Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino - 12 Para

CHAPTER 3:
IF YOU HAD LIVED at the TIME of CHRIST

(9:1)

Even among people who are sure of the signs that will accompany the Second Coming, and to whom the prophecies of the Second Coming seem quite clear, intuitively they know that the prophecies of the First Coming were not clear. We can demonstrate this by asking a simple question: (9:2)

"If you had lived at the time of Christ, would you have recognized Him?" (9:3)

A simple question, but hardly an easy one to answer. Although some may, I personally have never heard anyone answer this question "Yes". The response is usually that one would hope to recognize Christ, but one cannot be sure. Intuitively we know that the recognition of Christ was not a simple matter of hearing His message or His words, or of even seeing Him as He moved through the streets of ancient Israel or preached in the temple. For we know that there were many who did indeed have the great blessing of living at His time, and of even meeting Him face to face, but who alas, did not follow Him. Even those who saw or heard of the wondrous acts that Christ performed doubted and even rejected Him (9:4)

This question also reveals another aspect of thinking that seems to be prevalent. In answering this question, I've not heard a response that referred to prophecies. Few regard them as tools by which they would have recognized Him. I have never heard anyone say something like "if I had had the prophecies, I would have recognized Him" or "I would have used the prophecies to find Him", or "the prophecies would have helped me". Intuitively we know also, that prophecies would not have been our guide because we can see now, through the record of Christ's life, that in many cases their apparent meaning was not only unclear, but also actually misleading (9:5)

However, if you ask someone today, "Will you recognize Christ when He returns?" You can easily get a response to the effect "Recognize? How can you miss Him!" Although nowhere does it state in the Bible that the New Testament prophecies are easier to understand than those of the Old Testament, it seems that many people assume that this is the case (9:6)

Now, if one cannot be sure that they would have recognized Him at His first Coming, how can one be sure that they can recognize Him at His Second Coming? It seems that, in the same way that the people of His time felt sure about how the Christ should come, the people of this time feel sure about how He will return (9:7)

In the Bible, story after story unfolds showing how people - even (and sometimes especially) those who thought they were following the teachings of God - have been so sure of their plans, but how God has had other plans. It is a basic need of human beings to feel secure about the world around us, and to understand what the past means and what the future holds. A sense of security is conducive to a feeling of peace and wellbeing. To insure this, we sometimes form beliefs about things, even to the point where we "know" them - even things that cannot be known. This is why today, regarding the Second Coming, there are millions who are all confidently expecting.. completely different things (9:8)

This question - If you had lived at the time of Christ would you have recognized him? - I do not ask idly, for it has profound implications. For, all those who lived at the time of Christ were, in effect, asked this question - not in so many words, of course, but by their place and time in history. And they didn't have the luxury of answering the question as follows: "One would hope to recognize Him, but one cannot be sure". They had to answer, and they did answer, "yes" or "no". Without knowing that this question was being asked, they answered it by their response to Christ (9:9)

They had no sign, no halo, no warning that their whole life - their very existence - would be judged by their response to the moment: to the message that they had heard, and to His Person. Although warned in the scriptures, they had not an inkling as to the true manner Christ would come to them. They had formed their own vision of Christ's Coming, yet God's plan was being carried out according to His own wisdom and His vision surpassed those of mortal man. Those who accepted Christ knew to some extent the role they were playing in God's plan. Those who rejected Him played a role opposite the one they had fondly imagined they would play (9:10)

Now, with His Second Coming, what assurance do we have that we will know the role we will play? To be utterly wrong, yet feel utterly righteous, is well within the capability of human beings. The Bible abundantly demonstrates this truth (9:11)

Looking back on that time, with the perspective we now have, it is all too easy to understand the things that went wrong at Christ's First Coming - the people's misunderstandings, their blindness and pride. There are certainly things which we, at this time, understand about the plan of God which simply could not have been understood by the people to whom Christ appeared. But this fact should not deceive us into thinking that we fully understand His plan, that God has blessed us with knowing what the future holds. Of course we understand those things that have gone before us and of which we have a record in the scriptures, but so did the people of Christ's time. At any point in time, God has given to His people a sacred record of the past, and promises of the future. The past is understood; the promises of the future are not. Yes, we understand the prophecies referring to Christ's First Coming because their meaning was revealed through His First Coming, but how can we presume to understand those referring to His Second Coming until we witness it? (9:12)

End of Quote

Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino