The Old Testament Concept of the Messiah

THE OLD TESTAMENT CONCEPT OF THE MESSIAH

by Wayne S. Walker

     In this series of articles on evidences, we are now seeking to provide evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. To say that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is to affirm that He is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, the fulfilment of all Messianic prophecies. That the Jewish people of the first century and even their neighbors were expecting such a Messiah is undeniable. In John 4.25, the Samaritan woman at the well said to Jesus, "I know that Messiah is coming….When He comes, He will tell us all things." To comprehend this air of expectancy, we must understand the essential elements of the Old Testament concept of the Messiah.

     The coming of the Messiah would be supernatural because it would be accomplished by God and the Messiah’s work would be that of one sent by God Himself. In Deuteronomy 18.15, Moses promised concerning the coming Messiah, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him shall you hear" (cf. Acts 3.22-24). Jehovah would raise up this Prophet. Later, Isaiah 61.1 prophesied of the Messiah as though the Messiah Himself would say, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach the good tidings to the poor…" (cf. Lk. 4.17-21). The Messiah would come to do the work that Jehovah had appointed.

     The coming of the Messiah would be eschatological. Eschatology is the doctrine of last things. This means that the Messiah would come in the last days. "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established…" (Isaiah 2.2). When were these "latter days." When many people hear this term, they immediately think of the last days of this earth and the time of the second coming of Christ. However, Daniel tells us that this government (mountain) of the Lord’s house would come in the days of the fourth world empire beginning with Babylon (Daniel 2.31-44). Thus, these are the "latter days" under consideratopm in Old Testament Messianic prophecy.

     The coming of the Messiah would be regal. The Messiah would be identified as a King who would subdue His enemeis and rule on God’s throne. David was told, "When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Samuel 7.12-13). Solomon might be considered a partial fulfilment of the prophecy, but Solomon’s throne and kingdom were not established forever. David understood that this was a prophecy of the Messiah (Acts 2:30). Of the Messiah, Isaiah 9:6-7 says, "…The government shall be upon His shoulder…."

     The coming of the Messiah would be soteriological. This word comes from a Greek term meaning "to save." The Messiah above all else would be the Savior. His work would be that of bringing salvation to sinful mankind. The promise made to Abraham was that his descendants would become a great nation and live in their own land and that in him, i.e., his "seed," all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12.1-3, 22.8). Paul said that this "seed" is Christ (Galatians 3.16, 26-28). This blessing refers to the offer of salvation because Joel 2.28-32 prophsied that afterward ("in the last days") when the Lord would pour out His Spirit on all flesh, then it would come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord would be saved (cf. Acts 2.16-21).

     The coming of the Messiah would be theological. The Messiah would be deity, possessing the nature of God. He Himself would be divine. Jehovah called Him His Son. "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’" (Psalm 2.7). Throughout the Bible, the term "son" is often used to denote not necessarily one who is a descendant of but one who is of the same characture of someone or something (note Mark 3.17, Acts 4.36). To say that Jesus is the Son of God simply means that He partakes of the very nature of God (cf. John 1.1). It was prophesied that, being born of a virgin, He would be called "Immanuel" (Isaiah 7.14). This is explained that He would be "God," i.e., deity, a divine being, "with us," i.e., living among men (Matthew 1.22-23).

     These are the essential elements of the Old Testament concept of the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled every one of them. The events surrounding His birth alone show that His coming was supernatural. He came in the last days of the Mosaic dispensation. He constantly talked about the spiritual nature of His coming kingdom. His death on the cross wasn an atonement for our salvaiton. And the works that He did bear witness that He is eactly who Hi claimed to be, the divine Son of God. Therefore, the evidence leads us to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  (—taken from With All Boldness; July, 2000; Vol. 10, No. 7; p. 15)

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