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Thinkapologetics.com

August18,2012chab123

WhyshouldwestudyMessianicProphecy?
a.MessianicprophecyshouldbestudiedtoshowusGodissovereigninthemidstofachaoticandunstable
world.Hence,Godisworkingintheaffairsofmankind.
b.MessianicprophecyremindsusthatGodhasaredemptiveplanforIsraelandthenations.
c.Messianicprophecyshouldmotivateustoholyliving.Itshouldalsocausetoreevaluateourpriorities.If
GodhasbroughttheMessiahintotheworldtobringredemption,HewillbringHimbacktocompletethe
messianictask.
WhatistheRelationshipBetweenMessianicProphecyandApologetics?
a.Apologeticsisthebranchoftheologythatisconcernedwithdefendingorprovingthetruthofbeliefin
Jesus;formalargumentationindefenseofsomething,suchasapositionorsystem.
b.TheBibleisconsideredtobeGodsrevelationtomankind.However,TheQuran,TheBookofMormon,
andotherholybooksareconsideredtobeGodsword.Messianicprophecyhasapologeticvalueinthatit
confirmstheBibleasatruerevelation.
c.HistoricalVerification:HasGodrevealedHimselfinthecourseofhumanhistory?Ifso,whenandwhere
hasHedonethis?
d.WhileprophecydoesnotprovetheexistenceofGod,itdoesshowthatunusualeventspredictedinhis
Namethatcometopassareevidenceofhisspecialactivity.
e.Fulfilledprophecyisadistinctivelyaccessibleandatestablekindofmiracle.Theprophecywasmade
anditsaccuracycannotbeexplainedeithercausally(forexample,onthegroundthatitbroughtaboutits
ownfulfillment)orasaccidental,andhencethatitwasprobablymiraculous(seeJ.L.MackieinSwinburne,
Miracles,90).
f.ThemajorityoftheJewishcommunitythinkstheMessiahhasnotcome.Isthiscorrect?

Howdowedefineprophecy?
a.Prophecyistheforetellingorpredictionofwhatistocome.Peoplegenerallythinkofonlyprediction
fulfillment.NoteverythingcalledprophecyintheBibleispredictive.ProphetsforthtoldGodsWordas
wellasforetoldthefuture.
b.Aprophet(Heb.nabi)isanauthorizedspokespersonforGodwithamessagethatoriginatedwithGod
andwascommunicatedthroughanumberofmeans.WhenGodspoketothesespokespersons,theyhadno
choicebuttodeliverthatwordtothosetowhomGoddirectedit.
WhatdoesthewordMessianicmean?
a.MessianichasamuchwiderrangeofmeaningthanMessiah.Messianicusuallyrefersto
everythingintheHebrewBiblewhenitreferstothehopeofagloriousfuture.
b.MessiahAnointedOne(Heb.messiah),(Gk.Christos)isderivedfromverbsthathavethegeneral
meaningoftorubsomethingor,morespecifically,toanointsomeone.
c.TheHebrewBiblerecordstheanointingwithoilofpriests(Exod29:19),kings(1Sam10:1;2Sam
2:4;1Kings1:34),andsometimesprophets(1Kings19:16b)asasignoftheirspecialfunctioninthe
Jewishcommunity.Also,whenGodanointedorauthorizedforleadership,inmanycasesheprovidedthe
empoweringoftheHolySpirittodocompletethetask(1Sam.16:13;Isa.61:1).However,justbecause
someonewasanointedintheOldTestamenttoperformaspecifictaskdoesntmeantheyarethe
Messiah.
d.Themessianicconceptalsohasawiderdimensionthantheroyal,priestly,and/orpropheticperson.
Includedinthiswiderviewaresomeofthecharacteristics,tasks,goals,means,andconsequencesofthe
messianicperson.
e.Tounderstandmessianism,weneedtofirststartbyreadingtheBiblebutalsoreadextrabiblicalJewish
literatureincludingtheApocrypha,TheOldTestamentPseudepigrapha,Philo,Josephus,andtheDeadSea
Scrolls,TheTargumim,etc,(seeCraigAEvans:IntroductiontoAncientTextsforNewTestament
Studies:AGuidetotheBackgroundLiterature).
f.OthernameswereusedtodescribethemessianicpersonotherthantheMessiah.Someofthenames
includeSonofDavid,SonofGod,SonofMan,Prophet,ElectOne,Servant,Prince,Branch,Root,Scepter,
Star,ChosenOne,andComingOne.

