The other day I offered to help out a close friend of mine by picking up one of his friends from the train station. It was a last minute arrangement, so I only knew what time I had to be where, and not much more. I drove to the station, parked, and went inside to wait. I had forgotten how big that station was, and I was just starting to realize I had no idea who I was looking for when a mass of people flooded onto the platform. Now what? I had heard all about this guy, but I had never seen him before, how was I going to recognize him?
This scenario made me think… Was my situation that day similar to that of the Pharisees at the time of the first coming? If I had seen a photo of this guy before going to pick him up at the station I would have recognized him, things would have been much easier. The difference between my situation and the Pharisees’ was that they had all the information that they needed. There are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament, from his birth, to his ministry, to his death and his resurrection. So why did the Pharisees still not recognize him? They had a very detailed description of their Messiah.
You are not going to recognize the fulfillment if you do not understand the prophecies (the description)! Just knowing what the prophecies say is not enough. The Pharisees proved that. They diligently studied the scriptures that testified about Jesus (Jn 5:39), and they read the words of the prophets,the prophecies, every Sabbath, yet still they did not recognize the one who fulfilled all those prophecies (Acts 13:27).
Today, we have been given a detailed description of Jesus’ return. All the parables and prophecies in the New Testament tell us about the kingdom of heaven and Jesus’ second coming, with a whole book of prophecies (Revelation) concluding the Bible. We have the ‘photo’, the detailed description, but do we really know who we are looking for? Are we going to walk straight passed, ignore, or even persecute the one who comes in the name of the Lord (Mt 23:39) because of our ignorance and lack of understanding? We have to understand the prophecies to make sure we recognize the fulfillment.