The Advent of Christ

Although the Lord continued to look after and guide his people, much of the Old Testament remains a testimony to their constant rebellion against him. Rather than being a light to the rest of the world, reflecting the holiness of Yahweh1, they split into two feuding kingdoms (Judah and Israel), both gradually becoming infested with idolatry and immorality. After repeatedly warning his people to repent—to no avail—God finally allowed them to be conquered and exiled by the Assyrians and Babylonians. A generation later, a remnant would return to rebuild Judea, creating a semi-autonomous state that would be successively passed from empire to empire (Persian, Greek, and then Roman).

During this time period, the people of God longed for deliverance from these pagan rulers, a hope that evolved into a desire for a great leader. Looking to their Scriptures, the Jews discovered prophecies about a chosen one, someone who would break the control of foreign powers, and who would restore the whole of Israel to its rightful place and thereby usher in an age of peace and righteousness. This man would be a great king from the line of David: “There shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa 11:1–2). He would also be “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4), modeled after the righteous “priest of God Most High” who offered up bread and wine on behalf of Abraham (Gen 14:18). And finally, he would be the true prophet, as God tells Moses: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deut 18:18).

During the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, many Jews began to proclaim that the Messiah had come. They were amazed by the way he taught with authority, by his power to cast out demons, and by the many miracles he performed. They began to proclaim that the time of deliverance was at hand; and yet they were unprepared for the sort of kingdom he was establishing. Rather than abolishing the Romans, Jesus came to cast out the true enemy of mankind—that ancient serpent, the devil. And rather than restoring Jewish rule in the Middle East, he came to inaugurate a spiritual realm: the Kingdom of Heaven. The expectation of a worldly conqueror was disappointed, and many Jews rejected Jesus at his crucifixion.

But in the experience of his resurrection from the dead on the third day, Jesus revealed to his apostles that he is truly the one spoken of in the “Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). As the fulfillment of the Scriptures, Jesus represents the antithesis of that first man who sinned; he is “the last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45) who perfectly unifies, embodies, and actualizes the original three vocations forsaken by our ancestors. As the fourth century Christian historian Eusebius writes, “[A]ll these [anointed ones of the Old Testament] have reference to the true Christ, the divinely inspired and heavenly Word, who is the only high priest of all, and the only king of every creature, and the Father’s only supreme prophet of prophets.”2


Footnotes

  1. The name "Yahweh" is used by some to represent the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (meaning four letters) יהוה (Yod Heh Vav Heh). It was considered blasphemous to utter the name of God; therefore, it was only written and never spoken, resulting in the loss of the original pronunciation. It is more common in English-language bibles to represent the Tetragrammaton with the term "LORD" (capitalized).

  2. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.3.8 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1:86.