Are there indications of a Second Coming of a Messiah in the Old Testament?
It has been claimed by both Jews and Bible critics that the Old Testament says nothing about a Messiah who would come twice. In other words, the New Testament teaching of a Second Coming is nowhere indicated in the Old Testament. The purpose of this article, as shouldn't be surprising, is to show that such a teaching is indicated from the text of the Old Testament.
There are not many verses clearly pointing to a Messiah in the Old Testament. Of those that do, it is unquestionable that all are simply prophecies of a Messiah; they don't directly indicate that these prophecies apply to a first or second coming of this Messiah. However, the chapters containing Messianic prophecies in the book of Daniel, when compared to each other, indirectly support the belief of a Second Coming. The first reference to the Messiah in this book is Daniel 7:13. This verse says:
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him." (RSV)Verse 14 then says:
"And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."Certainly if we don't look at the rest of Daniel these verses would be taken as a prophecy of the first and only coming of the Messiah. If anything, one would think that these verses show that there could be no Second Coming, as verse 14 speaks of Him receiving everlasting dominion. The reasoning would be that it wouldn't make much sense that at the first coming the Messiah would not receive everlasting dominion. He should receive everything that the verse says He will receive the first time He comes. If not, why not? It's difficult to believe that a Messiah could come the first time and not receive everything promised. Personally I think that at the time of the first coming Christ did receive such things, though the kingdom that would not be destroyed didn't come then. To refute the above argument, I need to appeal to other texts. Let's look at the next prophecy of the Messiah.
Daniel 9:24-27 contains prophecy regarding the first coming of an anointed one, or Messiah. These verses say:
"Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."
Firstly, the mention of finishing the transgression sounds just like what Daniel 7:25, Daniel 8:19, Daniel 11:36 and Daniel 12:7 say. But Daniel 9 speaks of a different time to the other verses. The seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24 are 490 years, as each day in symbolic prophecy is a year (Leviticus 25:8, Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6). Verse 25 says that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one there would be seven weeks. This appears to prophesy that the Messiah would come forty nine years after a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. From reading verses 25-26 it would seem that two Messiah's are spoken of. No one would think this from reading the KJV. Only when verses 24-27 are read in their entirety do we see that even the RSV is compatible with the belief that only one Messiah is spoken of, and that the Messiah is not promised to come forty nine years after a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The forty nine years is just the first part of the prophecy, which began in 457 BC, with the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem. Neither the decree of Cyrus (536 BC) or of Darius (519 BC) to rebuild Jerusalem could have been the decree spoken of in Daniel 9:25, as they both went unfulfilled. The decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC was fulfilled. The decree of Artaxerxes in 444 BC was merely an extension of the first. Before anyone claims that the decree of Cyrus must be spoken of, because it was the first decree, and the fulfillment of the decree is not necessary, I would suggest that one reads Daniel 9:25 again. It says that the city will be built again for sixty two weeks, or 434 years. That means that when the seven weeks, or forty nine years, end, the city would be rebuilt. The forty nine years begins with a decree to rebuild the city, which means that it was not rebuilt at its start. The decree of Cyrus did not result in the city being rebuilt within 49 years. The decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC, however, did exactly that. The rebuilding of Jerusalem took place over 49 years, finishing in 408 BC. We note that there was no Messiah who came at this time, nor was there 49 years after the decrees of Cyrus and Darius. What the passage, when viewed as a whole shows, is that the "seven weeks" is simply the first part of the seventy weeks. The seventy weeks must begin at the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The Hebrew text allows Daniel 9:25 to say that until the coming of an anointed one, there will be seven weeks and sixty two weeks. That rendering makes it possible that the time that Jerusalem remains built is during the sixty two week period. The seven weeks was the forty nine years terminating in 408 BC. The 434 years that the city remained built during was from his time until AD26/7, the time when the mission of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, bega n.
So what of the extra week? Daniel 9:26 says that after the sixty two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off. This doesn't mean that the anointed one will be killed at the very time the sixty two weeks end, or immediately after. It just means that this anointed one will die in the last week, as evidenced by verse 27, which speaks of him making a covenant for one week. He would have to be alive until the end of the week to make a covenant for a week. This is exactly what happened. Jesus died in AD 33-34. Daniel 9:24 basically says the same thing as Daniel 11:36 and Daniel 12:7; that at the end of a period of time, when the indignation is accomplished, righteousness will come. The latter two references speak of the time of the end, and from comparing them to the words in Daniel 9:24, something as important as the Messiah could easily be spoken of. The coming of the Messiah would certainly "bring in everlasting righteousness." This verse doesn't speak of the kingdom that would not be destroyed coming at the end of the seventy weeks. One could say that the content of the verse implies that it does. But Daniel 9:24 only speaks of "your people," which refers to the Israelite Jews. While the coming of Jesus can be called "the time of the end" in one sense, it is not the time when the everlasting kingdom was set up. We would expect that at this time the whole world, as opposed to just the Israelite Jews, should be redeemed. Daniel 2:35 & 2:44 encourage this interpretation, saying that the kingdom would stand for ever, and fill the whole earth. One way that we can establish when the everlasting kingdom was set up is by determining the identity of the kingdoms mentioned in Daniel chapter 2 and 7.
In chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, which required the power of God to interpret its meaning. In this dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image. Daniel 2:32 says, "The head of this image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay." The next two verses say that as Nebuchadnezzar looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and the stone broke the image into pieces, and became a great mountain, filling the whole earth. Then Daniel begins to interpret the dream, saying:
"You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the sons of men, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, making you rule over them all -- you are the head of gold." (Daniel 2:37-38)As Daniel 2:39 then says, "After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth," it is clear that the head of gold represents the first kingdom. It is said to Nebuchadnezzar that he is the head of gold, but this means that his kingdom is the head of gold. So the Babylonian kingdom is the first spoken of. Daniel 2:39 says that after this kingdom will arise another kingdom, one which is inferior. What was the next kingdom to arise after Babylon? It was Persia, the kingdom that brought to an end the Babylonian kingdom. Persia was a bit inferior to Babylon. The third kingdom of bronze is the kingdom that conquered the Persian empire, Greece. It didn't rule over the whole earth, but over the whole known earth. One can hardly claim that the third kingdom could be a later kingdom, not only because Greece fits the historical description of the third kingdom, but because Daniel 2:39 is written in such a way that makes it clear that the next two world kingdoms that arise after that of Babylon will be the second and third kingdoms. Daniel 2:40 says, "And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things; and like iron which crushes, it shall break and crush all these." Verse 41 tells us that it will be "a divided kingdom." One might think that the fourth kingdom is that of Rome, but there are flaws with this suggestion. Firstly, we note that verse 44 says, "And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever."
Now we compare that to Daniel 7. Daniel 7:17-19 says:
"These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, for ever and ever.' Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrible, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze; and which devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet."These verses say the same thing that chapter 2 does. The saints obviously possess the kingdom after the fourth beast loses power. This is supported further by Daniel 7:25-27. The horn is part of the fourth beast, and according to these verses his dominion will be taken away after a certain time, and at that time the saints receive the everlasting kingdom, obviously the one that Daniel 2:44 speaks of. So the fourth kingdom must fit the description given in chapter 7. This chapter says that the fourth beast is very strong, that it is different from all the beasts that were b fore it, that it has ten horns, and that from among the horns came up another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns fell. This horn speaks great things, is greater than the others, and makes war with the saints until they receive the kingdom of God. He will speak great things, and make war against the saints for a period of three and a half times, according to Daniel 7:25. The fourth beast would have dominion over the whole earth, and the beast would eventually be slain, obviously at the end of the three and a half times. Is there a kingdom that has ever fulfilled all these requirements? What about Rome? Rome didn't fulfill all the requirements for the fourth beast. It wasn't different from all the prior beasts; in fact people often speak of the Greco-Roman empire, as the two kingdoms were so similar. Daniel chapter 8 speaks of a beast, represented as a ram, and identifies this beast as "the kings of Media and Persia." The two joined together to form one kingdom. In addition, Rome did not have exactly ten horns, from which another horn came up, and destroyed three of the first horns. Since this chapter is clear that when this horn loses his dominion the everlasting kingdom is established, if one was to claim that this kingdom was Rome, then they would have to believe that the period of three and a half times had not yet ended. Either that or they would have to believe that the coming of the person "like a son of man" was non-visible and had already taken place. The chapter itself indicates that this person will come when the horn loses his dominion, and the kingdom is established. At what other time would He come? Some have claimed that the 1260 years relate to Rome, and relate to the period from 538-1798 AD. But the everlasting kingdom did not come in 1798 AD, and Christ did not return. Not only this, but the year 538 AD clearly had nothing happen in it that would allow it to be counted as the beginning of the 1260 years. The third kingdom in Daniel 2 can certainly be the Greco-Roman empire combined, and so the fourth can be a different kingdom, the same one as the fourth kingdom in chapter 7, which can't be Rome. The one kingdom that fits the description of the fourth beast given in Daniel 2 & 7 is the Umayyad dynasty. The 1260 year period is the cycle of Islam, reckoned in lunar years, beginning from the Hijrah in 622 AD, and ending in 1844 AD, or 1260 AH.
As there was no kingdom which fit the description of the fourth kingdom prior to the time of Jesus' death, this now means that the anointed one or Messiah in Daniel 9 would not bring an outward peace, and it is certain that the one "like a son of man" mentioned in Daniel 7 is the one who is going to bring that peace. Clearly this person is at least equal in rank to the anointed one spoken of in Daniel 9. There is no evidence that this person is the same person as mentioned in chapter 9. If anything, the evidence is against it, as He is not called an anointed one here, nor is there anything that would lead us to believe that He is the one spoken of in chapter 9. But it is plausible that this person could be the spiritual return of the anointed one mentioned two chapters later. The text doesn't explicitly state this, but this can be satisfactorily inferred. Isaiah 11, a Messianic chapter, further supports this belief. Isaiah 11:1 says, "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." So the Messiah will be a descendant of Jesse. This could apply to Christ, as Joseph was a descendant of Jesse, but as Jesus found existence through the Spirit of God, He called Himself the Son of God. If He not done so, then this description would refer to Him. Besides this, the events that the following verses indicate will come to pass in the day of this shoot, if interpreted symbolically, were only part fulfilled in the day of Christ, but not all; and if not interpreted correctly, then obviously none of these signs happened. The wolf did not dwell with the lamb, nor was the earth filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Isaiah 11:10-12 says that at the time of the Messiah the outcasts of Israel will be gathered from various parts of the world. This is clearly speaking of a literal gathering of the outcasts of Israel, not just a spiritual gathering. This did not happen in the day of Christ, however this did happen in the very year that the B‡b declared His mission. So there is some evidence of a Second Coming in the Old Testament, or of two separate advents of a Messiah, at different times. I have shown that the person mentioned in Isaiah 11 and Daniel 7 can only be the Messiah, so critics and Jews can take their pick whether they want these chapters to speak of the return of the same anointed one mentioned in Daniel 9, or of the spiritual return of this anointed one in a different person. Either choice would admit that the doctrine of a Second Coming is taught in the Old Testament. But the evidence shows that the latter is correct.