DISCOVERING JESUS IN THE
               OLD TESTAMENT

                                                         Study #3

  
                                                 By Ken Williams

                                     
Copyright (c) 2012 - All rights reserved

 Did the Old Testament Describe Messiah
as the Son of David or as the Son of God?

                                                    By Ken Williams
                         Copyright (c) 2012


          During the more than 400 years from the time the Jewish remnant returned from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, to the time Jesus arrived on the scene, Jewish theologians and rabbis wrote prolifically.  Much of their writing had to do with the much anticipated arrival of the promised Messiah.  There were several conundrums around which they could not wrap their heads.  The prophecies described Messiah as both a priest and a king.  That could not be true because priests could only come from the Tribe of Levi.  Messiah was prophesied to come from the Tribe of Judah.  The Jewish Scriptures described Messiah as a Suffering Servant whose body would be so marred He would be unrecognizable.  At the same time Scriptures saw Him as a conquering leader would would vanquish all of Israel's enemies.  Some prophetic portions dealing with Messiah were so obviously describing Him as divine - God in a human body.  Yet others said He would be a descendent of, and rule on the throne of His father David.

          One of the most read Jewish writers of times past is Rambam, who wrote, "Whoever does not believe in him [the Messiah], or does not await his coming, denies not only the other prophets but also the Torah and Moses, our teacher, for the Torah attests to is coming."  The Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures) are full of references which the rabbis of old have attributed to the promised Messiah.  Jesus, when He was here on earth, taught about Himself from these passags.  But how did the Jewish writers interpret these widely differing pictures of Messiah?

          Many of the ancient Jewish rabbis came to the concludion that there were two separate (not one) Messiahs: Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David (Messiah son of Joseph and Messiah son of David).  Look at almost any Jewish dictionary or encyclopedia and you will find reference to the understanding of two separate Messiahs (one the son of Joseph; the other, the son of David).  By the way, we must add here that Messiah ben Yosef is not the Yosef (Joseph in English) mentioned in the New Testament who married Mary the mother of Jesus.  It is Joseph, the son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, cast into prison by his owner, then raised to become second in command to Pharaoh in Egypt.  Many Christian theologians, pastors and teachers have seen the same similarities, presenting the Genesis chapters 37 to 45 passage about Joseph's sufferings and rise to authority as a "type" of Christ.

          Today we know that the dichotomy faced by these ancient Jewish scholars has a much better and more accurate understanding.  The diverse references to Messiah do not refer to two Messiahs; but to one Messiah appearing on this earth on two separate occasions (one of which is past; the other of which is still to come.  The Old Testament prophets saw a suffering Messiah and a triumphant Messiah, but did not see that there would be some 2,000 years between Messiah's two appearances on earth.

          In the early 1980's, I purchased a farm in Southwestern Missouri.  One winter morning, I was standing on top of the mountain where I lived and looked out across the valley below, and toward the mountain on the other side of the valley.  It was cold, but there was no snow on the ground.  However, beyond that mountain, was a second, snow capped mountain showcased against a perfectly blue sky.  In my life, it has to rank as one of the top 25 sights that have passed before my eyes.  I owned that farm for over 20 years.  But in all that time, I never ventured over the first mountain to see what was between the moutain on the other side of my valley, and that snow capped mountain beyond that.  I think that was much like the Old Testament prophets.  They stood on the mountain top of their own vantage point in time.  They looked across the valley of the immediate future to the cold, leafless mountain on the other side.  Then, beyond that, they saw the wonders of the Triumphant Messiah, Son of David, coming to deliver, rule and reign.  They did not realize that between that rugged, leafless mountain across the valley, and that wonderful sight behind it, there was a 2,000 year valley (so-to-speak) that the Jewish Prophet Daniel called "The Times of the Gentiles."

          Let's take a look at some of these prophecies which seem to be so opposite and see how they play out in the life of Jesus Christ.  By-the-way: the Hebrew word "Moshiach" when translated into English is "Messiah."  The Hebrew word "Moshiach" when translated into Greek is "Christos."  When "Christos" is translated into English it is "Christ."  So, "Messiah" equals "Christ."  The Hebrew term "Yeshua HaMoshiach" is Hebrew for the English "Jesus Christ," or "Jesus Messiah."  They are one and the same.

