Seeing the Messiah in the Tanakh

Posted by on Dec 19, 2015 in Teachings
Seeing the Messiah in the Tanakh


by Robert W. Miles, October 8, 2015

These times are marked by a slippery shifting morality and a relative, inconclusive truth. The legalizing of abortion, the normalizing of homosexuality, the mass promotion of atheistic humanism, are just the fruit of a problem that has its roots in the believing community. The problem is that those who claim faith in Yeshua as their Messiah, no longer see Scripture, as authoritative. Though the doctrinal statements affirm the Bible’s role, it is not respected as the Word of God. This is shown through the marginalization of some doctrines (i.e. eternity of hell, a repentant life, our wicked hearts, Adonai’s anger against sinners), and the exaggeration of other doctrines (i.e. grace without change, unconditional love of God, God’s purpose is to make us healthy, wealthy and happy). Many read into the Scripture the morality of our “modern” culture by either deliberately chopping out parts that do not line up with society’s expectations, or by simply focusing only on the parts of Scripture that are palatable, and conveniently ignoring the parts that are controversial. All these teachings stem from what is known as historical or higher criticism which started in the 17th century, as an attempt to ascertain the text’s original meaning in its original historical context. However when the investigation was unavailable, historical criticism incorporated the traditions of the Enlightenment and Rationalist thinkers[1]. In this way, historical criticism, and all the teachings that have grown out of it, has sought to elevate the “reason” of man above the Word of God. For this reason, a grounded, thorough understanding of the Messiah from the original Scriptures, must be shown and presented to this generation, in that the person and work of the Messiah, though revealed gradually over time, was clearly understood by the original authors, and is the primary focus and goal of the entirety of Scripture, and is revealed in the person and ministry of Yeshua of Nazareth.

Since the interpretation of scripture and therefore its authority have been under attack, it is important to establish how Biblical prophesies should be read. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum stated that, as it concerns the rules of interpretation, “All too often Bible expositors have had one set of rules for the interpretation of non-prophetic passages, but have been unable, or refuse, to apply that same set of rules to prophetic passages.[2]” Fruchtenbaum then goes on to list four basic rules of interpretation taken from the work of Dr. David L. Cooper,

The Golden Rule of interpretation is as follows: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; Therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise. … The golden rule of interpretation is one of the most important principles governing us in our interpretation of the Scriptures. If we follow this rule, we shall not go very far wrong: it we fail to follow it, we shall never go right. [3]

The second law is called the law of double reference. Not to be confused with double fulfillment, Walter C. Kaiser explains this law of double reference as the “now” and the “not yet”[4]. He mentions that there is a single meaning, a single sense, but there is often a time gap between different parts of the prophecy. The prophesies “encapsulate contemporary fulfillments of their predictions into the ultimate and final fulfillment of the climatic work of God in the last day.” This is further explained by the concept of theóreó, Greek for “look at”, where the prophet is looking at a series of events, but is unaware of the time difference between the events. In the same way one might look at a mountain range, and see which event comes first, but not realize how far a distance lies between the first event and the next.

The third law, called the law of recurrence, describes how in some passages, after an event is mentioned, it is then repeated with additional details. This repetition does not mean that the event is repeated twice, but rather that the event is important and the details should be paid attention to. The fourth law mentioned by Fruchtenbaum, is the law of context, which simply stated is, “A text apart from its context is a pretext.” Only when this rule is broken, can anyone say, “You can prove anything from the Bible.” The disregard of these rules has led to many if not all heresies, and is the foundation of the apostasy seen today.

Now using these foundational rules, where is the Messianic thread throughout Scripture? Instead of focusing on only predictions and fulfillments of Scriptural prophesy, one must see the promises of God, as well as the means employed in the fulfillment, if they are to get a complete view.[5] The promises of God are usually connected and interrelated. So as with all doctrines, one must start in Bereshit to find the foundational problem and solution. Genesis 3:15, known as the protoevangelium or “the first good news”, shows that the solution to the problem of sin (Gen. 3:1-12) will be through the “seed” of the woman. So although “seed” can be plural, “his heel” is masculine singular. The early parents seemed to understand this, by how Eve named their first son. The name “Cain” sounds like the verb “I have gotten a man.” Gen. 4:1 then adds the phrase, “even Adonai.” Kaiser states that if this translation is correct, then in some way Eve knew that the coming “seed” was divine, but her timing was way off.[6]

Some time later, the same promise is reinforced and refined through Noah as he blesses Shem above all his brothers (Gen. 9:25-27). Adonai is known as the “God of Shem” but in addition Kaiser makes some interesting notes of the phrase, “may he dwell in the tents of Shem.[7]” Kaiser states that this “he” refers to Elohim, “God”, instead of Japheth, and gives five reasons for this: 1) Hebrew poetry carries over the previous subject, when no other subject is given. 2) The subjects of the noahheptastich are organized: Canaan – Canaan; Shem – Canaan; Japheth – Shem – Canaan. 3) When Gen. 9:18 starts it is obvious that the preeminence goes to Shem. 4) The blessing of Shem in vs. 26 logically precedes the way in which Adonai would bless Shem. 5) If the “he will dwell in the tents of Shem” referred to Japheth, then the most logical conclusion would be conquest of Shem by Japheth, which would not be a blessing to Shem at all. In conclusion, the promises to “be the God of Shem” and to “dwell in the tents of Shem” are reiterated throughout Scripture. Specifically the Shekinah in the tabernacle (Ex. 33:7-11) and later the temple (2 Chr. 7:1-3), then again through Yeshua, where the “Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (Jn. 1:14a) The ultimate fulfillment of God dwelling with man occurs in the Olam HaBa, where John writes, “Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them.” (Rev. 21:3a)

From the Shemitic or Semitic tribes, Adonai found a man through whom to continue the promise, Abram. Adonai made a total of eight promises to Abram/Abraham: 1) He would make him into a great nation; 2) He would bless him; 3) He would make his name great; 4) Abraham and his seed would be a blessing to others; 5) God would bless those who blessed him; 6) and curse those who cursed him; 7) through Abraham and his “seed” (or “offspring”) God would be the channel of blessing to all the peoples on earth; and 8) God would give to Abraham’s “seed” the land he had entered after leaving Ur of the Chaldeans.[8] It is important to note, especially in the seventh promise, that it is Adonai who is doing the blessing of the world through the “seed” of Abraham, and not that the nations would bless themselves by doing as Abraham had done. “Abraham did not bless himself, nor was he merely the formula of blessing; he was the medium and agency through which the divine blessing would come.[9]” The word “seed” is a collective singular, which leads to the idea, that the “seed” (singular) would represent the “seed” (plural). Just as this promise was exclusive to both Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:4 & 28:14) so also the “seed” would represent the “chosen” physical descendant, not just all the descendants. John wrote that Abraham “saw” Yeshua’s day and was glad (Jn. 8:56). The most logical time for this was at the binding of Isaac, when he “lifted up his eyes and behold, there was a ram” a substitutionary sacrifice that would die in the place of Isaac. Abraham “saw” that another Father would offer up His “only begotten Son” on that same mountain to deliver his people.

At the death of Jacob, then called Israel, Adonai refines the promise. This refinement comes as his final blessing over Judah (Gen. 49:8-12). He prophesied that Judah would be a “lions cub” and that the “scepter will not pass from Judah … until he to whom it belongs will come [and] to him will be the obedience of the peoples.” This interpretation of “until Shiloh comes” is supported by thirty-eight Hebrew manuscripts, but most distinctly in Ezekiel 21:32 which states “until He comes to whom it belongs.[10]” Therefore the future king-messiah will be “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” and will rule not only Israel, but also the goyim, and His rule will bring about incredible peace and prosperity.

Moses furthers the hope of a coming prophet-priest messiah that would be like himself.moses_serpent As Kaiser aptly states, this prophet would be: “1) an Israelite “of your brothers”; 2) “like” Moses; 3) authorized to declare God’s word with authority. He would enjoy unusually intimate fellowship with the Father, just as Moses talked with God on the mountain “face to face”. He would perform miracles in public before the nations, as Moses had done, not in private, as Elijah and Elisha for the most part did. He would be a lawgiver, exactly as Moses had given the Ten Commandments, and a mediator who would pray as earnestly for his people as Moses did for Israel’s preservation. He would also be a deliverer, just as Moses had been used by God to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt.[11]” The understanding of this one individual prophet was so strong in the first century that John records the people saying, “This is most certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world (6:14, 7:40)!” Peter and Stephen used this concept of “the prophet” in their defense before the people and the Sanhedrin, respectively, to show that Yeshua was the one who had been raised up (Acts 3:22, 7:37).

