Accumulated Prophets

On a world far away in the distant future, humans had colonized a nice little moon, and when the chemical resources of that moon had been determined too small to support technology, the humans left it, turning the entire moon into a nature preserve.

Many years later, there was a dingo who became curious about humans. He had heard that a dog is a human's best friend, but he had never seen a human, so he began to do some research into this mythological creature.

"They are strange looking animals." a deer told him. "They have legs like a bears but arms like a lizard's."

So a human was half bear, half lizard. Then the dingo learned a little more from an old elephant. "They stand like a kangaroo but walk like an ostrich." she told him.

Now the dog was getting confused. Could this kangaroo-ostrich also be a human?

"They cover themselves like hermit crabs." said a seal.

"They have a mane like a lion." said a beaver. "But skin like a pig."

"They have hands like mine." said a rat. "But a funny downturned nose like a tapir."

"They speak like parrots." a rabbit told him. "And they're as smart as dolphins."

By now, the dingo's head was reeling with all of the contradictory information. How could this creature be like a bear, a lizard, a kangaroo, an ostrich, a crab, a lion, a pig, a tapir, a rat, a parrot and a dolphin? It just didn't make sense!

Then one day a spacecraft came down out of the sky. The dingo, always curious, went to investigate, saw a bizarre animal coming out of the spacecraft and knew instantly that it was a human. All of the information which had seemed contradictory suddenly all fit into place, and he knew that this was the one who he had been searching for.

I often wonder what it must have been like for the prophets of old writing about the Messiah. They didn't necessarily know what they were writing about. They wrote what God told them to write. Because of this, I'm sure many of them had a very incomplete picture of just who the Messiah would be.

Today, we're going to look at the writings of eight old testament prophets and look at the things they wrote about the coming Messiah.

The very first messianic prophecy in the bible comes to us courtesy of Moses. In Genesis 3:15, he writes God said, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel. Here' God is describing the kind of victory Christ would have over Satan. Satan would have a minor and very temporary victory, after which the messiah would destroy him. It is also the first promise that the messiah would be a human, the son of a human woman.

It's not clear whether Moses had any real understanding of just who the Mesiah would be or what he would do. what he did know is that this promised one would bless the entire world, and that he would be a decendant of Abraham (Gen 12:3) Isaac (17:19) Jacob (21:12) and Judah (49:10). These promises are proven to be fulfilled by the genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.

Moses didn't really have any idea that the very events he lived through and the traditions which he personally instituted would be a symbol of the life of the coming Messiah. Of course, he knows it now.

In the book of 2 Samuel, Nathan further narrows the lineage of the Messiah to David. He promises that a son of David would be on the throne forever. It's not clear that Nathan even knew he was talking about the Messiah. He might have believed that he was simply talking about a human descendant. This prophect doesn't really begin to show us any real detail until we couple it with Isaiah 9:6,7 or Jeremiah 23:5... but that's for later.

King David in turn prophecied a great many things about the Messiah, but again, he might not have even realized he was talking about the Messiah. In Psalm 2, David could easily have been talking about himself, But if we look really closely, we can see that this is not about David. He didn't recieve the ends of the Earth as his inheritance, nor did he rule all the nations of the world with an iron scepter. I imagine that David must often have looked at such psalms and said to himself "Why in the world did I write that?"

But we know, don't we?

Unfortunately, a great many people, hebrews especially, have latched onto this promise that the Messiah would be a king, to the exclusion of all else. In Jesus' day, Israel was looking for the son of David to be a military leader who would free them from Rome. They wanted a warrior. Certainly, we have a promise of Christ coming as a warrior, but that was not His purpose on his first visit to Earth. As a result, many of them became disenchanted with their Messiah before they even looked to see what His other roles would be.

