Divine Principle Six Hour Lecture
The Advent of the Messiah and the Purpose of His Second Advent
The purpose of God's creation is to see man perfected in goodness and living in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and in the spiritual world, thus bringing joy to God. But by the human fall, mankind (who was to be the substantial object of God) is now living in suffering both on earth and in the spiritual world, and the purpose of creation has not been realized. Then, has God given up His ideal of creation? No, He has not.
As Isaiah 46:11 says, "I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed and l will do it."' God will surely accomplish His goal. The God of love could not leave fallen mankind, who were created to be His children, in such circumstances. Instead, God has been trying to work His providence of salvation.
What is salvation? Salvation is synonymous with restoration. To save a sick man is to restore him to health. To save a drowning man is to rescue him and restore him to the state he was in before he began to drown. Therefore, God's salvation of man means for Him to restore fallen and sinful man to his original position of goodness where the purpose of creation is accomplished.
God's purpose of salvation is to realize the ideal individual which He originally planned, and the ideal family centered on that individual, in order to restore the ideal society, nation and world centered on that ideal family. The relationship between a perfected individual and God can be compared to the relationship between the mind and body of man. The body is where the mind dwells and the body acts as the mind directs it. God dwells in the mind of such a perfected man and he becomes a temple of God, and all thought, action and life occur centered on God. Thus a man of perfected individuality achieves the ideal of unity with God, just as when our body achieves harmony with our mind. Therefore, I Cor. 3:16 says, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells within you?" and John 14:20 says, "In that day you will know that I am in my Father and you Me, and I in you."
Thus, if Adam and Eve had perfected themselves in the Garden of Eden, would they ever have needed prayer, a religious life, or a savior? Why would prayer have been necessary for those who were living and communicating with God day and night? Religious life is one of continuous search for God by fallen man; a perfected man who lives his daily life as a temple of God would have no need for ritual. Therefore, if man had not fallen in the Garden of Eden, there would be no churches nor bibles, no sermons given, no revival meetings held, or the like. As beings of goodness, the normal life of the unfallen inhabitants of the Garden of Eden would have been one of inviting God to live with them. Just as those who are not drowning have no need of a rescuer, perfect men who know no sin have no need of a savior.
If man had perfected God's second blessing, realizing the ideal family, what would such a family have been like? If Adam and Eve had achieved a family of goodness, multiplying children of goodness, this family would have expanded into a sinless race, society and nation. Beginning from this family there would have come about an ideal society, consisting of one huge world family with one set of true parents (the first human ancestors) and endless generations of sinless descendants growing in prosperity. God's providence of salvation is to establish such heavenly individuals who have achieved that second blessing and thus heaven itself.
For this goal of salvation, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, as savior to this world. 'Therefore, the Messiah must stand before God as the origin of the ideal individual and furthermore establish the ideal family where the love of God can dwell, and go on to realize the ideal nation and world which would be the originally intended Kingdom of Heaven on earth, This is the purpose for which the Messiah comes.
The Cross of Jesus
God truly loved the chosen people, the Israelites, who were the foundation prepared to receive the Messiah. He prophesied many times of the coming of the Messiah and even warned the people to expect his coming. God had even prepared a forerunner to testify to the Messiah, John the Baptist. Thus, the nation of Israel was passionately logging for the Messiah to arrive.
Tragically, however, the much-prepared chosen people failed to recognize the Messiah when he came. The Son of God tried to persuade the people as to who he really was, but he was never understood, and was branded as blasphemous and ultimately crucified. Even the pagan rulers of that age knew of Jesus' innocence. Yet, ironically, those who judged him guilty were his own people and the Jewish leaders whom God Himself had nurtured and prepared for so long. In fact, they were even anxious to cast out Jesus and send him to the cross. Why?
Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus' death on the cross was predestined or the original plan of God. No! It was a grievous mistake to crucify Jesus Christ. The crucifixion of Jesus was the consequence of the sheer ignorance of the people of Israel about the providence of God. God's will was clearly for the chosen people to believe in and accept Jesus (John 6:29) and receive salvation. The people of Israel did not know who Jesus of Nazareth was, for even as he hung dying on the cross they mocked him, shouting they would believe in him as savior only if he would come down from the cross. Even the Bible points out that "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not" (John 1: 11) and the Apostle Paul testified that "none of the rulers of this age understood this; for it they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (I Cor. 2.8).