The Judaic promise extended through David who longed to build Adonai a house, but instead Adonai promised to build him an everlasting dynasty. The seven main provisions of this promise to David (2 Sam. 7) are: 1) “I will make your name great”; 2) “I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them”; 3) “I will give you rest from all your enemies”; 4) “I will raise up your offspring [seed] to succeed you”; 5) David’s seed will “build a house for [God’s] name”; 6) “I will be [your seed’s] father, and he will be my son”; 7) David’s dynasty, kingdom, and authority will endure forever.[12] The question always seems to come up, “Did these people (Abraham, Moses, David, etc.) know that they were seeing a worldwide, messianic kingdom, and did they know they were prophesying about Yeshua? David’s response, demonstrates that He did realize the scope of what he had just been promised. David states, “Vezot torat ha’adam” or as Kaiser directly translates, “This is the charter for humanity.” David most certainly understood that he was getting far more than he bargained for as evidenced by his response here in 2 Sam. 7:18-19 and in Psalm 89. From these passages we see that the coming anointed one would not only be the seed of David, but would also be the Son of God with an eternal kingdom over all of humanity. Yeshua is the ultimate fulfillment of this entire covenant. He is of the descendant of David as shown by the genealogies in the books of Matthew and Luke, and as stated by the angel, Gabriel, “He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father. He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end. (Lk. 1:32-33)” This covenant, similar to the promise to Abraham, is “guaranteed and certain: it depends only on God and not one whit on David, his family, or his nation. Every point it mentions will truly come to pass; it is a unilateral covenant in which God binds himself to perform its promises totally, without condition or bilateral obligations. It is an eternal covenant.[13]

“The greatest single block of predictive matter concerning the Savior to be found anywhere in theMessianic-Psalms_001 Old Testament” is in the book of Psalms.[14] Most of the messianic psalms are attributed to King David and these prophetic songs can be organized under the following eight headings: 1) David’s Greater Son (Ps. 89, 132); 2) The Mystery of the Incarnation (Ps. 8, 40); 3) The Rejection of the Messiah (Ps. 118; 78:1-2); 4) The Betrayal of the Messiah (Ps. 69, 109); 5) Death and Beyond (Ps. 22, 2); 6) Victory Over Death (Ps.16, 102); 7) Messiah’s Marriage and Ministry (Ps. 45, 110); 8) The Reign of the Glorious King (Ps. 72, 68).[15] The message in these Psalms colors in the sketch given to David, Moses and the patriarchs. They also form the foundation for the prophets, beginning in the ninth century before Yeshua’s birth.

Adonai’s covenantal promise was brought to the remembrance of the people of Israel through the prophets. The prophets in the ninth and eighth centuries before Yeshua’s birth that spoke of the coming Messiah were Joel, Hosea, Amos, Micah and Isaiah. Joel the prophet makes a play on words between rain and the coming of the Messiah (2:23). Kaiser makes the case that although ‘et hamoreh lisdaqah is often translated “the early rain for prosperity” it should be translated “The Teacher of Righteousness” for three reasons. Firstly the word moreh is preceded by the definite article which would make reference to a distinct person/thing. Secondly, the term moreh appears eight times in the Bible and in all cases it is translated as “teacher;” and thirdly, the word lisdaqah or “righteousness” is a term of morality and not an attribute of rain.[16]

Hosea speaks of a time to come, when the children of Israel will return and will seek their God and David their king (Hos. 3:5). There are five specific aspects of this promise that Kaiser mentions. These aspects are: 1) The Messiah will return when Israel returns to their Lord; 2) The Messiah will be a descendant of David; 3) He will be a great king who will rule over those who fear Him; 4) The northern house of Israel that broke away from Judah, will again render allegiance to the Son of David; and finally, 5) The Messiah is closely identified with Adonai, and yet distinct from Him.[17] These apply as much today, while waiting for Yeshua’s return, as they did during Yeshua’s first coming.

Amos talks of the restoring of David’s sukkah (tabernacle), but adds an interesting twist. In 9:11-15 the prophet references that the Davidic linage, though in disarray in his day, would again be raised up to its former glory, and then he adds, “The remnant of Edom and all the nations called by My name.” This reference to the gentile nations coming to worship, occurs after the “restoring of the breaches” and “raising up the ruins.” The verbs here are feminine plural and must therefore refer to the division between the two kingdoms of Northern and Southern Israel being reunified prior to the coming of the Messiah. This was fulfilled after the decree of Cyrus of Persia, which at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:14-18), James confirmed that the turning of the gentiles to Adonai, God of Israel is a fulfillment of this passage.

