Friday, January 13, 2012

What Does the Hebrew Bible Say About The Coming Messiah? By Michael Rydelnik

How can someone be convinced that Jesus truly is who He claimed to be-the Messiah of Israel and the world? One of the ways-Jesus Himself proved this was by citing the Hebrew Bible's prophecies of the Messiah and how He fulfilled them. For example, Jesus said, "These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Lk 24:44).

So, to what prophecies was He referring? Probably not merely to individual messianic texts but to the whole Hebrew Bible. Even so, Jesus fulfilled numerous specific predictions about the coming of the Messiah. In fact, the entire life of the Messiah can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, demonstrating that Jesus is actually the Promised One.

Messiah's Birth

The Hebrew Bible contains several predictions of the Messiah's birth. Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem when he wrote, "Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me" (Mc 5:2).

Also, Genesis 49:10 predicted that the Messiah would come by the first century A.D. It says, "The scepter will not depart from Judah, or the staff from between his feet, until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him." Besides plainly stating that the messianic King would come from the line of Judah, additionally it says that He would come before the "scepter" and "staff" depart from Judah. The word "scepter" in Hebrew, as used here, refers to tribal identity. The word "staff" means a judge's staff and refers to judicial authority. The prediction is that the Messiah would come before Judah would lose its tribal identity (lost in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the temple) and judicial authority (lost in A.D. 6 or 7 when the Romans replaced Herod Archelaus with a Roman governor). Based on these two elements, the Messiah needed to come by the first century.

Additionally, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. King Ahaz and Judah were under a threat from two northern kingdoms that wanted to remove the Davidic king and thereby jeopardize the messianic promise. Isaiah gave two predictions, one of which was a long-term prophecy assuring the people of the enduring nature of the Davidic house until the coming of the Messiah (Is 7:13-15). Isaiah wrote, "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel." The sign of hope would be the Messiah's supernatural birth by a virgin in the distant future.

Taking this all together, the Hebrew Bible predicted that the Messiah would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem by the first century.

Messiah's Nature

Although some have thought that Messiah would just be a glorious king, the Scriptures foretold that He would have a unique nature. For example, the same prophecy that predicted that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Mc 5:2) also said that His origin would be "from antiquity, from eternity," indicating His eternal nature.

Isaiah also foresaw that the Messiah would have a divine nature. In a birth announcement, Isaiah gave the royal names of the future messianic king: "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Is 9:6). These glorious titles of deity indicate that the Messiah would be God Himself.

Messiah's Life

Isaiah foretold the characteristics of the Messiah's life. In the messianic age,,"the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy" (Is 35:5-6). So when the Messiah would make His appearance, He was to be a miracle worker. Isaiah also predicted that the Messiah's teaching would "bring good news to the poor ... [and] heal the brokenhearted" (Is 61:1). Despite these many signs, Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would also be "despised and rejected by men" and that His own people would confess that "we didn't value Him" (Is 53:3).

Messiah's Death

Daniel 9:26-27 predicted the time of the Messiah's death. He would be "cut off - before A.D. 70, when the Romans would "destroy the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary [the temple]."

King David foretold that the Messiah would die by crucifixion, saying, "They pierced my hands and my feet" (Ps 22:16). So David predicted the Messiah's crucifixion ion more than 300 years before that manner of execution was known.

More significant than the time or manner of His death, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah's death would be as a substitution for humanity's sin. The Servant of the Lord would be "pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities" (Is 53:5). The Lord would punish Him "for the iniquity of us all" (Is 53:61. The Servant would have "submitted Himself to death," and as a result, "He bore the sin of many" (Is 53:12).

Messiah's Resurrection

The prophets not only foretold the Messiah's death, they anticipated His resurrection as well. In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, after describing the Messiah's substitutionary death, Isaiah promised that the Lord would "prolong His days" (Is 53:10). David also expressed his own confidence that God would "not abandon [him) to Sheol" because the Messiah, God's "Faithful One," would not "see the Pit" (Ps 16:10).

Messiah's Return

The Hebrew Scriptures present the Messiah in two ways: as a Suffering Servant and as a victorious and righteous King. Although this has confused many, the difficult, is resolved by recognizing that the prophets anticipated two appearances of the Messiah. First, He would come as an atoning sacrifice for sin. Second, He would come to establish His righteous kingdom.

One of the passages that links the two comings is Zechariah 12:10. It speaks at the Messiah coming to deliver Israel at the last battle and then "they will look at Me whom they pierced." These verses depict the Messiah's second coming as the victorious king but also recognize His first appearance as the Pierced One.

Mathematician Peter W. Stoner calculated the probability of one person fulfilling not all the messianic predictions of the Bible, or even the ones mentioned in the article, but just eight messianic predictions. He found that the probability would be 1 in 1017 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. The likelihood of this occurring is comparable to covering Texas with 10" silver dollars, marking only one of them, stirring the mass of dollars, and then having a blindfolded man randomly pick up the marked silver dollar. This is the likelihood of Jesus of Nazareth randomly fulfilling only eight of the Messianic predictions of the Hebrew Bible.

Extracted from the Apologetics Study Bible.

No comments:

Post a Comment