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 SUFFERING MESSIAH
Cleansing sacrifices occupied the central place in the religious life of the Hebrew people. Every orthodox Hebrew knew from childhood the law that sin can be ironed out only through a redeeming bloody sacrifice. All the high holy days and family events were accompanied by sacrifices. The prophets did not explain wherein lay the cleansing power of the sacrifice. However, from their predictions about the suffering Messiah it is apparent that Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the great expiatory Sacrifice of the Messiah, which He was to bring for the remission of sins of the world. From this great Sacrifice the Old Testament sacrifices drew their meaning and strength. The internal connection between sin and the subsequent sufferings and death of a person, as well as between the voluntary sufferings and subsequent salvation of people--to this day is not completely understood. Here we will not attempt to explain this inner bond, but will dwell on the actual predictions about the Messiah's forthcoming sufferings for our salvation.
The most vivid and detailed prediction about the sufferings of the Messiah is the prophecy of Isaiah, which occupies one and a half chapters of his book (the end of the 52nd and all of the 53rd). This prophecy contains such details of the sufferings of Christ, that the reader gets the impression that the prophet Isaiah wrote it at the foot of Golgotha, even though, as we know, the prophet Isaiah lived over seven centuries B.C. You may find this prophecy in Isaiah 53:1-12.
"...By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great. And He shall divine the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out Hi soul unto death. And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors".
The present prophecy speaks of His voluntary humiliation, suffering and death! The Messiah, being completely clean of personal sins and holy, endures all these sufferings for the cleansing of human lawlessness.
King David also described the sufferings of the Savior on the Cross very vividly in his 22nd psalm. Although the speech is in the first person in this psalm, King David could not write about himself of course, because he did not bear such sufferings. Here he, as the prototype of the Messiah, prophetically attributed to himself that, which in fact referred to his Descendant--Christ. It is remarkable that several of the words of this psalm were repeated precisely by Christ during His Crucifixion.
No matter how difficult it was for the Old Testament person to rise to the belief in the necessity of these expiatory sufferings of the Messiah, still several Old Testament Judean writers correctly understood the prophecy in the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah. "What is the Name of the Messiah?" is asked in the Talmud, and the reply is: "The compassionate one, as it is written "These sins of ours He carries and feels compassion for us". In another part of the Talmud it says: "The Messiah takes unto Himself all the suffering and torture for the sins of the Israelites. Had He not taken unto Himself this suffering, then not one person in the world could have stood the unavoidable execution as a consequence for breaking the law". The Rabbi Moshe Goddarshan writes in the Midrach (the book, interpreting the Holy Scripture):
"The Holy and Blessed God made the following agreement with the Messiah, saying to Him: Messiah My Righteous One! The sins of the people will be imposed upon you as a heavy yoke: Thine eyes shall see no light, Thine ears shall hear terrible curses, Thy mouth shall taste bitterness, Thy tongue shall cleave to Thy throat...and Thy soul shall succumb from anguish and gasping. Are You reconciled to that? If You accept to take upon Yourself all these sufferings: very well then. If not, then I shall this minute annihilate mankind--sinners. To this the Messiah answered: Lord of the universe! I gladly accept all these sufferings on one condition, that Thou shall resurrect from the dead during My time, beginning with Adam and to this day, and shall not only save only them, but also all those that You had planned to create and have not created as yet. To that the Holy and Blessed God answered: yes, I agree. In that instant the Messiah gladly took upon Himself all the suffering as it was written: "He was tortured, but suffered willingly...as a sheep led to slaughter" (from discussion on the book of Genesis).
These testimonies of orthodox Hebrew experts of the Holy Scripture are valuable, because they show how great a significance the prophecy of Isaiah had for strengthening faith in the power of the sufferings of the Messiah on the Cross to bring salvation.
The Resurrection of the Messiah
However, in speaking of the necessity and salvation due to the Messiah's suffering, the prophets also predicted His resurrection from the dead and His subsequent glory, Isaiah, describing the sufferings of Christ, concludes his narration with the following words: "When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. There will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong" (Isaiah 53:10-12). In other words, the Messiah after death will come to life, in order to head the Kingdom of the righteous and will be morally satisfied with the results of His ordeals.
King David also predicted the resurrection of Christ in his 16th psalm, in which in the voice of Christ says: "I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:8-11). In the prophet Hosea there is a mention of a three-day resurrection, although the wording in this prophecy is in the plural: "Come and let us return the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight" (Hosea 6:1-2, see 1 Corinthians 15:4).
Besides the direct prophecies about the immortality of the Messiah, in fact, all those places in the Old Testament, in which the Messiah is called God, attest to this (for example in Psalm 2, Ps. 45, Ps. 110, Isaiah 9:6, Jer. 23:5, Mic. 5L:2, Mal. 3:1). God by His very essence is immortal. The immortality of the Messiah can also be concluded after we read the predictions of His eternal Kingdom (for example in Gen. 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:13; Ps. 2, Ps. 132:11; Eze. 7:27; Dan. 7:13). For an eternal Kingdom presumes an eternal King!
In this way, summing up the contents of this chapter, we see that the Old Testament prophets very definitely spoke of the expiatory sufferings, death and then--of the resurrection and glory of the Messiah. He was to die for the redemption of human sins and to rise to head the eternal Kingdom of those He saved. These truths, first revealed by the prophets, later formed the basis of the Christian faith.
Now we will contrast the Hebrew Old Testament Passover with the greatest event of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ endured suffering, died on the Cross and was resurrected from the dead precisely in the days of the Hebrew Passover. This concurrence of these two utmost events--the formation of the Old Testament Israel and the founding of the New Testament Church--cannot be accidental! It shows that there exists a deep internal connection between the Paschal events of the Old and New Testament, namely: the greatest event in the life of the Hebrew nation was the prototype of the New Testament events. In order to see this spiritual connection, we will compare these events.
The Old Testament Passover
The slaughter of the pure lamb by whose blood were redeemed the Israelite first-born.
The crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews and deliverance from the bondage.
Entrance in alliance with God on the 50th day after their exodus from Egypt and reception of God's Commandments.
Wanderings in the desert and various trials.
Partaking of the Manna miraculously sent by God.
The erection of the copper serpent, by looking at which the Jews were healed from snake bites.
The entrance of the Jews into the promised land.
The New Testament Pascha
The death on the Cross by God's Lamb, by whose blood are redeemed the first-born of the Christians.
Baptism frees humans from the bondage of sin.
The descent of the Holy Spirit on the 50th day after Passover, by which was established the New Testament.
A Christian's life amidst trials and sorrows.
The partaking by the faithful of the "Bread of Heaven," Body and Blood of Christ.
Christ's Cross, by looking at which, the faithful save themselves from the snares of the devil.
The reception by the faithful of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Truly, the similarities are striking! The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as well as His Apostles, pointed out the existence of these parallels between the Old Testament and the New Testament events connect with Pascha. This way, we see that, not only the prophets wrote about the Messiah and about the New Testament times, but the whole religious life of the Hebrew nation in the Old Testament era was most intimately connected to the matters of the Messiah. This fact indicates to us the complete spiritual unity of the New Testament Church with the Old Testament Israel. For this reason, all the prophecies in which are mentioned the names Israel, Jerusalem, Zion, and so on, have a full and complete realization in the blessed church of Christ.
(Source: The Old Testament Regarding the Messiah by Bishop Alexander Mileant)
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