          Let's begin by looking at the impossibility of Messiah being both a priest and a king.  To the Jew, living during the more than 400 years between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the birth of Jesus, priests could only come from the Tribe of Levi; and kings in the line of David would have to be from the Tribe of Judah.  However, long before there was a Tribe of Levi and a Tribe of Judah, there was a God-ordained king/priest.  His title was Melchizedek.  He is mentioned only two times in the Old Testament.  He was the King and Priest of Salem.  Salem and King Melchizedek were situated where JeruSALEM is located today.  We know very little about Melchizedek.  Genesis 14:18 tells us that he was a "priest of the most high God (El Elyon in Hebrew);" the same God Abraham served.  Melchizedek blessed Abraham "in the name of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth."  Verse 20 tells us that Abraham gave a "tithe" (meaning "one-tenth") to Melchizedek.

          While this is the only historical record of Melchizedek in the Bible, there is reference to this kingly/priestly line in Jewish tradition.  The name Melchizedek is a title; not a name.  The first part of that name in Hebrew means "king."  The second has to do with determining wrong behavior (sin), and representing the sinner as an advocate.  That was the duty of the priest.  Jewish tradition says that the line of Melchizedeks was the sons, and grandsons of Noah's son Shem.  This incident would have taken place roughly three to four hundred years after the flood, and six to seven hundred years before the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  Noah lived 350 years after the flood.  Shem lived for 500 years after the birth of his first son.  That son was not born till after the flood.  So that would have meant that Shem would still have been alive during the first part of Abraham's life, and the Melchizedek referred to in Genesis 14 was likely his son.  Shem had five sons: "Elam and Asshur, and Arpachs'had, and Lud, and Aram" (Genesis 10:22).  Luke 3:36 tells us that Abraham came through the line of Arpachs'had.  We know that Elam moved his family to the area east of the Persian Gulf.  So the Melchizedeks must have come from one of the three remaining sons of Shem.

         There is another reference to Melchizedek in the Old Testament.  It is found in Psalm 110: "A Psalm of David."  This Psalm begins with God the Father speaking to God the Son.  This Psalm looks forward to the Second Coming of Messiah.  Notice that Messiah (the Son), referred to as "My Lord," is sitting at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven.  The Father is making promises concerning the setting up of His eternal kingdom.  As a part of those promises, God says to the Son, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4).

          In Matthew 22, Jesus is debating the Pharisees (the religious leaders of one of the sects of Judaism when Jesus was here on earth).  "Then surrounded by the Pharisees, he asked them a questions: 'What about Messiah?  Whose son is he?'  'The son of David,' they replied.    
'Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, call him LORD (Jehovah)?' Jesus asked.  'For David said (and here He quotes Psalm 110:1), God said to my LORD (Jehovah), Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet.  Since David called him LORD, how can he be merely his Son?'  They had no answer.  And after that no one dared ask him any more questions" (Matthew 22:41-46 LB).  Notice several things about these verses:
1. David's heir (the Messiah) is diety - here called "LORD."
2. Notice that God is talking to the LORD (Jehovah).  Here is still an-  
    other indication that Israel's one God (Elohim) is one God but plural in 
    person (as we noted in the first study in this series.
3. The LORD (Jehovah) sits on the right hand of God.  This is "God the
    son."
Here we see that Messiah will not only be a king; but also a priest.  Not a priest in the line of Aaron from the Tribe of Levi; but to the Order of Melchizedek which existed long before there was even a Tribe of Levi, or even an Israel, for that matter.

          The next mention of Melchizedek is in the Book of Hebrews, where his name is mentioned nine times.  Let's look at these:

1. In chapter 5 verse 5 there is a quote from Psalm 2 in which God the Father, speaking to God the Son, says "This day have I begotten you."  We have already discussed this earlier in this series.  But then in the next verse, it goes on to quote from Psalm 110 about being a priest after the Order of Melchizedek.  Then it says that He offered up prayers with "strong crying and tears" to save Himself from death (perhaps a reference to the Garden of Gethsemane experience).  It winds up saying, "He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him, called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:9-10).

2. In Hebrews chapter 6, beginning with the 13th verse, we are told of the promises and oaths God has made; along with the fact that God is immutable (unchangable), and that He cannot lie.  As we come to the end of the chapter, we are told that Messiah went through the veil (a reference to the veil that separated man from God in the Old Testament tabernacle and later the Temple - Leviticus 15:15), as our forerunner.  He has now become our advocate, our "high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20).

