My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
An Extemporaneous Prayer to the Immanuel at Christmas Time
Lord, on that holy night of Your birth, the poor shepherds of Bethlehem "went with haste" when they heard the joyous message of the Angel, and they found You "a baby lying in a manger" (St. Luke 2:16). Even the Wise Men from the East, when they saw Your star, started their journey from their far away country and came to worship You. And coming to the cave in Bethlehem, they found You "a child" in the arms of Your All-Holy Mother (St. Matthew 2:11).
How blessed were those simple shepherds and those Wise Men from the East, who found You, the newly born Christ! We, who live more than two thousand years after Your birth, also desire very much to find You, but we do not succeed in this effort.
You, our True and Living God, live and exist among us. "In You we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). And yet, we, being children of a materialistic and secular society cannot readily discover You. You can see this for Yourself, Lord. We are celebrating Christmas. And during these days we will find many other things very readily. The stores will be filled with Christmas decorations, games and gifts, foods and pastries. But how very difficult it will be to find You! Because You, O Divine Child of Bethlehem, are not where we often run to find something in order to celebrate Christmas. This is why we do not find You readily, Lord. For what is offered to us by our surroundings and what we find with our senses during these days is not at all You, Whom we so desire to find..."
THE OLD TESTAMENT REGARDING THE MESSIAH
By Bishop Alexander (Mileant) Translated by Nicholas Semyanko/ Donald Shufran
The central theme of the Old Testament Holy Books is the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God among people. We gathered herein the main Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, the Savior of the World, with the aim of discussing their contents and to show how they were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the New Testament.
Despite their great antiquity, the Old Testament prophecies have in no way lost their actuality. They help the believing person to understand their faith more deeply and fully. To the unbelieving person, they serve as proof of the existence of God and His participation in human life. Just the fact that the prophets could prophesy the occurrences of the future, with such accuracy and with such detail, hundreds and thousands of years in advance, gives witness that God spoke through them. For the Jews who acknowledge God and seek the Truth, we hope this booklet will help them to understand more clearly the Holy Writings of their great ancestors and to see Who, in accordance with the prophets, is their long-awaited King and Savior.
Besides that, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the Lord Jesus Christ, as we shall see, precludes any possibility of another messiah. There could only be One True Messiah He Who has already come. All other pretenders to this title, in the past and in the future, are impostors, frauds and "wolves in sheep's' clothing." The last false-messiah, who will come prior to the end of the world, will be the Antichrist. In accordance with the prophecies of the ancient prophets and apostles, many people will come to believe him, as an ingenious leader and a "savior" of mankind. But he will bring only grief and destruction to the world.
Survey of the Messianic Prophecies
The Old Testament books, as we shall see, are filled with prophecies about the Messiah and His blessed Kingdom. The goal of the Old Testament prophecies was to prepare the Jews, and through them all of mankind, for the coming of the Savior of the world, so that when He came, he could be recognized and they would believe in Him. Yet, the task of the prophets was difficult for several reasons. First of all, the Messiah was to be not only a great person, but at the same time God, or --the God-person. For this reason, the prophets were faced with the task of revealing the Godly nature of the Messiah, but in such a way, that it did not give rise to polytheism, to which ancient people were so prone, Jews included.
Secondly, the prophets had to show that the work of the Messiah would consist not only of the external improvements of living conditions: in the abolition of illness, death, poverty, social inequality, crime and so forth. The goal of His coming into the world in the first place was to help people rid themselves of inner evils--sin and passions--and to show the way to God. Truly, physical evil is only the result of moral evil--sinful deprivation. Why even a wound cannot be healed by applying grafted skin to it, before the infection is cleansed out. For this reason the Messiah would have to begin the act of salvation of people by destroying evil at its very root--in the soul of the person. Without this no external, artificial or compulsory changes in living conditions could bring happiness to humanity.
However, spiritual rebirth is impossible without the free will and active participation of the person himself. From this stem all the difficulties of the Messiah's task: a person must be saved through his own voluntary participation! Since the person is presented with the freedom to choose between good and evil, then it follows that universal happiness is not feasible, as long as the righteous and sinners coexist. In the end there must come a selection between one and the other. Only after God's interference in the fate of humanity by universal judgment and selection, can a new life begin for the spiritually reborn, in which happiness, peace, eternal life and other blessings will reign. The Old Testament prophecies encompass all the facets of this long and complex spiritual process associated with the coming of the Messiah.
Of course, the majority of people during the Old Testament times could not ascend to a clear understanding of the purpose of the coming of the Messiah. For this reason God, through the prophets, gradually revealed to people the identity of the Messiah and the order of His Kingdom, in accordance with the degree to which people, using the spiritual experience of past generations, reached a higher spiritual level. The period of messianic prophecies encompassed many millennia--beginning with the foreparents Adam and Eve and extending to times close to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the beginning of our era.
