Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino - 6 Para

A Word About Prophecy (12:1)

Reading through the Old Testament, and coming upon the verses recognized as references to the future Christ, can be at times quite puzzling. These verses contain some of the most beautiful, poetic, and meaningful descriptions of Christ and His life found in the Bible. But a single reading through these verses should convince anyone of the virtual impossibility of understanding from them the manner of Christ's First Coming. Although, in retrospect, the accuracy and depth of understanding of the Old Testament references to Christ are truly astonishing, nevertheless, at that time, these verses simply did not present in any way a clear image of how Christ would come. This, I feel, is not a small thing (12:2)

Consider: even after 2000 years of research by Christian scholars and theologians - those who have recognized Christ and are therefore in a position to understand properly the meaning of the prophecies referring to Him - these verses, which we recognize as referring to Christ, still do not present a picture which someone could have followed in order to find Him. Not only do these references present rather universal descriptions of Christ with very little detail, but the references appear both confusing and contradictory in their meaning (12:3)

The prophetic verses appear confusing for a variety of reasons. First of all, many of the verses simply do not "look" like prophecies, but simply seem to be stating something, and how would one distinguish one of these statements from the thousands and thousands of other statements found in scripture? Many references speak in the past tense as if referring to events that have already happened with no clue that they were referring to the future. Many of the verses which are clearly references to the future, use such mysterious symbolism that there would be no way to figure out what in the world they mean. And some seem to refer to the writer rather than to someone else (12:4)

The prophetic references, moreover, appear to be as contradictory as they are confusing. Thus, Christ is portrayed as both the "desire of all nations" (Hag 2:7), whom the people shall praise "for ever and ever" (psa 45:6), and before whom "all kings shall fall down" (psa 72:11), while at the same time He is "a reproach of men", and "despised of the people" (psa 22:6). He is both "leader and commander" (Isa 55:4), "ruler in Israel" (Mic 5:2), and "The mighty God" (Isa 9:6), while being "smitten", "afflicted" (Isa 53:4), and "spat upon" (Isa 50:6). He is "fairer than the children of men" (psa 45:2), yet possesses neither "beauty" nor "comeliness" (Isa 53:2); He is the "Holy One of Israel" (Isa 41:14), and a "worm" (psa 22:6). (12:5) see

It is certain that many of the above references, especially the ones referring to Christ's lowliness and suffering, would not have been considered references to the Messiah at all until after Christ's Coming. Of course, now the references to Christ can be reconciled and understood in the light of the New Testament. The fact that He is the "desire of all nations" does not, in our minds, preclude the fact that he was also "despised of the people". But, before the coming of Christ, this could simply not be imagined. For those living before Christ, there would be no way of understanding how the different references to the Messiah that we now recognize - references to both His transcendent glory and dominion, and also to His humiliation and suffering - could be reconciled. Therefore only references to the Christ that seemed to harmonize with others would be kept in the body of prophecy. And with clear references to the greatness of their coming Messiah and Savior, and no clear references otherwise, any verse which seemed to run counter to that image, would no doubt have been understood as referring to someone else. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that all accounts in the New Testament seem to indicate that in the thinking of the time, the Messiah was to triumph, both spiritually and physically. A suffering Messiah, despite the fact that there were many references that He would suffer, was not imagined. God had warned of His suffering, but no one understood (12:6)

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Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino