Jesus of Nazareth made bold claims in His time on the earth. Among those claims is that He is the Son of God and the Messiah promised to the Jewish people in the Old Testament. God, when He spoke through the prophets as recorded in the Old Testament, said that a great prophet was coming and that an anointed King of the Jews (called Messiah in Hebrew or Christ in Greek) would ultimately reign from king David’s throne forever. Billions of people since the time of Jesus have believed His claims and given their life over to His Lordship.
There are still many today, though, who question whether Jesus could really be God and whether Jesus could be the Messiah if He didn’t establish an earthly kingdom to reign as his ancestor king David had. Of course, it is true that Jesus fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies. Because the fulfillment of those prophecies has been covered many times over, I will just briefly touch on them here.
Jesus came on the scene at the time in history dictated by Daniel in the 9th chapter of his book, was born in the line of David, in Bethlehem. As the Old Testament prophets predicted, He was introduced by a messenger (John the Baptist), was crucified with criminals, buried in a rich man’s tomb but His body was not allowed to see decay in the grave. In all, Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. He was literally the only human who has ever lived who fulfilled them. And it would no longer be possible to fulfill them, as the time frame given by Daniel is in the distant past and we no longer have the records to prove lineage from king David, etc.
It should be noted that some Jewish scholars actually acknowledge that the evidence suggests Jesus of Nazareth did rise from the grave. As an example, see the book The Resurrection Of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective by Pinchas Lapide. But still the divinity and Kingship of Jesus is denied because the Bible says there is only one God and Jesus did not establish a kingdom. The rest of this blog entry will focus on these two critical issues.
For over 3000 years, the Hebrew people of old and the Jews of today have recited daily (and usually twice daily) the great Shema, given to them in Deuteronomy chapter 6. It begins:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Deuteronomy 6: 4 [ESV]
The Shema gets its name from the first Hebrew word used in this verse, the Hebrew word for hear or listen. But it is the other words in the beginning of this traditional saying that have the most impact. In Hebrew the words of Deuteronomy 6: 4 are:
Sh'ma Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH echad. Because Jewish individuals will not repeat the name of God aloud (which is the name YHWH or Yahweh, as given by God to Moses in Exodus chapter 3), when speaking the Shema in prayers, they replace the word YHWH with the word Adonai, which is translated into English as Lord (and in most English translations of the Old Testament as the all capital LORD). So, the recited version of the Shema looks like:
Sh'ma Yisra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad or She-ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad.
The two critical words for our discussion here are Eloheinu and echad. Eloheinu is the possessive plural first person word for El. So in English El is written as “God” and Eloheinu is most accurately translated as “our Gods”. Perhaps more importantly, the word echad is not the Hebrew word for a single one but the word for multiple parts united as a single whole. For example, in the admonition about marriage in Genesis 2:24, the word ‘one’ in the phrase “the two shall become one flesh” is the Hebrew word echad
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2: 24 [ESV]
If we put the phrase in Deuteronomy 6: 4 together, given what we have just learned we would get something such as:
Listen Israel, the (singular) Lord, our (plural) God, the (singular) Lord is a perfectly united entity of multiple parts (or persons).
Not only does the structure of this phrase in its original allow for the possibility that there could be more than one person in the single God of the Bible, it almost seems to require that to be the case. If that is not what the Shema is teaching, then why have the plural of the word Gods and why not use yachid (the word for a singular entity, such as an only child) instead of echad? And once we understand there are multiple persons in our single Lord, it makes otherwise difficult or nonsense verses such as the ones below make perfect sense.
Then God said, “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness…” Genesis 1: 26a [ESV]
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Psalm 110: 1 [ESV]
Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit. Isaiah 48: 16 [ESV]
So Jesus is the Son of God but can He be the Messiah if He didn’t begin an earthly reign? Once we understand that Jesus was following the prophetic example set by king David, then we actually would not have expected Him to immediately begin to reign, even though He was anointed as king.
In 1st Samuel 16: 13, the prophet Samuel anoints the young David, making him officially the king of Israel in the eyes of God and the people who knew of the anointing. But as we read through the rest of that book, we see that David is not reining from an earthly throne. He is God’s anointed king but it takes time before God sets him up to rule as king in the traditional way. In fact, after his anointing, David leaves the territory for a period of time over which he has been anointed as king.
Though David had people with him who followed and supported him, we don’t see him as a traditional king in an earthly kingdom until 2nd Samuel chapter 2. How could it be any other way with Jesus? Jesus was anointed by God at His baptism and has now, as we would expect from David’s prophetic example, gone away from His earthly territory, before he returns. Of course, Jesus established what He calls the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven) by way of His church where His people currently follow and support His Kingship until He returns for the establishment of His final Kingdom.
Jesus meets all the requirements and fulfills all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the promised King of the Jews. Given all the evidence, it seems an absolute certainty that He is the Son of God and the Messiah.
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.