Who is the Messiah?
By Wendy S. Scott
When we go searching for God, there are a few things we must establish before we can decide what we accept to be true about God, and we can’t jump in the middle. If Jesus was the Messiah, then He is God’s solution to our problems, but whose problems, and what problems?
We know that God created the heavens and the earth. No other god or leader of a faith has made this claim, so it is secure. If we want to believe in God, then we know we have the right one because only the God of Israel ever made this claim, and He revealed to us essentially how He did it, and what He thought of it when He did. So God made the heavens, the earth, all the animals, and then Adam and Eve. The first thing we learn is that although everything that God made was good, He said it was not good that man be alone. We see that in addition to His plan to fill the earth, God recognize that people need someone like themselves for a relationship. After presenting all the animals to Adam, none was found to be a suitable companion, so God made Eve out of Adam so that they would have a deep connection. “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
We can see in this, that God is aware of the gulf between the humanity he made on earth, and Himself as far as a relational experience is concerned. Just like a Father is aware that He cannot make the perfect connection with His children and be a perfectly fulfilling companion on every level of experience. Then God gave them free will, and told them about their free will. He gave them everything they needed, but told them not to take the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden because they would die. The significance is not just the fruit, but whether, given the option, they would choose God’s will, or their own will. When Satan enticed the woman into eating the fruit, he lied, and told her she would not die, but that it would open her eyes, and she would be like God, making her wise. She chose her own will over God’s will, and gave it to Adam, who made the same choice. (add Biblical references to all)
Their eyes were opened, but not to wisdom, but to shame. Their wisdom was only that they realized that they did not have to obey God, and their shame came when they recognized the significance of their disobedience. They did not die physically, but spiritually they lost the spirit of God that had been breathed into them because of the intrusion of sin, and they were separated from God. This is when God prophesied to them the repercussions of the curse of sin. They would die, and feel pain, they would work hard for their food, and never be satisfied. But he told Satan that there would be a constant struggle between his seed and the woman’s seed, which will bruise Satan’s head, and Satan would bruise his heel.
Now, this is the initial state of God’s creation. It was a perfect habitation for His children, except for the issue of free will. If God had not offered humanity free will, then we would be obligated to obey Him. There would be no other choice. But if that were the case, what could we give to God that would satisfy Him? What could our existence offer Him that compelled Him to make us to begin with? He can make anything He wants, and wouldn’t need us to get it. He certainly doesn’t want our money; He doesn’t need it. He didn’t make us the way a child has an ant farm, just to see what would happen, and then to torture the inhabitants when He was bored. He’s God, He already knows what would happen, and if He just wanted to torture us, why did He put so much effort into making it so nice here? He didn’t make us to be slaves, and perfectly obedient because then He wouldn’t have given us free choice. The only thing we can give Him that would have any value is what we all want—Love. And no one wants love to be forced, or automatic. Love is only valuable when there is another choice. That choice that God gave us was us. Every day we choose between what we want, and what God wants for us. When we choose God, we are in His will, and we demonstrate our love for Him, when we chose our will, we demonstrate our love for ourselves. This is sin.
When you think about why God may have made us to begin with, the only legitimate reason can be the same as any good parent. The perfect reason to have children is because you want to share love with them, and you want to share the blessing you have with them. If people have children for any other reason, these reasons are not considered ideal, or even acceptable. People who have children and treat them like slaves are considered evil. Parents who lord over their children’s every move, and expect them to be perfect, and obey every order to perfection are thought of as harsh, and bad parents. For some reason though, we picture this of God. We see Him as expecting perfection, or He will not give us His love and blessing. We think we have to earn His love, and when we know we have failed, we simply cut off the relationship.
God cannot have lower standards than humans, though. He cannot be the petty parent that has children just to have someone to order around. God must be the perfect parent because He is God. This means that He has to love us, even more than our real parents, because our parents are human, and they get their feelings hurt, and get all kinds of ideas about how things ought to be. God is not subject to those imperfections. God’s heart has to ache when we are in pain, or when we are sad because our parents’ hearts ache. God has to want to give us good things because our parents would give us the world if they could. God has to have compassion and mercy on us because all good parents are tender and compassionate and merciful toward their children. Whatever wonderful qualities a parent could have, God invented those qualities. By this reason, we are guaranteed that His love for us is tremendous because otherwise we accuse Him of being not as good as a human.
If then God is the perfect parent, and wants to have a love relationship with us, sin becomes the enemy of our relationship. God is perfectly Holy. He does not think the things we think, he would not do the things we do. God created a perfect paradise, without death or sin or pain or sorrow, and we opened the door to Satan, and let him have the run of the place, destroying everything.
