The Church before it came into existence was a mystery hidden in the Bible. If a person had read the Bible only in a casual manner, then they most likely would not have seen the Church Age coming.
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)
This was a prophecy that shows the discerning Bible reader that a special prophet would precede the coming Christ or Messiah. This special prophet was John the Baptist.
A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (NIV)
Here is another passage that spoke of John. The special prophet would come and the power and spirit of Elijah.
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (NIV)
Jesus speaking of John confirmed this in the following passage.
And if you are willing to accept it, he [John] is the Elijah who was to come. (NIV)
So, the Bible clearly says that the prophet John (the Baptist) would come before the Lord and prepare the way for him, that is, he would prepare the hearts of the people to receive the coming Christ. Let us look at something John said about Jesus.
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NIV)
This reference to baptism with fire and being burned up with unquenchable fire both refer to the time recorded in Revelation concerning the time of the Beast. The Beast will come and destroy the world by fire.
2 Peter 3:5-7
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (NIV)
Peter is saying here that long ago in the time of Noah the world underwent a major judgment whereby it was destroyed by water, but the present world, that is, today’s world, will be destroyed by fire.
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (NIV)
We saw in Malachi above the prophecy concerning the coming of John; let us now look at the next passage from Malachi.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. (NIV)
Now, notice carefully that John would come and prepare the coming of the Lord, but in the very next passage, the coming that is coming is the Second Coming and not the First Coming. What I mean is that the time between the First Coming and the Second Coming is hidden, that is, is invisible in this passage. Let us look again at both sentences from Malachi.
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. (NIV)
Do you see that the unendurable day of his coming is the Second Coming and not the First? John announced both comings but the time between them is totally hidden so it looks like he is only preceding the Second coming.
Let us look at another quick example.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (NIV)
Jesus read from [Isaiah 61:1-2]. Let us look at Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,… (NIV)
Notice that Jesus didn’t finish verse 2. The day of the Lord’s vengeance was not to be fulfilled then. The time between his First Coming and his Second Coming is hidden in the passage. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament.
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (NIV)
The Church was a mystery hidden in the Bible and was only revealed after the resurrection.