God in the Flesh
As I study the OT prophesies concerning the Messiah and how they are also pointing to the Messiah being God himself in the flesh, I am finding that all the prophesies are tied together so intricately that it would take a book or two to explain them all and how they all tie in with God's plan from the beginning. I will only be able to touch on highlights in a posting such as this. Even so, this is a huge article and I apologize for that.
[Verses are New International Version unless noted otherwise]
Right from the beginning, after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God meted out mercy to them while remaining just in punishing their sin. First he gave them the prophecy that the seed of Eve would some day crush the head of the serpent. That one day someone would overcome evil and make things right again. He gave them hope to look forward to. Then He slew animals to give them a covering for their nakedness. This was the first sacrifice. God was showing them that their sin could be covered, but at a price. Did they understand that this would require God paying the price for all sin himself one day through Jesus? I don't think so. God did not reveal his entire plan to them, at least it was not recorded that he did. Later, Abel gave the first perfect lambs as a sacrifice and the Lord accepted it. The bible does not say that God told him to sacrifice lambs, but apparently he knew to do it, so maybe some things are not recorded here.
Next, Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac, and he is willing to but trusts God will intervene. And God does so. He stops him and provides a substitute sacrifice of a ram. So here God is teaching that a sacrifice that He (God) will provide will become a substitute for men paying their own debt. That if we have faith, like Abraham and Isaac had in God, he will pay for our sins by providing a sacrifice himself.
We also read how God tells Abraham that someday all nations will be blessed by his seed. So Abraham is looking forward to the fulfillment of this promise and knows that sacrifices that God provides will take the place of men paying for their own sins, and that somehow his seed will bless mankind. Does he understand completely? I don't think so. But God is not done yet. He keeps revealing his plan bit by bit. Like the teaching of a child. You don't throw a college physics textbook at a 5 year old and tell him "here is how the universe works. Read it and grasp it. Quiz tomorrow at 3."
Throughout the Old Testament God reveals bits and pieces of his ultimate plan to mankind. In the meantime, he gives them laws and rituals to allow them to participate in his plan, to show their faith and trust in him, and to let them see how sin would be paid for some day, through a sacrifice and redemption.
How much did they really understand? Probably not that much, after all the OT records that the Hebrews were a stiff-necked people who ignored what God taught them, and turned away from him every chance they got. If they had listened to him, perhaps God would not have had to keep sending all those prophets and kings and judgments upon them. Perhaps if they listened, he would have sent Jesus sooner.
But eventually, we do come to the prophets and we see God revealing more of his future plans for redeeming mankind back to himself and being the ultimate sacrifice, the only REAL sacrifice, because the animals were just a shadow, pointing to the fact that God would provide the REAL sacrifice for everyone. He would be mankind's kinsman redeemer.
The concept of kinsman redeemer is important to understanding that God came in the flesh to pay our sin debt.
A kinsman redeemer was a close relative that could pay the debt of a relative that would otherwise be sold into slavery or be impoverished (Leviticus 25, Ruth). The redeemer had to be a close relative, not in debt himself, willing to redeem, and the redemption was completed only when the price was fully paid.
So what do we know about OUR kinsman redeemer?
First, Job expected a redeemer, one that would set foot on earth one day, and that he would see him with his own eyes (showing he expected to be resurrected some day to see this redeemer)
Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
This passage show several things: The Redeemer will stand on the earth in the end. This means that way in Job's future his redeemer will come to earth - probably referring to after the resurrection since Job is speaking of seeing him with his own fleshy eyes. The second sentence shows that Job expects this redeemer to be God and that he will be seeing God with his fleshy eyes. God is spirit and no one can see him directly, he is invisible. So he must be "in flesh" in order for Job to see him. Also, he must be a man as well as God in order to be our redeemer. The redeemer must be one of the family of those who he is redeeming. A close relative.
