Renewals of The Covenant


23 The Messiah Foretold

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. Galatians 3:16

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection are the crowning events of history. In the providence of God, more than three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament prepared the world for Jesus’ coming. Jesus fulfilled the ten-commandment law by His sinless life. His sacrifice on the cross fulfilled the symbolic sacrifices of the ceremonial law. He came to show that the Father is a God of love and is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exod. 34:6).

Mark’s Gospel opens with John the Baptist, waist-deep in the Jordan in fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew portrays the Baptist’s powerful message, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). It rang in the ears of the people as they flocked to hear the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, “prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3). Prophecy had declared it, and now it was time for the promised Messiah to emerge (Dan. 9:24-27).


The Purpose of Prophecy

The Bible is a book of prophecy, and prophecy is reality from God’s point of view. The Bible reveals the origin of the human race, our history, and what will take place in the future. It is God’s purpose to reveal the truth to His people. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Prophecy is a message from God revealing things that we would not otherwise learn. Learning must be guided by the written Word of God. In answer to prayer, the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding and application of what we read.

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come (John 16:12, 13).

Prophesying of the end time, Jesus warned four times, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt. 24:4, 5, 11, 24). Knowing the truth is a strong barrier against deception. Prophecies may not be easily understood at the time they are given. It is much easier to recognize a prophesied event once the prophecy is fufilled, and, when it is, it strengthens our faith.

The Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament. It is in the Old Testament that we find the prophecies of the coming Messiah! By fulfilling prophecy, the New Testament confirms and explains what Old Testament prophecies mean.

And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. (John 14:29)

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Cor. 10:11)


The Coming Messiah

After Adam and Eve sinned, God spoke to them and gave them hope and a promise. He also gave them a conscience and a desire to do what was right. Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, would “bruise the serpent’s head” and destroy sin and Satan. In the new earth, the sinful nature in humankind would be changed and the image of God restored. The perfection of Eden would be brought back again. These were the promises of the Redeemer to come. God permitted Satan to live during human history, to demonstrate to the universe the evil there is in sin.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

God gave the gospel covenant to Noah and to Abraham in detail. Jesus Christ fulfills the promises made to Abraham: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3) and “thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:17, 18). “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

Hidden in the promises and renewals of the covenant throughout the Old Testament is the golden thread of the promised Redeemer to come. There were 300 promises of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Here, are some of them:

What was foretold Old Testament Prophecy New Testament fulfillment
Born of a virgin Isa. 7:14 Matt. 1:18, 24, 25
Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Matt. 2:1
Time of His birth Dan. 9:24-27 Luke 1:5; 2:1
Time of His baptism Dan. 9:24-27 Luke 3:1
Son of God Ps. 2:7 Matt. 3:17
His Divinity Ps. 45. 6, 7, 11; Isa.9:6; 25:9 Matt. 16:16; John 8:51, 58; 10:30
His Pre-existence Micah 5:2 Phil 2:5-8; Col. 1:17; John 17:24 Heb. 10:5
Anointed by Holy Spirit Isa. 11:2 Matt. 3:16, 17
Ministry of Miracles Isa. 35:5, 6 Matt. 9:35
Teaching in Parables Ps. 78:2 Matt.13:34
Seed of Abraham Gen. 22:18 Gal. 3:16
Tribe of Judah Gen. 49:10 Heb. 7:14
Preceded by Messenger Isa. 40:3 Matt. 3:1-3
     

Christians understand these Old Testament prophecies through their New Testament fulfillment. Did the Jews have the same understanding before Messiah came? What were their expectations?

The prophecy of the Messiah’s coming from Bethlehem was clear. Isaiah 7:14 speaks of the virgin birth, which they could have understood. However, the Jews did not expect a prophet to come from Nazareth of Galilee. They did not expect Him to die or to be resurrected.