Apart from giving the specific location that the coming Ruler will be born, Micah gives three Michadescriptions of this Ruler (5:1-5). Firstly, He will be “One whose goings forth is from of old, from days of eternity.” Next this Ruler will be an individual who will walk in the “strength of Adonai – in the majesty of the Name of Adonai,” and finally His birth will signal a new day for God’s people. No longer will Israel be abandoned, but rather “live securely,” once He is installed as King.[18] This king will be raised up to defeat a coming threat from Assyria and the land of Nimrod, modern day Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

More than any other prophet, Isaiah, speaks of the coming Messiah, and he refers to Him as the king, the servant and the anointed conquer. In speaking of this coming king, Isaiah uses the name “Branch of Adonai” which could have its origins in one of the final prophesies of David, 2 Sam. 23:5. In Isaiah chapter 4, the Branch is responsible for washing and purging Zion of her sin such that glory is a canopy over her. Isaiah says that ha’almah “the virgin” will conceive as a sign from Adonai (7:14). The Septuagint (translated long before Yeshua), and therefore Matthew, used the Greek word parthenos, or virgin, and there is no reason to believe that this is incorrect. Even though in the near fulfillment, both Ahaz’s and Isaiah’s sons were born soon after, and both Samaria and Damascus fell within the specified time frame, there was nothing miraculous about these births. As with many prophesies, with the “now” and the “not yet” the ultimate fulfilment came with the miraculous birth of the Messiah, Yeshua (Matt. 1:23)[19]. Isaiah continues to speak of the Messiah as the “wonderful ruling son” (9:1-7), the reign of Jesse’s son (11:1-16), the universal triumph of the Messiah (24:21-25) and the Messiah as the foundation stone (28:16). These prophesies are quoted by the authors of the New Covenant.

The dominant theme, however, of Isaiah is the servant of Adonai, especially from Ch. 40-53. The word “servant” refers to: 1) the nation of Israel; (2) the righteous remnant within Israel, and (3) the Messiah, “an individual who represents Israel”[20]. Isaiah refers to the Servant’s ministry (42:1-7), to His mission to the world (49:1-6), His suffering, humiliation, scourging, His “Gethsemane” (50:4-9), and maybe most poignantly, to His atoning work (52:13 – 53:12). This last passage, alone, has caused more Jewish people to trust in Yeshua as their Messiah, than any other passage in the Tanakh. Franz Delitzsch once said,

In how many an Israelite has [Is 52:13 – 53:12] melted the crust of his heart! It looks as if it had prophet-isaiahbeen written beneath the cross upon Golgotha, and was illuminated by the heavenly brightness of the full seb limini. It is the unravelling of Ps. xxii and Ps. cx. It forms the outer centre of this wonderful book of consolation (ch xl – xlvi), and is the most central, the deepest, and the loftiest thing that the Old Testament prophecy, outstripping itself, has ever achieved.[21]

Finally, Isaiah closes his book with prophesies that refer to the Messiah as the Anointed Conqueror. Adonai fulfills his promise to David through the coming messiah who will be a “leader” and a military “commander” (55:3-5). Then in 61:1-3, the passage Yeshua read as his inaugural address (Lk. 4:18-19), the Messiah is both the proclaimer of good news, and of the day of vengeance of Adonai.

Moving on to the seventh and sixth century prophets, the three who speak about the coming Anointed One are Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Following the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah reiterates that Adonai “will raise up for David a righteous Branch” who will be called “Adonai our righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6). Jeremiah then continues on with a variety of prophesies about a priestly-king Messiah (Ch. 30). This individual is called, “David their king” and then later the same individual is “drawing near” to Adonai. The term to “draw near” demonstrates a priestly role according to Ex. 24:2 and Num. 16:5. Later, Jeremiah returns to the theme of the Righteous Branch (33:14-16). However, in this prophesy, not only is David’s lineage assured, but so is the Levitical priesthood.[22]

“I will set up One Shepherd over them; He will feed them Himself and be their shepherd. I, Adonai, will be their God, and My servant David will be Prince among them,” writes Ezekiel (34:23-24). This theme of the shepherd appears in many of the Psalms (23, 78:52-53, 79:13, 80:1), and several other prophets, but in this passage it receives its fullest expression. This is no doubt the passage that Yeshua used when He preached the message of Himself being the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10). Ezekiel continues this theme of a shepherd-king (37:15-28), where Adonai states that His servant David will rule over a unified Israel and Judah, that He will establish a covenant of peace and set up His Sanctuary among Israel forever.