WhataretheVariousTypesofMessianicProphecy?
1.TherearepromisesabouttheFirstComingofJesusDirectPropheciesNote:Allthesetextsmust
bestudiedincontextandknowingsomeHebrewhelpsaswell.
a.Torah:(Gen3:15;22;18;49:812;Deut18:1519)
b.Prophets:(Isaiah7:117;8:910;9:67;11:12;35:56;40:3542:16;49:113;50:49;52:1353:12
Isaiah61:13;Jer:23:56;Micah5:2;Zech:11:117;12;10;13:7;Mal.3:1)
c.Writings:(1Chron.17:10b14;Psalm2:712;16:111;22:131;110:17;118:22;Dan.7:1314;9:127)
2.ProphecythathasTypologicalFulfillment
a.ThewordfulfilltheGreekwordforfulfillispleroowhichcanmeanrenderfull,fillupor
completeitmeanssomethingbroaderthanthecompletionofaprediction.Anexampleofthisisseen
inMatt5:17fulfillmentisseeninembodying,bringingtocompletion,orperfecting.
Someofthefeaturesoftypologyarethefollowing:
1.Theprophetsdidnotsomuchmakesingularpredictionsbutgavethemesorpatternsandthatthese
themeshaveseveralmanifestationsorfulfillmentsinthecourseofhumanhistory.
2.Thetypeandtheantitypehaveanaturalcorrespondenceorresemblance.Theinitialoneiscalledthe
type(e.g.,person,thing,event)andthefulfillmentisdesignatedtheantitype..
3.Thetypehashistoricalreality(e.g.,PauldeclaresthatAdamisafigure(atype)ofhimthatwasto
come,i.e.,theMessiah).
4.Thetypeisaprefiguringorforeshadowingoftheantitype.Itispredictive/prophetic;itlooksaheadand
pointstotheantitype.
Onesmallpieceofadvice:ChristianscanabusetypologybylookingfortypesallovertheHebrewBible
andsayingtheypointtoJesus.Soweneedtoexperiencesomecautioninthisarea.
LetslookatRomans1:15
Paul,abondservantofChristJesus,calledasanapostle,setapartforthegospelofGod,whichHe

promisedbeforehandthroughHisprophetsintheholyScriptures,concerningHisSon,whowasbornofa
descendantofDavidaccordingtotheflesh,whowasdeclaredtheSonofGodwithpowerbythe
resurrectionfromthedead,accordingtotheSpiritofholiness,JesusChristourLord,throughwhomwe
havereceivedgraceandapostleshiptobringabouttheobedienceoffaithamongalltheGentilesforHis
namessake,amongwhomyoualsoarethecalledofJesusChrist;toallwhoarebelovedofGodinRome,
calledassaints:GracetoyouandpeacefromGodourFatherandtheLordJesusChrist.
Weseethefollowing:
Paulsaysthroughtheresurrection,Jesusisinstalled(byGod)astheSonofGod(Rom.1:4).Paulisnot
sayingJesusisbeingappointedasTheSonofGodisachangeinJesusessense.Theappointmentisnotin
termsofhisnaturebutintermsofhisworkasamediatorthemessianicagehasdawned.JesusistheLord
theantitypeoftheprevioussonsintheOldTestament(Adam,David,Israel).
3.ProphecythatshowsPropheticTelescoping:ThesePropheciesBridgetheFirstandSecond
ComingoftheMessiah
PropheticTelescopingisprophecythatbridgestheFirstandSecondComingsoftheMessiah.Inthisway,
prophecytelescopesforwardtoatime.Theprophetssawfutureeventsasdistantpeaks(i.e.,events)
withoutanawarenessofthelargetimegapsbetweenthem.Also,theprophetsunderstoodthathistoryhad
twomajorperiodsthepresentageandtheagetocomealthoughtheydidnotalwaysmakeahard
distinctionbetweenthetwo.PropheticTelescopingstressesprogressiverevelationwhichmeansthatGod
doesnotrevealeverythingatonce.
Example:Psalm2:DoesJesushaveuniversaldominionoverthenations?Wemustrememberthatpartof
Psalm2isnotfulfilled.Thisiswhatwecallprophetictelescoping.Psalm2isoneofseveraltextsinthe
HebrewBiblewherepartofthetextisfulfilledinthefirstappearanceofJesus.Butthereisanotherpart
thatwillbefulfilledinthefuture.Inthissense,Jesuswillreturnandestablishtheearthly,nationalaspectof
thekingdomofGod(Is.9:6;Amos9:11;Dan.2:44;7:1314;27;Is.11:1112;24:23;Mic.4:14;
Zech.14:19;Matt.26:6364;Acts1:611;3:1926).Inotherwords,onedaytheMessiahwillbeKingover
Hispeople(Matt.19:28).
WhatroledopresuppositionsplayintheunderstandingMessianicProphecy?
a.Apresuppositionissomethingassumedorsupposedinadvance
b.WhetherornotcertainpassagesareclearlyMessianicdependuponwhatthepreconceivedideaofthe
reader.
c.IstheroleoftheMessiahtoenabletheJewishpeopletodwellsecurelyinthelandofIsrael(Is.11:1112;
43:56;Jer.23:58;Mic.5:46),andusherinaperiodofworldwidepeace?
d.IstheroleofMessiahtoputanendtoalloppression,sufferinganddisease(Is.2:122;25:8;65:25;
Mic.4:14)andcreateapathwayforuniversalworshiptotheGodofIsrael(Zeph.3:9;Zech.9:16;14:9)?
e.IstheroleoftheMessiahtobeapriestandking?IsHesupposedtohaveanatoningrole?

