MESSIAH: HIS NATURE AND PERSON
"Man is incurably religious." The proof for this statement is seen on every hand. Man's need of and utter dependence upon the Supreme Being is in evidence among all races. In crises, especially in the hour of death, does this innate feeling express itself. Instinctively in these moments of helplessness men call upon God for assistance and deliverance. This feeling, therefore, is a part of man's nature. God, who created man, planted the spirit of worship in his breast. He, the benevolent Being, has undoubtedly prepared everything that meets this heart-yearning. The Scriptures tell us that the One who can meet the longings of the human heart is the Messiah of Israel of whom we read throughout the Old Testament, which to our Jewish friends is known as the Tenach. To it, then, we must turn to see what God has to say concerning His Messiah and our Saviour.
In this message I shall first call attention to the teaching found in the Old Testament and then turn to that which is presented in the New. We shall investigate the Old Testament and view very briefly the outstanding promises concerning King Messiah and His coming.
In Genesis 3:15 we find the first prediction relative to the Saviour of the world, called "the seed of the woman." In this original oracle God foretold the age-long conflict which would be waged between "the seed of the woman" and "the seed of the serpent" and which will eventually be won by the former. This primitive promise indicates a struggle between the Messiah of Israel, the Saviour of the world, on one hand, and Satan, the adversary of the human soul, on the other. It foretells complete victory eventually for the Messiah.
An echo of this promise and Eve's understanding of it is found in Genesis 4:1the statement of Eve when Cain, her first son, was born. "I have gotten a man even Jehovah." She correctly understood this primitive prediction but misapplied it in her interpreting it as being fulfilled in Cain, her son. It is clear that Eve believed that the child of promise would be Jehovah Himself. Some old Jewish commentators used to interpolate the word angel in this passage and say that Eve claimed that her son was "the angel of Jehovah." There is no ground for this assertion.
When Noah was born Lamech had a vision granted to him of the Lord. He called his newborn son Noah, exclaiming that he would "comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, which cometh because of the ground which Jehovah hath cursed." In this vision it is quite evident that Lamech saw the great work which his son would accomplish for humanity; but the picture of the deliverance which would be wrought by Noah melts into that which will be accomplished by Him whom Noah typifiednamely, the real Deliverer who will lift the curse at His second coming and will restore the earth to its primitive condition.
The Messiah of Israel is spoken of as "the seed of Abraham" in the promise which the Lord made to this patriarch. This is found in Genesis 12:1-3 and in the passages strewn throughout the book of Genesis which are echoes of this original oracle. The Hebrews from the time of Abraham onward correctly understood that the world-deliverer would come of Hebrew parentage.
In his vision of the condition of his sons in the latter days the patriarch declared:
"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh come;
And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be." (Genesis 49:10)
This passage is recognized both by Jews and by Christians as a prediction concerning the coming of King Messiah. According to this verse, the Deliverer of the world comes of the tribe of Judah. He makes His first appearance while the power and the supremacy remain with that tribe. Since that authority passed away from Judah in the overthrow of the Hebrew race in 70 A.D., we may be absolutely certain that Messiah appeared before that time. From this conclusion there can be no escape.
According to this promise, Messiah is the One who has the right to reign. All other monarchs and rulers occupy their positions until King Messiah makes His second appearance who at that time will mount the throne of David and reign over the restored earth.
King Messiah is likewise called the seed of David in such a pivotal passage as II Samuel 7. Thus the promise is narrowed down to the family of the great ideal king of Israel.
Isaiah the prophet spoke of this same Deliverer as being born of a virgin: "behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." This passage is a commentary on that found in Genesis 3:15 which says that Messiah is to be "the seed of the woman."
That the word translated virgin means what we understand by that term today I have clearly shown in my book, Messiah: His Nature and Person. To this very important theme I have devoted forty-eight pages of critical study; hence I refer the reader to this volume for a further discussion upon this most important theme.
Another glimpse of King Messiah found in the Hebrew Scriptures is to be seen in Isaiah 9:6: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." From this verse it is evident that King Messiah is God who enters the world by virgin birth and who is destined to reign over the earth. According to Micah's prophecy (5:2), the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of the world makes His advent into the human sphere at Bethlehem of Judah.
From these passages which we have examined, we learn that the Hebrew Scriptures present King Messiah as "the seed of the woman," "Shiloh" of Jacob's prophecy, "the seed of David," and a Son born of a virgin. It is now proper for us to look at the New Testament teaching and ascertain what it has to say on the subject.
The Gospel of Matthew was written primarily by that apostle for the Hebrews. Good news concerning the Messiah is set forth in this record in language that is easily understood by this people. In this connection let me say that, though it is clothed in phraseology readily understandable by the Jewish people, it has its message for all, because the gospel is good news for all peoples.
In the first chapter we have an account of the birth of Jesus Christ of the Virgin Mary. Matthew shows us that the passage found in Isaiah 7:14 which I have already quoted was literally fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Before Joseph took Mary, to whom he was betrothed, to himself as his wife, he became alarmed at her condition, realizing that she was an expectant mother. To allay his fears an angel of the Lord was dispatched who appeared in a dream and explained the entire situation:
"But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Now all this is come to pass that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,
And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us"
From this passage of Holy Scripture we see that the prophecy of Isaiah was literally fulfilled in the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. That Mary was a true virgin is the testimony of the four gospel writers together with others of the New Testament.
The opening words of the New Testament declare that the Gospel of Matthew is "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." This verse immediately links the history of the Lord Jesus Christ with the promise which God made to Abraham and renewed to David. Hence Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of these two outstanding promises.
In further confirmation that Jesus of Nazareth is the One promised to David I wish to quote the statement of the angel Gabriel which he made to Mary:
"And the angel said unto her, Fear not Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in they womb and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:30-33).
From these verses it is very clear that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the One to mount the throne of David and to reign over the house of Jacob, extending his reign even to the ends of the earth.
The Apostle John in the first chapter of his Gospel spoke very plainly concerning the nature and the person of the Hebrew Messiah by declaring that, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." A glance at the entire Gospel of John shows us very conclusively that King Messiah is none other than God in human form.
In this message, dear friend, I have simply called your attention briefly to the thread of teaching which runs through the sacred Scriptures concerning the nature and the person of King Messiah. He is God who enters the world by Virgin Birth and who gives His life a ransom for all.
Will you not then, if you have not accepted the gracious provision made for your eternal happiness and salvation, receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour now? You can neither merit nor work out your salvation. That has been graciously provided for you by the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed upon Calvary's Cross nineteen hundred years ago. All you have to do is accept Him as your Sacrifice and by faith turn to God who under no conditions will cast you off. It is impossible for God to reject His Son whom He sent to be the propitiation for your sins and for mine. Will you not accept Him, therefore, as you read this message and come out boldly for Him and confess Him before men and follow Him as your Lord and Saviour, giving your life to Him? may you make this decision, is my sincere, earnest prayer.