Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who Else but Christ?

I have been reviewing miles of commentary and articles published on messianism and messianic prophesy and have found an amazing amount of varying theories. Most pertinent to the Christian faith is the messianic beliefs of God's covenant people, Israel, at the time of the appearance of our Christ, Jesus.

It is no secret to most Christians that the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus' day were anticipating somewhat of a prominent political and military leader to arrive, overthrow the imposing power (Rome as it were), and re-establish the Davidic throne, borders, etc. This is clearly the root of much of their skepticism that we see depicted in the Gospels. But, knowing this fact, are you keenly aware of why they believed so? Or, more importantly, why are we believers so convinced of another picture of the Messiah?

Jewish messianism is rooted most fundamentally on Daniel 9 as the lens through which other messianic prophesy is viewed. Daniel 9 describes the Lords anointed as just the political leader we described earlier. Likewise, texts such as Isaiah 9:6 seem to support this view. So, where do we get off thinking there's another interpretation?

First, it is of chief importance to realize that the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant (namely, to have a king on the throne) is only one aspect of the Messiah promised to Israel. But, I also want to stress that the Jewish anticipation of an Anointed to take the throne and rule assertively was not at all wrong, as some have thought, but merely incomplete and out of sequence.

Before the Davidic covenant, God promised Israel a future prophet. This future prophet would be like Moses. Deuteronomy 18 tells us that He will speak the very words of God (verse 18) and failure to heed those words will invoke judgment from God (verse 19). With that in the background, consider then how often Jesus says in Matthew, "You have heard it said... but I say." He quotes Moses and the Law, offering new revelation and illumination into the Word of God.

Then, in the Davidic covenant, there is evidence that the true fulfillment of the covenant could only come from God incarnate. Who else could sit on the throne forever. As Peter exegetes in Acts 2, "David said about him: '...because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.'... I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne." Consider also the Isaiah 9:6 passage mentioned earlier: "His name shall be... Mighty God." Who else could this Messiah be but the God incarnate Jesus Christ?

Finally, Christ was anointed not only as king and prophet, but as priest. Hebrews chapters 4-9 detail the splendor of God's plan to make the old covenant obsolete with a new high priest who no longer has to sacrifice for Himself. Only by the permanent sacrifice of Christ can our sins be truly forgiven forever as God had promised in Jeremiah 31. By what means could this promise have come true under the Old Testament Law?

But as I mentioned earlier, the Jew's anticipation of a ruling king is not wrong, merely incomplete. The Son will return to take His throne. In that day, Israel will see and believe. God has reserved for Himself a remnant. In a sense they are correct: their Messiah is yet to come, we simply (by faith) have had the privilege of a sneak peak.

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