To commence our study with the testimony of the Gospel according to Matthew is to attempt to build without a foundation.The teaching of Matthew and the bulk of the New Testament rests upon the teaching of the Old Testament, not only for the fulfilment of prophecy in the coming of the Lord as Redeemer, but also for His coming again as the hope of His people.
It would not be difficult to prove that the very terms of Adam’s creation look forward to the Second Coming of the Lord. For example, the reference to the dominion given to man in Psalm 8, Psalm 72, Daniel 2 and 7, and Hebrews 2, etc., look forward to the coming reign of Christ the Messiah. The description of the garden of Eden looks forward to Revelation 22 and the promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head awaits the Second Coming of the Lord for its complete fulfilment (Rom. 16:20).
These passage, however, are too indirect for our present purpose, so the first point to which we call attention is:
The prophecy of Enoch
The words that constitute Enoch’s prophecy are not recorded in Genesis 5, but it matters not who it is that has preserved his utterance so long as it is found within the page of Scripture. We are indebted to Jude for the record. He writes:
- ‘And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’ (Jude 14,15)
Before we can understand the import of this prophecy, we must observe the general trend of the epistle in order to see the appositeness of Enoch’s witness. If we glance at the earlier verses of Jude we shall see not only a reference to human sin of a deep dye in the mention of Sodom and Gomorrah, but a reference also to angels who kept not their first estate, and are therefore reserved for judgment.
Looking to the end of the epistle, such outstanding apostate as Cain, Balaam and Korah are brought forward as examples of the mockers who shall come in the last times. It is time, therefore, that we consider the structure of the epistle to see just where Enoch’s prophecy comes.
A 1,2. Benediction
B 3. Exhortation. Beloved. Earnestly contend for faith.
C 4. Ungodly men ‘of old’.
D 5. Remembrance. The Lord’s acts.
E 5-16. a 5-8. Three examples, Israël, angels and Sodom. b 9,10. Michael the Archangel. Unrecorded elsewhere. Reference to Satan. a 11-13. Three examples, Cain, Balaam and Korah. b 14-16. The Lord and holy myriads. Unrecorded elsewhere. Allusion to Satan.
D 17. Remembrance. The Lord’s words.
C 18,19. Ungodly of ‘last time’.
B 20-23. Exhortation. Beloved. Build up on faith.
A 24,25. Doxology.
A literal rendering of the words of Enoch recorded in Jude 14 must read: ‘Behold, the Lord came‘. While the true rendering of the aorist of the Greek verb is still somewhat of a moot point, the rightness of the above rendering is confirmed by the general usage and renderings of the A.V. The interested student may test this by noting the occurrence of elthe (part of the verb erchomai ‘to come’), which is usually translated ‘came’, see, for example, John. 1:7,11; 3:2; 7:50; 8:42; etc. If Enoch said, ‘Behold, the Lord came‘, he must have been referring back to some judgment that was past when he spoke. To what could he refer? The judgment of the flood had not then taken place, neither had judgment fallen upon Babel. The description given of the judgment could not refer to Genesis 3 or 4. To what then could it refer?
The reader will probably have travelled back in mind to Genesis 1:2, to the katabole kosmou, ‘the overthrow of the world’. This connection is more than countenanced by Peter in his second epistle which we have already found to be parallel with that of Jude.
The Second Coming and Overthrow (Gen. 1:2)
Enoch referred back to an overthrow that had taken place and said, ‘Behold the Lord came‘, and this reference to angels and Satan removes any sense of disproportion. Enoch also locked forward, and named his son Methuselah, ‘at his death it (namely the flood) shall be’, and in the year of the flood Methuselah died. Enoch’s two prophecies link the two floods Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 6 together.
‘Ten thousands of His saints‘. These words are quoted by Moses in the blessing of Israël:
- ‘The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them, He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them’ (Deut. 33:2).
There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the word ‘saints’ here. The law of Sinai we know from various Scriptures was mediated by angels (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2).
- ‘The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai’ (Psa. 68:17).
- ‘A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him’ (Dan. 7:10).
- ‘For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels’ (Matt. 17:27; cf. 25:31).
- ‘The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels’ (2 Thess. 1:7).
These quotations are sufficient to prove that the ‘saints’ or ‘holy ones’ of Enoch’s prophecy are ‘angels’ and not the redeemed. This also is the meaning of Zechariah 14:5, ‘And the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee’, and of Joel 3:11, ‘Thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD’; also of 1 Thessalonians 3:13, ‘The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints’.
