My beloved brothers and sisters 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.
THE OLD TESTAMENT REGARDING THE MESSIAH (Part II)
By Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
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 fore parents, 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 seed and her seed: it shall bruise [destroy] they head, and thou shalt bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15). With these words the Lord passed judgment on the devil and consoled our fore parents with the promise that at some time a Descendant of the Woman will "strike the 'head' itself of the snake devil," who tempted them. But along with this, the woman's Descendant Himself will suffer from the snake, who will as if "bruise his heel," i.e., will cause Him physical suffering. Noteworthy also in this first prophecy is the nomenclature of the Messiah as the "Seed of the Woman," which points to His extraordinary birth of a Woman, Who will conceive without the participation of a man. Here the absence of a physical father is significant considering in Old Testament times descendants were always identified paternally, not maternally. The given prophecy about the extraordinary birth of the Messiah is supported with a later prophecy of Isaiah (7:14), which we discuss further on...
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 and obedience to God. Then God through an Angel promised to Abraham: "And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18).
In the original text of this prophecy the word "seed" stands in the singular, thus indicating, that in this promise the question is not about many, but one definite Descendant, from Whom the blessing will extend to all people. The Jews always attributed this prophecy to the Messiah, understanding it, nevertheless, in the sense that the blessing must extend mainly on the chosen people. In the sacrifice, Abraham was the prototype of God the Father, and Isaac--of the Son of God, Who would suffer on the Cross. This parallel is mentioned in the Gospel, where it is said: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (St. John 3:16). The importance of this prophecy about the blessing of all nations in the Descendant of Abraham is evident from the fact, that God confirmed His promise with a vow.
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 fate of his descendants. For Judah he predicted: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (Genesis 49:10). According to the translation of the 70 (Septuagint: Orthodox Old Testament) 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." Here the scepter symbolizes power. This prophecy states that the descendants of Judah will have their own leaders and lawgivers until the time when the Messiah-Shiloh (Conciliator) comes. The word Shiloh (Conciliator) reveals a new feature in the characterization of His activities: He will eliminate the enmity between people and God, arising as result of sin (the Angels sang about this elimination of hostility between heaven and earth when Christ born: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (St. Luke 2:14).
The Patriarch Jacob lived more than two thousand years before the birth of Christ. From then on the tribe of Judah was King David, the descendant of Judah, living more than one thousand years before the birth of Christ. From then on, the tribe of Judah had its kings, then, after the Babylonian captivity, its leaders right up to Herod the Great, who ascendant the throne in Judea in 47 B.C. Herod, being the son of the Idumean Antipater, was the first foreign king over the Jews. During his time the tribe of Judah completely lost its self-governing status and Jesus Christ was born as predicted...
The next prophesy about the Messiah represented as a "star" rising from the descendants of Jacob, was pronounced by the Prophet Balaam, a contemporary of the Prophet Moses, more than 1500 years BC. At that time the princes of Moab invited the Prophet Balaam to curse the Hebrew nation, which threatened to invade their land. The princes hoped that this curse by the Prophet would help them defeat the Israelites. The Prophet Balaam, looking on the approaching Hebrew people from a hill, in a prophetic vision also saw afar the distant descendant of this people. In spiritual ecstasy, instead of a curse, Balaam exclaimed: "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth" (Numbers 24:17). The symbolic naming of the Messiah as a star and scepter point to His guiding and hierarchical significance. Balaam foretells the defeat of the princes of Moab and the descendants of Seth in an allegorical way, having in mind here the defeat of the powers of evil, taking up arms against the Kingdom of the Messiah. In this way, the prophecy of Balaam supplements the more ancient prophecy of the bruising of the snake (Gen. 3:15). He will bruise not only the "serpent," but also his servants.
The prophecy of Balaam about the Star from the tribe of Judah gave birth to the conviction, among the Israelites (as well as the Persians, from whom came the wise men of the Gospel), that the coming of the Messiah will be prefaced by the appearance of a bright star in the sky. Such an unusually bright star, as we know, truly began to shine in the sky not long before the birth of Christ.
The fifth and last prophecy about the Messiah, which we find in the Books of Moses, is said by God to the Prophet Moses himself, when the earthly life of this great leader and lawgiver of the Hebrew nation was coming to its close. The Lord promised Moses, that at some time He will raise up to the Hebrew nation another Prophet, similar to him in significance and spiritual strength, and He (God) will speak through the lips of this Prophet. "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him" (Deut. 18:18-19). The postscript, made at the end of the book Leviticus by the contemporaries of Ezdra more than 450 years B.C., bears witness to the fact that, among the many Prophets with which the Hebrew nation abounded during the course of its many-centuried history, not one Prophet could be found comparable to Moses. It follows, then, that the Hebrew people from the time of Moses expected to see in the person of the Messiah the greatest Prophet-Lawgiver.
Ralbag (Gersonides, ancient rabbinic literature) comments on the above text: "A Prophet from the midst of thee. In fact the Messiah is such a Prophet..."
To sum up the aforementioned prophecies recorded by Moses, we see, that long before the formation of the Hebrew nation, still in the patriarchal time, the ancestors of the Jews knew many valuable and essential facts about the Messiah, in particular; that "He will defeat the devil and his servants, will bring a blessing to all nations; He will be the Peacemaker and Leader, and His Kingdom will be eternal."
(To be continued)
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.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God