For the Jews to accept the Messiah as divine required them to accept a second person being God. The Jews were and are strongly monotheistic. After centuries of struggle against idolatry and seventy years of captivity because of idolatry, they had learned their lesson all too well. Simply and humanly speaking, it was too much for them to accept this concept.1


Dual Expectations of the Messiah

Some Messianic prophecies depicted a lowly and humble Messiah who would come riding a donkey (Zech. 9:9), live a life of suffering, and die as the sacrifices for sin foretell.2 Other Messianic prophecies predicted a conquering king who would come in imposing triumph “in the clouds,” take the throne of David, and live forever.3 “This “˜dual aspect’ of Messiah” led “to the idea that there would be two Messiahs: Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David.”4

The Jews and even Jesus’ own disciples did not fully understand His mission. He came to teach mercy and love as the basis for the law. He came to bring the kingdom of grace. The Jews focused their hopes on a Messiah who would take the throne of David and restore the past glories of Israel. What they did not realize was that the kingdom of glory could not come until the kingdom of grace had changed people’s lives.

Christians “believe that Yeshua is both Mashiach Ben Yosef (the suffering servant-at His first coming) and Mashiach Ben David (the reigning King-at His second coming) [see Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Psalm 22]. He is also the Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King as foreshadowed by other m’shichim in the Tanakh.”5


A Conquering King

The following are prophecies of the Messiah as the conquering king (Mashiach Ben David): With this background, one must be sympathetic of Jewish reactions when Jesus came.

• He would be a king. Jer. 23:5, 6; Ps. 2; 110; Matt. 27:37
• He would live forever. Ps. 102:24-27; 89:4;
• He would sit on the throne of David forever. 1 Kings 2:45; Isa. 9:7; Jer. 17:25; Luke 1:32
• His kingdom shall be forever. Dan. 2:44; 4:3, 34; 6:26; 7:14
• He was to rule the world. Ps. 2:6-9; cf. Ps. 72

Maimonides, a.k.a. Moses ben Maimon (AD 1135-1204), the greatest medieval Jewish thinker and Talmudic codifier, gave a viewpoint that was common among Jews about the Messiah:

If a king will arise from the House of David who is learned in Torah and observant of the mitzvot [Torah’s commandments, counted by Maimonides as 613 in number] as prescribed by the written law and the oral law, as David his ancestor was, and will compel all of Israel to walk in the way of the Torah and reinforce the breaches; and fight the wars of G-d, we may, with assurance, consider him the Messiah. If he succeeds in the above, builds the temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Messiah. “If he did not succeed to this degree or he was killed, he surely is not the redeemer promised by the Torah“ (Mishneh Torah)6

“The concept of the Messiah King, the “˜Anointed One’ who would one day come to deliver His people from oppression at the beginning of an era of world peace has been the sustaining hope of the Jewish people for generations.”| Indeed, he functions as Israel’s Savior who would be empowered by God to:

• Restore the kingdom of David (Jer. 23:5; 30:9; Ezek. 34:23)
• Restore the Temple (Isa. 2:2; Micah 4:1; Zech. 6:13; Ezek. 37:26-28)
• Regather the exiles (Isa. 11:12; 43:5, 6; 51:11)
• Usher in world peace and the knowledge of the true God (Isa. 2:4; 11:9).
• Spread Torah knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says, “God will be King over all the world-on that day; God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zech. 14:9)7

The Tanakh gives “Nathan’s oracle to David” (2 Sam. 7:12, 13), presenting “the key passage on which the idea of the Messianic king who would rule in righteousness and attain universal dominion.” Solomon cannot have fulfilled this covenant, “therefore the Seed of which the oracle refers is another anointed King who would sit on the throne forever and ever.”8

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever (2 Sam. 7:12, 13).

From Maimonides’ writings, Christians learn that they cannot know the detailed fulfillment for any future prophecy beforehand. One must carefully study the prophecy and be ready to recognize its fulfillment when it comes. When Peter affirmed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus  said that Peter, a Jew, could know this only by direct revelation from God!

The Jews in Jesus’ time had reasons for their beliefs. However, in their unwonted certainty the Jewish leaders closed the door to further revelation. They failed to recognize the abundant number of signs that Jesus was the Messiah when He came.


