Thursday, April 23, 2009

Messiah, Pt. 4: We Have Found the Messiah

We now come to the point where we have reviewed some of the more outstanding prophecies concerning the Messiah. And yet, one prophecy has been saved until now. The 70 Weeks of Years (or, 483 Years prophecy). What is this prophecy?

"And you should know and have the insight that from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks. She will return and be actually rebuilt, with a public square and moat, but in the straits of the times."-Daniel 9:25

The command to rebuild Jerusalem was issued in 455 B.C.E.[1] This is found in the book of Nehemiah 2, which says in part, "If to the king it does seem good, and if your servant seems good before you, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of the burial places of my forefathers, that I may rebuild it." After receiving permission, the king sends official letters with Nehemiah so that Nehemiah can get help and not be stopped with his building. (Nehemiah 2:1-8) So, if we calculate 483 years from 455 B.C.E., we fall on 29 C.E., the exact year that Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in the Jordan River. In those days, the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament) tells us, "the people were in a state of expectancy." (Luke 3:15, Complete Jewish Bible) They knew that the Messiah was due to arrive. Was the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth of any significance? It is.

Many people throughout the world look to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Are they unreasonable for that? Let us look at some of the things that Jesus Christ did in his lifetime to see if these fulfilled the many prophecies mentioned in the Tanakh.

His Early Life

Two thousand years ago, a young child was born, just like in the prophecy at Isaiah 9:6. Jesus Christ, that child, was born in the city of Bethlehem, David's city. This wasn't something that his mother worked very hard to accomplish, she was more or less forced to be in that city. How did she come to be there?

"A decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered...and all people went traveling to be registered, each one to his own city. Of course, Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because of his being a member of the house and family of David, to get registered with Mary, who had been given him in marriage as promised, at present heavy with child. While they were there, the days came to the full for her to give birth."-Luke 2:1-7

So, events were manuevered for Jesus of Nazareth to be born in the exact city that Micah prophesied. Another event that happened when Jesus was a young child is also of interest. Knowing the prophecies concerning the Messiah, King Herod was afraid that he was close to being overthrown. So, what happened?

Well, Herod wanted to kill the young boy, even lying to some men so that they would inform him of where the child was. (Matthew 2:8) However, an angel commanded those men not to reveal the whereabouts of the boy. (Matthew 2:12) An angel then appeared to Joseph, the childs father, and commanded him to run into Egypt. This fulfilled a prophecy in Hosea, where Matthew quotes, "Out of Egypt I called my son."-Matthew 2:15; Hosea 11:1

The Bible continues to report, "Herod, seeing he had been outwitted by the astrologers, fell into a great rage, and he sent out and had all the boys in Bethlehem and in all its districts done away with, from two years of age and under, according to the time that he had carefully ascertained from the astrologers." (Matthew 2:16) This fulfilled the prophecy at Jeremiah 31:15.

His Ministry

In the book of Malachi, it is prophesied about the Messiah that he will have a forerunner, that Elijah will come first. (Malachi 3:1; 4:5) Isaiah says that this one will prepare the way before the Messiah, crying out as a voice in the wilderness. (Isaiah 40:3) Mark reports that this was Yochanan the Immerser [John the Baptizer]. (Mark 1:2-4) Further, the light that was supposed to shine in Naphtali and Zebulun also came through the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible reports, "Further, after leaving Nazareth, he came and took up residence in Capernaum beside the sea in the districts of Zebulun and Naphtali." (Matthew 4:13) This fulfilled Isaiah 9:1-2.

Throughout his life, the Messiah preached, even saying that this was the very reason that he was sent forth. (Luke 4:43) He began this preaching ministry after the spirit of God came upon him. (Matthew 3:16-17) This fulfilled Isaiah 61:1-2.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things that the Messiah was supposed to do was heal many people. (Isaiah 35:5-6) This was being accomplished, for he himself said, "The blind are seeing again, and the lame are walking about, the lepers are being cleansed and the deaf are hearing, and the dead are being raised up, and the poor are having the good news declared to them."-Matthew 11:5

The prophecies concerning the life and ministry of the Messiah are numerous. We could discuss many, many more but we now come to the last stage the life of Jesus--His death.

His Death

Isaiah the prophet was inspired to write in detail about the suffering and death of the Messiah. However, one verse that stands out above all the rest is Isaiah 53:5. How was the mysterious prophecy fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ?

Well, Jesus Christ himself said, "The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many." (Matthew 20:28) As humans, we are all sinners with death as a just punishment for that. (Romans 5:12) However, since the Messiah was a perfect man, he was able to die and pay back what Adam lost--perfection and everlasting life!-1 Corinthians 15:22

When Jesus Christ was executed, many things happened at his death. He was spit upon and slapped, just like it was prophesied in the Tanakh. (Matthew 26:67) The last prophecy that had to be fulfilled during the last day of the Messiah was the one David wrote at Psalm 69:21. David said that they would try to give the Messiah vinegar to drink. John tells us that this is what happened. "After this, when Jesus knew that by now all things had been accomplished, in order that the scripture might be accomplished he said: 'I am thirsty.' A vessel was sitting there full of sour wine. Therefore they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a hyssop stalk and brought it to his mouth. When, now, he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: 'It has been accomplished!' and, bowing his head, he delivered up his spirit." (John 19:28-30) John then mentions two other prophecies that Jesus fulfilled: Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10. Before, these prophecies were not understood by the Jews.-John 19:36-37

All of the prophecies, down to the smallest, most insignificant one, was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. If you put your trust in him, would you be a loner? No. Two people in the first century, Andrew and Nathanel, both realized that Jesus was the Messiah, Andrew even saying, "We have found the Messiah!" (John 1:41) Nathanel was a little more skeptical to begin with.

"Now Philip was from Bethsaida, from the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him: 'We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.' But Nathanael said to him: 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him: 'Come and see.' Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him: "See, an Israelite for a certainty, in whom there is no deceit." Nathanael said to him: 'How does it come that you know me?' Jesus in answer said to him: 'Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you.' Nathanael answered him: 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.'" (John 1:44-49) Like Andrew and Nathanael, you too can come to realize that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the Most High God, Jehovah.

In all of the world, millions of Jehovah's Witnesses are preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, just as Jesus commanded. (Matthew 29:19-20) We are doing this with the aid of the holy spirit. (Acts 1:8) If you would like to learn more about the Messiah Jesus Christ and the One who sent him, Jehovah's Witnesses would be glad to help you.

[1] Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 pg. 900 pp. 4-6