Coming ‘for’ and ‘with’ His saints
There is quite a school of prophetic thought that stresses the distinction of the coming of the Lord ‘for’ and the coming of the Lord ‘with’ His saints. Supposing for the purpose of argument we accept this view, how does it stand examination? The Thessalonians were waiting for God’s Son from heaven (1:10), and exercising the patience of hope (1:3). They were told that their loved ones who had died would not meet the Lord earlier or later than those living at the time, but that both living and dead would be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air (4:15,16). Well then, what are we to make of 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
- ‘To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints‘.
If these ‘saints’ are His redeemed people, and if the Thessalonians were to wait for the Lord to come with all His redeemed people, then what place do the Thessalonians occupy? They were redeemed, they certainly were not the unwatchful who might have been left behind, for they were to be established ‘unblameable in holiness’, and if such can be left behind, who then shall go? The distinction between ‘coming with’ excludes those to whom the apostle wrote and contradicts the express statements of 1 Thessalonians 4:15,16 and 5:10. If we take 1 Thessalonians 3:13 to speak of the ‘holy ones’, the ‘saints’ of Deuteronomy 33 and of Enoch’s prophecy, we have the coming of the Lord WITH His angels and FOR His people set before us with clearness and without contradictory statements.
It is interesting to note that the Sinaitic MS. reads: ‘ten thousand of His holy angels’. The angels that shall come at the end of the age are doubtless the same that were instrumental in bringing about the overthrow of Genesis 1 and all the divine interpositions through the ages, until the last that is recorded in the Revelation:
- ‘And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean … and the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet … These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone’ (Rev. 19:14-20).
When once we are clear as to the fact that ‘the saints’ of Enoch’s prophecy are the holy angels, we begin to realize their relation in the context with the fallen angels. Moreover, the structure shows that Michael the archangel is placed in correspondence with the Lord and His angels, and both in conflict with Satan. Enoch’s prophecy, with its reference to Genesis 1:2, taken in conjunction with 2 Peter 3 [It is highly probable that Peter speaks of the Flood, but the flood of Genesis 6 is but an echo of the ‘deep’ of Genesis 1, and both catastrophies are associated with the fallen angels], where it is stated that the world that then was, was destroyed by water, and the heavens and earth which are now shall be destroyed by fire, lifts the doctrine of the Second Coming into its true place in the purpose of the ages. There has been a tendency to look upon the Second Coming as a kind of afterthought, the text best thing that could be done in the circumstances. What we call ‘the Second Coming’ was demanded by the purpose of the ages, whether Israël had received their Messiah and His prior presentation or not. Let the scoffers say what they will,
- ‘Behold, the Lord CAME’ (Jude 14), and ‘He that SHALL COME will come, and will not tarry’ (Heb. 10:37).
Job also must be allowed his witness:
- ‘For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at (in) the latter day upon the earth: and (following the margin) after I shall awake, though this body be destroyed, yet out of my flesh shall I see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. My reins within me are consumed with earnest desire (for that day)’ (Job 19:25-27).
Job was not limiting his vision to the Saviour at Bethlehem, but looked on to ‘the latter day’, a term parallel with ‘the last day’ of the prophets. Moreover, he looked to see his Redeemer standing in the latter day ‘upon the earth’. The parallel passage (Job 14:12) tells us that this shall not take place ’till the heavens be no more’, which refers to the same period as 2 Peter 3:7,10,11; Revelation 20:11 and Isaiah 51:6. Job entertained no hope of ‘going to heaven’. He belonged to that company who will wake after the Millennium, when ‘the heavens be no more’.
The song of Moses (Exod. 15:1-19), uttered at the overthrow of Pharaoh, necessitates the Second Coming for its true fulfillment, and it can never be complete until it is coupled with the song of the Lamb, sung, not upon the shores of the Red Sea, but by a sea of glass mingled with fire, celebrating a victory, not over Pharaoh, but over the Beast and his image (Rev. 15:1-3). The song of Moses, just before his death (Deut. 32:36-43), equally looks forward to the Second Coming for its fulfillment. These passages, however, may be considered too vague to stand alone, and can be better appreciated when the more precise statements of other Scriptures have been read. Traversing the history of Israel to the setting up of the kingdom, we find embedded in the Psalms several testimonies to the Second Coming of the Lord.
