God's Messiah - Rev. Deacon Chris
The Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) are filled with prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. For Jesus himself, the Hebrew Scriptures were the key by which he understood his vocation as Israel’s Messiah.
It is believed that there is as many as 456 prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah. And it is believed that Jesus fulfilled 324 of those prophecies during his first coming. As Christians, we believe that he will fulfill the remainder of these prophecies when he returns (His second coming).
There is no other individual who has ever come a close second, as the possible Messiah. Jesus is the only option. God has left no other alternative.
The two prophecies that were discussed during the Sunday sermon were Psalm 2 and Daniel 9: 24-27: For the blog this week, I will expand a little more on these two prophecies.
1. Psalm 2 – The Messiah would be called God’s Son
Psalm 2 speaks of the nations of the world plotting against both God himself and his “Anointed.” Originally, this referred to the Davidic king, but the scope of what is described here, as well as later Jewish tradition, understood this to be referring to the Messiah, God’s Ultimate “Anointed.”
In verse 7, God specifically calls the Anointed “My Son” and promises his worldwide rule in the face of the laughable opposition of the nations who counsel rebellion against God. The New Testament refers in numerous places to the ideas in this psalm, Jesus as God’s Son and the Opposition to God and his Messiah.
In the Hebrew Bible, “son of God” is used about angels (Job 1:6), about the nation of Israel (Exodus 4:22-23), and about Israel’s king (2 Samuel 7:14). In the New Testament, when Jesus is called “Son of God” or “God’s Son,” it implies: (1) he is the Messianic king; (2) he has a personal intimacy with the Father, whom he addressed as Abba; (3) he obeyed the Father, and especially; (4) his sonship is unique, unlike any other. For example, Jesus regularly speaks of “your Father” and “my Father” – but never “our Father” (Matthew 6:9 refers to what the disciples as a group are meant to pray; Jesus does not include himself in that group).
It should be pointed out, that the title “Son of Man” which Jesus frequently uses for himself implies his divinity. That title comes from Daniel 7:13, which speaks of a heavenly figure. The title “Son of God” on the other hand points to Jesus as the unique Messianic king. Who enjoys a special intimacy with God the Father, whose life is characterized by obedience to God, and whose career was marked by opposition, exactly like the Son of Psalm 2.
2. Daniel 9: 24-27 – The Messiah would come according to a timetable.
The prophet Daniel was a student of the Hebrew scriptures and had been studying the book of Jeremiah, where he had read that the Babylonian exile was to last 70 years. As those 70 years were drawing to a close, Daniel began to pray and fast both for himself and for his nation, that God would forgive them and bring them back to Israel (see Daniel 9:1-3). The bulk of chapter nine then gives us Daniel’s heartfelt prayer.
As he prayed, the angel Gabriel appeared to him to bring an announcement: Gabriel tells Daniel not about the 70 years of captivity (which Daniel knew were coming to an end) but about “seventy sevens,” or a period of 490 years, climaxing not merely in the return from Babylon but rather the beginning of the messianic age.
Firstly, the “seventy weeks” (literally, “seventy sevens,” understood by almost everyone to mean seventy seven-year periods or 490 years) begin with “the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.” Commentators have drilled down to the details and dated “the word” at various times in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. In any event, the walls of Jerusalem began to be rebuilt about 457 B.C.
Second, after sixty-nine weeks, Jerusalem and its Temple are destroyed: “The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” After the seventieth week too, we are still talking about desolation and destruction of the Temple: “On the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Therefore, the 490 years begin with the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. and take us to the era of the Temple’s destruction which occurred in A.D. 70.
Third, “an anointed one” is mentioned twice. Translations vary: if the punctuation is translated one way, we have two anointed ones, one coming after seven weeks (49 years) and another one – who is killed – after an additional 62 weeks (434 years). If the punctuation is translated a different way, we have only one anointed person, who comes after seven and sixty-two weeks (483 years). A great deal of ink has been spilled over figuring out the best way to translate this, but in the end, the key point is: given the total of 490 years, an anointed one will be killed not long before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.
According to this interpretation of this prophecy from Daniel – there was a short window of time that the Messiah was to come, and Jesus arrived at that time. Daniel 9:24-27 points us to that very designated time, in the first century AD, when the Messiah came among humanity as our atoning sacrifice.
These two prophecies help to reinforce the belief that only Jesus could have been the Messiah (Christ) promised in the Old Testament.
Comments are closed.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.