Many of the most significant prophecies which concern the Messiah and the Last Days, have two parts: an earlier fulfillment, as well as a later fulfillment. This is particularly observed in the Prophecies contained within Isaiah chapter 61. Jesus demonstrated how this earlier and later fulfillment of the same prophecy is possible as He opens the scroll of Isaiah in the city of Nazareth.
Isaiah 61:1a “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me.”
There are four prophecies from Isaiah Chapter 61:1-2 that speak in detail of the Messiah’s introduction to the world. They are undoubtably some of the most amazing predictions that are given to us by God, in the Bible.
As Jesus comes into Nazareth, He arrives at the synagogue to serve on a specific Sabbath as the guest speaker. He is handed the scroll from the Prophet Isaiah, which has apparently already been unrolled to the portion of scripture that would be read on that specific day. Amazingly, the verses of scripture which has been chosen for Jesus to read from is Isaiah 61:1-2:
“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,…” Then He closed the book. —Luke chapter 4
Luke records for us that what happened next, stunned the listeners:
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus stopped reading mid-sentence at Isaiah’s prophecy: “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord….”
The rest of the verse declares:
“and the day of vengeance of our God.”
As Jesus closes the scroll and hands it back to the attendant, He speaks to those who have gathered—the incredible words:
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Those who heard Jesus speak were wondering two things about the manner in which He had read from Isaiah 61, and the commentary that He had made concerning this verse of scripture.
First, why Jesus did not read the entire text. Second, how it was possible the he was fulfilling the text.
According to Isaiah, this prophecy could only be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, by stating that today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. This prophecy also speaks of two important points that will be accomplished by the arrival of the Messiah.
First: At His first arrival He will proclaim the acceptable time for salvation. Second: At His return He will bring the vengeance of God.
Most scholars of that day believed that the fulfillment of this prophecy would be accomplished at the same time. By omitting the second part of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus was making it clear that the purpose of His first arrival was to bring to the world the acceptable time when God will save all those who come to Him through the sacrifice of the Messiah.
We should remember that Jesus is speaking from the synagogue at Nazareth, the place where He had grown up. Many of those in attendance had known Jesus since He was a little boy. Imagine your response—if, suddenly, someone whom you had known for several years stood up to read a verse of scripture from one of the Old Testament prophets and declared that he was the one whom the prophet was writing about. This must have come as a complete shock to the men who were listening to Him on that morning.
Luke 4:22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
The people who had known Jesus as He was growing up in Nazareth as Joseph’s son, found that it was impossible for them to accept that He was the promised Messiah. This gives us an idea that the early life of Jesus was likely as normal as any other young boy. It is certain that He had many wonderful attributes; nevertheless, they had not considered that Jesus was anything more than a normal human being. This makes the story of Jesus’ life truly extraordinary for us today. When Paul described Jesus as tempted in all points as we, yet without sin, in Hebrews 4:15, we understand that Jesus experienced all of the same difficulties that every other human being goes through during their life, with one notable exception: He did not give in to temptation and sin.
Though Jesus was of exceptional character, the people of Nazareth were not prepared to receive Him as the Messiah. This is an important lesson for all of us today. The people who have known us for the longest period of time will find it more difficult to receive our testimony about Jesus. It is very hard for anyone, including Jesus, to go to those whom we have known for a great period of time, and be an effective witness for the gospel.
Perhaps, you have tried to tell your family or close friends about your new relationship with the Lord and have been rejected. This is due in large part to the fact that these are the people who have known us for a long period of time. When we were growing up, we were not without sin. There were many moments during our childhood when we were selfish, rude, rebellious, and disobedient. When suddenly we begin to proclaim that our life has been changed by coming into a knowledge of Jesus Christ, people will find this hard to accept.
My father was an automobile dealer in Southern California, from 1969 to 1987. I worked alongside him in the family business for about 15 years. It is sufficient to say that during my childhood, I was not of the same character that Jesus possessed when He was growing up in Nazareth. In 1975, when I received Jesus as my Savior and then returned to tell my father and others at the automobile agency about my relationship with Jesus, they were not ready to receive my testimony. It took many years of consistent observation of my life before those I had known the longest were ready to believe that I was truly a different man. My father did not receive Jesus as his Savior until 2007, just prior to his death. During those 32 years, I did not cease to follow and serve Jesus. My testimony was not always perfect, but it was consistent over a very long period of time. This is what convinces those whom we love the most and have known for the longest period of time. We should never give up in telling our family and friends about Jesus. We will find that in later years, they will be more willing to receive us, and perhaps a few will also believe upon the Lord and be saved.
Jesus spoke this truth to those who had known Him from Nazareth—that a prophet can be accepted almost anywhere, except in his own hometown.
Mark 6:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
The people from Nazareth did not receive Him as the Messiah on that day. They found it impossible to reconcile that someone they had known since he was a boy could be the Savior of the world.
The bigger picture here is discovered, by examining what Jesus did not say on that day rather than what He did say.
Why did Jesus not complete the rest of the sentence from the text in Isaiah, “And the day of vengeance of our God?
Luke 4:16-21 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “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.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
It is clear that Jesus was defining His fulfillment of these prophecies as the Messiah, in terms of two arrivals. Jesus did not come on the first occasion to proclaim the day of God’s vengeance. He came to pronounce the acceptable year of the Lord.
What we learn from the way that Jesus recited this verse, from Isaiah 61:1-2, is that the Messiah will appear twice on the earth:
1. Once for salvation 2. A second time for judgment
First, He will arrive as the suffering and dying Messiah to pay for the sins of the world. This is the acceptable year of the Lord, the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy. Then, in the last days, Jesus will return to earth a second time, at the end of seven-year Tribulation, to proclaim the day of God’s vengeance. Jesus will return with His church to defeat the antichrist and all those who are gathered together against Him at the Valley of Megiddo.
