A most powerful woman of prayer and prophecy, Jeanne Wilkerson, said that all of history hangs on two golden hooks: the First Coming of the Lord and His Second.
For centuries, the Body of Christ lived in the shadow of that First Coming. But in the early part of the last century the Church began a turn toward the dawn of His return. The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit which began in 1901 gradually brought the restoration of the gifts of the Spirit, and most importantly, the unveiling of the Word of God as never before. But now, as all these things come together, we are clearly approaching what Proverbs 4:18, New International Version calls “the full light of day” and His appearing is ever so close at hand.
Jesus Is Coming
Years ago, my husband, George, and I had the privilege of becoming well acquainted with a man named Justus du Plessis—a prominent figure in Pentecostal circles throughout much of the 20th century with signs and wonders following his ministry. George once asked this man of great power and love, “What do you see that is different in the Church now than back then?” He was quick to respond, “We don’t say enough that ‘Jesus is coming soon.’ We used to say it all the time.”
Our day is not only one of looking for His return, but we have an active role to play in hastening His return (2 Peter 3:11-12). Where can we discover our part in this greatest of all events? The Word of God! It is actually all laid out for us in very plain view. Everything that happened in the First Coming of the Lord set a precedent for His Second Coming. We can actually look at the key figures involved in the days just before and after His birth to get a wonderful picture of the Church actively preparing the way for His return. And while we are making the way for His return, we will also be preparing ourselves as the Bride about to be joined to her Groom.
Although several people are mentioned in Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, and each of them worthy of study, I would like to focus on Zachariah and Elizabeth. Their story is not only essential to the First Coming of the Lord, but offers prophetic insight into His Second Coming as well. I am always looking for the flashlight of the Holy Spirit to shine on Scripture and show us things to come (John 16:13).
Zachariah was a descendant of Aaron, the first of the Levitical priesthood. So today he would represent the fivefold ministry gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11). Though New Testament ministry is different from the Old Testament, both were ordained of God. The ministry gifts are essential to “the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, New American Standard).
Zachariah’s wife, Elizabeth, was also a descendant of Aaron. She would represent the laity of the Church who, though not called to pulpit ministry, has still been born into “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). Together, they represent all aspects of the Church working in divine order toward the hastening of His return.
Luke 1:6 gives us some insight into what this royal priesthood should be giving special attention to.
“They both were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (The Amplified Bible).
Sounds impossible! Blameless in everything? How? Well, we know from 2 Corinthians 5:21 that the Church has been made the righteousness of God in Christ. Being in right-standing with God is the result of being born again, which is to be born of God. That makes it possible for us to be blameless and welcome in His presence, both now and in heaven. But that’s not walking in righteousness. There is still too big of a gap in what we are made of and how we are walking it out.
In the Old Testament people were looked upon by God as righteous based on their works. It was righteousness on the outside, covering for the inside. But in the New Testament we are not saved by our works but by grace. That doesn’t dismiss our works, or deeds, as unimportant. In fact, we will be judged according to what we do while in this body. But instead of trying to live blamelessly by our own efforts, we are to live from the inside out, our every action enabled by His indwelling righteousness.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us we were re-created in Christ Jesus so that we may do those good works which God predestined for us. The result is not failed attempts by the flesh at holiness, but a lifestyle of holy behavior that comes from living out of our spirit man and truly being who and what we are: the children of the Most Righteous and Holy God.
Now, even though righteousness makes holiness possible, we still need help. Thank God He sent the very Spirit of Holiness to both teach and help us grow up in Jesus until we live just like Him.
What exactly were Zachariah and Elizabeth blameless in?
First John 3:23 summarizes all that Jesus has commanded and required of the Church: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
Clear enough! Faith and love. In the last 40 years many ministers, my dad, Kenneth Copeland, included, have made those two things the pillars of their ministries. After 40-plus years of faith and love, I’m sure some have thought, Will he ever stop preaching on that? To which Brother Kenneth E. Hagin would answer, “Not until you get it!”
It is very prideful and dangerous for us to ever think, Now we know about that, setting aside the need to grow. It’s one thing to know about something and quite another to master it. There’s no end to how far the Church can develop in either faith or love, so we must never tire of hearing about them or establishing them in our lives. Our eyes should be on Jesus, the author of our faith and the full expression of God’s love, ever judging ourselves until we are walking in the Light, even as He is in the Light (1 John 1:7).
To be sure—who we are and the power in which we live hangs entirely upon the first of God’s great golden hooks, the First Coming of the Lord. It is the second of His golden hooks, His return, that gives purpose to both who we are and what we do. VICTORY
by Terri Copeland Pearsons