Now Israel is looking for a Messiah. They are looking for a man. They are looking for someone who will restore the glory of Israel, and be king over them in a perfect reign. But the question is, although Israel is God’s chosen people, the restoration of Israel is also symbolic of something much bigger. It doesn’t say “In the beginning, God created Israel. . .” it says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God created paradise for all humanity, and Adam and Eve, who were not Hebrew, or Anglo, or Asian, or Arab, or Native American, but the parents of all of these, they were the ones who fell. Our parents. All of us have the same problem. God created us in perfection, but though our own selfishness we let in sin, and it has been the dominating force in the hearts of humanity. We all sin, we all die. The whole world is suffering in death and destruction. All the animals die, the babies die, the plants die, the stars are dying. Everything decays and is destroyed, all because we let sin into the world. The problem is not just Israel’s. God has put His name on Israel as His special people. He legitimized them with His law and His promises. He made them His special people as an example to the world what a relationship with God was like, and demonstrated His unfailing love toward them with His promises. But God is not a God of waste. God will not let His original plan be wasted. He will not give up and say “okay, you guys messed up the whole universe with your sin, so I guess that’s it. Everything is always going to be messed up now.” Who’s God is that?
If the Messiah is just a man who brings Israel restoration, what about the original plan? Will God let sin destroy His creation forever? Will He concede to Satan all of His creation, and say “You won. You get to stay too even though I made it all, and I made you. I will allow my people to be subject to you.” God cannot let Satan’s destruction remain. The prophesy for the Messiah would be limited to the Jews only if the Jews were the only ones to receive the prophesy, but all through the scriptures God is telling us of His plan. This is not some patchwork plan. This plan is the best plan of all. It was the plan He had from the beginning to offer His Love and goodness only to those people who wanted it. The ones who would chose Him over themselves.
The first prophesy for the Messiah was listed already in Genesis 3:15. He said to Satan “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall crush your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This prophesy, directed at the great destroyer at the very time that he lead Adam and Eve into sin, was a prophesy of His defeat. The only way to restore God’s perfect kingdom was to destroy Satan. But not to just destroy Him, because God could do that. God had to let the scenario play out, and let humanity experience this battle of the choices so that when they would choose God, it would be legitimate, all the while Satan would be reminding us to choose ourselves instead. So God’s prophesy here is that some day, a child, born from a woman, would crush the head, or authority, of Satan over humanity. That this seed of the woman would conquer the destroyer, and His death, but that in doing so, Satan would bruise His heel. That means that the victory over Satan would cost the conqueror. So right here, at the very beginning, God gives us insight into His plan, and we can see that this death and sin and destruction would not always stand. Would He really be God if He let it?
One of the next glimpses at God’s plan is in chapter 6 of Genesis when the flood is described. God clearly states that it is the wickedness of man’s heart, and the violence that filled the earth that causes God to destroy all flesh. But Noah’s heart was good toward God, and it was counted as righteousness toward Him. Only Noah and His family trusted in God. For this reason, God had Noah build an ark for His family and some of every animal, so that they would survive the flood and start over again. This is another type for us, in that it was the wickedness in man’s heart that drove him from God. They had no relationship with Him. By starting fresh with just Noah and his family, God could save the part of humanity that desired Him, and start them new without the oppressive evil in the world. Only the people on the ark survived. Noah built that ark in front of the whole world for about a hundred years. Neighbors had to come by and ask what he was doing. He would have told them “God is going to destroy the earth, and he told me to build this so we would be safe. Do you want to know more about it? Do you want to know how you can be saved too?” But no one else was on that ark. Was that because God is unmerciful? No. God said that it was the wickedness of man’s heart that brought their destruction, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and “Noah walked with God.” It does not say Noah was a perfect man. It says that God gave him “grace,” which is undeserved favor. Noah did not earn his salvation from God by perfection, he received grace, despite his sins, because his heart was good toward God, and he loved Him. If therefore anyone who stopped and asked Noah what he was doing, and then if he believed Noah and repented, God would have put him on the ark too. The sad fact is that for a hundred years, no one believed Noah, and they all died. They didn’t have to be perfect, they only had to believe and repent in their heart.
Another event that foretells the Messiah is when God chooses obedient Abrahm for the start of His chosen people. There were no Hebrews before Abrahm, but God isolated him and made him a promise. He promised in Genesis 12:2 “And I will make of thee a great nation; and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you: and in you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Not only did God promise to make a great nation out of Abrahm’s seed (soon to be Abraham) but he made even a bigger promise—that all of the nations of the earth would be blessed in His family. Why? How could all the nations of the entire earth be blessed by this one little family? How could someone in Somalia, or Chili, or Russia, or China, or Finland be blessed by this family and this nation. The Jews were scattered much later, that’s true, and of course they benefited many of the countries they went to, but did they really effect India, or Mexico, or Bolivia, or Indonesia? There is not really a big Jewish population in these places, so their impact would not seem very significant. No more significant than Europeans in general. Was God making a mistake when He made such a big deal out of His promise? Maybe it didn’t work out as planned.
Or was there something more to it. What could one family offer the whole world? What would be significant to God and to all of humanity? Well so far, we know one thing for sure, God already gave the promise to crush the authority of Satan through the seed of the woman. Could this have to do with that? Could this be the line that God had chosen in order to bring this about? That certainly would be in line with God’s need to restore His perfect creation, and certainly if God had a plan to restore His creation, that would be very significant to all of humanity.