3. Moving on to chapter 7, we see an interesting profile of Melchizedek.
     a. He was the King of Salem (verse 1).
     b. He was the Priest of the Most High God (verse 1).
     c. He was the King of Righteousnes - an interpretation from a portion 
         of the name Melchizedek (verse 2).
     d. He was King of Peace - "Salem," meaning peace (verse 2).
     e. He had no father or mother, or any genealogy (verse 3).
     f. He had no birth date and no death date (verse 3).
     g. He is "like" the Son of God who abides as a priest forever (verse 3).

The term that Messiah is "a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" appears several more times before the end of the chapter.  The chapter winds up telling us the the Levitical priesthood was a flawed priesthood charged with implementing the Law.  Messiah, as an high priest after the order of Melchizedek, is "able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (verse 25).

          One other note before we move on: Hebrews chapter seven also indicates that the Melchizedekian Priesthood is far superior to the Levitical Priesthood, because the Levites were in Abraham's loins when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek and when Melchizedek blessed Abraham, meaning that Levi, Aaron, and all succeeding priests in the Levitical system paid tithes to Mclchizedek though Abraham (verses 5-10).  Now we have the answer to our question.  Is it possible that Messiah could be both priest and king?  "For it is evident that our LORD (Jehovah) sprang out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.  And it is yet far more evident; for after the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment (the Law of Moses) but after the power of an endless life.  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 7:14-17).

          The second set of opposites which faced the early Jewish theologians and rabbis was, how could Messiah be both a Suffering Servant who would be rejected, and whose body would be so marred as to be unrecognizable; and at the same time be a conquering leader who would deliver Israel from her enemies?  Again, these two diametrically opposed pictures of Messiah led many of them to the conclusion that there must be two Messiah: a Suffering Servant, and a victorious, conquering military leader who would vanquish Israel's enemies.

          Before we can fully understand this subject, we must understand the meaning of a term found repeatedly throughout the Old Testament.  It is the term, "The Angel of the Lord."  Zechariah is one of the prophets who returned from Babylonian captivity with the remnant of Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  In chapter 3 Zechariah is receiving a vision from God.  He says, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD..." (Zechariah 3:1 KJV).  This is not the first time this term "the Angel of the LORD" is used in the Old Testament.  In Genesis 16, the "Angel of the LORD" visited with Hagar.  She recognized this One as God.  In Genesis 22, the "Angel of the LORD" visited Abraham.  Abraham noted that he had met God.  Also in Genesis, Jacob wrestled with the "Angel of the LORD," and said that he had struggled with God.  The "Angel of the LORD" confronted Moses, and Moses knew that he had met with God.  In some of these (and other passages), the "Angel of the LORD" is identified as Jehovah.  There are numerus passages in "The Law, the Prophets and the Writings" (the Jewish title for what Christians call the Old Testament), which make it clear that the "Angel of the LORD" is God, Himself manifest in a human body.  Since God, the Father is identified as Spirit (not having a physical body) the member of the one, single Godhead must be God the Son.

          This vision that Zechariah is receiving (the book of prophecies he has left for us in the Bible) comes directly from "the Angel of the Lord" - Jehovah, Himself.  There are a number of references to Messiah in this book.  May I suggest that if you are interested in this subject you get my book, Finding Jesus in the Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures).  Details on how to get it will be available on this page at the end of this study.