Some other passages that show God is the Kinsman Redeemer of Israel and mankind:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
Isaiah 41:14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD , your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
Now we know that God (YHWH or LORD) will be the Redeemer. We also know that YHWH will be the Savior:
Isaiah 35:4 say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Isaiah 43:3 "For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior"
Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
Isaiah 59:16He [God] couldn't believe what he saw: not a soul around to correct this awful situation.
So he did it himself, took on the work of Salvation, fueled by his own Righteousness.
Isaiah 59:20 [NLT] - "The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem," says the LORD, "to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins. 21 And this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children's children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!
So we have YHWH being God, and Redeemer, and Savior.
We also know that the redeemer must be a man.
So far, we can deduce that God (LORD, YHWH) must come in the flesh to redeem and save mankind. Are there any verses to support this?
Yes, there are:
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [literally: Father of Eternity], Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
[Side note: He will reign on David's throne. He will inherit his kingdom. He will rule forever. The Messiah is clearly not David, but he will rule from David's throne forever, so the prince in Ezekiel can't be David. When Ezekiel calls him David, he is just referring to his royal lineage. See Zechariah chapter 3 and 6 for how the Messiah is symbolically called Joshua and will also be High Priest]
Isaiah 40:3 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. … 9 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" 10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
Micah 5:2 [NKJV] "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
Jeremiah 23:5 "The days are coming," declares the LORD ,
"when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.
Psalms 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."
Jeremiah says the name of the Messiah shall be the LORD our Righteousness. He will be YHWH (LORD is the English bible's way of writing the holy name of God YHWH - for anyone else reading this article who may not have gotten the connection). The messiah will be a man and yet will be God.
Even the early Jews believed that the Messiah would be YHWH! From the Jewish source Echa Rabbathi, (AD 200-300) - Abba ben Cahana wrote on the subject "What is the name of Messiah?" and answered "Jehovah is his name, and this is proved by 'this is his name' in Jer. 23:6 - (Ref: Laetsch, BCJ, 109 from The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell, p 176)
Now let's go on to Isaiah 52/53. Some people try to say it is only about "Israel" and not about a physical Messiah, but while certain elements may be speaking, in a sense about Israel, there are a lot of internal inconsistencies with that theory especially in light of other messianic prophesies. Also, the Jews themselves generally considered the "servant" to be messiah until the 11th century when Rashi popularized the "servant is Israel" interpretation to keep Jews from converting. More info on ancient Jewish sources that claimed the Servant was Messiah can be found at: Jews for Jesus
Isaiah 52:13 See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him - his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-
If this servant is Israel, then what is this talk about being disfigured beyond human likeness? He is speaking of a person here, not a nation.
15 so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Meaning that one day all nations will look at him in awe and the kings will be put in their place and they will see what they rejected and finally understand who this servant is.
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
OK, first Isaiah directly calls him a MAN so that pretty much means he is not speaking of 'Israel' in some figurative sense. He is speaking of a PERSON.
And we need to take notice of the word "We" ("we" esteemed him not.) - Isaiah was including himself in that "we", as part of the group that would esteem him not, so it means that "we" either refers to Israel or to of all mankind (which includes Israel.) - With that in mind..
If you take the word "him" to mean "Israel," then for "Israel to not esteem Israel" makes no sense.
And then, if you were to say "everyone will not esteem Israel", that also does not make sense since Israel itself must be included in "everyone." And it equates to the same as the point above.
And finally, to try to say "everyone but Israel" will not esteem Israel does not make sense either, since Isaiah said "we" which means he is included in that group that does not esteem and he is a Jew.
No, the only way to interpret the passage clearly is if you understand it to say that Israel will reject the Messiah (a person). The servant cannot be Israel itself in these passages. Let's go on…
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
He paid for our sins and yet they still rejected him because who can accept a savior who died a criminal's death? To die on a tree is as a criminal is shameful and cursed by God (Deut. 21:23). Again notice the "we" and "our" does indeed refer to the nation of Israel, but the word "he" can't be referring to Israel. If Isaiah was trying to say that this "person" was Israel, it would be not make sense: Israel took up our (Israel's) infirmities and carried our (Israel's) sorrows. Yet we (Israel) considered Israel to be stricken by God, Smitten by him and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Messiah will be pierced for our transgressions (Jesus was pierced in his hands, feet and side during his Crucifixion) - Our transgressions (sins) - This punishment will bring peace to us (by redeeming us back to God) - and the Lord will lay all of our iniquity (sin) on him.