After Abraham’s promised son Isaac is born to him and his aged wife Sarah, God tells him while the boy is still a young man, to take him to a place and sacrifice him to God as a testimony of Abraham’s faith. Abraham is sadly obedient, and takes his son off to a place to sacrifice him to God. An interesting thing happens along the way. Isaac becomes aware of what is going to happen, but he does not protest, and he does not try to flee. In Genesis 22:7 “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here I am, my son. And he said, I see the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of: and Abraham built an alter there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the alter upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” At this point, an angel of the Lord stops him, and the Lord provides a ram caught in the thicket as a substitute sacrifice.
When we view this in context of God’s plan of restoration we see some significant points that can help us interpret future prophesies of the Messiah. One, is that to prove Abraham’s love, God asked him to sacrifice his son. Second, the son was obedient, and innocent, but willing to obey God’s command. Third, God did not allow the innocent to suffer in Abraham’s sacrifice, but provided another sacrifice Himself. He did not call off the sacrifice, but offered a substitute sacrifice of His choosing. God stuck to His plan, and Abraham passed his test not by the actual sacrifice, but by His faith in God, His faith that God was merciful and just, and a heart that was actually prepared to go through with it because in his faith that God had a good plan, even if it did not make sense to him. We will look back on this later.
Later in Genesis, Isaac has Jacob, and Jacob has his 12 boys, and these boys became the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel (the name God gives Jacob). God gives his youngest at the time, Joseph, a vision that all his family would one day come to him and worship him. Naturally, when he told his family this, they became indignant, not recognizing that it was from the Lord. The brothers conspired to get rid of him, some wanted to kill him, others wanted to preserve him, but sell him into slavery.
For a time, the prophesy seemed to take the wrong turn, as the innocent Joseph, though given small power for a time, is thrown in jail having been falsely accused of trying to usurp authority and making advances toward Potifer’s wife. Yet even in prison he was faithful to God, and at the appointed time God brought him out. For Joseph’s obvious wisdom and by the grace of God, he was promoted to 2nd only to Pharaoh, and every man and nation came and bowed down to him as the head of the Egyptian government.
At this point, if we are paying attention, we see another type of the messiah. He was rejected by his brothers, sold into bondage, yet through his faithfulness, he became that very head that the brothers would bow down to when God brought a famine in the land. They finally had no choice but to recognize him, and their hearts finally broke with regret and received him for what God had clearly used him for. This is like the duel picture of the Messiah in Isaiah and Psalms. In Psalm 2, 110, Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2-4 and others, the Messiah is a triumphant ruler over the nations. But in Psalm 22, 89:27-end, 118:16-26 (shows both), Daniel 9:25-26, Isaiah 53 and others reveal that he suffers and is rejected, and killed. How can it be both? When we consider the genesis prophesy that one, a seed of a woman, will crush the authority of Satan, but that in the process it will wound his heel.
Joseph was figuratively resurrected, for he was dead in the minds of his family, and God promises in Job 19:25: 27, Psalm 71:20, 50:2-5, Daniel 7:27, Zechariah 14:5 that there will be a bodily resurrection, and the Messiah is the first of them to show he is “mighty in battle” and has been a hero” to all, like the one prophesied, born of a woman. Since the Messiah’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, it is evident that he is more than just a man. Joseph was a type for this aspect of the messianic prophecies--that he would be rejected in order to go ahead of his brethren and fulfill God’s will in preserving the people of God from death, and in turn, they and all the earth would revere him.
All of Joseph’s family was preserved in following him. There, Pharaoh gives Joseph the authority settle his family in a place of honor, but they were always intended to go back to the land of promise one day.
After the good Pharaoh dies, the children of Israel become slaves to the Egyptians for 400 years. At this time God raises up Moses to deliver His people from Egypt. Since the Pharaoh will not let them go, God sends a series of plagues to convince them. It is interesting to note how much it took to convince them to do it, despite the fact that it was clearly God behind all the plagues. People are the same way today, and they simply set their hearts not to believe no matter how much evidence is given them. Pharaoh was clearly dealing with God, yet he still defied Him.
The final plague that God sent was what resulted in the Passover tradition, which is still the most significant tradition in the Jewish faith today. God instructed the Hebrews to select a perfect lamb for sacrifice. Then each family would sacrifice the lamb, and dip hyssop in the blood. The blood was then painted on the top of the front door way, and both side posts. For the families that did this, when the angel of the Lord came over Egypt to kill the first born of every family and creature, the angel would see the blood on the doorposts, and pass over the house, preserving their lives. Any family that did not have the blood of the lamb on the doorpost would lose every firstborn in their house. This was not an act of works where they earned their salvation by being good—it was an act of faith where they trusted only in the instructions of the Lord, and the Lord’s provision for salvation from the death. God did not say “If you are a good enough person, or if you are nice to people, or if you are diligent in good works, maybe I will pass over.” He said this was the only way. If you do this, and trust me, you will be saved.
An additional instruction was to bake fresh bread without yeast. Some people believe that it was the haste of preparation that didn’t allow for the yeast to rise, but additional clues later in the Bible indicate that yeast is also a type for sin. That sin grows undetected in the soul and spreads from soul to soul. All of humanity came from Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve had sin. Yeast multiplies and grows, and any dough taken from dough with yeast in it will also have yeast in it, and it will grow too, and will be spread to all the dough it comes in contact with. This is how sin was passed from generation to generation, all coming from the same dough of Adam and Eve.
After the Hebrews were released, God lead them to the desert where He set them aside from all humanity. Up until this point, everyone knew what was essentially right and wrong because God has given us an understanding of these things in our hearts. But now He made I plain, and gave us the law, and the 10 commandments. Now we knew what was expected of us, and we knew how far from being like God we were. We saw that God is perfectly Holy and has perfect judgment. He made it clear that we had sin in us, and that we had to atone, or pay for our sins. He instituted complicated laws of sacrifice to cover our sin so that our relationship with God would be unhindered by it. When we had no way to address our sin, then it was always between us and God. But when we acknowledge our sin to God, and make sacrifice, then we can come to God freely again. The problem with this new set of laws though, was that it was burdensome, and had to be done through a priest, who was consecrated for that intersession between us and God. Even after God gave the land of Israel to His people, they could not get it straight. Some people did not care about the laws at all, and did whatever they wanted, and some cared about the laws so much that they became the focus, and the true relationship with God was not growing. It became ritual, instead of worship.
God knew all this would happen though. The first part of humanity had no formal law, and they lived in sin continually, disobeying what even their hearts told them was right. The second part of God’s plan gave us the law through the Israelites so that we would know God, and His Holiness, and what His perfect expectations were. He gave people the opportunity to try and earn their relationship with Him, but what they were really learning is the bigger lesson—only God is perfect. Only God can exist without sin. Instead of providing a way to avoid sin, God was pointing out our sin to ourselves so we could not miss it. So we could see that at every turn our actions and our words and our thoughts and hearts betrayed us. No matter how hard we tried, even at the threat of death, we could not keep from sinning. In this effort, our relationship with God grew cold. Throughout the history of Israel, only the people who balanced their efforts to be good with a truly sincere heart and love of God could find strength and comfort in their relationship with Him.
King David was one of these people. God said that David had a heart after God. The Holy Spirit of God inspired David to write many wonderful Psalms about God and His goodness, and His trustworthiness. At a time when everyone thought God was harsh, David truly sought the real God with all His heart, and found Him and trusted in Him. Although he multiplied wives to himself, and yet was an adulterer, a man of war and blood, a man that had another man killed in order to have his wife--despite all this, his heart was right with God. He hated himself for his sins, and repented, a broken and humble man for every one. He cried out to God for forgiveness and restoration. And God not only granted it, but made David’s lineage the kingly line that the Messiah would come through. God blessed David’s heart because David blessed God’s heart and trusted in Him.
Now we may wonder, if the Messiah was to come through David’s line, what was the Messiah needed for? King David reigned over a whole Israel. It was strong, and not yet divided. He passed it onto his son Solomon, after which Israel enjoyed peace and prosperity. There was no need for a man to restore Israel to its glory when David and Solomon enjoyed its glory. If it was so important, then God could have prevented its destruction way back then rather than prophesying a restoration when there wasn’t even a need yet. Who was this Messiah, and what was His duty?
There are so many references to the Messiah throughout the scriptures. He is depicted as powerful in Daniel 7:13-14 “And I saw in the night visions, one like the Son of man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people and nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
But he is also depicted as meek in Zechariah 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.” The mixture of power and glory attributed to the Messiah as well as the lowliness and even suffering, has confused many Jews, leading them to believe there are two Messiahs, even though there is only reference made to one. What would the purpose of a suffering Messiah be all on His own? We must accept the scriptures, which, as signified earlier, frequently refer to both throughout Isaiah, the Psalms, Jeremiah, Micah, Daniel and others as both victorious and suffering. How could this figure help God’s mission?
What is God’s intention with the Messiah? In Isaiah 25:9-10 the scriptures say that God will “swallow up death in victory: and the Lord God will wipe away all the tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: For the Lord has spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. . .” The problem, is magnified in Isaiah 59:1, 2, 12, 15,& 16: “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. . . For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them. . . Yea, truth faileth: and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment. And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore, His arm brought salvation. . .”
But in Isaiah 53, we see God’s purpose with the Messiah, beginning in verse three: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: we hid as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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. 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. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. . . Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hat put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. . .He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 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.”
