The Coming of the Messiah

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.

THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH

Wisdom and Prophecy in the Old Testament

The words of the prophets concerning "the day of the Lord' are vivid and powerful. To escape the wrathful judgment of our sinfulness, repent and "call upon the name of the Lord" with faith (Jl 2:32) and "in fear and trembling" (Ph. 2:12). Only then will we stand a chance of being saved from final condemnation and eternal separation from our Heavenly Father on the great and dreadful Day of Judgment.

Following the Day of Judgment, the prophets proclaim, the Kingdom of God will be established. The coming of the Kingdom is depicted in the book of Isaiah. In that great Kingdom of peace, "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid...They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:69). The nations of the world "shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (2:4).

There are many such glimpses of the Kingdom of God in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament. And what is most interesting about these prophecies is the way in which the old Israel's quest for the "promised land" is transfigured into the new Israel's entry into the heavenly kingdom. The theme of God's coming Kingdom, in which there will be "new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17), is the ultimate object of the eschatological vision of the Old Testament prophets.

The Coming of the Messiah

Yet another--and supremely important--element in the prophets' eschatological reinterpretation of the covenant relationship between God and His people is the theme of the advent of the Messiah. The prophets look to the Messiah, God's anointed one, for the salvation of Israel and of the world. And the Messianic proclamations of the Old Testament prophets are, from the standpoint of historic Christianity, announcements of the coming of Jesus, Who was the expected Christ (see St. Luke 4:16-30).

There are three major images of the Messiah in the writings of the prophets: first, he is spoken of as a great King like David, who will bring about the deliverance and vindication of Israel; second, he is depicted as one who will suffer (and even die) in order to atone for the sins of the human race; and third, the Messiah is described as the very presence of God Himself in the midst of the people.

The image of the Messiah as Davidic king is present in many of the prophetic texts. Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as "a shoot from the stump of Jesse [that is, David's father]," a king of David's line (11:1). The image of the messianic king is also developed in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel:

"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to...[my people]. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days...[the people of God] will be saved and...will dwell securely..." (Jr. 33:14-16).

"And I will set up over them one Shepherd, my servant, David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken...My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes" (Ezk. 34:23-24; 37:24).

The prophets also tell us that the kingly Messiah will be born in the town of Bethlehem--David's birthplace (Mi 5:2), and that he will one day ride humbly into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Zc. 9:9). Jesus, proclaimed by the New Testament as the Christ, was descended from the House of David (St. Matthew 1:1-17), was born in Bethlehem (St. Luke 2:1-7) and made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (St. Matthew 21:1-11).

The image of the Messiah as He who will suffer for the sins of his people is most clearly and profoundly presented in those chapters of the book of Isaiah that speak of the "Suffering Servant" of God (chapters 42, 49-50, 52-53).

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail, or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law" (Isaiah 42:1-4).

And the Servant of God, the Messiah, will make God's salvation available, not only to the descendants of Abraham and Jacob, but also to all peoples of the world (see, for example, Isaiah 49:6).

The sacrificial suffering of the Servant of God, through which the salvation of the whole world is to be effected, is predicted in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (see also 50:4-11). And Christians have always understood this passage to be a prophecy of the passion and death of Christ (see, for example, Ac. 8:26-40).

The image of the Messiah as the presence of God in the world--as a divine being--appears in several of the Old Testament prophetic books. The prophet Micah says of the messianic king who would be born in Bethlehem that his "origin [or going forth] is from old, from ancient days" (Mi. 5:2). The Holy Fathers of the Church interpreted this prophetic text as a confirmation of the New Testament claim that Jesus Christ was the Incarnation of God the Son, who was begotten of God the Father from all eternity (see St. John 1:1-18). And is a passage from the book of Daniel which has been read as a messianic prophecy by both Jews and Christians, the following vision is recorded"

"...and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (7: 13-14).

Here, he who should come into the world as the Messiah is a Divine Light in human form, closely associated with "the Ancient of Days" (God the Father); and to this divine "son of man," eternal dominion over all things is given. The many New Testament references to Jesus as "the Son of Man" (see, for example, Mat. 12:8; Lk 26:64; and Jn 3:13-14) are intended to show that Daniel's vision of a divine Messiah has been fulfilled in Christ.

The divinity of the Messiah is also strongly suggested in the book of Malachi, where God's messianic "messenger" is presented as intimately involved in the divine judgment of the world. "Behold, I send My Messenger to prepare the way before Me, and the Lord Whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts" (3:1).

But perhaps the most striking Old Testament references to the Messiah as a divine king are to be found in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah tells us (according to the Greek text) that "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel [or Immanuel]" (7:4). Saint Matthew applies this verse to the miraculous birth of Jesus, and points out that the name ""Emmanuel" means "God with us" (Mt. 1:23). Jesus, whose name means "Yahweh is salvation," is also "Emmanuel" --God with us!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this" (Isaiah 9: 6-7).

Thus, the prophets of the Old Testament looked forward to the coming of a Messiah Who would reign as a king in the tradition of David; who would, through his own suffering make atonement for the sins of Israel and all mankind; and who would, in His own person, make the power and presence of God manifest in the world. And it is the faith of the historic Christian Church that, in Christ, the prophetic expectation has been more than fulfilled. (Source: The Message of the Bible, an Orthodox Christian Perspective by Dr. George Cronk)

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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.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"

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With sincere agape in Our Incarnate Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George