Understanding the Bible

Chapter 5- Bible Themes: Messiah

As we have seen, God's Word reveals both the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Man is in bondage to sin and under God's judgment.

But before man fell into sin, even before "the foundation of the world," God knew man's need and made preparation to send a Redeemer who would save His people from the guilt and power of their sins. (cp. 1Pet 1:18-21; Eph 1:3-4)

This Redeemer is often referred to as "the Messiah." "Messiah" is a Hebrew word meaning "anointed." "Christ" is a Greek word with the same meaning. In the OT, men were anointed with oil when they were appointed to the offices of prophet, priest, or king. Prophecies concerning the Messiah foretold that he would fill all three of these offices (eg., prophet: Deu 18:15-19 , priest: Psa 110:4 , king: 2Sam 7:7-13). As Jesus began His ministry, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Mat 3:16,17; Joh 1:32-34). He fulfilled the role of Prophet in His teaching. He is Priest in His sacrificial death and in His present ministry of intercession. He will enter fully into His role as King, at His second coming.

The OT contains at least 333 prophecies concerning the Messiah. Many of these were fulfilled at Christ's first coming. The remainder await His return. Let's look first at a few of the prophecies which have been fulfilled.

Prophecies of Messiah's First Coming (an incomplete list)
SubjectOT ProphecyNT Fulfillment
He would come-
-The seed of the woman
Gen 3:15Gal 4:4; 1Joh 3:8
-Through AbrahamGen 22:18Mat 1:1
-Through IsaacGen 21:12Heb 11:17-19
-Through Jacob & JudahGen 28:14Rev 5:5
-At a set timeGen 49:10Gal 4:4
-At a specific timeDan 9:25-26Luk 2:1,2; 3:1,21-22
-At a specific placeMic 5:2Mat 2:1-6; Luk 2:1-7
He would be-
-Born of a virgin (1)
Isa 7:14Mat 1:18,21; Luk 1:34
-Emmanuel: "God with us"Mic 5:2; Isa 9:6Luk 1:35
-Adored by great personsPsa 72:10Mat 2:2,11
-Called out of EgyptHos 11:1Mat 2:14,15
-Preceded by a forerunnerMal 3:1Luk 1:17
-Anointed by the SpiritIsa 11:2; Isa 61:1Mat 3:16; Luk 4:16-21; Acts 10:38
-Born of David's seedJer 23:5Mat 1:1
-Heir to David's throneIsa 9:7; 2Sam 7:12-13; Jer 23:5Luk 1:32-33
-A Prophet like MosesDeu 18:15Acts 3:20-22
-A Priest after the order of MelchizedekPsa 110:4Heb 5:5,6
His ministry in GalileeIsa 9:1-2Mat 4:12-16,23
His entry into JerusalemZech 9:9Mat 21:1-5; Mark 11:7-11
His humility & compassionIsa 42:2,3Mat 12:15-20
His miraclesIsa 35:5-6Mat 11:4-6
His guilelessnessIsa 53:91Pet 2:22
His reproachPsa 69:9Rom 15:3
He was rejectedPsa 69:8; Isa 53:3Joh 1:11; Joh 7:3,5
He was hated by menPsa 69:4; Isa 49:7Joh 15:24-25
He was rejected by the rulersPsa 118:22Mat 21:42
Jews & Gentiles both were against HimPsa 2:1-2Acts 4:24-27
He was betrayed by a friendPsa 41:9Joh 13:18-21
He was forsaken by His disciplesZech 13:7Mat 26:56
He was sold for 30 pieces of silverZech 11:12Mat 26:15
His price purchased the potter's fieldZech 11:13Mat 27:3-7
He was silent before accusersIsa 53:7Mat 26:62,63; Mat 27:12-14
He was smittenMic 5:1Mat 27:30
He was spit upon & beatenIsa 50:6Mark 14:65; Joh 19:1
He was crucifiedPsa 22:16Joh 19:18; Joh 20:25
He was forsaken by GodPsa 22:1Mat 27:46
He was mocked as He diedPsa 22:7-8Mat 27:39-44
He was given vinegarPsa 69:21Mat 27:34
His suffering was intensePsa 22:14-15 Joh 19:28, cp. Luk 22:42-44
His garments were divided by lotPsa 22:18Mat 27:35
He was numbered with transgressorsIsa 53:12Mark 15:27-28
He made intercession for His murderersIsa 53:12Luk 23:34
He yielded to deathIsa 53:12Mat 27:50
His death: a vicarious sacrifice (2)Isa 53:4-6Mat 20:28; Rom 5:6-8
His bones were not brokenEx 12:46; Psa 34:20Joh 19:33,36
He was pierced (3)Zech 12:10Joh 19:34,37
He was buried with the richIsa 53:9Mat 27:57-60
His resurrectionPsa 16:10,11Acts 2:29-32; Mark 16:6,7
His ascensionPsa 68:18Luk 24:51
His place at God's right handPsa 110:1Heb 1:3; Mark 16:19
His priestly office in heaven Zech 6:13Rom 8:34
He is the foundation stoneIsa 28:161Pet 2:5-7
Gentiles would be converted because of HimIsa 11:10; Isa 42:1Acts 10:45
Notes to table above:
  1. Virgin- The hebrew word for "virgin" (Almah) is used seven times in the Bible (Gen 24:43; Ex 2:8; Psa 68:25; Prov 30:19; Song 1:3; 6:8; Isa 7:14). In context, these passages are referring to young women who are virgins. In the third century B.C., the Jewish scriptures were translated into Greek by Hebrew scholars. When the scholars came to the Hebrew word "almah", they used the Greek word for virgin "parthenos." Matthew (Mat 1:23), quoting Isa 7:14 from the Greek Septuagint translation, used this word (parthenos) for virgin.

