Over the past few weeks, we have taken a close look at what happened when mankind fell into sin, the curse came upon creation, and heaven’s presence departed from the earth. We have seen the promise of heaven’s return, given through many pictures and metaphors, yet we have also seen the devastating reality of human life in the absence of heaven. However, 2000 years ago, in a moment unnoticed by almost all humanity, heaven returned to the earth, and since that day, nothing has been the same!
One of the biggest prayers in the Old Testament was “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 64:1). As we will see, today, God did just that.
An Unlikely King
We all know the Christmas story; how the angel came to Mary and told her she would miraculously conceive a child, though she was a virgin. The angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
This would not be the first son of a god in the world. There had been many before; men who had been born in great palaces, rulers of empires and conquerors of nations, who had taken that title for themselves. When Israel lived in Egypt, they served the Pharaoh, who would be called the son of Amun-Ra (the Egyptian creator-god). Later, the Jews would live in exile under the rule of Babylonian and Assyrian kings, who also took the title, “son of god” for themselves. Even at the moment of Mary’s conception, Israel was living under the authority of Caesar, who was declared the “son of god” and worshipped as divine throughout the Greco-Roman world.
Yet for the child born to Mary, this title was not self-proclaimed. Although He was not born in a palace or to a wealthy family, the testimony of His birth reveals His true nature. Not only did the angel appear to Mary, but on the day of Jesus’ birth, angelic choirs sang of His coming to the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:8-21). At his dedication in the temple, His identity was proclaimed by Simeon, through the Holy Spirit’s revelation (Luke 2:25-35), followed by the prophetic declarations of His arrival by the prophetess, Anna (Luke 2:36-40). If all of that was not enough, later, at His baptism in the Jordan River, the voice of God was heard by the crowds, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I AM well pleased” (see Luke 3:22).
Though many Kings had called themselves the “son of God,” this was different. God, Himself was revealing His Son to the world, and giving Him the title of King!
As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, there were many prophetic pictures given, pointing to Heaven’s return. Though many of them were masked in mystery, the New Testament goes out of its way to show how Jesus fulfilled them all!
He Was the Seed of Abraham
We previously discussed how in Genesis 12:2-3 God promised Abraham a son, who would lead to a global blessing. This promise, however, was not fulfilled in Isaac, nor any of Abraham’s immediate descendants. Instead, it looked forward to Jesus, as the New Testament proclaims.
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. Galatians 3:16
Jesus was the child of Abraham who would bless all nations.
He Was a Priest Like Melchizedek
From the days of Moses, the tribe of Levi was appointed to be the priests of the nation of Israel. This would create a problem for Jesus, who was to be born of the tribe of Judah, according to prophetic promises. However, God uses the Old Testament Priest, Melchizedek to point to Christ, who was not a priest according to the law, but according to the Spirit of God.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.Hebrews 5:7-10
Although He was not a Levite, Jesus fulfilled God’s calling and design for a human priesthood, serving as mediator between God and man.
He Was God’s True Tabernacle and Temple
As we have already seen, God used various geographic locations as home to His presence among men. First, He dwelt in the Garden of Eden, where heaven literally dwelt on earth. Later, His presence came down and dwelt among Israel in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, then the Temple in Jerusalem. Yet, even these we imperfect pictures of what was to come in Christ.
Jesus made clear that His appearance marked a change in God’s relationship to humanity.
Luke writes in the book of Acts,
Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands… Acts 7:44-48 (emphsis mine)
This is written to demonstrate that God had other plans for how to house His Spirit in the earth, and it all began with Jesus!
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:18-22
Jesus was the Temple for God’s Spirit — His presence and His glory — on the earth!
He was the Final Passover Lamb
Not only was Jesus God in the flesh, the Great High Priest and Promised King, but He was also given by God to be the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Over and over again, all throughout the law and sacrificial system, God makes it clear that there must be a sacrifice to cover the sin of humanity and demonstrate their full faith in God.
Even Abraham prophetically declared to Isaac, when taking him to be sacrificed on the mountain, that “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).
What we see when Jesus is killed on the cross over the Passover weekend is that He truly was the Lamb of God, just as John the Baptist had spoken over Him in the wilderness (John 1:29). The night before He went to His death, He spoke to the disciples about this eternity-defining event:
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:14-20 (emphsis mine)
He was Declared King and Messiah
As you read through all the Old Testament’s predictions about the One who is to Come, and then look at the life of Jesus, it is undeniable that He fulfilled them all. This was not only done in word, but His actions, which astonished both the crowds and the religious elite, proved that he was a sort of man, never seen before.
At one of His first public readings of scripture, Jesus declares Himself the Messiah:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21
After revealing who He was, Jesus lived the life to prove it:
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. Matthew 11:2-5
Heaven Has Returned
In Jesus, Heaven made its return to the world in power and glory, and since that day, nothing has been the same. Prophecy revealed Him to all who were looking! All of the things the Old Testament used to demonstrate Heaven’s return to earth were pointing to a future reality which was fulfilled in Jesus, and He became the Savior of the World! And that is where we will turn our attention next.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Anthony Scott Ingram.