God has provided the solution to our sin, and still satisfies His just nature to punish sin. Because God is righteous, these things have to be accomplished 1) He must judge sin 2) He must defeat the authority of sin 3) He must offer reconciliation with Himself, or the stain of sin will condemn every human he made to eternal death and separation from Him. He gives us this offer in Isaiah 1:10, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
The Messiah, in countless references throughout scripture, accomplishes this. He is perfect, righteous, wise. He comes and lives a perfect, innocent life, something no one has ever done. Then he is killed by evil men, publicly, and everyone thinks that God is punishing him, so they forsake him. As he is dying, God lays on him the sins of the entire world, even though he lived a sinless life. He becomes the substitute sacrifice on our behalf. Instead of lambs, it is the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice. He satisfies the law completely on God’s behalf, then lays down his life when he did nothing worthy of death. Remember, the cost of sin is death, but if he never sinned, he did not owe death. He paid for a death he did not owe. Then God offers us reconciliation through this Messiah by only trusting in him. We owe a debt for our sin that we cannot pay. We owe death, both physically and spiritually.
Sin has killed us already, we just haven’t experienced it yet. We are like lepers. When you catch leprosy, it doesn’t always show. You might have just a little spot, and maybe you can hide it. Maybe someone else is covered in it, and they cannot hide it at all. You might look at them and tell yourself, “I don’t have it that bad. I can get away with it,” but you still have it. You can’t go into a sterile hospital and try and pretend you don’t have it because you do. It’s in you whether it shows or not. Well you cant go into God’s perfect kingdom and bring along your sin, even if you think it wasn’t that bad. You have to be cured, or cleansed of it. Well we see here that the Messiah provides for that. He is the antidote. You cannot clean yourself, but he can because he has been declared clean. All we must do is repent, God has provided for salvation through the Messiah. Isaiah 55:6-8 tells us to “Seek the Lord while He may be found,” and let the wicked forsake his way. . . and return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways.”
So who was the Messiah? There are abundant clues throughout scripture, but here are a few to give us insight to the mystery. The first is the Messiah speaking.
Isaiah 48:16 “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that is was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and His Spirit hath sent me.”
Isaiah 7:14 “. . .behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (which means “God with us”)
Isaiah 9:6 “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.”
We see that God himself calls the Messiah God. And since there is only one God, then God himself took on the form of a man, came to earth to pay the price himself for the sins of the world. We already know that the Holy Spirit is a part of God because David refers to Him numerous times. We know that God the Father is God. So if all three are God, and there is only one God, then all three are part of God. We see this in Genesis 1:26,27. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . so God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he man.” In fact, the Hebrew word for God used throughout the Scriptures, Elohiym, is a plural word for God. When commonly used with an article indicating one, its meaning is more than one in one God. The Messiah, then is God. Not another God, but again, one part of a triune God. This makes sense because only God could live a sinless life. God would not send another to pay the price because then that other being would get the glory. King David refers to the Messiah as his Lord in Psalm 110:1, although the Messiah was to be one of his children, something that Jesus points out in Matthew 22:44, demonstrating that the Messiah was not just a man. Additionally, the prophesy that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin in Isaiah 7:14, means that His father was God. If his actual father is God, than He is God, just like having a Jewish father makes one Jewish.
There are numerous references to God and the Messiah sharing the same qualities. God makes claims to be our King throughout the scripture, as in Zechariah 14:9 “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth, in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one.” But in Daniel 7:13, God says the Messiah’s kingdom shall never be destroyed. And in Jeremiah 23:5-6, both are referred to “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. . . and his name, where by he shall be called, The Lord (Jehovah) our Righteousness.” Then, again, in Zechariah 9:9 “Thy King cometh unto thee. . .riding upon an ass.”
There are a great deal more clues to the true identity of the Messiah. When you think about it, it makes the most sense. People argue that a man cannot be God, and that is true, but can God be a man? Can God demonstrate His tremendous love for us by leaving His glory, and redeeming us Himself? Would a true parent send another person to die in place of his child, or would he go himself? Wouldn’t that demonstrate His love perfectly? God makes claims to being our savior himself. Beginning in Isaiah 42, God describes the miracles and mission of the Messiah, to call people out of darkness, and release them from prison (of sin and death). He describes the worthiness of the Messiah, then in verse 42:8 “I am the Lord: that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another. . . Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things I do declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Then in Isaiah 43:11 God says “I, even I am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.” Though only God may receive honor, God tells us in Isaiah 52:13, that the Messiah shall be exalted very high. But in Isaiah 52:6-7 God is alluding to the Messiah when he refers to the “feet of him that publishes salvation, and says “. . .they shall know, in that day that I am he that speaks, behold, it is I.” The scriptures give so much evidence that God Himself was in the Messiah redeeming the world for Himself, the only way to ensure perfection, and receive to honor and glory due to a mighty, gracious, loving God. If this is true, we must be sure we have the right Messiah.
Was Jesus the Messiah? First of all, he fulfilled all the scriptural prophecy about the Messiah. He was born in Bethlehem, at the time prophesied by Daniel the prophet in verses 9:24-25 about 475 years after the Jews returned from exile and began rebuilding the city, the Messiah would be born, which is the time of Jesus. It would also have to occur before the temple was destroyed, which happened in about 70 AD. So the Messiah had to come between 5 BC and 70 AD, which as we know, was the time of Jesus. This is very precise.