In his Psalms, David looks forward to the Coming of the Lord as the great goal of his desire. At the end of Psalm 72 he says, ‘ the prayers (or praises) of David the son of Jesse are ended’, and this climax is the Psalm of the King’s Son. There we read of this great King as the Judge and Deliverer of the poor and needy. Peace and prosperity are the result of His reign. His dominion is from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. All kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him, and bless Him. The whole earth is full of His glory.
The figure used in verse 6 is liable to be misunderstood: ‘He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass’. There is no word for ‘grass’ in this verse, the word translated ‘mown grass’ being gez, which is also rendered by the word ‘fleece’ and ‘mowings’. To the farmer it is a disaster, not a blessing, for rain to fall upon his new mown grass. What the passage really refers to is the fall of the rain upon the parched earth after the grass has been cut and removed, as expressed in Amos 7:1: ‘The beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth: and lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings’. The figure of Psalm 72 is that the Coming of the Lord will be like the latter rain. Israel shall grow and flourish a second time, there shall be a blessed aftermath, they shall revive and their end shall be glorious.
Coming to Psalm 96 we read of millennial conditions. All the earth is called upon to ‘Sing unto the Lord a new song’. His glory is to be declared among the nations, and the Gentiles are called upon to bring an offering and to come into His courts:
- ‘Say among the heathen. The LORD reigneth … let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof … FOR HE COMETH, for He cometh to judge the earth’ (Psa. 96:10-13).
This coming is further described in the next Psalm:
- ‘The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about Him … a fire goeth before Him … The hills melted like wax AT THE PRESENCE of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord the whole earth’ (Psa. 97:1-5).
Psalm 98 ends with the words ‘For He cometh’, etc., and gives additional details of that day. Psalm 110 anticipates the coming of the Lord:
- ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strenght out of Zion … the Lord at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath’ (Psa. 110:1-5).
This reflects upon the character of the Millennium. The closing words of Psalm 150, ‘Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD, Praise ye the LORD’, look forward to Revelation 5:13 for the time of their fulfillment.
Enoch’s prophecy, Job’s patience, Moses’ song and David’s prayer, all bear their testimony that the Lord is coming to this earth once again. Coming in judgment upon the ungodly (Enoch), coming with resurrection life for those who own Him as Redeemer (Job), coming to lead a mightier exodus that that through the Red Sea (Moses), coming to reign as the greater that Solomon, David’s Son and David’s Lord.
Daniel’s dream, given in chapter 7, shows that the setting up of this kingdom takes place at the second Coming of the Lord. Once more we adhere to the one theme before us, deferring the question as to whether the four beast are parallel with the metals of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, or whether they have a different time period both for commencement and for fulfillment. The theme of the Second Coming is found in verses 9-14. In these verses we have the Apocalypse of the Old Testament:
- ‘I beheld till the thrones were cast done (set), and the Ancient of days did sit, Whose garment was white as snow and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened … I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed’ (Dan. 7:9-14).
Daniel, desiring fuller information concerning the dream, asked one of them that stood by concerning it. He was told that the saints of the Most High would take the kingdom, and in answer to a yet closer questioning concerning the fourth beast and the ten horns, he was informed of the condition of things that would obtain at the end, when the Beast would blaspheme God, and ‘wear out the saints of the Most High’. This, however, was for a time; oppression would at length give place to judgment.
- ‘And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominion shall serve and obey Him’ (Dan. 7:27).
The sphere of the dream, as also of Nebuchadnezzar’s, is limited to the kingdoms of this world. It is ‘under the whole heaven’ (7:27), it fills ‘the whole earth’ (2:35), it takes the place of kingdoms ruled by man, and its dominion includes peoples, nations and languages. A reference to Daniel 3:4 will show that this was the language of Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation when the herald called upon all in his dominion to bow down to the golden image in the plain of Dura. There is moreover a parallel with this in dominion of Babylon at the time of the end: ‘The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues’ (Rev. 17:15). It is also the description of the dominion of the Beast: ‘power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations’ (Rev. 13:7). At the sounding of the seventh trumpet ‘the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign unto the ages of the ages’ (Rev. 11:15). There is no necessity to labour the proof of the identity of the dreams of Daniel and the visions of John. Both refer to the Son of Man at His Coming to the earth to rule and reign.
