IDENTIFYING THE MESSIAH
-A. Ralph Johnson
Who, or what, was the Messiah prophesied to come by the Jewish scriptures? I presented that question to an Orthodox Rabbi with whom I studied for several months. His response was that Jews hold various views. Some think he is a person who will someday come to lead his people. Others think it represents establishment of the nation of Israel. Many have claimed the title over the centuries. Christians hold that Jesus is the Christ fulfilling those prophecies.
I would like to simply go to the Old Testament Scriptures and draw from them key points of reference and identifying features and let them speak for themselves.
TIME OF THE MESSIAH'S COMING
Daniel 9:24 -27 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The most significant and identifiable time mark here is the destruction of "the city and the sanctuary"—Jerusalem and the temple, fixed clearly in history by the Romans in 70 AD.. Daniel here places the coming of the Messiah at the end of the "weeks," just prior to that event, counted "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince."
The 69 "weeks" (Hebrew: "sevens") from the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem
to the time of the Messiah are weeks of years.
7 "weeks" x 7 =
+ three score and two weeks = 62 "weeks" x 7 =
Total 69 "weeks" =
+ 1 "week" x 7 =
Total 70 "weeks"
The last “week” in which the sacrifice and the oblation are caused to cease completes the “70 weeks” = 490 years.
Seventy weeks, literally, "Seventy sevens" --weeks of years—490 years from the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem by the Persians—around 500 BC—perhaps the decree of Artaxerxes of Ezra, in the seventh year of his reign, 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:1-26) to the Messiah, about 26 A.D..
The concept of weeks of years is well established.
Ezekiel, who was contemporaneous with Daniel and three times mentioned him, (Ezek. 14:14, 20; 28:3) used this system.
Ezek. 4:4 “Then lie upon your left side, and I will lay the punishment of the house of Israel upon you; for the number of the days that you lie upon it, you shall bear their punishment. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, three hundred and ninety days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment; so long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah; forty days I assign you, a day for each year.
The fulfilling of Rachael’s “week” (Gen. 29:27-28) was seven years.
God used a similar system in establishing the 50-year Jubilee.
Leviticus 25:8 8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths [weeks] of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths [weeks] of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
God also used a day for a year system for determining the length of the Babylonian captivity.
Numbers 14:34 34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
The bottom line is this: Daniel clearly places the Messiah just prior to the second destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Dan 9:27...and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
This suggests the cause and results of the destruction. Because of abominations it was made desolate even unto the consummation to be poured upon the desolate according to the warnings of Moses (Deut. 28:15-60) —dispersed for almost 2,000 years while Jerusalem was trodden down by the Gentiles, foretold by Jesus (Luke 21:20-24; Matthew 24:15-21) and recorded by Josephus the priest-historian in 70 A.D.. (Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 3).
IN THE DAYS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Daniel, chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a great image with head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, and legs of iron with feet of iron and clay. A stone was cut out of a mountain and rolled down destroying the image and became a mountain, filling the whole earth. Daniel says the head of Gold is Nebuchadnezzar and that three great kingdoms will follow his. He identifies the little stone as the Kingdom of God, set up in the days of those kings that would never pass away (cf. Dan. 7:14). Those empires no longer exist.
In the days of those kings, Jesus set up a spiritual kingdom which has spread throughout the earth and still remains today—in the hearts of his followers (cf. Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36; Col. 1:13)
FAMILY OF DAVID
With the temple destroyed in 70 A.D., beyond that no one can any longer identify the family line of the Messiah descended from David.
Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Psalm 110:1-4 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (Gen. 14:18; Hebrews 7).
Zechariah 6:12-13 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (cf. Jer. 23:5-6; 33:15; Zech. 3:8)
Isaiah 11:1-2 1And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
PLACE OF BIRTH
Micah 5:2 And you, Bethlehem Ephratah, you being least among the thousands of Judah, out of you He shall come forth to Me, to become Ruler in Israel, He whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity. (cf. Matthew 2:1, Luke 2:11-15).
HUMBLE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
Zechariah 9:9 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
REJECTION, SUFFERING, DEATH AND RESURRECTION
Isaiah 53:1 1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Some have claimed that this is speaking of the nation rather than a person. However any fair examination of the text indicates the latter. It uses personal pronouns "He." He is called "a man of sorrows," "He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken." It speaks of him as having a "soul", "living" and his "death." It distinguishes between "he" and "my people—the nation."
Psalm 22:6-31 6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (cf. Matt. 27:43)
.13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. (cf. John 13:37)
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. (cf. Matthew 27:35)
RAISED FROM THE DEAD
Psalm 16:9-10 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also hall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (cf. Acts 2:26-32; 13:33-35)
ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
Psalm 110:1-2 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. (cf. Matt. 22:42-46; Acts 2:34; Eph. 1:20-23; 1Cor. 15:23-26; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2; 1Pet. 3:22)
SON OF GOD
Psalm 2:6-7 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (cf. Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5-6; 5:5)
HOPE FOR THE GENTILES
Isaiah 11:10 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.