The Old Testament prophets foretold that the Word of God would become like us, take a body like ours, and unite Himself unto us in a way beyond human comprehension. These prophecies were to come to pass as the “First Coming” or the Glorious Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Holy Book of Isaiah 9:6:
“For unto us a Boy is born. Unto us a Son is given. And the rule is upon His shoulder. And His name is called Wonderful Counselor.”
The Lord Jesus Christ was born a boy, a son to the Virgin St. Mary. He was called a boy and a son because He took perfect humanity like ours. A host of heavenly angels bore good tidings of this glorious birth to the shepherds, proclaiming a Savior had been born. The birth of our Lord was heralded by a star, in fact the entire Heavens pointed unto His Holy birth. The Magi came from afar to worship the infant Lord Jesus. It was through this miraculous birth the Heavenly Father would come to give us all everlasting “peace and good will.” It was through this birth the Father was pleased to save man, and through this Boy, and within this Son to reconcile the world to Him.
In the Holy Book of Psalm 132:3-5:
“I will not go upon my bed. I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids or rest to my temples, until I find a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.”
David the Prophet and King desired to know more about the First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He desired to foreknow the place of the Lord’s birth. Imparted by the Spirit and then knowing of the place in which the Lord Jesus Christ would be born of the Only Begotten to the flesh he said,
“We heard of it at Ephratah. We found in the fields of the wood. (Psalm 132:6)
The Prophet David is referring to Bethlehem when speaking of Ephratah, as confirmed by the Prophet Micah “And you Bethlehem, house of Ephratah.” (Micah 5:2) It was prophesied it would be in Bethlehem that the holy Virgin would give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ. A further implication from this verse is if the “God of Jacob” is born of woman then the holy Virgin is indisputably the “Mother of God.”
In the Holy Book of Habakkuk 3:2 Sept.:
“O, Lord I have heard Your hearing and feared. In the midst of the two living creatures You shall be revealed, in the coming near of the time shall You be shown, while my soul was troubled shall You in anger remember mercy. God shall come from Teman, and the Holy one from Mount Paran.”
The prophet Daniel prophesied that God shall come from Teman which is interpreted meaning “South,” for the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Southern Judea, where Bethlehem was located. The two living creatures in this verse are according to Origen, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, “In the midst of the two living things or of the two lives you will be known.” Origen explains, “For all knowledge of the Father is obtained by revelation of the Son through the Holy Spirit, so that both of these beings which, according to the prophet, are called either “living things” or “lives” exist as the grounds of the knowledge of God the Father. For it is said of the Son that ‘no one knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.’ The same also is said by the apostle of the Holy Spirit when he declares, ‘God has revealed them to us by His Holy Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God”(Origen, On First Principles 1.3.4; ANF 4:253).
Athanasius, c. 300 taught, “He became man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself in the flesh, so that we might grasp the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men, so that we might receive the inheritance of immortality.”
Tertullian, c. 197 writes, “In Zechariah Christ is described in a twofold garment, which prefigures His advents. First, He was clad in ‘sordid attire’ which represents the lowliness of changeable and mortal flesh Next the sordid garments were removed, and he was adorned with a robe down to his feet, along with a turban and a clean miter. This represents the Second Advent.”
Not only is the First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ heralded by the Church but the anticipation of the Second Coming is a true belief as well. The Orthodox Creed (in the Agpeya Prayers) and St. Basil’s Divine Liturgy in compliance with the New Testament teachings, both confirm the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Early Church Fathers often wrote that the First Coming was indeed preparation for the Second Coming.
In the Institution Narrative in the Divine Liturgy we pray, “Therefore, as we commemorate His Holy Passion, His Resurrection from the dead, His Ascension into the Heavens, His sitting at Your right hand O Father, and His Second Coming from the Heavens, awesome and full of glory we offer unto You Your gifts from what is Yours, for everything, concerning everything, and in everything.”
In the Agpeya we recite the Orthodox Creed whose ending states, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the coming age.” We are confessing the return of the Lord Jesus Christ which could not have been made possible with His First Coming.
Just as the Old Testament predicted the First Coming would be followed by the Second Coming, the New Testament documents the Glorious Nativity and confirms the future occurrence of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament specifically teaches us preparation not prediction for the Second Coming.
Hippolytus, c.200 writes, “The Scriptures indicate there will be two advents of our Lord and Savior. The one is His first advent in the flesh, which took place without honor However; His second advent is foretold as being glorious, when He will come from Heaven with the host of angels.”
In the Holy Book of Titus 2:12-14, St. Paul wrote:
“ denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:12-14)
In the Holy Book of Revelation 1:7
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”
Tertullian, c. 197 writes, “Jesus is still sitting there at the right hand of the Father. He is man, yet also God. He is the last Adam; yet, He is also the primary Word. He is flesh and blood, yet purer than ours, and He will ‘descend in like manner as He ascended into Heaven.’ That is, He will be the same both in substance and in form (as the angels affirmed). For He will even be recognized by those who pierced Him.”
The conception of the Lord Jesus Christ not only fulfilled the birth of the Word and His dwelling among us, but also earmarked for all of history His First Coming in which the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed His mission which was to prepare us for His Second Coming.
As members of the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ we must steadfastly prepare for the Bridegroom.
May the Glorious Feast of the Nativity bring peace and good will to all and renew the hope of restoration through the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
H.G. Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States