Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Messiah in the Psalms

Long before Jesus Christ ever lived, before that name was ever uttered, his life course was laid out for all to see. Holy prophets, such as King David, were inspired to write some of the things that Jesus Christ would do and the things that would happen to him.

All throughout the Psalms, the experiences of the Messiah are clearly visible for all to see. The pain of his death, the shock of his betrayal--the joy of his resurrection and gaining of his Kingdom.

One thing that has to be remembered, is that many times the Psalms are written about humans and their experiences, but oftentimes, these foreshadow someone greater. Let us look at one example of this.

"You Will Not Allow Your Loyal One to See the Pit"

The superscription over Psalm 16 says that this was written by King David. He uses the first person (I, Me, My) throughout but these do not apply to him completely. One verse in particular says, "For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit." (Psalm 16:10) About a Millennium later, the Apostle Peter, one of the Messiah's best friends quotes this Psalm, saying, "God resurrected him by loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to continue to be held fast by it. For David says respecting him...,'you will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption'"

Peter admits that David was not speaking of himself, but of the coming Messiah. To drive the point home, he continues by saying, "It is allowable to speak with freeness of speech to you concerning the family head David, that he both deceased and was buried and his tomb is among us to this day. Therefore, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one from the fruitage of his loins upon his throne, he saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption."-Acts 2:29-31

No one could deny that King David was dead and ample time had passed for his body to decay. And since David was a prophet, this could not be a false prophecy. How was it fulfilled? Peter said that it was explaining that the Messiah would be resurrected and not forsaken in Hades. Is this what happened?

"This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. Therefore because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out this which you see and hear. Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet."' Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled." (Acts 2:32-36) Yes, Jehovah God resurrected Jesus the Nazarene, Jesus the Messiah--Jesus Christ! Yet, Peter alludes to another prophecy. Let us look at that.

"Sit At My Right Hand

"The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: 'Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.'" (Psalm 110:1) This Scripture prophecy is quoted or alluded to more times then any other Scripture--between 20 and 25 times in total! What does this Scripture mean?

After Jesus died, he was resurrected three days later. Forty days after that, he went to heaven where first he presented his shed blood to Jehovah God and then he "sat down on the right of the Majesty in lofty places." (Hebrews 1:3) For nearly two thousand years, Jesus Christ was right there next to Jehovah God. One disciple, Stephen, even saw this in a vision. It went like this, "But [Stephen], being full of holy spirit, gazed into heaven and caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand, and he said: 'Look! I behold the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand.'" (Acts 7:55-56) So, according to the Psalms, Jesus died, was resurrected, and sat down at the right hand of God.

"Go Subduing In the Midst of Your Enemies"

Amazingly, the prophecy at Psalm 110 was not finished. At Psalm 110:2 Jehovah continues, "The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: 'Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.'" (Psalm 110:2) After the alloted time, Jesus Christ was to leave his spot at Jehovah's right hand and "go subduing." This was further expounded upon at Revelation 12. We read, "A great sign was seen in heaven, a woman...cries out in her pains and in her agony to give birth...And she gave birth to a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. And her child was caught away to God and to his throne."-Revelation 12:1-2, 5

What happened immediately after Jesus received his Kingdom? "War broke out in heaven: Michael* and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him." (Revelation 12:7-9) Immediately after Jesus received the kingdom, he went to war with Satan the Devil and threw him to earth from Heaven. Yes, he went subduing in the midst of his enemies! All of this was fulfilled in 1914.

When it comes to this subject, we can find out a lot more by reading Psalm 2. Part of this Psalm had a fulfillment at Jesus' death. Let us see what the Bible has to say about this.

"The Kings of the Earth Take Their Stand"

The writer of Psalm 2, King David, wrote this prophecy. It says, "Why have the nations been in tumult and the national groups themselves kept muttering an empty thing? The kings of earth take their stand and high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one, saying: 'Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!' (Psalm 2:1-3) This had a fulfillment in the first-century at the death of Jesus Christ.