The visions of Zechariah
There are allusions to the Second Coming in the minor prophets, such as Habakkuk 2:3,4 (with Heb. 10:37), Haggai 2:7-9, and Joel 3:13-16 (with Rev. 14:15-18), which the reader should search out in order to make full acquaintance with Old Testament testimony to this important aspect of truth. For the present, however, we will turn to the visions of Zechariah:
- ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daugther of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation: lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’ (Zech. 9:9).
There is a notable omission in the quotation of this prophecy in Matthew 21:5 (cf. John 12:15):
- ‘Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass’.
The multitudes ‘shouted’, they cried ‘Hosannah’, which means ‘save now’, but not so the inspired writer. He omits the ‘shout’ and the ‘salvation’. Not until the Lord comes the second time will Zion cry out and shout, or salvation be brought to her.
Following the passage quoted from Zechariah 9:9 comes the resulting peace and dominion:
- ‘And I will (He shall LXX) cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth’ (Zech. 9:10).
Our conception of ‘meekness’ does not fit in with the idea of triumph and conquest, and some may object to the application of this passage to Revelation 19 and the Rider on the white horse. Psalm 45:4,5 however, shows that there is no incongruity:
- ‘And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness … Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies’.
Jerusalem is the centre of interest in Zechariah, and is prominent in the prophetic sections that speak of the Lord’s Coming. For example, chapter 12, verse 2, says: ‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about’. And it is in connection with the sore straits of the besiege city that Zechariah speaks of the Second coming:
- ‘In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem ,,, and it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him’ (Zech. 12:8-10).
John 19:34-37 leaves us in no doubt as the identity of Him Who was thus pierced, and Revelation 1:7 reveals with equal certainty that Zechariah 12 is future:
- ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds (tribes) of the land shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen’.
There has never been a national mourning by Israel for the death of Christ, there has never been a destruction of the enemies of Jerusalem since New Testament times, and since the partial beginning at Pentecost there has never been poured out upon Israel the spirit of grace.
The Mount of Olives
Zechariah resumes the theme of Jerusalem’s trouble and the Lord’s deliverance:
- ‘I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle … Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations … and His feet shall stand … upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east … and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee’ (Zech. 14:2-5).
There can be no doubt as to the literality of the Mount of Olives. It is described geographically as being ‘before Jerusalem on the east’. Moreover, to question the identity of the place would be to introduce a serious problem into Acts 1:
- ‘A cloud received Him out of their sight … 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. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet’ (Acts 1:9-12).
The direct association between the Second Coming of Acts 1 and Zechariah 14 established by the angels’ message, confirms the appropriateness of the apostles’ question as to the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6), and leaves no room for ‘the church’ in this aspect of hope. It can be none other than ‘the hope of Israel’ mentioned by Paul as still obtaining in Acts 28:20.
The visions of Zechariah concerning the Second Coming can be summed up in his own words: ‘Jerusalem, thy King cometh‘.
From one end of his prophecy to the other, Jerusalem its deliverance and restoration are prominent, and the coming Lord is set forth as Israel’s King when the reign of righteousness has commenced.
What is true of Zechariah is true of all the prophets:
- ‘He shall send Jesus Christ … Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began’ (Acts 3:20,21).
The burden of Malachi
The last oft the prophets, Malachi, anticipates the duel ministry of the two forerunners of the Messiah, John the Baptist and Elijah. The name Malachi means ‘My messenger’:
- ‘Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me’ (Mal. 3:1).
- ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee … John did baptize in the wilderness’ (Mark 1:1-4).
- ‘John … sent two of his disciples … Jesus began to say … concerning John … this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee’ (Matt. 11:2-10).
With the purport of these passages before us, we cannot avoid seeing that in Malachi 3:1, John the Baptist is in view, yet when we read on we are conscious of the conflicting fact that verse 2 introduces a very different atmosphere from that of the four gospels and John’s day. Let us notice the language:
- ‘But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? … He shall purify the sons of Levi … then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years’ (Mal. 3:2-4).
This passage most surely speaks of the Second Coming, yet it is closely associated with John the Baptist. In Malachi 4:1,2 we read:
- ‘For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud … shall be stubble … but unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings’.
Here there is close association with another messenger and forerunner, namely Elijah:
- ‘Behold, I will send you …