    Rashi (1040-1150 A.D.), the great medieval Jewish commentator, known for his opposition to Christianity stated, "Behold the 'Almah' shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. This means that our Creator shall be with us. And this is the sign: the one who will conceive is a girl who never in her life has had intercourse with any man. Upon this one shall the Holy Spirit have power." (Buksbazen, "Isaiah the Prophet", Vol 2, p. 150, as quoted by David M. Levy, in "How Would you Recognize the Messiah?", The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.)

  2. The sacrificial nature of Messiah's death is clearly shown in Isaiah 53. For a more complete discussion of this important passage, see Isaiah 53: Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak?, by Victor Buksbazen (accessed from the Intro & Resource Menu).
  3. Pierced- Other OT passages also use this word in regard to Messiah's sufferings. Compare Psa 22:16, and Isa 53:5 (where the word "wounded" is literally "pierced"). These passages predicted Messiah's death by crucifixion, long before this method of execution was known to the Jewish people. (Isaiah wrote about 700 B.C., David wrote about 1000 B.C.)
Many of the above passages apply to both the first and second appearings of the Messiah. Consider the following note (at Acts 1:11) from the "Scofield Reference Bible" (Oxford University Press, 1917):

The two Advents- Summary:
  1. The O.T. foreview of the coming Messiah is in two aspects- that of rejection and suffering (as, e.g. in Isa 53), and that of earthly glory and power (as, e.g. in Isa 11; Jer 23; Eze 37). Often these two aspects blend in one passage (e.g. Psa 2). The prophets themselves were perplexed by this seeming contradiction (1Pet 1:10,11). It was solved by partial fulfilment. In due time the Messiah, born of a virgin according to Isaiah, appeared among men and began His ministry by announcing the predicted kingdom as "at hand" (Mat 4:17). The rejection of King and kingdom followed.
  2. Thereupon the rejected King announced His approaching crucifixion, resurrection, departure, and return (Mat 12:38-40; Mat 16:1-4,21,27; Luk 12:35-46; Luk 17:20-36; Luk 18:31-34; Luk 19:12-27; Mat 24; Mat 25
  3. He uttered predictions concerning the course of events between His departure and return (Mat 13:1-50; Mat 16:18; Mat 24:4-26).
  4. This promised return of Christ becomes a prominent theme in the Acts, Epistles, and Revelation.
Taken together, the N.T. teachings concerning the return of Jesus Christ may be summarized as follows:
  1. That return is an event, not a process, and is personal and corporeal [ie., He will return bodily] (Mat 23:39; Mat 24:30; Mat 25:31; Mark 14:62; Luk 17:24; Joh 14:3; Acts 1:11; Php 3:20; 1The 4:14-17).
  2. His coming has a threefold relation: to the church, to Israel, and to the nations.
    1. To the church, the descent of the Lord into the air to raise the sleeping and change the living saints is set forth as a constant expectation and hope (Mat 24:36,44,48-51; Mat 25:13; 1Cor 15:51,52; Php 3:20; 1The 1:10; 1The 4:14-17; 1Tim 6:14; Titus 2:13; Rev 22:20).
    2. To Israel, the return of the Lord is predicted to accomplish the yet unfulfilled prophecies of her national regathering, conversion, and establishment in peace and power under the Davidic Covenant (Acts 15:14-17 with Zech 14:1-9)
    3. To the Gentile nations, the return of Christ is predicted to bring the destruction of the present political world-system (Dan 2:34,35; Rev 19:11); the judgment of Mat 25:31-46, followed by world-wide Gentile conversion and participation in the blessings of the kingdom (Isa 2:2-4; Isa 11:10; Zech 8:3,20,23; Zech 14:16-21.
For further discussion of the first and second comings of Messiah, see "The Two Advents of Christ" (chapter 3 of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth by C.I. Scofield).

For more on prophecies about the Messiah, see the separate study in the Psalms of the Messiah.

Go to Understanding the Bible, Lesson #6 - Major Bible Doctrines (in brief).

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