WhatAboutInterpretiveIssueswithMessianicProphecy?
a.InmanycasesprophecymayonlybeunderstandablebytruebelieversundertheguidanceoftheHoly
Spirit(e.g.Luke24:45;John12:16).
b.Messianicprophecyisnotaseriesofindependentprognostications,butaseriesofpromises.Thereis
oneMessianicpromise,whichisrevealedandexpandedonthroughouttheHebrewBible(seeWalter
KaisersTheMessiahintheOldTestament).
c.EachpassageintheHebrewBiblemustbeexaminedinitsowncontextandonitsownterms.So
Messianicprophecyisonepromisedevelopedinaprogressiveseriesofrevelationsratherthanseveral
disjointedpredictions.Forexample,inIsaiah11,weseenomentionofthewordMessiah.However,we
seeanamefortheMessiah(Branch).Isa.1011formsasymmetricalliteraryunit.Isaiahwaswriting
aboutthefactthatonceGoddisciplinedthesinfulhouseofAssyria(10:134),Hezekiahwouldbringa
goldenageofprosperityandpeace.TherewasapartialfulfillmentofthispredictioninthatGoddidrescue
JerusalemfromSennacheribin701B.C,thankstothefaithofHezekiah.ButhisalliancewithMerodach
Baladan,kingofBabylonandthisledtohecaptivity(Isa39:180).Isaiahthoughttherewouldbeand
socialreligiouschangewiththeroyalanointingorbirthofHezekiah.ButwhenwereadIsa11withinthe
contextoftherestofthebookofIsaiah,weseeifwhathewroteaboutwasnotfulfilledinhisday,itsentire
fulfillmentwouldgobeyondtheexile.
d.RememberthedualaspectofMessiahsworkasactuallytwocomingsofMessiah(thefirsttimetosuffer
andthesecondtimetoreign).InLuke24:2527Jesussays,WasitnotnecessaryforMessiahtosuffer
thesethingsandtoenterintoHisglory.Alsosee1Peter1:1011.
ThemesThatHelpinInterpretingMessianicProphecy:
a.PromiseTheme:TheNTusesthewordpromisetorefertothemessageoftheHebrewBible,butthe
HebrewBibleitselfdoesnothaveaconsistenttermtorefertothisconcept.Aclusterofwordsisused,such
asoath,word,blessing,promise,andothers(SeeKaisersMessiahintheOldTestament).
b.WalterKaisernotesthatthesubstanceofthis`promisewasmostfrequently,butnotexclusively,
embodiedinthecontentofthevariouscovenants.Hefurtheraddsthatthepromisealsoincludesthese
concepts:thatthegospelwasalsoforGentilesthegiftoftheHolySpirittheresurrectionfromthe
deadredemptionfromsinJesustheMessiah.(seeWalterC.Kaiser,Jr.,TowardRediscoveringthe
OldTestament(GrandRapids,Michigan:Zondervan,1987).
II.MissionintheBibleTheme:
a.TherewasauniversalpurposeinGodselectionofAbrahamandofthepeopleofIsrael.Theywere
calledandbroughtintoexistencebecauseofGodsmissionarypurposefortheblessingofthenations.
Indeed,GodscommitmenttoIsraelispredicatedonhiscommitmenttohumanityasawhole.
b.Israelhasanethical,prophetic,priestly,andkinglyrolethisistiedtotheroleoftheMessiah.

c.TheReignofGodthemeisveryhelpfulaswell.Ihavetouchedonthatissuehere: