The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Program 4
| September 8, 2013 |
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr.; ©1989|
|Alfred Edersheim identified 456 prophecies in the Old Testament that apply to the Messiah. Follow the trail that leads right to Jesus.|
456 Messianic Prophecies
- Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re talking about the statements that were made in the Hebrew scriptures hundreds, even thousands of years before the time of Christ about a Messiah. Maybe you’ve just heard this and you’ve laughed it off. Can I point out to you that the great scholar Alfred Edersheim found and listed 456 what are called prophecies that apply to the Messiah that are in the Hebrew Scriptures. We’ve got those statements there.
- Number two is, those statements were at least in existence 247 years before Jesus ever lived. We know that because the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek, the Septuagint, in 247 BC.
- If that’s true, tonight, what we would like you to examine is, if you have these statements that have never occurred in history before where somebody makes a statement about somebody to come in the future and it actually takes place, what’s happening? Does that prove the existence of God? I believe so. Does that put a stamp of authority on the person that shows up and fulfills those prophecies? I think so. The question we want you to grapple with tonight is: Are the statements there? Are they specific? Can you really see it? Can you sink your teeth into this kind of evidence?
- And our guest is the fellow that can lead us through this, and that’s Dr. Walter Kaiser, Professor of Semitic Languages and Dean of Trinity Seminary. Dr. Kaiser, we’re glad that you’re here tonight. What statements are you going to start with tonight?
- Kaiser: I’d like to walk into four aspects of Messiah’s character. Let’s focus on his character tonight and talk about four very, very unique things that belong to him and to no one else. And I think that that can come, first of all, by looking at Jeremiah 23:5-6: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch.’” And there’s the word, John, that I want to focus on tonight: “Branch.” We’re going to talk about the Messiah under this new technical name.
- There are many technical names for Messiah. He is the Seed; he is the Anointed One; he is the Branch; he is also the Servant of the Lord. But tonight, this one, the Branch. He is “a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.” That’s sort of unique. “And this is the name by which he will be called, the Lord our Righteousness.” [Jer. 23:5-6] That’s a fantastic name.
- Now, it’s clear here that the origins are in David’s family: “I will raise up to David.” We’ve talked about this already in 2 Samuel 7: it will be from David’s line. And this one who will come is known by another name than Messiah. He has numerous names, as we have suggested. Here he is called the Branch; and the text says, “He will reign wisely.” So we know he’s going to be a King. “And he will do what’s just and right.” Oh! If only we could have that kind of government! Everyone did what was just and what was right. You say, “These must be wonderful days.” They are. These are the days when Messiah comes the second time, and what a time that will be! Israel will live in safety. No more will we have to be talking about partition of the land, and who owns what and what part goes to what people.
- And the text says, “And this is his name.” He doesn’t say his name is “The Lord is our Righteousness.” Now, some want to put the verb “to be” in there, but you can’t do it. The Lord gives him a name, and it’s a name no other mortal, this can’t even be a mortal; it is the Lord our Righteousness. In other words “The Lord.” He uses here the Tetragrammaton, Adonai, the very special name for a personal relationship of the living God himself. And so he marks his nature: “The Lord.” Then he marks his work. He says his work will be “our Righteousness.” And yet the text says also he is from the very family of God and from the family of David.
- Now, how are we going to do this? Someone from David’s family and someone who also is divine. That’s what we need if we’re going to have this Branch, this Messiah of the Lord. And he is a Branch out of David. This is a picture. The early Jewish writers picked this up and they wrote the Gospel of Matthew, and Matthew’s gospel mirrors this Branch whose origins are found in David and yet who is God himself. That’s the Messiah pictured here.
- ‘Ankerberg: And what’s amazing about the text is, who would show up and claim to be Jehovah? If you’re an Orthodox Jew, the last thing you’re going to do is say, “Listen, I’m Jehovah” and then attach “righteousness” with that. And yet this text says that is what’s going to happen here. I was looking at Romans 3 on this, Walter, and the apostle Paul turned this right over and said, “But now a righteousness from God apart from law has been made known to which the law and the prophets [which is what we’re talking about] testify. And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” [Rom. 3:21-22] And so again, here’s Paul making a specific statement, because who dared to show up and say he was God? Jesus did.
- Kaiser: The only one who ever did it. And, of course, the reaction was the same as our reaction would be. If we’d been there we would have said the same thing as his contemporaries did: “Well, prove it!” And, of course, he said, “I will take that challenge,” and that’s how he also brought in the discussion of the resurrection from the dead.
- But let me take you to a second aspect and that would be not only his origins from David, the Branch of David, but now I want to take you to “My Servant, the Branch.” In Zechariah, a writer in 518/520 BC, he gives a prophecy in Zechariah 3:8: “Listen, O high priest Joshua.” This is not the book of Joshua, this is a much later Joshua who is high priest, during the post-exilic times. And he said, “You, Joshua, and your associates seated before you are men of a sign,” or “you are symbols of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.” And so he speaks here of Joshua and those who are associated with him as “a sign.” They are symbolic. And what are they symbolic of? He says, “Of the servant nature of this Branch.”
- And as he discusses it here, it’s in a particular vision in which the Lord showed Joshua, the high priest, standing there in his priestly robes, but they’re all bespeckled and smudged with sin and dirt, and all sort of foul-smelling things are all over Joshua. And so the question there is, Joshua is dressed in these filthy clothes and the angel said, “Take off his filthy clothes. See, says the Lord, I have taken away your sin and I will put rich garments on you. And I will put a clean turban on his head.” [Zech. 3:3-5] And he says, not only will he do that, but also a miter. And here we have “priest” and “king” being put together symbolically in one person who is called by a messianic name, “My Servant, the Branch.”
- This is the picture we get also in another Jewish writer in the first century of the Common Era and that is Mark, who writes his gospel and he declares that Jesus the Messiah who came, “He came to give his life a ransom,” “to seek and to save those that were lost.” [Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10] He came as a Servant. And the great picture in Mark is a sort of motion picture of things happening real quickly, and he is “the Servant of the Lord.”
- So, two aspects then – the aspect of his being from David, like in Matthew’s gospel, and also his being a Servant, like in Mark’s gospel.
- Ankerberg: Okay, let’s just review a little bit for the folks that just joined us this week. We have gone through the text giving the clues that God put in the text pointing up to the future. And these must, according to the text, be true. He must be a male child, because the Hebrew text uses the third person, singular, masculine pronoun: he will be born of the seed of the woman. He’ll come from the race of the Jews: he’ll be from the house of Shem, or “the tent of Shem,” [Gen. 9:26-27] the Semites, and specifically, then, from the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He’ll be a great prophet with the authority to teach “like Moses.” [Acts 3:22] He will be the child born who is God and will have an everlasting kingdom. [Dan. 4:3] He will be “Jehovah our righteousness.” [Jer. 23:56] He’ll be “the Branch.” [Jer. 33:15] And we’re going to talk about a few more when we come right back. So please stick with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back, and we’re talking about the question: Are there remarkable prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures which identify a Messiah? What are the actual statements that are there? And we’ve been going through a number of them already. And before, Walter, you give us two more, you know, this is unique. This is not just ordinary. There are no other religions in the world, even Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or any other religion; nobody has these kinds of statements. Now, if you do have a religion that does have these statements and they do come true, what does that say about that religion?
- Kaiser: John, I think it talks about the whole question of truth. Is this really that which really accords with the actual and the real? And is it, furthermore, the statement that points back to the one who is God? We’ve got all kinds of people claiming “I’m God,” “I’m the way; believe in me…believe here.” All of them want us to believe, but we’ve got to have a test. And that’s why I think Jesus said, “Look, believe me for my words’ sake, my name’s sake, and if not, believe me for my works’ sake.” So he’s going to give to us both his claims and follow that through and show, “Look, the odds are too high; the stakes are too high. How could I have been in this place, born in this city, born from this family, born at this time, under these kinds of conditions, have these kinds of characteristics, and yet still not be the very person that fulfills all this?” So you have for two thousand years an anticipation; and then here comes one in history who just happens to meet all of the criteria, and no one else. No one! No other religion meets them. Now, that’s a challenge.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. How many verses in the New Testament go back either as a complete verse or they go back and make a reference to the Old Testament? I heard one number of 1,600 references going back.
- Kaiser: I think that it’s at least that 1,600. There are at least, perhaps, 4,000 verses, if you count all the allusions. But straightaway, direct citations, it would be 295; and then you add the clear references, it’s up to 1,600. But if you put all of them, it would be 4,000 references to the Hebrew Scriptures.
- Ankerberg: And we’re talking about just the New Testament.
- Kaiser: Just the New Testament.
