Friday, December 14, 2018

Consider the Contrast

A Christmas Devotional

By Leon E. Good 

Recently, as I was mulling the celebration of Christ’s first coming, I decided I would share with you an encouragement and an exhortation regarding the one who is both a Savior who suffered pain and death, and who will be coming as a conquering King.

As I thought of Christ’s birth, its prophetical significance, and His prophetically promised second return to earth, I marveled at the contrast of those two happenings, which are both of ultimate significance to our eternal destination and existence.

The Contrast of Christ’s Comings 

“The second coming of Christ shall be utterly unlike the first. He came the first time in weakness, a tender infant, born of a poor woman in the manger at Bethlehem, unnoticed, unhonored, and scarcely known. He shall come the second time in royal dignity, with the armies of heaven around Him, to be known, recognized and feared, by all the tribes of the earth.
“He came the first time to suffer – to bear our sins, to be reckoned a curse, to be despised, rejected, unjustly condemned and slain. He shall come the second time to reign – to put down every enemy beneath His feet, to take the kingdom of this world for His inheritance, to rule them with righteousness, to judge all men and to live forevermore.

“How vast the difference! How mighty the contrast!”
~ J.C. Ryle 

Just ponder the following:
  • The Knowledge of His First Coming 
When He came the first time, it was not reported on the evening news. The number of people God chose to tell of this coming were few indeed.

God chose the shepherds, not highly regarded in that Jewish culture, to hear the angelic performance and announcement. The shepherds were then faithful in announcing His birth: Luke 2:17-18 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 

We also have the account of the wise men from the east, their number unknown, inquiring if King Herod could tell them where this King of the Jews was to be born. I am intrigued by this fact: Why did God allow this scenario to take place? Why did he include Herod and the Jews in this process? The wise men had followed the star from their homeland, and after the contact with Herod and the Jewish religious intelligentsia, God again led them with the star to Bethlehem. Matthew 2:9-10 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

We also have the account of Simeon, who was another confirmation given by God of Jesus’ arrival as prophesied in the Old Testament. Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 
  • The Place Chosen for His Birth 
Micah 5:2 But thou, Beth-lehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 

  • The Purpose of His First Coming 
Christ’s first coming was to end at a young age after only three years of ministry in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Most of the world’s population contemporary with Jesus never saw him, nor knew of him, nor recognized what He accomplished in His short life, crucifixion, and resurrection. He had just accomplished what was necessary for the salvation of mankind! He died in the place of you and I, as a perfect, sacrifice lamb.

  • Even His resurrection was not published around the world, until the Church began to fulfill the Great Commission.
John 20:11-16 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 

  • His Ascension was witnessed by a comparatively small group of believers. 
Acts 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 

As you have considered what has been described in Scripture as represented above, you as a believer have no doubts concerning the REALITY of those happenings.

May I boldly state that the prophecies that were fulfilled in His first coming, were prophesied by the same God that has prophesied Christ’s second coming to earth, to establish His kingdom on earth. It is my understanding of Scripture that the church will accompany Him from Heaven in that return. But our understanding of these happenings, or the lack thereof, will not change the exactness of those prophecies regarding Christ’s Second Coming. I personally hold to a Pre-Tribulation, Pre-Millennial departure of the church as the Bride of Christ meets the Bridegroom Christ in the air, with Christ not setting foot on the earth at that event. With that said, I am excited to receive a fuller understanding of all these prophecies when they are actually fulfilled as God has designed. Since I have full confidence in God’s perfect timing and methodology, I do not trust less because my understanding is limited regarding these events.

The Knowledge of His Second Coming 

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 

Please take note no one on earth will miss this coming, and there will be a recognition that he is the same Christ they had crucified.

The following are some images that might help you to understand how Scriptures describe what changes His rule on earth will bring to reality. It is my understanding that this period of rule will once and for all time prove that man’s heart is wicked, unless it is regenerated by our Savior. Because at the end of this one thousand years, people again rebel against Christ’s authority and righteousness when Satan is released. They will not be able to place blame for their evil on their environment, or the political corruptness of their government. The earth will be as a garden of Eden, with no food shortages, with no wars, with no animal violence, and no sin permitted with perfect execution of justice for every individual on the earth. This will be accomplished by a righteous, all-knowing, omnipotent, and loving King. There will be no spurious doctrines of social justice, Marxism, nor any false teachers allowed in this Kingdom.

Daniel 2:31-34 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 

Isaiah 11:4-9 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and withthe breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 

Most of us cannot comprehend life on earth without the curse that sin has brought to our experience. At this time Christ will remove that curse. 

In Conclusion: 
I found the following short summary here:

The First Coming of Christ: 
  • It is a matter of historical fact. 
  • Was when He came to earth as a newborn baby. 
  • Was when He came to die to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. 
  • When He came to be the Saviour of sinners. 
  • Was when He came to be man's Saviour. 
  • Was when He came with meekness riding on a donkey. 
  • Was when Christ came to bring peace to the human heart and when He came the first time the government remained in the hands of men. 
  • Was when Christ came the first time and was rejected by the Jewish people - they, and the Romans crucified Him. 

The Second Coming of Christ: 
  • Is a matter of prophecy (i.e.) is predicted in the Bible, God’s Word. 
  • Means Christ will come to rule and reign. 
  • Is when He will come to be the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 
  • Is when Christ will come to be man's judge. (Jude 14-15).
  • Means Christ will come to earth as a conquering Warrior. 
  • Means Christ will come with power riding on a white horse. 
  • Means Christ will come to bring peace to the entire world. 
  • Then He will be received by the Jewish people. 

So, whilst the first coming of Jesus was as a servant to serve and teach, His second arrival will be to rule over the whole earth. We all need to be ready for that time.

Following are a few of the Scriptures my mind recalled, with which you are certainly familiar, as I thought about the future for God’s Children, persons who have been regenerated by faith in His work at His first coming.

This Scripture contains information about both comings:

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseler, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

This Scripture seems to describe the church meeting Jesus in the air, without him setting foot on earth: 

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 

This Scripture indicates a final judgment and a riddance of all wickedness: 

Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. 

This Scripture depicts a New Heaven and a New Earth: 

Revelation 21:1-6 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the firstearth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 

This Scripture depicts this Kingdom of Christ as eternal:

Revelation 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 

The last verses in Scripture are as follows: 

Revelation 22:16-21 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 

Please remember: all prophetical Scripture will be fulfilled to a perfection in timing, structure, and completeness. While the view of our present world gives us a feeling of hopelessness, in Christ Jesus we are, and will be VICTORIOUS! 

Note: All graphics are from Public Domain