There are dozens of other precise prophesies about the Messiah, all fulfilled in Jesus. Both his mother and step father were descendants of King David. He was born in Bethlehem, but called a Nazerene (Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4). He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12, Matthew 26:14,15). He was killed along with criminals (Isaiah 53:12, Mark 15:27,28). Soldiers gambled for his clothes (Psalm 22:17, 18, Matthew 27:35,36) Buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9. Matthew 27: 57-60). Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Luke chapter 1). He was rejected by his people (Isaiah 53:3, Zechariah 13:6, John 1:11, luke 23:18). His side, hands and feet were pierced in his death (Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 22, John 19: 34, 20:27). All of these, and many more precise prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus, and no other. In fact no other has claimed to fulfill these prophesies, and any Messiah that makes this claim now would have to break scripture to do it. The temple has been destroyed already, and he had to come before the destruction. It is no longer possible to legally trace the lineage of David, as the records have long since been destroyed and lost. Since this is used as evidence of the legitimacy of the Messiah, it must be legally provable that he is from David’s line. Both Jesus’ step father and Jesus’ mother were from the line of David. Joseph’s lineage, Mary’s husband, is given in the book of Matthew, chapter one, and Mary’s lineage is given in Luke, chapter three, beginning in verse 23. The two lineages differ slightly, narrowing down to Heli (Mary’s father) listing him as Joseph’s father (would be father in law). If the Messiah is to be born of a virgin, naturally her lineage is more significant. Additionally, the prophesy in Genesis three is that it would be her seed that would conquer Satan.
Special prophecies are found in Zechariah13:6 “and one shall say unto him, what are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Also Zechariah 12: 10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son. . .” But remarkably, the 22nd Psalm is a complete prophecy of the Messiah’s experience of his death on the cross. This astounding prophecy comes about a thousand years before crucifixion was used as a punishment for death. We see that the Messiah was sent to earth to suffer in our place, but then rise again victorious.
When we look back at some of the prophesies first mentioned in this paper, we see how beautifully God’s plan has been in action from the start. God gave Adam and Eve free will, so that when we loved Him it would be by choice. He allowed sin to enter the world through our choices so that we would always understand the goodness of God. We cannot really have freedom and understanding if we are protected. And everything is perfect. How can we really understand how wonderful God is if we only know goodness. Just like we cannot appreciate being well unless we are sick. Again, God did not force this on us, it was our choice, but our choices bring consequences.
When God told the serpent in the garden, (Satan) than his seed and the seed of the woman would always be struggling, and that the woman’s seed would crush Satan’s head, but that Satan’s seed would bruise his heal, God was speaking of the Messiah. That some day, one would come through a woman and crush the authority of Satan. What was the authority that Satan wielded? Remember, Satan brought with him sin, death, and destruction, so the Messiah would have to defeat sin and death, and bring restoration. He cannot be simply a Messiah for one nation because Adam and Eve represent the state of all of humanity. The Messiah’s accomplishments cannot be merely earthly, because this fall is in the spiritual realm as well as earthly. The Messiah cannot be just a man because ALL humanity is born into this heritage of sin, and an unclean man cannot cleanse us from sin. This Messiah must come from the spiritual realm in order for him to defeat sin because children sin before they see the importance of not sinning, and any human would never have been able to keep from sinning from that early age. On the other hand, he had to be human as well because the only way for sin and death to be defeated is by one who is subject to sin and death, a human.
This is why the prophecy to Satan was that the woman’s seed would defeat him. (Not even the man’s seed, which is more traditional). That the Messiah would be born of a woman is necessary to defeat sin and death. But this defeat would cost something at the hands of the seed of Satan. Who could the seed of Satan possibly be? Jesus called the hypocritical clergy of the day the children of Satan in John 8:44 “You are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father will you do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” It was these evil men who had Jesus killed, even though of the common people loved him. The prophesy is that the Serpent would bruise the Messiah’s heel. This means that in the Messiah’s defeat of Satan, he would be wounded. Now, we see that it was a part of prophesy that the Messiah suffer. In fact, what hero is a hero without suffering? Is it possible to be a hero if it doesn’t cost something to do it? The only way for a Messiah to defeat death, is to die publicly, and then rise from the dead to demonstrate the defeat. You cannot simply say that you have defeated death, how would anyone believe you? You have to demonstrate it.
