The Jews Missing the First Coming/I Thess 5.

Dear reader,

Why did the Jews miss the Messiah's first coming to earth?

One Shinchonji instructor claimed that the real problem was the Jews' ignorance of Old Testament prophecies (Ac. 3:17).  The argument is that since the Jewish nation did not understand the Old Testament prophecies, they missed Jesus' message, which was the very thing they were longing for.

This Jewish-error is fundamental in Shinchonji thinking because the same principle is used to show that Christians today are not ready for the Lord's return because they lack "revelation knowledge" about end-time prophecies.  True knowledge of the prophecies equals preparation for the Lord's return.

What is the problem with these claims?

First, even though it is true that the Jews had different ideas (and wrong concepts) about the Messiah, so did everyone else - Mary, Jesus' disciples, John the Baptist, etc.  The disciples did not fully understand what was occurring when Jesus was crucified.  Only Christ truly knew what he was doing. Throughout Jesus' time on earth, the disciples' understanding was often wrong.

Second, according to the written testimony, the real problem the Jews missed the first coming was their sinful hearts.  Jn. 3:18 says that men did not come to the light because they loved darkness.  The Jewish leaders had hardened hearts.

When the wise men entered Jerusalem, the religious leaders knew that the Messiah-prince would be born in Bethlehem (Mt. 2:1-6).  They had the correct knowledge concerning this prophecy, but they didn't have a heart after God to search for the child.  They should have rejoiced in their hearts.  When Jesus rose from the dead, they had a correct understanding of what happened.  Instead of believing Christ, they made up a story to protect themselves (Mt. 28:11-15).  

In Isaiah's day, Israel was so far from God that their hearts had become calloused.  Not even God could change them. When the Messiah came, he likened his generation to Isaiah's contemporaries. It was a problem of the heart.  "You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, 'These people honor with their lips, but their hearts are far from me'" (Mt. 15:7,8,9a).

When the Pharisees saw Jesus perform miracles, they hardened their hearts more.  Instead of praising God, they plotted his death. Notice why Jesus was grieved: "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?  But they remained silent.  He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart" (Mk. 3:5).

The first martyr, Stephen, told the Jewish authorities that they were like their ancestors with "uncircumcised hearts" (Ac. 7:51). Paul uses the same quote Jesus used in Isaiah to refer to the Jews in Rome: "They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: 'The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: "Go to this people and say, You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people's heart has become calloused"'" (Ac. 28:25-27).

Think about this point.

Their hardened hearts was the problem.  Of course, they also misunderstood the Messiah's mission, just like the disciples did.  But, God was not looking for Israel to perfectly understand all his prophecies. When John the Baptist appeared, he was sent by God to prepare their hearts.  The written testimony says nothing of John focusing on the Messianic references in Daniel, Zechariah, or Ezekiel. The same is true today.

See the article on Manhee Lee's revelation which affirms that seven pastors (messengers) in the Church of the Seven Lampstands were like John the Baptist and prepared the way for the Lord's coming.

Shinchonji teaches that Christians must perfectly understand the events of Revelation to be ready for Christ's return, but this is not a message that harmonizes with God's heart.  In the written word, God wants us to be ready by loving the master and faithfully serving him when he appears (Mt. 24:45-47).

1 Thess. 5:1-11 reveals that people in the world are in darkness about Christ's return, which will come when they are talking about peace and safety (5:3).  Paul's admonition for Christians (in the light) is not to worry about dates or times (5:1), but to increase their love and faith in Christ's salvation promise (5:8): "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him" (I Thess. 5:9).  Paul uses the light and darkness comparison elsewhere in reference to believers and non-believers (Eph. 5:8-14).

When a revelation appears to a final prophet and reveals that the Jews' main problem was a lack of understanding and the same is true in Christians today, we can see that this is false.  The real problem in Jewish and Christian circles is a right heart.  Many believers do have a right heart.  They long for Jesus' return to earth, and they love him and serve him, like many of the God-fearing Jews in the first century.