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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Messiah

Among the millions of Jews in the world today, only a small percentage even believe in the promise of Messiah at all. That percentage seems to be growing, but in North America relatively few Jews acknowledge the Bible’s teaching about a coming king who would redeem and rescue Israel. 

The Meaning and the Promise

Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning ‘Anointed One’. ‘Christ’ is the Greek word for the very same thing. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings were anointed to show that they had been chosen by God. However, there were also many prophecies which spoke of a special Anointed One who would be prophet, priest and king all in one. This was the One who was referred to as ‘the Messiah’, and the promise of His coming gave suffering Jews hope for many centuries. Today many Jews have given up on that promise. However, gentile Christians and a small number of believing Jews believe that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised to Israel. He has not yet fulfilled all the prophecies which were given about the Messiah, but He will come back and fulfill the rest of the prophecies soon.

The First Time

The first time Jesus, the Messiah, came to earth, it was to fulfill the promise of a holy One who would suffer for Israel’s sins and be the perfect sacrifice for them. Isaiah speaks of how this servant of God would be despised and rejected of men, even of Israel itself, but that He would triumph over sin and death (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). David also prophesied about the sufferings of the Messiah (Psalm 22). In fact, David describes the agonies of crucifixion in more detail than the gospels do — and crucifixion had not even been invented in David’s day!

Jesus fulfilled many, many prophecies about the Messiah when He was here on earth. The book of Matthew lists many of these prophecies from the Old Testament and tells us how Jesus fulfilled them. Jesus could, as some suggest, have fulfilled some prophecies deliberately, but there were others that He had no human way to control, such as the place where He was born (Micah 5:2) and the way His clothing was divided up by the soldiers at the foot of the cross (Psalm 22:18).

The Next Time

There are still some prophecies about the Messiah which have not been fulfilled. These are the prophecies which speak about the reign of righteousness and peace that the Messiah would bring to earth, and which promise political deliverance for Israel as a nation. When Jesus came to earth the first time, He brought spiritual deliverance and spiritual peace, but He was not crowned King over the earth as the prophets foretold Messiah would be. However, Jesus said that He would come back in glory and power (Matthew 16:27) to judge the earth. The book of Revelation tells us what will happen when Jesus returns.

Just because there are some prophecies yet to be fulfilled does not mean that Jesus is not the Messiah. There are no prophecies which He did not properly and perfectly fulfill while He was here on earth or which He cannot fulfill in future.

RJA

Republished by permission of the author

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