Christians today do not know what actually occurred at the time of Jesus. If it was God's will solely to crucify His Son, why did He prepare a chosen people for so long, with such effort? Was it not expressly to protect His Son from the evildoing of the unbelievers?
Jesus, in his final prayer given in the garden of Gethsemane prayed, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death ... My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt. 26:38-39). Jesus uttered this prayer, not once, but three times. Many Christians today believe that although his mission was to die on the cross, Jesus uttered this timid prayer out of human or fleshly weakness. But, could Jesus Christ, the savior of mankind, utter any prayer out of weakness'?
Neither the first Christian martyr, Stephen, nor any of the many martyrs who followed ever prayed from such weakness. Did they ever ask, "Let this cup pass from me" as they were dying'? How can we say that Jesus was weaker than these martyrs? Especially if it was his duty and mission to die on the cross, why did Jesus pray this way?
Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane was not a self-centered or timid prayer, uttered out of fear of dying. If the crucifixion were the only way for Jesus to save mankind, he would gladly have died on the cross hundreds of times over.
Jesus was troubled in thinking about his mission on earth: to restore God's purpose of creation. His heart was so troubled because he knew how God would grieve that he could not complete his mission and that the final salvation of mankind could be prolonged for thousands of years. Jesus also foresaw that his disciples and his other followers, the Christians, would have to meet terrible persecution, even shedding blood as he did on the cross. He also anguished over the troubled future that would befall the people of Israel who had rejected him.
Therefore, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, as a last desperate prayer to God, repeatedly pleaded, "Even in these desperate circumstances, let me remain on earth so that I can continue my mission and change the hearts of the people to accept me."
If dying on the cross was predestined by God, why did Jesus Say to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him, "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man not to have been born." (Matt. 26:24),
Moreover, how can we explain Jesus' cry on the cross, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46).
If the crucifixion was truly God's will for Jesus, why didn't he feel resounding joy on the cross, upon successfully completing his mission?
The Limit of Salvation through Redemption by the Cross and the Purpose of the Lord's Second Advent
Jesus' death on the cross was not the originally intended mission for Jesus, as the Son of God. Rather, it became God's painful alternative caused by the faithlessness of the people of Israel. What would have happened if all the people of Israel believed in Jesus and welcomed, loved and united with him? Most certainly, salvation would have been realized. In other words, the purpose of creation would have been accomplished and thereby the Kingdom of Heaven on earth established. God's world would literally have been realized-the world in which all people would believe in and follow the Son of God. The people of Israel would have become the core of heaven's glory. The Jewish and Christian worlds would never have come to be divided, nor would the terrible persecution endured by the early Christians have had to occur at all. Furthermore, because the Messiah would have completed his mission, there would have been no reason for him to come again.
Understanding the question of salvation in this light, we can see that Jesus' crucifixion was only a secondary course of salvation and provided only spiritual salvation. Because Jesus was neither trusted nor received by the people, God had to pay the price for the sinful lack of faith of the Jewish people and all mankind by giving the life of His only Son to Satan as a ransom. Consequently, Satan could claim Jesus' body. This is why Jesus' blood on the cross became the price for the redemption of all mankind. At that point, God could resurrect Jesus and open up a way of spiritual salvation free from satanic invasion. Thus God's only victory, was not that of the crucifixion, but that of Jesus' resurrection. As a result, the physical bodies of mankind are subject to satanic invasion even though they were meant to be saved by living Jesus' way of life. Only man's spirit can attain salvation by gaining the condition of participating in the resurrection through belief in the victorious Lord. Thus, there is only spiritual salvation.
Even after Jesus' appearance on earth, the world continues to suffer under the power of Satan and everywhere sin mercilessly persists in the bodies of men. The Apostle Paul lamented, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death ... I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Rom. 7:24-25). As a saint, Paul was so devout and full in his love of the Lord, but his flesh continued to be oppressed by sin. This confession is not limited to Paul alone, but applies to every man alive. This is the reason why the Bible teaches us to "pray constantly" (II Thess. 5:17) to protect us from satanic invasion. Also, I John 1:10 says, "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar." which tells us that mankind is still under the bondage of sin. There is no one whose original sin has been liquidated.