- Ankerberg: And so they’re basing their argument back on the Old Testament because they’re referring back to it. And yet, for some reason, the Church doesn’t know this argument. To show the fact that this is true, listen how Peter preached, and we could load up on all kinds of verses just like this. This is what the apostle Peter wrote in Acts, or this is what he said as he was preaching there. “The things,” he says, “which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ [Messiah, that is] should suffer, he has thus fulfilled.” [Acts 3:18] And they said that time and time and time again. And they believed because of the very arguments that we’re talking about tonight, that are still in the text, that are still true, and they point to one special, amazing person called Jesus Christ. Let’s go on with some of the other statements that we find in the Old Testament.
- Kaiser: We want to deal with two more aspects of Messiah’s character. We’ve talked about two: that he would be the Branch that comes from David, Jeremiah 23:5-6; that he would be the Branch who was the Servant: “My servant, the Branch” [Zech. 3:8]. Now we want to pick up in Zechariah 6:12, “Tell him this is what the Lord of hosts says, ‘Here is the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he will branch out of his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne; and he will be a priest on his throne.” Wow! Here we have Priest and King, but a Priest who is on the throne, and one who is said to be the man whose name is “BRANCH.”
- Now, “Branch” is clearly divine; it is messianic; it is out of this world. It is out of the realm of mortals. And yet he is called “a man.” This stands as a great stumbling block, and many say, “I don’t understand it.” A Branch who will sprout out or who will “branch out” – a little pun there, again; Hebrew likes these puns – “A Branch that will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.”
- And then, “It is he who will build the temple of the Lord and he will sit in majesty and rule and reign as king and as priest.” Luke’s gospel also is the one that concentrated, I think, on this very aspect of the character of Messiah. He is one hundred percent “man.” Not just that he appeared or looked like a man, he was real man, because he came from the line of David. He came from the city of Bethlehem. He came from the tribe of Judah. He came also from the Semitic peoples; he came from one of the Semites, Abraham, a Hebrew. And each one of these keeps building up the ante.
- How many of these do you have to have before you’re convinced? The evidence just keeps piling, piling, piling, piling, piling, and there’s no contradictory evidence; it’s all piled on one side. So you ought to put your trust in this one who is God’s Messiah, for he fits the bill and fits it very well.
- There’s a fourth aspect, and that’s from Isaiah, the great prophet, chapter 4. Isaiah, I think, gives to us the last great picture and that is that this is the Branch of the Lord. Isaiah 4:2: “In that day the branch of the Lord [I’m understanding “of” here in the sense of genitive of source] will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.” And then he goes on to speak of “those who are left in Zion and who remain in those days in Jerusalem will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.” What a day that will be.
- Again, one more time, “in that day,” “in those days.” A time marked out toward the conclusion of history as we go into the eternal state here. In connection with the second coming of the Lord, he said, “God’s Branch, the Branch of the Lord, will be glorious.” And here, I think he is being given or ascribed deity, divinity. This is not just a man. He is not just a Servant. He is not just Davidic. He also is Divine. And that, I think, is the great picture that the gospel writer John picked up.
- John, coming at the end of the first year of the Common Era, the first Christian era, he is saying there, “Listen,” he says, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29] And he points back and says, “This one is God. He is come from above.” And I think he has in mind this theme: “The Branch out of, or from, the Lord, who will be beautiful and glorious in that day.” Four aspects of Messiah’s character: Davidic, Servant, Man, and Divine, found in these four passages which I think are potent aspects, showing us the characteristics, the personality, the nature of the person who is to come.
- Ankerberg: We’ve got about 30 seconds left, but if my Jewish friends that are listening, I’m sure they’re asking this question: “Yeah, it says that, and Jesus claimed he was God; and yes, he was out of the line of David and Abraham and Isaac and so on. But you know, Walter, we’ve got the suffering there, but I don’t see the glory. I don’t see the ruling king. I don’t see all this royalty that you’ve been talking about, and the Messiah bringing peace to the world.” You know? So what’s the problem?
- Kaiser: The problem is, we’ve got to understand there is a “first coming” and a “second coming,” and on that one, I’ll have to share that with you out of Zechariah 12:10 when he comes and ruling and reigning, he is the one whom they’ll look on. “They’ll look on me whom they have pierced.” My question is, how did he get pierced? When was he pierced? If all of us agree, Jewish and Christian alike, that he came at this time and it is a time of peace in Zechariah 12, where did he get pierced?
- Ankerberg: Yes. As Jesus said, in Luke 24: “How foolish are you, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ [the Messiah] have to suffer these things, and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:25-27] Now, folks, this is something you’ve got to grapple with. This is evidence. And it’s got tremendous implications and that’s why we want you to hear it. Please join us next week as we continue in looking at this evidence.