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Summary: We Christians anticipate the return of Jesus the Christ. We are not always clear on what will occur when He returns. The message is a consideration of His purpose in coming again.

“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

behold, his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead those that are with young.”

During the Advent Season just passed, I focused attention on Isaiah’s prophecy provided in the fortieth chapter of the book that bears his name. The passage prophesies the ministry of the Baptist, encourages the people of God to look to the Word of the LORD, and cautions against growing depend upon the transience of the flesh. Following this, Isaiah points to the message that God will be with His people. In this final message from the series, we witness Isaiah speaking of God as the Shepherd of Israel, detailing the purpose of His coming.

When speaking of Christ’s return, we who stand in the sacred desk often focus on the comfort of His coming. To be certain, His return does mean comfort for the child of God. However, what is often neglected is the fact that the comfort we shall receive arises from the fact that He is mighty, and with strength He will scatter His enemies and those who oppose us.

Establish one essential truth—Isaiah anticipates the advent of God’s Shepherd! Isaiah’s language makes it clear that it is “the Lord GOD” who will come, and His coming will be with might! Some are startled to realise that Isaiah identifies the Shepherd that is coming as God Himself! Since we know Jesus as the Shepherd of God, this prophecy becomes a powerful statement extolling His deity. Before His birth, Mary was informed that His birth would herald “God with us” [see MATTHEW 1:23]. Those who anticipated Messiah’s presence would declare Him to be Immanuel, because they would know that He is “God with us.”

At His return, it will not be the gentle Jesus meek and mild, but the Judge of all the earth. Though the Master was humiliated and buried in weakness, He was raised in power. Now, He is the ascended Lord of Glory who will shortly come to Judge the earth. When He returns, He will repay with affliction those who afflict His people and to grant relief to those who are afflicted. He will come “with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who neither know God nor obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus” [see 1 THESSALONIANS 1:6-10].

There is within the verses before us more than a suggestion that Isaiah anticipated both the First and the Second Advent of Jesus the Messiah. Careful exploration of the verses will reveal this truth. As we draw out this exciting aspect of God’s promise to His people, we will discover as well an important facet of Messiah our Saviour. Open your Bibles, then, to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Messiah’s presence among His people.

GOD’S SHEPHERD COMES WITH MIGHT —

“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

behold, his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.”

There was nothing particularly awe-inspiring in the First Advent of our Saviour. He was born in humble surroundings to a teenage couple of no particular significance in the eyes of the people of Israel or in the estimate of their Greek and Roman rulers. Go back in your mind to a night many years before this one.

In order to understand events of the particular night I want us to remember, it will be necessary to remind ourselves of the events that took place preceding that night. We begin by recalling an event in the life of a priest awaiting his turn to serve in the Temple. This is the account that we are provided. “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years” [LUKE 1:5-7].

At last, a day came when he was chosen to serve. Those who decided the order of service cast lots, and it just so happened that the lot fell to Zechariah. At this point, we pick up the story. “The whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared’” [LUKE 1:10-17].

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