After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God knew that death and suffering were coming upon the world, and that pain and tears would trouble humanity. The human situation seemed hopeless. Adam and Eve were naked, ashamed, and afraid—afraid that God was going to kill them because He had warned that they would die if they ate the fruit (Genesis 2:17).
God had created them in such a way that they could live forever, but only if they continually ate from the tree of life. In the day that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, however, they were cut off from the tree of life, which meant that they would, yes, eventually die (Genesis 3:22-24).
But God looked with compassion upon these sinful children of His. He needed to give them hope. God told them about Jesus. He told them that there would be a descendant born of Eve who would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). God was making a promise to humanity that He would not leave them entirely to the control of the Devil. He would send a Savior.
This was God’s first promise to humanity. He made more promises all through history, and at just the right times, too. And He did this in order to keep the hopes of humans alive. He also made more detailed promises as human understanding grew and knowledge increased (Ephesians 3:5). That is, with each promise more light was given on the meaning of the plan of salvation.
One of the promises that God made with humanity came through Jesus. He made a contract with His disciples at the last supper. The contract was that they would proclaim the Lord’s first and second comings. They must share with others the good news about Jesus, who died for our sins and will come again to take repentant sinners to heaven (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The promises that God had made are known as “covenants.” A covenant is the Bible’s word for “contract.” When a covenant was made in the Bible, it was two parties agreeing to complete their side of the agreement. What is amazing about signing a contract with God is that He does most of the work. All we do is surrender to Him. When we surrender entirely to Him, everything naturally follows. He will chisel us. He will guide us. He will change us. We will naturally feel compelled to share.
We call this contract at the Last Supper the “New Covenant” (Matthew 26:28). (If you are interested in reading about the Old Covenant or Testament and the New Covenant or Testament in greater detail, click here.
The Communion Meal
Like the disciples, who were first given the New Covenant, we are given the same opportunity to participate in that covenant and its promises to us. We can eat the last supper meal with Jesus. We can drink the cup of the new covenant. We can proclaim to the world that Jesus has come and will come again.
We renew this covenant by participating in an act called “communion” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The Greek word for communion means “fellowship.” This is a fellowship meal where people gather to remember what Christ has done for them in providing forgiveness for their sinfulness. This is why we eat the communion meal together. Then we go out to tell people about Jesus and what He offers them.
That is, God wants people to experience forgiveness and freedom from guilt and shame. He wants them to experience a changed heart. Then, He wants them to share, with others, what Jesus did for them. This is the hope that He wants to be kept alive.
Some people need this hope, especially right now. They need freedom. They need forgiveness. Jesus can meet everyone’s needs. This is what the Gospel provides, and it is for the whole world. This was the message that ancient Israel was to proclaim.
For thousands of years, the nation of Israel was waiting for and looking for a Messiah or Savior. The Old Testament was littered with prophecies about a Messiah who would save His people. There were even time prophecies pointing to when Jesus would come the first time.
But two different types of prophecies in the Old Testament talk about the Messiah. Some speak of Him being a lamb led to the slaughter, a man of sorrows who would be cut off or killed (Isaiah 53). Other prophecies speak of Him throwing off the bondage of earthly kingdoms, exalting the people of Israel, and ushering in an eternal kingdom (Daniel 7).
The leaders of Israel didn’t understand the prophecies, and so they tended to focus on the ones where the Messiah comes in His glory. Under the bondage of Roman rule in the first centuries BC & AD, they were thus hoping for a Messiah who would defeat the Romans and establish the eternal kingdom, with them as the greatest men in this kingdom as well.
Yet these prophecies were of two separate historical periods. The Messiah would come first as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world and to inaugurate a work in the Heavenly Tabernacle (Daniel 9:24-27). After that work was completed – the work in heaven to prepare a place for repentant sinners – then the Lord would come a second time, in His glory, and He would establish His eternal kingdom (Daniel 12:1-3).
The Bible speaks often of this Second Coming. Some prophecies talk about events that precede His return; others about what it will be like when He does return. The Bible says that every eye in the world will see Jesus at His return (Revelation 1:7). He will be coming in the clouds, just as He left (Acts 1:11). There will be a trumpet blast, the shout of the archangel, and the dead will rise from their graves (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). This is no secret event. In fact, Scripture warns us to not be deceived by those who say that His return is seen only by some (Matthew 24:26, 27).
Imagine—Jesus coming in bright clouds with an innumerable number of angels. It is clearly a supernatural event because all the earth can see Him. People come out of their graves with the youthfulness of life! You recognize loved ones whom you lost during your life. You begin to rise toward Jesus. He takes you, and all those who have repented throughout history and had faith in Him, to live with Him in a new existence for eternity.