          But let's skip over many of Zecharah's mentions of Messiah, to chapter 12, where we have a picture of the last Great War.  Some have called it the Battle of Armageddon.  God says, "I will make Jerusalem and Judah like a cup of poison to all the nearby nations that send their armies to surround Jerusalem.  Jerusalem will be a heavy stone burdening (some translations: 'a burdensome stone') the world.  And though all the nations of the earth unite in an attempt to move her, they will be crushed"  (Zechariah 12:2-3 LB).  In the following verses Messah appears and leads His people on to victory.  "The Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David!  And the royal line will be as God, like the Angel of the Lord (Messiah - God Himself) who goes before them!  For my plan is to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem" (verses 8-9 LB).  When the battle is over, God says He will "pour out my spirit of grace and prayer on all the people of Jerusalem."  At this point they look upon their Messiah, and the Old Testament Hebrew prophet wrote, "They will look on Him they pierced, and mourn for him as for an only son, and grieve bitterly for him as for an oldest child who died...All Israel will weep in profound sorrow.  The whole nation will be bowed down with universal grief" (Zechariah 12:10-12 LB).  The "profound sorrow" comes because they recognize that the One who has just delivered them from certain destruction is "the One whom they have pierced."  The Psalmist, in Psalm 22, writing of the death of the Suffering Messiah, penned, "They pierced my hands and my feet."  When Israel recognizes that their Deliverer is the One they rejected and their forefathers condemned to death, they will , as a nation, go into mourning.  John, a Jewish fisherman who became a follower of Jesus, wrote, "Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" (Revelation 1:7 KJV).  They say, "We could have believed on the Messiah!"

          But this is only the beginning.  In the next chapter we see that Messiah (Jehovah - God) forgives and cleanses the people of Israel.  "In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:1 KJV).  Messiah wll forgive and cleanse them.

          Chapter 14 is a sort of recap of the Great War, giving a more detailed look at the war and the return of Messiah.  Here are a few excerpts concerning the war.  "Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst.  For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished.  Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city"  (Zechariah 14:1-2 KJV).

          Then Messiah returns.  "Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.  And in that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from the east to the west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.  Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach Azal.  Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.  Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints and angels with Him" (Zechariah 14:3-5 KJV).

          It is at this point that Messiah sets up His kingdom in Jerusalem on the Throne of His father David.  But, then, that is another subject.  Our point here is that the Old Testament teaches that Messiah was to come as a conquering leader who would deliver Israel from certain destruction.  That has not yet happened.  However, if you believe the Bible, you must believe that Israel's Messiah will come and fulfill these and many other Old Testament prophecies.

          What led Jewish rabbis before the time of Jesus to believe that there might be two Messiahs, is the many Old Testament passages which speak of Messiah as being rejected by His own people; being disfigured to the point of being unrecognizable; and being put to death for the sins of His own people.  There are numerous such passages in the Old Testament, the most explicit of which was written by the Prophet Isaiah.  The Prophet Isaiah served God in the southern kingdom of Judah from about 740 to 680 BC, several hundred years before the Babylonian captivity.

          Isaiah describes the Messiah's ministry during His time on earth, saying that the majority of it would take place in the Galilee and Trans-Jordan area.  Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and you will discover that most of Jesus' ministry was in the area around the Sea of Galilee.  The only times Jesus went up to Jerusalem were for the required Feasts of the Lord, since He was a practicing Orthodox Jew.
 
          In Isaiah 35, we discover that this Messiah is going to be a miracle worker.  Rabbinic literature from the time tells us that, "As was the first Redeemer, so would be the second Redeemer."  The first redeemer was Moses, according to the rabbis.  The second Redeemer would be Messiah.  Isaiah predicted He would be a miracle worker.  "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing..." (Isaiah 33:5-6 NIV).  The rabbis after the time of Jesus did not deny that He performed unexplainable healings.  They described it this way, "Jesus of Nazareth had been a magician, and that he had done things by saying the divine name."

          Let's go on to Isaiah 42, where the prophet writes, "The Lord God who created the heavens and stretched them out and created the earth and everything in it, and gives life and breath and spirit to everyone in all the world, he is the one who says [to his Servant, the Messiah]; I the Lord have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.  I will guard and support you, for I have given you to my people as a personal confirmation of my covenant with them.  You shall also be a light to guild the nations unto me" (Isaiah 42:6-7 LB).  Notice the three purposes for which God said He would send His Messiah to earth:
1. To demonstrate God's righteousness - He did!  The Bible says He was temped in every way we are, yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
2. To be a confirmation of God's unconditional covenant with Israel - Notice the Messiah did not come to cast off Israel, but to confirm God's unconditional covenant with Israel.
3. To guide the nations to God - Indeed, the Jewish Messiah and His message has spread throughout all the earth.  As the Apostle Paul put it, many Gentiles have been "grafted in" to the True Israel.  Unfortunately much of what goes on today in the name of the Jewish Messiah bears little similarity to what He taught.