Therefore, the Lord must come again on earth to completely liquidate our sins and to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the purpose of God's creation.
Two Kinds of Prophecy Concerning the Cross
Then, if Jesus' crucifixion was not predestined by God, what is the reason that in Isaiah 53, Jesus' suffering on the cross is prophesied? Here we must remind ourselves that there are also biblical prophecies that the Messiah will come as the Son of God, the King of kings, and will bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. These prophecies appear in Isaiah 9, 11, and 60 in the Old Testament, and in Luke 1:31-33 in the New Testament. Then, why did God give two opposing prophesies regarding the coming of Jesus?
When God first created man, He created him to grow to perfection only by completing his portion of responsibility. Therefore, man could either accomplish his portion of responsibility in accordance with God's will, or, on the contrary, not accomplish it, going against God's will. Therefore, it was inevitable that God give two kinds of prophecies, one for each possibility, regarding the fulfillment of His will.
It was God's portion of responsibility to send the Messiah, but it was man's portion of responsibility to believe in him. Unfortunately, the Jewish people failed to fulfill their portion of responsibility by not accepting Jesus; they did not fulfill God's primary prophecies of the Messiah's coming in Isaiah 60 and Luke 1:31-33, but, on the contrary, carried out the alternative or secondary prophecy of the suffering Lord in Isaiah 53.
The Messiah and Elijah
At this point, there is one matter which we must delve into regarding Jesus' having to go the way of the cross. God had repeatedly prophesied to the chosen people about the coming of the Messiah, and the chosen people themselves longed for and cherished the promise of his coming. Then how could God send the Messiah in such a way that the chosen people could not recognize him? Was it God's will that they not recognize and receive the Messiah? Or did God clearly show them how he was to come, but the people failed to recognize him?
Let us first examine the second coming of Elijah. In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, it says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers." (Mal. 4:5-6). The great and terrible day referred to is the day when the Lord comes, and this prophecy shows that before the Messiah can come, Elijah must first come again.
Elijah was one of the great prophets of Israel who lived 900 years before the coming of Jesus, and had ascended into heaven on a chariot of fire. The Israelites' longing for the Messiah was indicated by their expectation for the arrival of the historical prophet Elijah. This was because the Old Testament did not clearly foretell when the Messiah would come, but did clearly indicate that Elijah would come before him.
The Trend of Jewish Thought
It was under these very circumstances that Jesus appeared, proclaiming himself as the Messiah. He told the Jewish people that he was the Son of God-the very people who thought that he was simply a man from Nazareth. They had not yet heard any news of Elijah's coming" so they asked "how could it be possible that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God!"
Thus, when Jesus' disciples went out among the people of Israel, testifying to Jesus, the people asked, "If your master is the Messiah, then where is the Elijah who is to come first?" So, Jesus disciples asked him, 'then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?' He replied, 'Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased.' Then they understood that he was speaking to them of. John the Baptist." (Matt. 17:10-13).
Jesus understood the meaning of the scribes asking this important question and indicated that John the Baptist was the second coming of Elijah. Jesus' own disciples could easily believe this, but the Israelites in general could not so easily believe it. John the Baptist did not come directly from heaven and he himself even denied he was Elijah (John 1:21). Jesus knew that the people would not easily accept this, saying, "If you willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come" (Matt. 11: 14).
Jesus said that John the Baptist was the Elijah whom the people had been long awaiting, but when John himself denied this, whom would the people of Israel believe? Naturally, it would depend on how these two were viewed by the people of that time.
How did Jesus appear to the people? Jesus was known only as the son of a humble carpenter and was not even well schooled. Yet Jesus proclaimed himself the lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), held himself as the one who was higher than the Law (Matt. 5:17), and became the friend of tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, even eating and drinking with them (Matt. 11: 19). He equated himself with God (John 14:9) and told the people they had to love him more than anyone else (Matt. 10:37). Thus the Jewish leaders went so far as to claim that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Matt. 12:24).