Again, this passage does not read well with Israel as the servant. We know "we" and "our" refers to Israel. I will bold where I substitute "Israel" for the "servant"
Israel was pierced for our (Israel's) transgressions … the punishment that brought us (Israel) peace was upon Israel. By Israel's wounds we (Israel) are healed. We (Israel) has gone astray, turned our own way, and the LORD has laid on Israel the iniquity of us all (Israel)
How can Israel be healed if they are paying for their own sins? The passage is about Israel being spared punishment and being healed. If they are paying for their sins then they are not being 'healed' or getting any peace. If they are paying for their own iniquities they are just getting what they deserve, righteous judgment. If that was the case this whole chapter makes no sense.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
Messiah would be oppressed and afflicted, he would be like a Lamb (as in Sacrificial Lamb) and be killed, yet he will not complain. Jesus fits this perfectly. Israel as the servant does not.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He would be killed (cut off) and would have no descendants (children). He would be killed for the sins of Israel (my people).
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
He would be killed like a criminal, even though he has done no wrong, and will be buried like a rich man. Again, this makes no sense if "he" is Israel. Israel surely can't claim to "doing no violence or having no deceit in their mouth." This was an innocent man being killed. Israel has never been innocent (if they had then why would they need a savior?)
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
He will be a guilt offering, a sin offering. And even though he died, he will live again and will promote the will of the LORD. "see his offspring" does not refer to having physical children, remember earlier it implied he will have none? It refers to his followers, his bride, his church. His sacrifice gave birth to the church. Because of his sacrifice many will be saved and be his children. Prolong his days refers to him coming back to life and living forever more.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Again, after his death, and his sin offering, he will come back to life and be satisfied. The Messiah will justify many and bear their sins. He will save many from their sins.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
God will give him glory and all of the earth as his Kingdom, because he died for the sins of many and made intercession for sinners.
Jesus fits these prophesies perfectly.
Finally let's see WHEN the Messiah will come:
Daniel 9:25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.
Nehemiah 2:1 shows that the decree to rebuild was issued in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes (about 445BC). If you take each "week" to be 7 years…
7 Weeks = 49 years
62 Weeks = 434 years.
Total: 483 years.
These are Jewish years. The Jewish calendar had 360 days. It works out to be around 477 of our years. If you take 445 BC and subtract 477 years, you get AD 32. It also says that after this time the Anointed One would be "cut off" (a euphemism meaning being killed) - Jesus is thought to have died around AD 30 - 33.
So either Jesus is the Messiah, or we have all missed him, Jews included, because it is now about 2,500 years past the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445BC. Now, I doubt God would let such an important thing slide by without anyone noticing. So the only historical candidate we have is Jesus. Jesus is the Anointed One (Messiah) and YHWH.
God is offering salvation for all people, not just the Hebrews.
Genesis 18:18 -"For Abraham will become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.
Isaiah 56:3 [NLT]"And my blessings are for Gentiles, too, when they commit themselves to the LORD. Do not let them think that I consider them second-class citizens.
Isaiah 65:1 [NLT] The LORD says, "People who never before inquired about me are now asking about me. I am being found by people who were not looking for me. To them I have said, `I am here!' 2"I opened my arms to my own people all day long, but they have rebelled. […] 8"But I will not destroy them all," says the LORD. "For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, `Don't throw them all away--there are some good grapes there!'), so I will not destroy all Israel. For I still have true servants there. 9I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel and of Judah to possess my land
So God will preserve a remnant of Israel and be found by foreigners and will be their God.
So let me summarize:
* The messiah would be the redeemer of mankind.
* A redeemer must be a man
* Messiah was prophesied to be a man
* God says he is the redeemer and savior.
* Job says he will see God in the flesh.
* Even the early Jews said that messiah would be YHWH.
* Messiah is therefore a man and YHWH.
* He will be a sin offering for mankind.
* He will die a criminal's death, be rejected by Israel, come back to life and have glory with God.
* He will come on the scene 480 something years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 BC.
Jesus is the only one to fit all the prophesies.
Jesus. Jesus is YHWH in the flesh.
He is the Savior to all mankind.
Christianity is Jewish by Edith Schaefer - gives a great overview of how God slowly revealed his plan concerning a messiah as the ultimate sacrifice to redeem mankind.
A Skeptics Search for God by Ralph O. Muncaster - He goes through a lot of the messianic prophesies and ties them into the NT fulfillment by Jesus. He also covers a lot of other issues.
Appendix A - Prophesies of Messiah/Jesus
Here is a list of some of the various prophesies concerning Messiah in the OT - from: http://www.lightofmashiach.org/prophecy.html
*Messiah born of woman:
Gen 3:15 Luke 2:4-11 Gal 4:4
*Messiah to be the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:
Gen 17:19 Num 24:17 Luke 3:34 Mat 1:2
*Messiah born in Bethlehem:
Mic 5:2 Mat 2:1-6 Luke 2:1-20
*Messiah born of virgin:
Isa 7:14 Mat 1:18-25 Luke 1:26-38
*Messiah would come 483 (Jewish) years after decree to rebuild Jerusalem:
Daniel 9:25 Nehemiah 2:1
*Messiah would be of line of David:
Jeremiah 23:5 Matt 1:1-16 Luke 3:23-38
*Messiah a prophet like Moses:
Deu 18:15,18,19 John 7:40
*Messiah would be preceded by "voice crying in wilderness":
Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1.
*Messiah would be Light in Galilee:
*Messiah would be Light to the Gentiles:
Isaiah 42:6 Isaiah 49:6 Acts 26:23
*Messiah would speak in parables:
Ps 78:2 Matthew 13:35
*Messiah has triumphant entry in Jerusalem:
Zech 9:9 Mat 21:1-9 John 12:12-16
*Messiah to be rejected:
Isiah 49:7 Isaiah 52:14 Isaiah 53:1,3 Psa 118:22 Mat 26:3-4 John 12:37-43 Acts 4:1-12
*Messiah tried and condemned:
Isa 53:8 Luke 23:1-25 Mat 27:1-2
*Messiah silent like lamb when accused:
Isa 53:7 Mat 27:12-14 Mark 15:3-4 Luke 23:8-10
*Messiah struck and spit at:
Isa 50:6 Mat 26:67 Mat 27:30 Mark 14:65
*Messiah counted among criminals:
Isa 53:12 Mat 27:38 Mark 15:27-28 Luke 23:32-34
Psalm 16:10 Acts 13:33-35
*Messiah to be mourned by rejecters:
Zechariah 12:10 John 19:37
*Messiah a sin sacrifice:
Isa 53:5,6,8,10-12 John 1:29 John 11:49-52 Acts 10:43 Acts 13:38,39
*Messiah would come to make an end to sins:
Daniel 9:24 Galations 1:3-5
*Messiah would die for the sins of the world:
Isaiah 53:8 Daniel 9:26 1 John 2:2
*Messiah provides salvation and intercedes:
Isaiah 59:15-16 Isaiah 63:5 John 6:40 Matthew 10:32-33
*Messiah brings Israel back to God:
Isaiah 49:5 Matthew 15:24
*Messiah comes to Zion as Redeemer:
Isaiah 59:20 Luke 2:38
*Messiah is messenger for new covenant:
Malachi 3:1 Luke 4:43
*Messiah/Servant will be covenant for the people:
Isaiah 42:6 Jeremiah 31:31 Matthew 26:28
* And then, if you were to say "everyone will not esteem Israel", that also does not make sense since Israel itself must be included in "everyone." And it equates to the same as the point above.[/list]
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