The First Reveals the Second

This should not come as a total surprise, therefore, that by extension of this foundational hermeneutic is the realization that what took place at Christ’s First Coming ultimately foreshadows what will transpire at His Second Coming; the First is a pattern which teaches and reveals much about the Second.

There are many, many aspects of Christ’s First Coming which foreshadow events and activities at His Second Coming, and it is a wise observation that if we want to understand what will take place at the Second Coming, we need to learn as much as possible about the First Coming. One of the events which will recur at both, which is plainly spoken of in Scripture, is the return and ministry to Israel of Elijah.

17“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)

28“I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John. (Luke 7:28–30)

John did not perform anything we would call a sign, wonder or miracle in the supernatural sense, but he certainly carried out something extraordinary in the far greater spiritual arena, preparing Israel in advance of the Messiah’s coming. While there is a near universal consensus among conservative Evangelical commentators that one of the greater purposes of the removal of the Church by way of the Rapture is to initiate God’s returning of His focus exclusively upon Israel to complete all His promises to them, there is great debate as to how this revival takes place, exactly when it will begin in the sequence of End Times events, and through whom it will come. Although it is not outright stated as such in Scripture, many attribute the final, prolific ministry of the Gospel to the Jews as coming from either the 144,000 “from every tribe of the sons of Israel” sealed by God in Revelation 7:4-8 or as part of the ministry of the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:1-14. But the only person of whom it is categorically stated in Scripture to carry out this mission, and confirmed by Christ, is Elijah. Furthermore, it not only took place in the fulfillment of John the Baptist “in the spirit and power of Elijah” at the First Coming, but Jesus says it is going to take place again.

In other words, John the Baptist came in the character of Elijah to prepare Israel for the Messiah’s First Coming in a partial fulfillment of God’s promise concerning the return of Elijah, which foreshadows a final return of Elijah to complete that work among Israel for the Messiah’s Second Coming. The 144,000, the Two Witnesses or others may, quite naturally, preach the Gospel as every Christian indeed has a responsibility to do, but it is only Elijah who is specifically designated in Scripture as performing that task among unbelieving Israel. And just as each iteration of an antichrist figure in Scripture or history teaches something about the final one to come, or each Abomination of Desolation provides the common elements of what to look for in the last one to take place, so Elijah, Elisha and John the Baptist are the models for the final arrival and ministry of Elijah.

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