Isaiah 9:6-7 summarizes the full ministry of the Messiah. The first part of the prophecy covers Jesus’ first coming. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…”. The second part of the prophecy covers Jesus’ second coming. “…and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase [greatness] of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Ephesians 1 goes into more detail. Verse 9 tells us that having made known to us the mystery of His will through the Scriptures, according to God’s good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, in the fullness of the times God would bring forth the Son to “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” All things. Old and New Covenant, Jew and Gentile alike, the heavenly hosts and His heavenly government.
When Jesus openly declared the purpose of His ministry in His home synagogue, He quoted from the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…” (Luke 4:18). Then He closed the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.
Through the miracles, signs, and wonders that Jesus performed during His 3½-year earthly ministry, He certainly fulfilled all those objectives. Of course, at the time, His followers had a different idea of what being set free from oppression entailed. They might have wondered at the reference to the acceptable year of the Lord, which is the Jubilee year that comes every 50 years because it wasn’t the specified time. But Jesus was describing a release from debt and a restoration of another sort—the debt of sin and a reborn spirit reconnected to God.
Strangely, though, Jesus stopped mid-sentence in quoting Isaiah 61:1-3. The rest of the sentence continues, “…and the Day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
His listeners must have wondered why Jesus would not bring vengeance against evil, as well as the rest of the promised glory. The reason had to do with the second half of the Messiah’s ministry as quoted in Isaiah 9. That is, the never-ending Kingdom. What the listeners didn’t understand from the 70 Weeks Prophecy in Daniel 9 is that the divine to-do-list would entail two separate comings. God’s Day of Vengeance against evil would not happen until Christ would return at the start of the last Day in God’s prophetic great Week to complete the to-do list.
The Chronos Lesson: The Messiah’s anointing for ministry at His baptism when He was 30 years old marked the pivotal point in the mystery-plan: separating the early Days from the latter Days. When counting from Adam, the early Days were Days 1, 2, 3, and 4; the latter Days would be Days 5, 6, and 7. Jesus’s baptism happened exactly 4,000 years after Creation, equaling four great Days.
His ministry would cover the first 3½ years of the 5th Day. His Body, the Church, would continue His earthly ministry for two Days, Days 5 and 6. We are now closing in on the end of the 6th Day. Scripture calls it the end of this age—the end of the Church Age.
In Luke 13:32-33, Jesus offered His own prophecy concerning the latter Days. It is one of those passages where using 24-hour days doesn’t make sense. Such regular days don’t fit Jesus’ description of the timing. So we know He was referring to God’s great 1,000-year Days. “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures Today and Tomorrow, and the Third Day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”
The first part of the prophecy—Today and Tomorrow—covers the earthly ministry of the Head and His Body, the Church. On the 3rd Day He shall be perfected. That is, He shall be completed, when the Head and the Body are together in Heaven. That happens when His Body, His Bride, is resurrected at the rapture, at the start of the 3rd Day.
Today, Tomorrow, and the Third Day Perfection coincide with the last half of the prophetic great Week. The only difference is that these Day focus on the New Covenant, so they count the Days starting with Jesus’ baptism and anointing for ministry.
At His first coming, Jesus began to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God. The word gospel means “good news.” Luke 16:16-17 records Jesus setting the record straight. “The law and the prophets were until John [the Baptizer]. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for Heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the Law to fail.” In other words, Jesus’ life would perfectly fulfill every aspect of the Law. The good news is that it would be fulfilled on behalf of all of mankind.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
This is the essence of Jesus’ message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The Seed prophesied way back in Genesis 3 had not only been planted, but it had also sprouted and was producing fruit!
The story of the Old Testament and the cycle of disobedience, repentance, and falling away again can be traced back to the Garden and the two Trees—the Tree of Life (in God) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why is knowing good connected to knowing evil? Good is settling for less than God’s best. The problem with settling for less is that it doesn’t end there. Once you settle, it’s easier to settle again. And again, and again. That is the lesson of the Old Testament. But it is not the end of the story.
Each time we settle, we are inevitably disappointed with the results. A myriad of emotions can overwhelm us—frustration, a sense of inadequacy, even disillusionment with God. That is what happened to the divided kingdoms as the Assyrians closed in on them. Because they did not honor their covenant with God, Isaiah declared, “He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Is. 8:14).
God still had a plan for His people—if they would only have ears to hear and eyes to see this time around. “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (Is. 28:16). Jesus, the chief cornerstone, would go first to the synagogues, but many would not believe.
Perhaps this is why Peter encouraged believers to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:2-5). Did you catch that? We are living stones, built up as the House of God, a Living Temple.