In the Old Testament books, several hundred prophecies about the Messiah and His blessed kingdom can be found. They are scattered throughout almost all the books of the Old Testament, beginning with the Five Books of Moses and ending with the last prophet Zachariah and Malachi. The Prophets Moses, king David, the Prophets Isaiah, Daniel and Zachariah wrote the most about the Messiah. We will mention only the most important prophecies, and along the way will stress those main thoughts which are touched upon by them. Setting these prophecies, for the most part, in chronological order, we shall see how they gradually revealed to the Jews newer and newer facts about the coming Messiah: about His God-person nature, about His character and course of action, about many details of His life, sometimes, the messianic prophecies of symbols and allegories. We will discuss these during the examination of the prophecies.
Often the prophets in their prophetic visions compound events that may be separated one from the other by many eras and even millennia into one picture. Those reading the prophets' writings must become used to seeing these events in such a multi-era perspective, in which the beginning, middle and end of a long and complex spiritual process are shown simultaneously.
The word "messiah" (meshiah)--is from the Hebrew and means "anointed," i.e., anointed by the Holy Spirit. In the Greek translation it is written "Christos." In ancient times, the anointed were called kings, prophets, and High Priests, became during their ordination to these positions holy oil was poured on their heads, as the symbol of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in order to successfully execute the responsibility place on them. In the capacity of a proper name Messiah, Christ and Savior alternately, having in view One and the same Being.
The Prophecies in the Books of Moses
The Prophet Moses, living 1500 years before the birth of Christ, recorded in his books the most ancient prophecies about the Savior of the world, which in the course of many millennia were kept through the oral legends of the Jews. Our foreparents, Adam and Eve, heard the first prediction of the Messiah in Eden, right after their savoring of the forbidden fruit. Then God told the devil, who has taken on the appearance of a snake: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy see and her seed: it shall bruise (destroy) thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15).
The second prophecy about the Messiah is also found in the book of Genesis and speaks of the blessing, which will extend to all people from Him. This is spoken to the righteous Abraham when he, through his willingness to bring his only son Isaac as a sacrifice, revealed his extreme devotion to God. Then God through an Angel promised Abraham: "And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18).
The third prophecy about the Messiah was pronounced by the patriarch Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, when before his death, he blessed his 12 sons and predicted the future of his descendants. For Judah he predicted: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10). According to the translation of the 70 (Septuagint) interpreters this prophecy has the following alternative: "until comes He, to Whom it is given (determined) to come, and He will be the hope of nations."
(Please note: There at least two more prophecies of the coming of the Messiah in the books of Moses)
The Prophecies of King David
After the death of Moses and the occupation of the Promised Land by the Jews, the prophecies about the Messiah disappear for many centuries. A new series of prophecies about the Messiah arise during the reign of David, a descendant of Abraham, Jacob and Judah, who ruled the Hebrew nation more than 1000 years BC. In these new prophecies the Kingly and Godly qualities of Christ are revealed. The Lord promises David through the lips of Nathan to establish an eternal Kingdom in the Personage of His Descendant: "I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son" (1 Chron. 17:12-13).
There are vast and detailed prophecies of the Messiah in David's psalms. In order to understand the prophetic psalms one must remember that David, like other great righteous men in the Old Testament, represented the prototype of Christ. For this reason often, when he writes in the first person, as if about himself, for example, about suffering (Psalm 22), or about glory (about the resurrection from the dead in Psalm 16), they refer not to David, but to Christ.
In this way, the messianic prophecies of David, recorded in his God inspired psalms, laid the foundation for faith in the Messiah as a true and coexistent Son of God, High Priest and expiator of mankind. The influence of the psalms on the faith of the Old Testament Jews was particularly great, thanks to the wide use of psalms in private life and religious services of the Hebrew people.
Other Old Testament Prophets who reveal the coming of the Messiah are:
"Lesser" prophets who wrote about the Messiah were:
(Please note: They are called "lesser" prophets due to the fact that their books are significantly smaller in proportion and consisting of only several chapters.)
Prophecies in order of Place in Scripture:
Book of Genesis
Prophet Aggeus (Haggai)
(For your information: "The Old Testament was the only form of Scripture which was used by Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the first Christian community. However, this covenant was also understood by the early Christian Church as the scriptural foundation and preparation for the Incarnation of God. Evidence of the view in early Christian thought is predominantly in the writings of the Holy Apostle Paul. The great Apostle views the Old Testament as the preparation of the New, through direct methods such as typology, and through indirect methods such as prophecy. According to Saint Paul, the Law of the Old Testament was only eve a pedagogical instrument "therefore the law as our tutor to bring us to Christ" (Galatians 3:24) and as a measure or shadow of things to come "for the law, having a shadow of the good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1).
The Orthodox Church only uses officially the Translation of the Seventy known as Septuagint.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God