On the other hand, how did John the Baptist appear to the people at that time? He was the son of a prominent family and the people knew of him even from the time of his conception and birth. When he was older, he lived on locusts and honey in the wilderness, thus, in their eyes, he led an exemplary life as a man of faith. In fact, John was held in such high regard that many came to ask him if he were the Messiah (Luke 3:15, John 1:20).
Under these circumstances, the people of Israel believed more in John the Baptist, who asserted he was not Elijah, than in Jesus, who told them that John the Baptist was the one. The people decided that Jesus' view of John the Baptist as the Elijah was untrustworthy, thinking Jesus said this only to make his own claims about himself believable.
Then, why did Jesus say John the Baptist was Elijah? As Luke 1:17 says, John the Baptist came with the mission of Elijah. The people of Israel, who believed the words of the Old Testament literally, assumed that the same Elijah would actually come down from heaven. But, to be precise, God sent John with the mission of Elijah.
John the Baptist himself said he came to "make straight the way of the Lord" (John 1:23) And that he was not even worthy to carry his sandals (Matt. 3: 11). Being a man of such a unique and important mission, John, by his own wisdom, should have known that he himself was Elijah.
The Mission of John the Baptist
Many of the chief priests and people of Israel who respected John the Baptist thought that he might be the Messiah. Therefore, if John had proclaimed that he was Elijah and testified that Jesus was the Messiah, all the Jewish people at that time would have been able to recognize and receive Jesus, obtaining salvation. Then, Jesus' lack of social status and background would never have mattered. However, John's insistence that he was not Elijah, due to his ignorance of God's providence, made Jesus seem a liar. This was the main factor that prevented the people of Israel from coming to Jesus.
In Matt. 3:11 John the Baptist said that he baptizes with water but the one who comes after him -- Jesus -- would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire; therefore, he said he was not even worthy to carry his sandals. In John 1:33, John said, I myself did not know him, but he [God] who sent me to baptize with water said to me 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit [Christ].' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." Thus God told John the Baptist that Jesus was the Son of God. And here John initially fulfilled his mission to testify to Jesus Christ. But what did he do next? He failed to continue his mission of following and ministering to Jesus.
All people, after meeting the Messiah, must believe in and serve him all through their lives, most of all John the Baptist, who came with the mission of the Messiah's forerunner. Therefore, John the Baptist should have served Jesus with all his strength as one of his disciples.
Even John's father was told of the mission of his son upon his birth: "And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people. . . (Luke 1:76-77). However, we cannot find any instance in the Bible where John the Baptist actually served Jesus.
Jesus Reprimands John
After going his own way, not serving Jesus as God would have had him do, John became doubtful that Jesus was the Messiah, and sent his disciples to him, asking, "Are you he is to come, or shall we look for another?" (Matt. 11:3). This clearly proves that John had not trusted in Jesus and failed to serve him.
Jesus was indignant at such a question, and answered quite judgmentally, ". . . blessed is he how takes on offense at me" (Matt. 11:6), indicating that despite Israel's great respect for John, he had already failed his mission for Jesus.
Jesus also said, ". . . among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11:11). If one was the greatest born of women, surely he should be equally as great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Then how could John the Baptist, who was born to be the greatest in history, be less than the least in heaven?
God sent John the Baptist as the greatest of prophets, for he was to testify to all people of the Messiah, and serve him. But he failed completely in fulfilling his responsibility.
Matt. 11:12 also explains this: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force." If John the Baptist had served Jesus well, fulfilling his responsibility, he would have become Jesus' chief disciple, but because he failed, Peter, who made the most effort among Jesus' disciples, became the leader of the Twelve.
In order to prepare the people of Israel to have faith in Jesus, God gave much testimony to John's parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were greatly trusted by the people. And the people could see that the conception and birth of John the Baptist was God's doing (Luke 1). Undoubtedly, John was told much by his parents about his relationship with Jesus.
Yet, despite all this preparation, John the Baptist failed because of his disbelief and lack of wisdom. His personal ignorance and disbelief did not remain merely as his individual loss, but led to the disbelief of all the people and ultimately resulted in Jesus crucifixion.
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