When we go forward and examine the promise God made to Abraham, we must consider again why all the families of the earth would be blessed by the seed of Abraham. We know that God was setting aside a holy people when He made his covenant with Abraham. No nation had ever or still has ever been called God’s people. He stamped His name on the Jews and Israel forever. We know that He wanted to use them as an example to all nations of His Holiness and blessings. But we also know that the Messiah was promised through this line, through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, through the line of David. This promise that Abraham’s seed would bless the nations was a continued promise from Genesis, that the seed of the woman would defeat Satan, and this defeat would benefit everyone. Again, the Messiah was a promise to the world, given through the Jews, and fulfilling the hopes of the people who truly trusted in God with their hearts. King David praised God in Psalm 16:10 “For thou will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you allow your Holy one to see corruption.” The first one is about David’s anticipation of redemption, but the second phrase is about the Messiah, and that his body will not see decay in the grave. Then Psalm 49:7-9, 15 says of wealthy men “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious. . . But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me.” We know in this that David, by the spirit, looked forward to the day of his redemption from death.
We know that death is not the end. We know it in our hearts, and we are assured throughout scriptures that God does not only deal with the physical realm, but the spiritual realm, because God is a spirit. He has also declared that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Exodus 3:6. God would not say that He is the God of dead men, but of living, as Jesus pointed out in Luke 20:37. If then we know that there is a life after death, how can that life be with a Holy God if we are full of sin? How could we possibly get rid of that sin so that God can bring us to heaven, which is His desire, as seen throughout Isaiah, starting in verse 43:24-25 “. . .thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, and thou has wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins. . . .(45:21-22) there is no God beside me; a just God and a savior; there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. . .”
God desires to save us from the consequences of our sin, but could the law do it? Can anyone fulfill all the law? No it is not possible, and one transgression keeps us out of God’s perfect kingdom. What is the solution? God instituted the sacrifice as atonement for sins, but what could it really accomplish in us spiritually? Could it really pay for our sins to kill innocent animals? Is this what God desires? In Psalm 40:6 “sacrifice and offerings, you did not desire; my ears you have opened: burnt offerings and sin offerings have you not required.” In I Samuel 15:22, God tells us through Samuel “Does the Lord have as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” But God knows that we cannot obey perfectly, is that the only way to please Him? I Samuel also tells us in verse 16:7 “. . .for the Lord seeth not as a man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart.” So truly God’s desire is for us to have a relationship with Him, in the manner that King David had, who had the heart of God, and whom God blessed with His Holy Spirit, a rare gift, as seen in I Samuel 16:13 “. . .and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” We know this, then, that everyone sins. David sinned, several times grievously (adultery, and murder), yet God accepted him. God blessed him with the Holy Spirit, yet David spoke of redemption. What we have here is a man, approved of by God not in his perfection, but in his heart. When he sinned, he repented a broken and humble man, yet repentance alone would not be enough. Someone had to pay for the sin, and God loved David, and all of us, too much to want us to pay for it through eternal death and separation from God.
Now we look again at another clue as to the Messiah. When the Jews were released from Egypt, God had to do many miraculous plagues to convince the Egyptians not only to let the people go, but that their God was Lord. We see this even today. People refuse to evidence that God is real, and good, and powerful, that He has made everything, and that He is righteous, judging our sin. It takes a lot for some people to see this. The last plague of the Egyptians was that of the death of every first born in the land. God instructed the Jews to kill a sacrifice, and place the blood on the top and side posts. This alone would save them from the death that would pass over. Nothing else would do it. If someone thought they had a better idea, it would not be acceptable. If someone said that they were offended that they needed to be saved from the death, it would not matter. If someone said they were not worthy of death because they were good people, it would not matter. If someone said they knew about it, but didn’t want to give up their possession of the lamb, it did not matter. Only one provision was made, and there was not room to do it your own way. Anyone who followed these instructions did so on the basis of faith. They had faith that God really was going to kill all the first born, and they had faith that this was going to save them. They did not hide in caves from the death, for it would not help, they did not run to the astronomers and wizards for protection from the death, or hide behind their local priest. They stayed at home, as instructed, and sacrificed the lamb, and placed the blood on the door posts, and that was all that was needed to save them. But the Egyptians did not, and death filled the land.
This sacrifice saved the people from death, based on faith, not their goodness or their good works. Either you obeyed, or you died. But this obedience was not difficult. God made it so everyone could survive based only on acting on their faith. We see a perfect picture then of the future sacrifice of Jesus. He became the Lamb that died in our place. He became the payment for our sin. The picture of the blood on the door posts is a pointing to the three points of the cross, centuries later. When we perform the simplest act of faith in what God has provided for us, we are saved. The law was given to show us how far we were from being like God, but through our hearts we yearn for the true God, and are repentant of our sins. God desires to save us, but He must judge sin, and Satan. A just God cannot let that go. We needed someone who could stand in the Gap between us and God, pleading our case before Him. We needed someone who was worthy to stand before God, without sin, yet who could relate to our experiences, and be counted our brother, one of us.
