You may have heard the word Messiah from reading scripture or from the Netflix show The Messiah but what does it actually mean? Who is the Messiah? What has/will he do? How will he come? Contrary to what is presented on the Netflix show, the biblical idea of the Messiah is revealed divinely through God, directly and indirectly through the prophets, throughout the entire old testament (OT) from beginning to end. In this post, we will explore key attributes of the Messiah by looking at some scriptures from OT.
One of the first times we hear of the Messiah is in the garden of Eden. The man and his wife were persuaded by a mysterious creature known as the serpent into disobeying God. As a result, God said “And I will cause hostility between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15. Here, God gives a word that the Messiah would be an offspring of Eve, and he will defeat the evil brought into the world by the serpent. However, in the process of defeating evil, the offspring of the woman will be hurt. From this scripture, we get that the main purpose of the Messiah is to defeat the evil in our world caused by the serpent.
Many generations after, we meet a man named Abram. God calls Abram out from his people and sets him apart to be a blessing. God promises to bless Abram so much that he even changes his name to Abraham to reflect his new calling. God chose to bless Abraham, but what did that mean? God said to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” From this scripture, we see that the Messiah will be a blessing that will come from Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham implies that the Messiah will not come only for a particular group of people, but he will come for EVERYONE in the world.
Eventually, God’s promise to Abraham about making him into a great nation comes to pass. His descents which have been emancipated from slavery, are about to enter the promised land. Moses, who has led them from Egypt and through the wilderness prophesied “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:15. In the bible, prophets
stood as mediators between God and his people. They delivered messages, teaching and reproach from God. This alludes that the Messiah will be a prophet like Moses or greater.
As the people settle in the promised land, they begin write psalms. Modern writers will identify these psalms as a form of poetry or songs of praises to God. However, in many of them, we find prophecies of the Messiah. Psalm 2:6-9,“For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.” The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.” The psalmist writes that the Messiah will come from Jerusalem, which is the capital city of Judah and that the Messiah will be the son of God. The descents of Abraham, inhabit the land but turn away from God and during this time we meet a prophet called Isaiah whom, throughout his writing describes the coming Messiah (Isaiah 9:6-9, 11:1, 53:5-12, 61:1-2). From the writings of Isaiah, we see that the Messiah will be a descendant of David who will reconcile God and man by dying for sins he did not commit as a form of sacrifice. The Messiah will also die at a young age without any wife or descendants. Isaiah stresses in his writings that all this will be part of God’s good plan.
As the Israelites continue in their rebellion against God, he raises up another prophet named Micah, who also reminds them that the messianic kingdom is on its way. Micah 5:2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” The prophet mentions that the Messiah’s origins are in the distant past and this implies that the Messiah has been with God from the beginning of time. As we read earlier, he would be the son of God but also be one with God and rule like God. Therefore, the Messiah will be God made man.
Sometime later, the Israelites are exiled from the promised land due to their rebellion and idolatry, and during this time we meet a man called Daniel. Daniel gives more insight into the coming messianic kingdom. He prophesied in Daniel 2:44 that “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever.” According to Daniel’s prophecy, the messianic kingdom will last forever, and as mentioned in Genesis, it will crush all other kingdoms that oppose the kingdom of God. The bible gives us a clear explanation of who the Messiah was and what he was coming to do. In the New Testament, we meet a man named Jesus, who fulfilled all that was written. He will come again to establish his kingdom, and it will have no end. Nonetheless, why do we need a messiah? The answer to this question may be personal to you and me, but the universal truth is that we need to be reconciled with God. God’s plan is for all of us to have everlasting life, and live in perfect peace with him and Jesus the Messiah provides a way for us.
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