Revelation 19:11-16 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True (Jesus), and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses (Jesus church). Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (at the valley of Megiddo). And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
This event takes place at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
Revelation Chapter 19 describes Jesus, returning to earth from heaven with His church. All those who had committed themselves to Him as their Savior, before the Rapture occurred, were removed from the earth by Him—just prior to the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.
We see the following set of circumstances that will take place in the last days:
1. Those who have received Jesus who are living on earth. 2. The Rapture occurs, believers are removed from the earth. 3. The Tribulation begins, judgement is poured out on the earth. 4. The Tribulation ends after seven years. 5. Jesus returns with His church. 6. Jesus defeats the antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon. 7. Jesus establishes His kingdom on the earth.
While in heaven—as the seven-year Tribulation is taking place on the earth—those who have faithfully served Jesus before the Rapture took place are given rewards by Him.
Matthew 25:23 His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”
The right to rule with Jesus during the new kingdom that He will establish on the earth will be determined by the Lord. Based on our faithfulness to Him while alive during our earthly years, He will give “Crowns” or symbols of rulership to those who faithfully served Him.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
1 Peter 5:4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
Revelation 2:10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
For a complete study on the subject of the five Crowns, see the chapter: Service Now, Rewards and Rulership: When Jesus Returns
These crowns will be given to all those who have loved Jesus and are eagerly anticipating His promised return. When the Rapture takes place, all of our work here on earth as mere human beings will be at an end. Everything that we have said and done during the period of our sojourn on the earth will be judged by the Lord—not for sin to punish us—but for the purpose of granting rewards for the things we have done for the Lord during our life. This reward process will likely take place immediately after the Rapture occurs when we are taken by the Lord to heaven.
Upon the Rapture, those who remain on the earth will begin a time of Tribulation that has never been experienced on the earth before, nor will there ever be a time of such distress and wrath again. When the seven-year Tribulation is concluded, Jesus will return to earth with His church, to rule over the kingdom promised to David.
“…the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.” (Revelation 19:14-15)
Prophecy 51: 2 Samuel 7:16 “And your house and your kingdom (David) shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
See the chapter in this book: Prophecies of the Messiah’s Kingdom.
After receiving our rewards from the Lord in heaven, we will all return to earth at the conclusion of the Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, and Seven Bowl judgments described in Revelation chapters 6-18.
Jesus returns to strike the nations who have worshipped the antichrist. The armies of the world will be gathered at the valley of Megiddo, north of Jerusalem, waiting for the return of Jesus. The term above in Revelation 19, He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, is a description of this battle that the Lord will fight in the winepress of the Valley of Megiddo. This valley will be filled with the armies of the antichrist. Jesus will simply speak (out of His mouth goes a sharp sword) the word of God, and all these armies will be destroyed. The blood from the carnage of the Lord’s judgement will be to the depth of a horse’s bridle (about 5 feet), the entire 200 mile length of this valley (Prophecy 112). An angel is said call all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, to come and gather for the supper of the great God.
Revelation 19:17-21 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Revelation 14:20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles (5 feet), for one thousand six hundred furlongs (200 miles).
See Prophecy 112 for information on the “Battle of Armageddon.”
When Jesus made this announcement at Nazareth—that Isaiah’s prophecy of chapter 61 was in two parts: one earlier, one later, few understood. We learn from this important principle, that it is possible that a single prophecy from the Old Testament may contain an earlier and a later fulfillment.
The following is a list of additional Old Testament prophecies that have an earlier and a later fulfillment:
Prophecy 1 : Genesis 3:15 Crush the head of satan
Prophecy 3: Genesis 5:24 The Rapture
Prophecy 9 : Genesis 14:18 Bread and Wine of Melchizedek
Prophecy 12 : Genesis 22:1-2 Abraham offering Isaac
Prophecy 13: Genesis 22:16-18 Resurrection of an only Son
Prophecy 21: Exodus 12:3-5 The Passover Lamb
Prophecy 22: Exodus 12:13 The Blood is a Sign
Prophecy 164: Isaiah 7:14 Promise of a Virgin birth
Prophecy 279: Isaiah 61:1-2 Two Arrivals of the Messiah
Prophecy 312: Daniel 9:27 Abomination of Desolation
Prophecy 364: Malachi 4:5 Elijah before the Messiah
NOTES:￼  1. After Jesus had ascended the steps of the bima to act as the maphtir or reader, the chazzan (clerk) drew aside the silk curtain of the painted ark, which contained the sacred manuscripts, and handed him the megillah or roll of the prophet Isaiah. Βύβλος is the Egyptian papyrus plant from which there are derived Βίβλος and the diminutive βιβλίον in the sense of “paper,” “writing,” “book”; it was here in the form of a roll; and some texts read ἀναπνύξας, “having unrolled” (from ἀναπτύσσω) instead of ἀνοίξας, “having opened,” and so in v. 20 πτύξας would mean “having rolled up.” Ἀπό in ἀπεδόθη implies that the roll which contained only the writings of Isaiah was “duly given” to Jesus. He did not ask for this prophet. It is the general opinion that fixed haphtaroth were not as yet in use, which would agree with Luke’s statement that Jesus “found” the passage which he then read. Isaiah was very likely the prophet from whom readings had been made on previous Sabbaths. Coincidences such as this that Isaiah, the evangelist among the prophets, was placed into Jesus ‘hands on this day are due to divine providence. Source: Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament. 2. Luke 4:16-17 So Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:  Matthew 24:21
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