These Scriptures are explained to us in a prayer recorded in the book of Acts, "Sovereign Lord, you are the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them, and who through holy spirit said by the mouth of our forefather David, your servant, 'Why did nations become tumultuous and peoples meditate upon empty things? The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one.' Even so, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with men of nations and with peoples of Israel were in actuality gathered together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed." (Acts 4:24-27) The prophecy at Psalm 2:1-3 was fulfilled at the death of the Messiah. The Jews screamed, "Impale! Impale him!", Pontius Pilate and King Herod both had a hand in putting him to death, Roman soldiers "spit into his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him in the face." Finally, even though they may not have had a hand in physically nailing him to the torture stake, they were all equally guilty.-Luke 23:11-12, 21; Matthew 26:67; 27:1, 26; Mark 15:25

None of these people, except perhaps Pontius Pilate, had any inkling that it wasn't just Jesus that they were fighting against, but his Father, Jehovah, too. It didn't matter. They were all guilty.

The second Psalm continues on. It says, (this is Jehovah speaking) "'I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.' Let me refer to the decree of Jehovah; He has said to me: 'You are my son; I, today, I have become your father.' Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces'...Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way, for his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him."-Psalm 2:6-9, 12

Remember, Jesus did not stay dead. After waiting at Jehovah's right hand, Jesus took Kingdom power. The nations will one day all belong to him. He will completely annihilate the kings from off the face of the earth. He "will break them...dash them to pieces". Only those who pay due honor to the Son will not have to face the wrath of Jehovah. The Second Psalm is very telling, although a little hard to understand.

The nations are one day going to try to fight against Jesus Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-14, 19-21) Jesus made it clear that they would not win. That will be the day when "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin...[This] kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [all nations that take a stand against Jesus at Armageddon], and it itself will stand to times indefinite."-Daniel 2:44

There is one other prophecy regarding the Messiah in the Psalms that has not been entirely fulfilled yet and is of striking interest.

"He Will Have Subjects From Sea to Sea"

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a coming paradise earth where he said, "And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful. And upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah." (Isaiah 11:1-2) The Father of the Messiah, Jehovah God, is going to be with His Son as he rules all of mankind. Jehovah's holy spirit will help him to be the best ruler that has ever or will ever live on earth.

Under his rule, all of man will live in peace with animals--and each other. (Isaiah 11:6-9) Why not read the rest of the description of Jesus Christ at Isaiah 11:3-5? What a wonderful leader we will have! And just think, all of this will happen on the earth, as spoken of in Isaiah 11:9. The earth will undergo wonderful changes that will mean peace, joy, happiness, and health for all living there!

The last Psalm that we will look at, Psalm 72, continues this thought. Regarding the Messiah we read, "He will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Before him the inhabitants of waterless regions will bow down, and his very enemies will lick the dust itself. The kings of Tarshish and of the islands--tribute they will pay. The kings of Sheba and of Seba--a gift they will present. And to him all the kings will prostrate themselves; all the nations, for their part, will serve him."-Psalm 72:8-11

First, Jesus Christ is going to bring all people into subjection to him at Armageddon when he finally returns. At that time, the changes to the earth will begin to take place. He will be a ruler that only has the best interest at heart for his subjects. We are told, "For he will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes." (Psalm 72:12-14) The personal interest that Jesus Christ will take in each individual under his care will be most comforting for all of us.

Then the scene sort of shifts from what Christ is going to do for each one of personally to what is going to happen on a world-wide basis. We read, "There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow. His fruit will be as in Lebanon, and those who are from the city will blossom like the vegetation of the earth." (Psalm 72:16) The days of malnutrition and poverty will be no more. Another Prophecy, Psalm 46, is speaking of this same time period. It adds, "He [Jehovah through Jesus] is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire."-Psalm 46:9

Yes, days are coming when wars will cease and poverty will be no more. We will finally live to see the "new heavens and a new earth." (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13) In that day we will all cry out and say these words, "Look! This is our God. We have hoped in him, and he will save us. This is Jehovah. We have hoped in him. Let us be joyful and rejoice in the salvation by him."-Isaiah 25:9

We, as Jehovah's Christian Witnesses, cannot wait for that day to come. If you would like to have a firm hope for the future, namely, living in a day when Psalms 46 and 72 will become a reality as Psalms 2, 16, and 110 already have, then Jehovah's Witnesses will be happy to help you! Yes, join with us as we truly honor both the Father and the Son.-John 5:23

*Michael the Archangel is in fact Jesus Christ in his pre-human existence. For Biblical reasons for this, please see the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? pg. 218-19 and Reasoning from the Scriptures pg. 218, both published by Jehovah's Witnesses