticity for the entire text of the Bible.
1 Psalms 102:13-16
2 Hebrews 9:24-28
3 John 14:2-3
4 Luke 21:24
5 Revelation 12:10
6 Isaiah 61:1-62
7 Luke 4:16-20
8 Luke 4:21
9 Luke 4:22
10 Mark 6:4
11 Matthew 24:1-3
12 Revelation 19:11-16
13 Matthew 25:23
14 1 Thessalonians 2:19
15 2 Timothy 4:8
16 James 1:12
17 1 Peter 5:4
18 Revelation 2:10
19 Matthew 24:21
20 Revelation 19:14-15
21 2 Samuel 7:16
22 Revelation 19:17-21
23 Revelation 14:20