Symbols of Christ’s Second Coming

Week Fifty: Haggai; Zechariah 1–3; 7–14

As a young adult, before I was married, I can remember imagining what my future would be like. I would contemplate what my husband would look like, what my children would look like, how many children I would have, where our family would live, and what our home would look like. Now that I am living that life, many parts of it are different from what I imagined, but most of my life is better than I ever dreamed it would be.

Prophets do not speculate or imagine. They are seers and revelators who can discern through the Spirit of the Lord what will really happen. We can trust in their words. After the events they predicted come to pass, our faith is renewed as we see how perfectly and with great detail, they described the exact events as they occurred.

The end of the Old Testament was written by prophets for the Israelites to look forward to the Second Coming of Christ. Their visions are also for us because we are also looking forward to that same great and glorious day. By reading the words of these prophets who actually saw our day through revelations received through the Spirit, we will understand what we have to look forward to in these latter-days.

Zechariah is one of those prophets who saw these last days before the Savior’s Second Coming. Israel will once more be gathered in Jerusalem and the Lord will dwell there.

In Chapter 2 and 3, Zechariah saw the gathering of the righteous to Zion. Their deliverance from the world will be because of their faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. In Zechariah’s prophecies, Babylon is often used to symbolize the world. The people will be preparing for the Second Coming of the Savior and the temple in Jerusalem. Many nations shall flow to the holy cities of Jerusalem and New Jerusalem.

I love the image of the angelic minister, rushing to measure Jerusalem in preparation for the Savior’s return. This minister is told to “run” and say, “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls…For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.”[i] The glory of the Lord will be in Jerusalem and the righteous from the nations of the world will become the people of Lord. Jesus Christ will be raised up to His holy habitation here upon the earth.

In chapter three of Zechariah, we read an interesting allegory of the relationship between Satan, the Lord, and the children of Israel. Satan does not have any power over Zion because of the righteousness of her people. The Lord said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”[ii] The symbol of the brand is that of a branch which is pulled from the fire before it is completely consumed. Amos used this same imagery in warning errant Israel that they have been saved many times from destruction by the Lord: “…ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”[iii] At His Coming, those who return to Him, will be saved from the burning of His judgement.

The use of the name Joshua can have multiple meanings and interpretations. Zechariah was a prophet during Zerubbabel’s rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 7:7, Jeshua is listed as one of the first Israelites to return from Babylon to build the temple. The prophet Haggai also refers to the high priest Joshua, who would have lived during this same time period. Zechariah’s use of the name Joshua can also be seen to call all of Israel back from bondage. Just as Joshua was the prophet who led Israel to the promise land, so will Joshua, the high priest, bring Israel back to the holy temple in Jerusalem. The name Joshua in Hebrew is also equivalent to the Greek name “Jesus.” Jesus Christ will reign in glory in His temple during the Millennium.

Initially, Joshua came wearing filthy garments before an angel who was preparing him to enter the presence of the Lord. The angel told Joshua: “Take away the filthy garments from him…Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with [a] change of raiment.”[iv] Joshua had a clear pure cap or “fair mitre” placed upon his head and he was clothed with clean garments. When we prepare for temple service, we also take off our worldly clothes and dress ourselves in the special, white clothing of the temple. After being clothed, the angel reviewed with Joshua the covenants he must make in order to become the Lord’s high priest. Joshua is charged with walking in the Lord’s ways and keeping the Lord’s charge. If Joshua keeps these covenants, then Joshua will stand with the Lord and be a judge with Him as His high priest, in similitude of Jesus Christ who is our Great High Priest.

At the end of Chapter 3, Zechariah mentioned the branch, the stone, the grave, the vine, and the fig tree. These are all symbols of the Savior and His mission on earth. He is the beautiful BRANCH growing from the root of Jesse as described by Isaiah.[v] Jesus, our Great High Priest, will rule from His Holy temple. Zechariah explained: “Behold the man whose name is The Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place and he shall build the temple…and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne.”[vi] The Savior is The Branch and the rock of our salvation, saving us from the grave. He is our true vine that enables us to bear fruit. The signs of His Coming are as discernible to the righteous as the ripening of figs on a tree to a farmer. He will return to earth to reign in glory and honor. Zechariah truly saw the Millennial reign of the Lord.

We have a modern prophet who, like Zechariah, understands and sees the future through the spirit of revelation. In the last few years, President Nelson has been preparing us for the days ahead. Whenever our Prophet says the words, “in the days ahead,” I listen very carefully!

President Nelson told the sisters of the Church: “I am not saying that the days ahead will be easy, but I promise you that the future will be glorious for those who are prepared and who continue to prepare to be instruments in the Lord’s hands.” [vii]

If we listen to our prophet, we will be warned and told what we must do to prepare for whatever happens ahead of us.

May we find joy in the Lord this day as we follow the Lord’s prophet as he prepares us for the Second Coming of Christ.

[i] Zechariah 2:4-5

[ii] Zechariah 3:2

[iii] Amos 4:11

[iv] Zehariah 3:4

[v] Isaiah 11:1

[vi] Zechariah 6:12-13

[vii] Russell M. Nelson, “Embrace the Future with Faith,” GC October 2020.

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