David himself writes more prophecies about Christ's roles. (By the way, "Christ" means "Messiah", so I use them interchangably.) He prophecied that Christ would be a pariah, hated and scorned by the world. Hated without cause (Ps 69:4), Rejected by His own people (Ps 69:8), Plotted against by both jew and gentile (Ps 2:1,2), Betrayed by a friend (41:9, 55:12-24) mocked (22:7,8), and given vinegar to drink (69:21). But he also prophecied that Christ would be a priest (110:4), adored by great persons (72:10) and would do wonderful good deeds (72:12,14) while it may look as though David was praying for his son, Solomon, there are prophecies here which Solomon never fulfilled. Solomon didn't rule forever. He didn't last as long as the moon. It is here that David is naming the Messiah as the eternal king.

I wonder if he had any inkling what he was prophecying.

(Just a note: David did not write the entire book of Psalms, but it is traditional in Hebrew culture to attribute prophecies to the main author of a book. Certainly, David knew of the remaining psalms.)

David's son, Solomon, likewise may not have even realized when he wrote prophecies. In Psalm 30:4, Solomon prophecies that the "Holy One" would be one with intimate knowledge of God, having descended from Heaven. He also prophecies that this Holy One would be the son of the creator, Himself involved in creation. All this from a statement of Solomon's own ignorance.

Isaiah was one prophet who was truly blessed with a more complete knowledge of the Messiah than any who had come before. His prophecies are quite detailed and extensive. He knew that Christ was to be the king (Isaiah 9:6,7) and God (same verse) and priest (11:2) Both warrior (11:4) and bringer of peace (11:6) And an object of scorn as David had predicted (49:7) who would yet be adored by kings and emperors (same verse) But that He would also be a sacrifice. (Chapter 53)

One cannot look at Isaiah chapter 53 and do any actual thinking without coming to the realization that Jesus is in fact this Messiah. This is why many rabbis forbid their congregations to read this chapter.

Zechariah adds some understanding to this prophecy of the Messiah as a sacrifice when he makes these predictions: That Israel would pierce God's flesh (12:10), That He would be forsaken by His disciples (13:7) and that He would be sold for 30 pieces of silver (11:12)

Though I could not find it in the bible, I am told that there is a special significance to the thirty pieces of silver. This was the prescribed dowry which a man was to give to his bride's family. With his life valued at thirty pieces of silver, Jesus gave his life to purchase His bride, which is us.

Micah adds another piece to the puzzle. In Micah 5:2, He declares that the Messiah would not only live forever, but would have pre-existed His own birth, having been around in ancient times. In the same verse, he tells us that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. How exciting for Micah! He was the one who had been chosen to tell the world exactly where they should be watching for the Messiah. As we'll see in upcoming messages, this bit of information was not ignored.

Then there is Malachi. His prophecy in Malachi 3:1 forward names the Messiah as the Lord himself, but also gives a very vital clue- "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me." When a herald came to prepare the way of the Lord, the Messiah would appear suddenly. Though it did not happen for another four hundred years, those years must have been an exciting time for those who were watching for the Messiah's coming.

We are blessed to be living in a time where we can see how the many prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus. Though the information must have seemed confusing and even contradictory to the people of the Old Testament, we can see how Jesus is God, king, priest, pariah, warrior, peacemaker and sacrifice all in one person.

There are over 400 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Mesiah. The odds of any one person fulfilling them all by accident are about 10 to the power of 17 to one against. That's a hundred quadrillion to one against.

This week, my challenge to the saved and unsaved is the same- to examine the evidence of the old testament and understand that Jesus really is who we say He is. To the unsaved, He is the sacrifice that was given for you to redeem you and reconcile you to God. I urge you to accept His atonement today. For those who have accepted His sacrifice, He is our councilor, the Prince of Peace, Mighty God and Everlasting Father. He is the warrior who defends us, our priest who intercedes for us, and he is the big brother who knows our suffering because He has suffered every bit as much as we have. As we look ahead to the Christmas season and commemorating the birth of the Messiah, let's be mindful of and thankful for exactly what an awesome gift He is.

Pastor Oren Otter
November 12, 2005