When defending Himself before the Sanhedrin, Yeshua responded, “If I tell you [I am the Messiah]William_Hole_Jesus_is_brought_before_the_High_Priest_400 you will never believe; and if I ask you, you will never answer. But from now on, the Son of Man is seated at the right hand of the power of God. (Lk. 22:67)” Some time later, Stephen, also before the Sanhedrin, “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God – and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56).’” This name, Son of Man, is a direct quote from the prophet Daniel who sees a vision of the Son of Man coming up to the Ancient of Days (9:13-14). The Son of Man comes “with the clouds of heaven,” an analogy normally used in Scripture for Adonai. Then He “approaches” the Ancient of Days, and is “brought into His presence.” This passage equates the Son of Man with the Ancient of Days and gives to the Son of Man the dominion, glory and sovereignty of all the nations. Later Daniel is given a very specific time where there is to be an end of transgression and sin, an atonement for iniquity, a bringing of everlasting righteousness, a sealing up of vision and prophesy, and most importantly, the time of the Anointed Ruler (9:24-27). The time of the Messiah, is to be sixty-nine sevens (483 yrs.) after the command to rebuild Jerusalem, but prior to the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. There is only one Anointed Ruler, or Messiah, during that time, who brought an end to sin by making atonement, and who was “cut-off” from His people.

The two post-exilic prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, encouraged the people to return and rebuild the destroyed temple. Through Haggai, Adonai says that He will shake the nations, send the Desire of the Nations and will fill the Second Temple with glory. In fact this temple’s glory was to be greater than the Solomon’s Temple. This temple had neither the Ark of the Covenant, nor the Shekinah, how then did it fulfill this word? “The glory referred here is nothing short of the real presence of the incarnate God.[23]” The Messiah, Yeshua, was dedicated in that Second Temple (Lk. 2:21-40), taught in that Temple, and personally cleansed that Temple (Jn. 2:12-24). The Glory of that Second Temple truly was greater than the former.

Zechariah, the most frequently quoted prophet in the New Covenant writings, received a vision of Joshua (Yeshua) the High Priest as a sign of things to come (Ch. 3). The promised One, My servant the Branch, is promised to come forth like the High Priest, and “remove the iniquity of this land in one day.” Later Joshua is crowned (6:9-15) as a sign that the coming Messiah will be both a priest and king. Concerning this David Baron stated, “This is one of the most remarkable and precious Messianic prophesies, and there is no plainer prophetic utterance in the whole OT as to the Person of the promised Redeemer, the offices He was to fill, and the mission He was to accomplish.[24]” The character of this coming king is then described as “righteous” and “lowly, riding on a donkey” (9:9-10). All this was fulfilled when Yeshua entered Jerusalem and all the people cried out “Hoshia-na to Ben-David! Baruch ha-ba b’shem Adonai!” (Matt. 21:1-17) And finally, Adonai says, “they will look toward Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for and only son.” (12:10) The difficulty in this passage is the question of, how can Adonai be pierced? “But that is precisely the point: It is the Messiah’s flesh that has been pierced – he who is one with God the Father in essence and being.[25]

Throughout the Torah the Prophets and the Writings, Adonai has been able to speak both to the people at hand, and at the same time speak to the fulfillment of His ultimate plan. From the very beginning in Genesis where man was separated from His maker because of sin, Adonai has worked endlessly to restore the relationship that was lost. All of the prophetic promises when read straightforwardly, lead directly to Yeshua of Nazareth, “who has fulfilled everything these texts said about his first coming.[26]” This truth about Yeshua is the foundation stone, not only of all who have put their trust in Him, but also of the future of the world. “Yeshua the Messiah did what he had to do according to our Scriptures [Tanakh], coming right on schedule and offering himself for our sins. Therefore, we can be sure he will return and do everything else prophesied for him.[27]

[1] See

[2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, (rev. ed., Ariel Press, 2004), 3

[3] David L. Cooper, the late founder of the Biblical Research Society,

[4] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Messiah in the Old Testament, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 137

[5] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 28

[6] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 42

[7] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 44-45

[8] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 46

[9] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 48

[10] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 51

[11] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 60

[12] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 79

[13] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 82-83

[14] J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), 257

[15] James E. Smith, What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 90-209

[16] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 139-141

[17] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 144

[18] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 154

[19] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 158-162

[20] Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objection to Jesus, Vol 3, (Baker Books, 2003), 41

[21] Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary of the Prophecies of Isaiah, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 2:303

[22] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 189-191

[23] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 208

[24] David Baron, The Visions and Prophesies of Zechariah, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1972), 149

[25] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 225

[26] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 232

[27] Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objection ot Jesus, Vol 1, (Baker Books, 2000), 87

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