Archive for the ‘Messiah’ Category

"Messiah" in the Koran

July 2, 2010

A recent dialog with a Muslim on the Internet led to the Muslim claiming that Jesus was just “a Christ.” He wanted to argue that Mohamed is also a Christ.

[3:45] The angels said, “O Mary, GOD gives you good news: a Word from Him whose name is `The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He will be prominent in this life and in the Hereafter, and one of those closest to Me.’ (cf. here)

[4:157] And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. (cf. here)

[4:171] O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, “Trinity.” You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. (cf. here)

[4:172] The Messiah would never disdain from being a servant of GOD, nor would the closest angels. Those who disdain from worshipping Him, and are too arrogant to submit, He will summon them all before Him. (cf. here)

Those of us who are Christians confess with Simon Peter:

Mathew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus Christ approved of this confession of faith, thus:

Matthew 16:17-19
And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

But even after Jesus approved of this, because it was such a significant title, he instructed his disciples to keep that fact hidden:

Matthew 16:20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

But it did leak out, and eventually Jesus was called before the Jewish authorities to answer for this claim:

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus accepted this again:

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

And consequently, the unbelieving Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy, failing to recognize that Jesus was really Christ and the Son of God, as he claimed:

Matthew 26:65-68
Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye?
They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

The Koran refers to Jesus as the Masih which is a cognate to the Hebrew word that we express as “Messiah,” for which “Christ” is the translation. The Koran even recognizes that Jesus is not simply “a Christ” but “the Christ.” But the Koran does not understand that this title of “the Christ” is something that belongs to the Son of God – that there is a connection between the Christ and being the very Son of God.

May those who read the Koran and see this expression “the Messiah” look back to the Bible which came before and see what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ, and when you see what it says, turn from following Mohamed to following Jesus – put your trust in the Messiah of God.

– TurretinFan

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Mahershalalhashbaz and Immanuel

December 20, 2009

Mahershalalhashbaz has a name that is quite a handful. Recently, my attention was brought to a claim that Mahershalalhashbaz was the one and only fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, “… a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel … .” The claim that Mahershalalhashbaz is the one and only fulfillment is plainly mistaken, since Matthew’s gospel connects the prophecy to Jesus:

Matthew 1:22-23
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

One might ask why Mahershalalhashbaz is even brought into the matter. The reason is the following flow of the passage (keep in mind that the chapter divisions are not original):

Isaiah 7:10-8:4
(10) Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) “Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”

(12) But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.”

(13) And he said, “Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? (14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. (17) The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. (18) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (19) And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes. (20) In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. (21) And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; (22) And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. (23) And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. (24) With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns. (25) And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.”

(8:1) Moreover the LORD said unto me, “Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.”

(2) And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. (3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son.

Then said the LORD to me, “Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. (4) For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.


Notice that the child of the prophetess (or wife of the prophet) is described as being young at the critical point (“For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother”) and there are also two kingdoms (Damascus and Samaria) who are being conquered by Assyria.

This link suggests that Mahershalalhashbaz is a primary fulfillment of the prophecy, though not the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy. What’s interesting though, is that in being the primary fulfillment, Mahershalalhashbaz also serves as a type (i.e. foreshadow) of Christ.

I noticed this in a particularly striking way when reading Cyril of Alexandria’s commentary on Isaiah. In that commentary he practically ignores the historical person Mahershalalhashbaz. One reason is that apparently his version of the Old Testament in Greek did not transliterate the Hebrew name, Mahershalalhashbaz, but rather translated it. The English translation of the Greek translation that Cyril had was “Quickly plunder, rapidly pillage” which is similar to Strong’s proposed translation of “hasting (as he (the enemy) to the) booty, swift (to the) prey.”

It may be that Cyril was way off, and he himself views the passage as difficult, but he makes an interesting observation. The wise men from the east who came to Jesus brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus received this booty, prey, or plunder at time when he was quite young, before he could speak.

I’m not totally convinced by Cyril’s explanation, as you can probably tell. Yet, it is an interesting idea. Those who are fond of the redemptive-historical hermeneutic should especially enjoy it.

-TurretinFan

Messiah’s Name is Jesus

June 28, 2009

I recently read an interesting article in which a leading kabbalist took the position that the name of the Messiah is Yehoshua (Jesus). Apparently this old rabbi, who died at 108 had left behind a note to be revealed one year after his death. The note provide an acrostic sentence with the name of the Messiah, and the initial letters of the sentence spell out a form of the Jewish name for Jesus.

Some folks have denounced the note as a forgery. However, no reason for the forgery has been adduced. None of the associates of this rabbi are Christians, and there does not appear to be any way for Christians somehow to infiltrate the group of “ultra-Orthodox” (per the article) Jews and plant this note. I suppose an enemy of his could by trying to suggest that he had secretly converted to or compromised with Christianity, but there would seem to be much easier ways of trying do this.

What does this confirm? Not that much. One is tempted to conclude that even an unbeliever like this rabbi can come to see much truth about the Messiah from careful study of the Old Testament, and the article highlights a number of points where we would say that this rabbi got it right (as well as a few where he was way off the mark). One may even say that this name of the Messiah is found in the Old Testament forshadowed in at least two ways. Justin Martyr explains one way:

Justin: Moreover, in the book of Exodus we have also perceived that the name of God Himself which, He says, was not revealed to Abraham or to Jacob, was Jesus, and was declared mysteriously through Moses. Thus it is written: ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, Say to this people, Behold, I send My angel before your face, to keep you in the way, to bring you into the land which I have prepared for you. Give heed to Him, and obey Him; do not disobey Him. For He will not draw back from you; for My name is in Him.’ [Exodus 23:20-21] Now understand that He who led your fathers into the land is called by this name Jesus, and first called Auses [Numbers 13:16]. (Oshea). For if you shall understand this, you shall likewise perceive that the name of Him who said to Moses, ‘for My name is in Him,’ was Jesus. For, indeed, He was also called Israel, and Jacob’s name was changed to this also. Now Isaiah shows that those prophets who are sent to publish tidings from God are called His angels and apostles. For Isaiah says in a certain place, ‘Send me.’ Isaiah 6:8 And that the prophet whose name was changed, Jesus [Joshua], was strong and great, is manifest to all. If, then, we know that God revealed Himself in so many forms to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, how are we at a loss, and do not believe that, according to the will of the Father of all things, it was possible for Him to be born man of the Virgin, especially after we have such Scriptures, from which it can be plainly perceived that He became so according to the will of the Father?

– Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho, Chapter 75 (source)

And he also explains another way:

Justin: But you ought to believe Zechariah when he shows in parable the mystery of Christ, and announces it obscurely. The following are his words: ‘Rejoice, and be glad, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I shall dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord. And many nations shall be added to the Lord in that day. And they shall be my people, and I will dwell in the midst of you; and they shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me unto you. And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and He shall choose Jerusalem again. Let all flesh fear before the Lord, for He is raised up out of His holy clouds. And He showed me Jesus (Joshua) the high priest standing before the angel [of the Lord ]; and the devil stood at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said to the devil, The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you. Behold, is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ [Zechariah 2:10-13, Zechariah 3:1-2]

As Trypho was about to reply and contradict me, I said:

Wait and hear what I say first: for I am not to give the explanation which you suppose, as if there had been no priest of the name of Joshua (Jesus) in the land of Babylon, where your nation were prisoners. But even if I did, I have shown that if there was a priest named Joshua (Jesus) in your nation, yet the prophet had not seen him in his revelation, just as he had not seen either the devil or the angel of the Lord by eyesight, and in his waking condition, but in a trance, at the time when the revelation was made to him. But I now say, that as [Scripture] said that the Son of Nave (Nun) by the name Jesus (Joshua) wrought powerful works and exploits which proclaimed beforehand what would be performed by our Lord; so I proceed now to show that the revelation made among your people in Babylon in the days of Jesus (Joshua) the priest, was an announcement of the things to be accomplished by our Priest, who is God, and Christ the Son of God the Father of all.

– Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho, Chapter 115 (source)

Now, don’t get me wrong – Justin’s arguments (especially the first one) are not very compelling without the further revelation provided by Jesus himself. Nevertheless, these and other passages may make clear to even an unbelieving rabbi who studies enough, that the name of the Messiah was to be Jesus. Furthermore, one might also observe that names are picked for their significance, not simply for their ephony. Thus, the name “Jesus” which means “Savior” is not a surprising name for the Messiah, given the Messiah’s salvific role.

In fact, we are told that this is the reason for the name:

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Which is indirectly a proof of the divinity of Jesus:

Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

Jesus is the Saviour because Jesus is God. We are His people and the sheep of his pasture:

Psalm 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

Psalm 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

For this shepherd is Jesus, who was prophesied by the prophets:

Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

The shepherd will be smitten and the sheep will be scattered, but there will also be a salvation and ingathering of the sheep:

Ezekiel 34:12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

We know that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies:

Matthew 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Mark 14:27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

And while there are others who can be viewed as “shepherds” in a lesser sense, Jesus is the one unique Great Shepherd:

Hebrew 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

And do not forget – our Shepherd is Jehovah, the LORD:

Psalm 23:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Jeremiah 31:10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

There are so many such proofs that I will not now burden you with all of them. Suffice that those who truly follow the Old Testament will follow Jesus:

John 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

And those who study them are studying Christ:

Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

And consequently, we (and especially Jews) are exhorted to search the Scriptures and to find Jesus there:

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

We have no strong evidence that this particular rabbi trusted in the already-come Messiah Jesus, but may God give others who read his works grace to see that Jesus is the Messiah, the very Son of God who is the Shepherd of Israel and the Judge of All the Earth, who also will come again to judge the Earth on the last day. (link to article – but see this previous article about the dangers of religious journal)

-TurretinFan


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