The Chronos Lesson: During Jesus’ earthly ministry, “He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:17-18). The Jews who believed in Jesus would become part of the sanctuary, along with the Gentiles who were far off. The gift of salvation was extended to any and all who would receive it. Sadly, many of the Israelites stumbled over the Stone, a rock of offense—Jesus of Nazareth.
Part of the mystery of Christ is that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become members of His household. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22).
The Father’s House is synonymous with the Mountain of His Kingdom. It has the shape of a pentahedron or a square pyramid. It has a square for a base and four triangular sides that meet at the apex. This means it has five corners, four at the bottom, and one at the top. This is significant because the number five stands for grace in the Bible. Thus, it is a favored structure built on grace.
At His resurrection, Jesus became the chief cornerstone of Father’s House. Over the two great Days of the Church Age—what Jesus called Today and Tomorrow—“living stones” have been and are being added. The fact that the same stone forms both the foundation and the apex or pinnacle of this structure speaks wonderfully of Christ. He is the foundation upon which all other stones are built. He is also the capstone—that which rests on top of the edifice and completes the pyramidal kingdom. In this sense, He is both the first and the last, the foundation and the summit, and the beginning and the end.
In Revelation 3:12, John was instructed to write, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven…”
In contrast, when God makes the new heavens and new earth, future nations will walk in the light of this Mountain and City, coming in and going out of its gates. As in Old Testament times, these future people will come and present themselves before the Temple. The overcoming Church, on the other hand, is the Temple. Can you see the distinction? While both groups partake of the blessings of that heavenly City, one group comes to visit while the other calls it home.
When will this Temple be finished? Jesus gave us a clue when He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). In one sense, this Temple referred to His human body, which would be resurrected on the third day after being destroyed (crucified). In another sense, Jesus was referring to the mystery of a living Temple. The mystery of Christ implies that this living Temple will also be raised up on the third Day—that is, on the third great or thousand-year Day from when construction commenced.
The capstone has yet to be put in place. It cannot be placed until the House is complete. That will happen when His Body is complete and in Heaven with Him compliments of the rapture.
The pivotal point in the plan between the two covenants happened along the banks of the River Jordan. John is baptizing repentant Jews as a sort of cleansing ritual. John knew his calling concerning preparing the way for his cousin, Jesus. So when Jesus came to be baptized, John balked. As the sinless Savior, Jesus had no need to repent and therefore no need to be baptized. Yet Jesus insisted. Why?
As John baptized Jesus with water, God baptized—anointed—His Son with the Holy Spirit. He was anointed for ministry, for Jesus would operate on the earth by the Spirit just as would His disciples. When the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, a voice came from Heaven that only He and John heard: “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
To the Jews the concept of the Father having a Son was utter and complete blasphemy. God had revealed Himself in many ways throughout the Old Testament, but not as their heavenly Father. Their relationship with the Almighty was clearly defined when God brought them out of Egypt: “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God” (Ex. 6:7). For God to be your Father meant that you were a son of God. That was an outright claim to Deity, which is why they sought to kill Jesus.
Jesus continually asserted that He came forth from the Father and that He and His Father were one. Because of this the Jews, at one point, took up stones to stone Him, saying “we are not stoning you for any of these miracles, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:30-33).
Matthew 22:41-45 records the following exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees: “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ ‘The son of David,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him [his own descendant] Lord?’ ” The Pharisees were probably thinking: When did David ever refer to one of his descendants as being God?
Then Jesus quoted Psalm 110 written by David: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” The Pharisees recognized this prophetic, Messianic Psalm. The Old Testament prophecies were clear. The Messiah’s ancestry would trace back to King David. He would be the “son of David” and He would sit on the throne of David. The right to sit on David’s throne was reserved for the coming Messiah, and to no other.
As the religious leaders pondered the Psalm, Jesus posed the following question: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” The question exposed the very heart of the mystery. How could the Messiah be both God (David’s Lord) and man (David’s son)? The Pharisees were stumped. They could not explain it. Matthew’s account concludes with “no one dared question Him from that time forward.” Ya think! The mystery of Christ begins with the foundational revelation that God was manifested in the flesh—being both the Son of Man and the Son of God. Jesus was God robed in a flesh and blood body.
Jesus posed a similar question to His disciples, as recorded in Matt 16:13-19. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They responded with John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or perhaps one of the other prophets. His follow-up question went right to the point of the matter. “But who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Simon Peter made the connection. He glimpsed the first light of the hidden mystery. This Man standing before them was none other than the Son of God!