The book of Job points out this need, as he is pleading his case of unjust suffering. He says in verse 9:18 “If I justify myself, mine own mouth condemns me: if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” Then in verse 16: 21 “Oh that someone might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads a case for his neighbor.” There is a need for one to be acceptable on both sides, one in whom we can trust. The book of Genesis also prophesies of one who has access to both heaven and humanity when He confirms the covenant with Jacob to bless the whole earth through his family. Genesis 28:12 reads “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” No one knew what this meant until centuries later. Jesus claimed to be this ladder in John 1:51 “Hereafter, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Jesus was our access to God. He was the perfect One to stand in the gap between repentant humanity and a righteous God. Later we learn in Hebrews 1:3, in the New Testament, that angels are “. . .ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” That in the salvation offered by Jesus, we have access to God’s special blessings and help.
Jesus embodied and translated the true promise of God when it was still a mystery to those that hoped for him. He talked of his coming death, and told his followers that he would rise from the dead in three days. He told them that His body and his blood were given for the new covenant, when no one understood what God had meant by “Behold I do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19. Jesus promised us fountains of Living waters, springing up in us into everlasting life in John 4:14, and John 7:38. God had also described himself as this living water in Jeremiah 2:13 “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” God desires to give us a new life in the Messiah, to take away the reproach of sin, and this new life is spiritual. What is this new life? David spoke of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit often came upon prophets to perform a work, but it never remained. The Holy Spirit, being the Spirit of God, can only dwell in a clean heart, and that heart is made clean through faith and true worship, and repentance. Only by faith in God’s salvation can we be redeemed from death. Physical death will continue to prevail while there is still sin in the world, but God has promised through the Messiah that we will be physically redeemed in the last day. Until then, our inheritance of God’s kingdom cannot come in the form of our own righteousness—Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. . .” We must be cleansed of our sin, through faith in the Messiah’s work. When we claim the sacrifice that God has ordained fitting for redemption, then God can view us not in our sin, but in the righteousness of Jesus, who remained faithful unto death, then rose to life again on the third day, just as prophesied, demonstrating His victory over sin, and the penalty of sin, death.
When Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, it would be that portion of God living in us, giving us power to be children of God. We have spiritual renewal, and are no longer dead to our relationship with God. This is prophesied in Ezekial 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them a heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ways. . .and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” God promised in the Old Testament that we would have a new spirit, and this spirit would remove the burden of the effort of fulfilling the law, but put the law inside us, making us alive and sensitive to God’s will for us. This is the promise of everlasting life, that when God enlivens our spirit, we have both the promise of physical resurrection and spiritual life everlasting through the washing away of our sins.
Jesus said we must be born again, in John 3:5 “Truly, I say unto you, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the (Holy) Spirit is spirit.” We are made clean in trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins because he lived a perfect, sinless, life as a man, fulfilling the law on our behalf, and laid down his life for all of us. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotton Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” For “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;. . .be ye reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:19) “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:25-27.) For Jesus “Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9) “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. . .But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:4,12). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world (Adam), and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. . . . For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. . . For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:12, 17, 19). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “By grace you are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). “The word is near to you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if you confess you’re your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . .For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8-10, 13) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). “These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13).
Jesus offers us forgiveness for our sins, everlasting life, the spirit of God dwelling in us, peace, joy, and rest for our souls. Jesus’ ministry was not to get people to make him king, but to heal people’s bodies and souls. His was a ministry of forgiveness, not power for himself. He was the perfect, self sacrificing savior, not seeking an earthly kingdom, but the gathering of his heavenly kingdom. He reflected the prophesies we could not understand, offering us eternal life through his sacrificial death. Then he rose to life to show us that he had defeated sin and death once and for all for anyone who would accept the gift. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6. His invitation is standing for you. He said in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him, and he with me.” He is knocking, and all that is required is for you to open the door of your heart with belief in the work of Jesus. No one has ever made such a claim, and no one has ever backed such a claim with scripture, and actions. Jesus told all his disciples that He would be put to death. In John 14-17, Jesus explains to His disciples that He is offering his body for the sins of the world, and that his blood will be poured out as a sacrifice for sin. He backed up his claims with his deeds and miracles, and proved that He was the Messiah by fulfilling all prophesy, and never breaking scriptures. He shed light on God’s word by demonstrating the meaning of scriptures in a way that we could not imagine, and His wisdom surpassed all of the top scholars.
If you want to ask Jesus into your heart, you can do it in a simple prayer to God. He is looking on the sincerity of your heart right now, and desires to give you salvation. Tell God you recognize your sin, and ask for forgiveness in Jesus’ name. You will receive it, that simply. Whatever you don’t understand now, tell God you are willing to learn. That you trust Him. Read one of the Gospels, especially the Book of John, so you can see Jesus in action, and learn to trust His worthiness. John 1:1 tells us that the Word (Jesus) is God, and the beautiful passage that follows helps us see the glory of God’s plan to save us by taking on the form of this humble servant. Only through such an act can we understand God’s tremendous love for us. Jesus tells us in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” We know in our hearts that this rings true, therefore only God could demonstrate this perfect love for us. If Jesus is indeed God, suffering physical death on our behalf to conquer death, then when we read the Gospels, we are not just watching the man Jesus, but seeing through actions and words, God’s heart toward us. We do not want to miss such a marvelous work.