          In Isaiah 61:1-2, the prophet gives still more reasons for Messiah's first coming:
1. To bring the good news.
2. To bring healing to the suffering and afflicted.
3. To comfort the broken hearted.
4. To announce liberty to those captivated by sin.
5. To open the eyes of the blind.
6. To announce that God's favor has come on mankind.
Can anyone deny that this is exactly what Messiah did?  Again, read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament, and learn of His mighty works.

          Finally, Isaiah concludes the first advent of Messiah by predicting His rejection and cruel death.  This is principally outlined in the end of chapter 52, and into chapter 53.  Consider this:
1. Messiah will be "beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there" (Isaiah 52:14 LB).  Compare this with Matthw 26:67-68 and 27:27-30.
2. Messiah will be in this condition, "so shall He cleanse many nations"  (Isaiah 52:15 LB).  This is a prediction of Messiah's death for the sins of many.  This is why He is called in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, "The Lamb of God."
3. God will reveal His saving power through Messiah, but few will believe it (Isaiah 53:1).
4. "God laid on Him the guilt and sins of every one of us" (Isaiah 53:6 LB)!  Check the four Gospels.  He came to pay the penalty for sin.  Only God, infinite in Himself, could pay the infinite debt for sin.
5. God laid on Messiah, "the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6 NIV).
6. He did not answer His accusers (Isaiah 53:7).  Compare with Matthew 26:62-63, Mark 13:3-5, John 19:9 and Acts 8:32-33.
7. He was killed for the transgressions of His people (Isaiah 53:8).
8. While He died like a criminal, He was buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9).  Compare with Matthew 27:57-60.
9. It pleased God to bruise the Messiah as "an offering for sin," then to raise Him from the dead and "prolong His days" (Isaiah 53:10).

          In Mark 8, Jesus has been teaching and healing in the villages around the Sea of Galilee.  He had just fed the 4,000, and, perhaps for a little "R & R" (rest and relaxation), Jesus and His disciples went far to the north into an area which is now a part of Syria, to a town called Caesarea Philippi.  This is where we pick up the narrative.  "Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to thm, 'Who do men say that I am?' So they answered, 'John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.'  He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'  Peter answered and said to Him, 'You are the Christ.'  Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.  And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must SUFFER many things, and be REJECTED by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be KILLED, and after three days RISE AGAIN" (Mark 8:27-31).

          Jesus is getting near the end of His earthly ministry.  As they return to Israel from Caesarea Philippi, they head south to Jerusalem for Passover, where Messiah (the Passover Lamb - I Corinthians 5:7) would be offered for the sin of the world.  Jesus asks the question "Who do you say that I am?"  Peter answers, "You are the Christ."  Do you remember from earlier in this study what "Christ" means?  It means "Messiah."  The Hebrew word for Messsiah in Old Testament is the same as the Greek word in English from the New Testament.  Greek to English is "Christ."  Hebrew to English is "Messsiah."  But they are the same thing.  Peter was saying that Jesus was the Messiah.  After this confession, Jesus began to teach them.  Remember, Jesus never taught anything while He was here that did not have its roots in the Old Testament (there was no New Testament at that time).  Now notice what He taught.  Look at the bolded letters above: suffer, rejected, killed, rise again.  That is a perfect outline of what we just saw in Isaiah 53.

          In Isaiah chaper 53, Messiah is presented as rejected by the religious leaders of His day.  He is to be "despised and rejected."  The fact is that if the religious leaders of Jesus' day had received Him, it would have been proof positive that He was not the Messiah.  His acceptance by the religious leaders would have been in opposition to the Old Testament prophets.  In Matthew 23:39, just before His crucifixion, Jesus tells His detractors, "For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (KJV).  That last phrase, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," is a traditional Jewish greeting.  According to the Scriptures it is also what Israel will say when they see "the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky" to rescue them from their enemies at the time His Kingdom is permanently established on earth.

          So far we have seen that Jesus fulfills the prophecies of being both priest and king; something which was foreign to Jewish thinking in Old Testament times, but not foreign to the Old Testament Scriptures.  We have also seen that Jesus fulfills both opposites of being a Suffering Servant as well as a victorious, conquering deliverer.  Now we move on to the third of these impossible combinations: son of David, or Son of God (deity).  How could He be both human, and at the same time God?
 