It was for this heavenly connection that Jesus was crucified. Jesus’ own disciples did not anticipate this turn of events when they first met Him. To grasp it required a revelation from above. So you can imagine how it must have startled the disciples when Jesus taught them to begin their prayers by saying, “Our Father, who is in Heaven…”
Jesus’ simple lesson on prayer highlighted another crucial part of the mystery: for if God so loved the world that He gave up His only begotten Son, how could there be other sons? How could His disciples, being mere men, dare approach God as their heavenly Father? Only a son can pray, “My Father…” Were they to become sons of God, too?
The Chronos Lesson: A prophecy in Zechariah 6:12-13 stated, “Behold, the man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the Temple of the Lord…He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule on His throne.”
It was prophesied that this man would build the Temple of the Lord. Even though the disciples realized that Jesus was that Man, they had yet to discover that they would become that Temple. The earthly temple that they had so greatly admired would soon be destroyed; not one stone would be left standing upon another. The Branch, however, would build a new one. Only this time, with Living Stones!
The book of Hebrews was written primarily to the Jewish Christians. It summarizes the shift in God’s mystery-plan from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:1-4).
As we’ve seen in this series so far, the plan was spoken in times past through the prophets. But it was not seen fully. Even though covenants were common in ancient times and their significance was understood, the Jews did not stay true to the covenant. Let’s face it. No fallen human could. Which, of course, God knew before He even called Creation into being. That is why immediately after Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God spoke forth the coming of the Seed.
Now, after 4,000 years or four great Days, Jesus would come into our human world, just as Daniel foretold. God’s Son would minister for 3½ years before being cut-off mid-week. His earthly ministry would encompass the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week. It would bring a restful end to the sacrifices and cut a new covenant that would prevail for many.
The incarnate Christ—God in the flesh—would reveal the glory of the Father (Col. 1:15). He would show the people God’s heart and nature. Signs and wonders of healing and deliverance from the evil forces would confirm the truth’s Jesus taught, as well as the fact that He was the Anointed One.
What the people didn’t quite grasp yet was that the great Physician came to heal more than their physical bodies. He came to give them hearts of flesh—softened hearts instead of their usual hard hearts. He came to give them a new spirit that would reconnect them back to God. That reborn spirit could then transform their soul.
Jesus often spoke in parables, partly to paint a picture of the spiritual truths He was teaching. But it was also meant to change their focus. He wanted them to not only hear the words, but also have that aha-moment of seeing how those truths could change their lives and lifestyle. That is why He prayed that they would have ears to hear and eyes to see. He wanted them to pursue Him and search out the deeper truth.
Unfortunately, the physical eyes of the Jews were focused on the Romans who were oppressing them. Remember Nebuchadnezzar’s statue of the times of the Gentiles? Jesus was birthed into the time shown by the lower torso, before the Roman Empire divided into the two legs. This focus on their physical circumstances was understandable. They were suffering greatly. Corruption was everywhere.
To make matters worse, their spiritual eyes were focused on trying to fulfill every element of the Law. But that wasn’t all. The spiritual leaders had added many, many regulations in order to follow the Law in minute detail. It sapped their spirits. Legalism always does.
No wonder the Jewish people were looking for a deliverer as in the time of the Judges. They wanted someone to judge the Roman oppressors and drive them out of their land. They were looking for a military-minded king. As much as they appreciated the miracles, they wanted Jesus to get on with the task at hand.
The Chronos Lesson: In this series we have only pointed out the primary touch points of the mystery-plan so that you could see the power and surety of the plan. There’s so much more we could examine. Hopefully, as you have read these highlights, you also have had that aha-moment of seeing with the eyes of your understanding.
Sometimes, though, that moment can elude us because our eyes, like those of the Jews in Jesus’ time, are focused on our immediate circumstances. Or our eyes are looking for what we expect to happen and the way we want events to unfold. For the Jews, this state of affairs led to the majority of them missing the time of their visitation. Because they were looking for a deliverer to liberate them, they didn’t have eyes to see the One who would deliver them from a more sinister fate—bondage to sin and the wages of sin, which is death.
In Romans 7:6, the apostle Paul describes this pivotal shift in the plan. “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” He goes on to describe every person’s struggle to do what they know to do, but don’t. If it weren’t for the “newness of the Spirit”—the possibility of receiving a new spirit by grace—our situation would be hopeless.
Paul’s teaching continues in Romans 8:1-2 with the good news of the Gospel of Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
In short, we can “go on to perfection [through Christ’s perfection], not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works [the Law and legalism] and of faith toward God” (Heb. 6:1).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8)!