In class today, we talked about the “Messiah Tension.” Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all disagree with how the person of Jesus changes the search for truth. As part of the discussion today, we looked at Jewish reasoning behind why Jesus was not the Messiah. We also looked at why Christians believe that he matched all the prophecies of the coming Messiah. Here are a few of them:
To begin, we need to go way back to Genesis 3:15. Here we have the first messianic prophecy. In all of Scripture, only one man was “born of the seed of a woman” and all others are born of the seed of a man. Here is the one who will come into the world and undo the works of Satan (“bruise His head”).
In Genesis 9 and 10 God narrowed the address down further. Noah had three sons, Shem, Japheth, and Ham. Today all of the nations of the world can be traced back to these three men. But in this passage, God effectively eliminated two-thirds of them from the line of Messiahship. The Messiah will come through the lineage of Shem.
Continuing on to the year 2000 B.C., we find God calling a man named Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. With Abraham, God became still more specific, stating that the Messiah will be one of his descendants (Genesis 12; 17; 22). All the families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham. Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, but many of his descendants were eliminated when God selected his second son, Isaac (Genesis 17;21).
Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau, and God chose the line of Jacob (Genesis 28; 35:10-12; Numbers 24:17). Jacob had twelve sons, out of whom developed the twelve tribes of Israel. God singled out the tribe of Judah for Messiahship and eliminated 11/12ths of the Israelite tribes. And of all the family lines within Judah’s tribe, the line of Jesse was the divine choice (Isaiah 11:1-5). One can see the probability of Jesus being the Messiah building.
Jesse had eight children and in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and Jeremiah 23:5 God eliminated 7/8ths of Jesse’s family line: We read that God’s man will not only be of the seed of a woman, the lineage of Shem, the race of the Jews, the line of Isaac, the line of Jacob, the tribe of Judah, but that He will also be of the house of David.
A prophecy dating 1012 B.C. (Psalm 22:6-18; cf. Zechariah 12:10 and Galatians 3:13) also predicts that this man’s hands and feet will be pierced (i.e., He will be crucified). This description was written eight hundred years before crucifixion began to be practiced by the Romans.
Isaiah 7:14 adds that this man will be born of a virgin -a natural birth of unnatural conception, a criterion beyond human planning and control. Several prophecies recorded in Isaiah and the psalms describe the social climate and response that God’s man will encounter: His own people, the Jews, will reject Him and the Gentiles will believe in Him (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; 49:6; 50:6; 52:53; 60:3; Psalms 22:7,8; 118:22). There will be a forerunner for Him (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1), a voice in the wilderness, one preparing the way before the Lord, a John the Baptist.
Notice, too, the seven ramifications of a prophecy (Zechariah 11:11-13; cf. Psalm 41, Jeremiah 32:6-15, and Matthew 27:3-10) that narrows the drama down even further. Here God indicates the Messiah will be (1) betrayed, (2) by a friend, (3) for thirty pieces, (4) of silver, that will be (5) cast onto the floor, (6) of the Temple, and (7) used to buy a potter’s field.
In Micah 5:2 God eliminated all the cities of the world and selected Bethlehem, with a population of less than a thousand, as the Messiah’s birthplace.
Then through a series of prophecies He even defined the time sequence that would set His man apart. For example, Malachi 3:1 and four other Old Testament verses (Psalm 118:26; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 11:13; Haggai 2:7-9) require the Messiah to come while the Temple of Jerusalem is still standing. This is of great significance when we realize that the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and has not since been rebuilt.
The precise lineage; the place, time, and manner of birth; people’s reactions; the betrayal; the manner of death. These are just a fraction of the hundreds of details that made up the address to identify God’s Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.