          In the Old Testament, God made a number of covenants.  He made a covenant with Adam.  He made a covenant with Noah and Abraham.  He made  covenant with Moses and the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai.  He made a covenant with the Jews just before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promise Land.  He also made a covenant with David.  These covenants fall into two categories.  Some of them were conditional covenants; some were unconditional.  An example of an unconditional covenant is the one God made with Abraham.  God promised to make Abraham a great nation through which the entire world would be blessed; He promised the Messiah would come through this line; He outlined the dimensions of the land He was giving to Abraham and His descendants; and He declared that the covenant would be eternal.

          To understand this, we must first take a historical look at how contracts were signed in ancient times.  If two parties made such an agreement or treaty, one or more animals would be cut in half.  One half would be placed on each side of a pathway.  Then the two parties to the contract, holding hands, would walk through between the pieces, indicating that they were in agreement.  Agreements were literally made in blood.  Such is the agreement between God and Abraham in Genesis 15.  God told Abraham to take a heifer, a goat, a turtledove and a pigeon; cut them in half and lay them on each side of the pathway.  But this is not a bi-lateral contract.  This is a unilateral contract.  Abraham watches as God, alone, walks through between the pieces.  Abraham is the recipent, but he has no obligation in the keeping of the contract.  God is going to keep this contract no matter what Abraham or his descendants might do; and God bound Himself to do so as long as time is reckoned.  [We cover this contract in detail in my book Finding Jesus in the Old Testament (The Jewish Scriptures).  Details on how to obtain it can be found at he end of this study.

          Now let's take a look at a conditional covenant.  An example of a conditional covenant would be the covenant made between God and Israel just before they crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land.  God promised that if Israel would follow Him, obey Him, and live by His statutes, He would bless them in the land.  However, if they would depart from worshiping and serving Him, He would withhold His blessing, punish them, or even drive them from the land.  A look at Israel's history through the times of the Judges and the Kings, shows that God did all three of those things in fulfillment of that covenant.  God's terms were agreed to by Israel, making it a bi-lateral covenant.

          In II Samuel, we find the Davidic Covenant, in which God promised that He would establish the Throne of David forever.  This is an unconditional covenant - God made the covenant without any required response on the part of David or his family after him.  Notice the major points to this covenant in II Samuel 2:
1. "I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (verse 13 NIV).  It is unconditional - no "ands" "ifs" or "buts."
2. "I will be his Father, and he shall be my son" (verse 14 NIV).  Again, this is unconditional - "I will..."
3. "If he commit iniquity..." (verse 14 NIV).  There are always consequences for sin, but the covenant will not be voided.
4. "I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men" (verse 14 NIV).  Note that God's judgment of His own people is always "remedial."  God's chastisement of His own is designed to bring wayward children back to Himself.
5. "But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul..." (verse 15 NIV).  Again, it is unconditional! 
God promised to establish David's throne forever; the Messiah woud eventually reign from the Throne of David in Jerusalem.

          Matthew's Gospel (in the New Testament) opens with the genealogy of Jesus.  It is one of only two genealogies found in the New Testament.  Both arethe genealogy of Jesus, who Matthew declares to be the long awaited Messiah of Israel.  You will note that the one found in Matthew is much different than the one found in the Gospel According to Luke.  Matthew follows the legal, kingly line from David to Jesus through King Solomon.  Also ao great importance is that Joseph is not named as the father of Jesus, but as the husband of Mary who was the mother of Jesus.  This is important because while Josepoh was the legal father of Jesus, and gave Jesus the legal right to the throne of David; Joseph was not His physical father.  Luke's accunt shows the genealogy of Mary from David through Nathan to Jesus.  Jesus received the Davidic bloodline through His mother, Mary.  Luke says, "He (Jesus) was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph" (Luke 3:23b NIV).

          There is no questions that Jesus was in the line of David.  The next question is, if He was the physical son of David, how can He be God?  God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, but it is quite obvious that He chose Joseph just as carefully.  Here was a man concerned with keeping the Law of Moses to the letter, yet he did not want to publicly embarrass his espoused wife and her family.  The Law said that a woman found in this condition under these circumstances was to be stoned to death.  But Josepoh opted for a "writ of divorcement," one of the options under the rabbinic system.  While he was mulling this over in his mind, the Scriptures say that the Angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20 NIV).

