The First Advent of Jesus can teach us some important lessons about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the timing of God, and the blessing of living with an eternal perspective.
Literal Fulfillment of Prophecy
The Bible tells us that God the Father established His plan of salvation before the very foundation of the world. In other words, He knew that Jesus would come as a child, be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, be rejected by man, die a cruel death, serve as a propitiation for the sins of the world, be buried in a borrowed grave and rise again to demonstrate His power over death. Multiple prophetic passages foretold those various elements of the Messiah’s life, death, and resurrection. Even the events of His conception and birth were prophesied in great detail.
In our ministry’s publication, The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide, we have shown that although there are more than 300 different prophetic references in the Old Testament to Jesus’ birth and life, many of these are repetitious. Those that are separate and distinct total 109 — all of which were literally fulfilled.
We therefore proclaim that the Lord will keep His promises regarding His Second Coming with the same exactitude, fulfilling each one literally. The prophecies concerning the gathering of His saints in the Rapture and His glorious return to earth will be fulfilled literally, just as those that pointed toward His First Advent.
God’s Perfect Timing
There is another important and informative aspect of His incarnation that is often overlooked — namely, the timing. Scripture tells us that He arrived at the “appointed time.”
Arguably, faithful Jews living in the era leading up to Jesus’ birth would have longed for the Messiah’s arrival much sooner because life in Judea under Roman rule prior to Jesus’ birth was very harsh.
No doubt, the same hope would have echoed in previous generations as threatening foreign empires rose and fell and people were marched off into exile. And yet, the Messiah did not come at a time anyone desired or would have expected.
Instead, Paul wrote that God sent forth His Son “when the fullness of the time came,” meaning that His incarnation occurred at the right and perfect time in human history. There is no value in speculating the advantage that might have been gained or the obstacles that would have been present had He come sooner or later. The Father set the time and the Son was sent.
Why the Delay in Returning?
With our own world descending into chaos and many hearts growing cold, you may ask, “What is Jesus waiting for? Why does He delay?” Scripture says that it’s because God wants more people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
The Bible tells us He will return at the appointed time, known only to the Father in Heaven. In doing so, He will fulfill the prophetic promise He made to Abraham so many years ago and echoed to Habakkuk years later: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you…” (Genesis 18:14 and Habakkuk 2:3).
For those of us looking for our Blessed Hope and awaiting our transformation in the twinkling of an eye at the Rapture, we must accept the blessed assurance that the time of His coming has also been set before the foundation of the world and that it too will be right and perfect. And we can praise the Lord, knowing that even His apparent delay is “for the glory of God and so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:4).
In the second and last part of our probe of the First Advent, we will look at one more element of Jesus’ First Coming that is instructive to us.