The Suffering Lamb of God

Equally prominent are references to a Messiah who would be a sin bearer and would suffer (Mashiach ben Yosef):

• Genesis 3:15 - ”Thou shalt bruise his heel.” His suffering was foretold.
• Genesis 22:12, 13 - A ram caught in the thicket took the place of Isaac for the sacrifice.
• Exodus 12:12, 13 - The firstborn was saved in the Passover by the blood of the lamb.
• Psalm 22:1-18 - This psalm accurately portrays Jesus’ feeling of abandonment on the cross.
• Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 18:4-6; 35:11, 12; 69:7, 9 - These prophecies describe the suffering, persecution, and false accusing of God’s “servant.”
• Zechariah 9:9 - Jesus was lowly and riding upon an ass, even in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
• Mark 8:31 - Jesus foretold that the Son of man must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again.

Joseph prefigured the Suffering Messiah (Gen. 37-50) “in the oral traditions of Judaism. Mashiach ben Yosef “ was “to be a forerunner and harbinger of the final deliverer, Mashiach ben David.” Christians see Messiah as ben Yosef, who suffered in His first coming for the sins of Israel (Isa. 53) as the Messiah. Jewish authorities on this topic say:

Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, “They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son” Zech. xii 10 (Suk. 52a)

The Talmud explains: “The Messiah-what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, “˜Surely he had borne our sicknesses’” (Sanhedrin 98b)

Referring to Zech. 12:10-12, “R. Dosa says: “˜(They will mourn) over the Messiah who will be slain.’” (B. Suk. 52a; also Y. Suk. 55b)

But he was wounded “meaning that since the Messiah bears our iniquities which produce the effect of His being bruised, it follows that whosoever will not admit that Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer for them himself (Rabbi Elijah de Vidas)9

There are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled during the end time of earth’s history. We must know what these prophecies say and then observe the signs of the times. Most of all, we must listen to the Holy Spirit to recognize when the fulfillment of these prophecies occurs.


Endnotes

1. Elohim is a plural term for God; the “one God in three Persons” concept occurs in Genesis 1:26; Isaiah 48:16; 1 Cor. 12:4- 6; 2 Cor. 13:14; and Eph. 2:18. To some people this implies “three Gods.” A Christian believes in one God in three Persons. The nature of God is beyond human reasoning. One must accept God’s revelation about Himself and not speculate on that which has not been revealed about His nature.

2. Jesus’ suffering and death was foretold in the sacrifice of animals. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice as it foretold the death of the Messiah, while Cain’s sacrifice did not. The Passover most clearly pointed to the blood of the lamb protecting the firstborn (and, by extension, the entire family) from death (Exod. 12:3-13). Abraham’s call to sacrifice Isaac showed that it would be an “only begotten Son” who would be sacrificed for sin (Gen. 22:2; Heb. 11:17). Other key prophecies fulfilled by Christ are Zech. 9:9; Isa. 52:13-53:12, and Ps. 22.

3. There are prophecies that predict that Messiah will rule the nations, but they do not specify the time. His ruling the nations will be fulfilled at the second coming (Gen. 49:10, RSV; Ps. 22:27, 28; 67:4; 72:9; 89:27-29). That He will rule with a “rod of iron” (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15) means that He will judge the nations, for Psalm 2:9 speaks of breaking the nations “with a rod of iron.” Isaiah prophesied a time of world peace, ruled by the Messiah, which will never end (Isa. 2:4; 9:6, 7; 42:1-4; 55:3-5; Micah 4:2, 3). If the Jews had accepted their Messiah, God would have been able to fulfill His glorious purpose for them (Ezek. 21:25-27; Dan. 2:44; 7:13, 14; Zech. 6:13).

4. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Shloshah-Asar_Ikkarim/Mashiach/mashiach.html, accessed 2/12/13.

5. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Shloshah-Asar_Ikkarim/Mashiach/mashiach.html, accessed 2/12/13. The term m’shichim means other anointed prophets, priests, and kings.

6. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Messiah/messiah.html, accessed 2/12/13.

7. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Shloshah-Asar_Ikkarim/Mashiach/mashiach.html, accessed 2/12/13.

8. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Messiah/messiah.html, accessed 2/12/13.

9. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Messiah/messiah.html, accessed 2/12/13.