          The Old Testament prophecies of Messiah required a miraculous birth - a virgin birth.  The Prophet Jeremiah wrote, "How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter?  For the LORD (Jehovah) hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man"  (Jeremiah 31:22 KJV).  That is not a natural birth; it is supernatural!  The virgin birth of Jesus is the "new thing" which God has done.  The Prophet Isaiah gives a sign that will identify the Messiah when He comes.  Isaiah says, "Therefore the LORD (Jehovah) himself will give you a sign.  Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).  The name "Immanuel," by the way, means "God with us."  This miraculously born baby is going to be God taking on human flesh to dwell (or tabernacle) among us.  A virgin birth was not only necessary to fulfill Old Testament prophecies.  It was also necessary in order that Jesus could be born into the human race without sin.  He was born pure and holy.  Remember David saying, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5 NKJV).  The Holy Spirit provided the pure, sinless "seed" necessary to produce the God/man who had no sin of His own, but could take upon Himself the sin of us all.

          We have seen the three problems ancient Jewish theologians had with the promised Messiah, and the reason many of them decided that there had to be two Messiahs.  In each of the three, we have seen some Scriptures which indicated Messiah would be God.  But in this last series (David's descendant, or God) we have seen again how He was born into the line of David, without a human father; but with the Holy Spirit providing the "seed."  Before we close, let's go to a passage in the Old Testament which is read each Christmas in almost all Christian churches regardless of denomination.  "For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.  These will be His royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6 LB).

          Let's check out those royal titles:
1. Wonderful - This Hebrew word is used only a few times in the Scriptures.  It is not the normal word for "wonderful," but is used only of the "wonderful works of God" - related to miraculous works of God.
2. Counselor - This is the normal Hebrew word for counselor.  It is usually used of someone giving "wise counsel."
3. Mighty God - This is one of the Hebrew words for "God."  It is sometimes translated "The Almighty."  Obvously Isaiah is saying that Messiah is going to be God Himself.
4. Everlasting Father - This is the normal Hebrew word for "father."  But the use of the word "everlasting" before it would indicate that this reference is to the "Heavenly Father."  This could be translated "Father of Eternity."  Again, Isaiah is saying that the Messiah is going to be God taking on a human body.
5. Prince of Peace - This word "prince" is not the normal Hebrew word for prince.  It is used only a few times in the Old Testament, and usually is speaking not of the son of a king, as we might think, but rather as one with the title of Prince who is ruling - is already responsible for the government.

          Isaiah, by the inspiration of God, gives this Child five titles, each of which indicates that He is not going to be some mere human, but actually God come in a human body to rescue His "Chosen People."  All of this is foundational to the Gospel.  If Jesus did not fulfill these Old Testament prophecies, then He was not the Messiah, could not have died for our sins, and we are still in our sin with no way of ever being able to stand before a holy God and live.  On the other hand, if Jesus was, indeed, the fulfillment of these Old Testment prophecies, then there is one way for our sins to be forgiven, and for us to have eternal life.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).  Suddenly things written nearly 3,000 years ago should be the most important consideration in our lives.  Do you know your sins are forgiven, and you are in a right relationhip with God?
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NOW AVAILABLE...

    Finding Jesus in the Old Testament
              (the Jewish Scriptures)
       Discovering the Jewish Roots of Your Faith

                                                  By Ken Williams

          John wrote in his gospel, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30-31 NKJV).  How did John prove in the pages he wrote that Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah?  He showed that Jesus fulfilled every detail of the Spring Feasts of the Lord.  He declared that these feasts, practiced each year by Jews, were rehearsals for the coming Suffering Messiah.  Then in John's second gospel, known as the Apocalypse, or Revelation, John outlines how Jesus will fulfill the Fall Feasts of the Lord when He returns as the Reigning Messiah.  Jesus also fulfilled the three and a half year cycle of Scripture readings in the synagogues by acting out the passage during the week it was read.  And finally, Jesus fulfilled the Law by being the first and only person to completely and perfectly keep the Law.  Why don't Christians understand this?  It is largely because Christianity as a whole has ignored or forgotten the Biblical Feasts of Lord, the Old Testament "times and seasons" and even the Old Testament itself for the most part.  We seem to spend much of our time in the Epistles, and to a lesser degree in the Gospels, forgetting that everything in the New Testament is based in the Old Testament.
             
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