Prophecies Concerning the Messiah In The Old Testament (1)
That the Messiah was a historical person and event beyond dispute is a fact which no sane Christian will question or deny. The Christianity originated by Christ was neither a natural event that arose in accordance with the laws governing nature nor a human event that resulted from human actions, but, on the contrary, as an event was supernatural and due to the direct action of God, incapable of being explained on the basis of natural laws nor of the laws of human thought and activity. As a supernatural event, moreover, it is on that account wonderful, being in fact a revelation of God in the world, and for this reason it was prophesied by God and pre-announced; and it occurred precisely as it had been prophesied. God first prophesies His works, i.e., foretells what He is going to do, and afterwards does them in accordance with the prophecies made. Every word of God’s is at the end also a work, or an accomplished fact. The servants of God know or can tell from the prophecies in every period of time what work is being carried out and executed by God, so that they ca1mot be misled by false prophets. The history of the Christian event forms a most wonderful fulfilment and verification of it together with the prophecy concerning it.
Of the many prophecies that were made concerning the coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament, we cite herein a few together with a brief commentary or explanatory remark, to show the time when He was to come. Before citing the passages in question, however, we must discover the reason and purpose of the Messiah and indeed what prophecies have reference to Him.
The reason and purpose of the Messiah are to be found in the above quoted verse concerning the Holy Trinity, “Let us make man in om· image and after our likeness.” This was the great Design or Plan which God preconceived – viz., to make a perfect man both in His own image and after His own likeness, who would be the foundation and basis and purpose of the entire creation, and without whom creation would be vain. Before making this man, whom He thought of making in the future, God first preannounced this decision of His and afterwards made a prophecy concerning it:
“Let us make man in our image and after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26).
The creation of the man created is spoken of in the singular number, whereas in speaking of the dominion the verb is changed to the plural (let them have) in order to make it clear that He was going to make a perfect man and through him would make a multitude of godlike men to have dominion over the earth and all other creatures upon it.
Now, a man in the image and after the likeness of God means one who is the equal or peer of God; and such a one it is first decided to be made in the future and afterwards the making of him is prophesied; that man was the Messiah. For, with reference to Adam the Bible says the following:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27).
In this verse the phrase “after his likeness” is omitted in speaking of Adam, because he was supposed to acquire the likeness himself by observing the divine law.
Hence it is to be inferred that the imperative utterance of God “let us make man,” etc., was creative of two different men, namely, the typical and the true, the shadowy and the real, Adam and the Messiah; just as two worlds were spoken of, of which the one made first was the typical, a type and shadow of the one made later. The shadowy world passes away with the passage of time, while the true world remains in existence forever and ever. In like manner it may be said that the man who was the first in point of origin was the last in point of merit and worth. The man who was the second in point of origin, on the other hand, is: the first in point of merit and worth.
As respects the Messiah the following passages are significant:
Prophecies concerning the Messiah
“Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” And just below this it says:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27).
The Holy Trinity first thought of making a man in Its own image and after Its own likeness; actually, however, It created a man in Its own image only, namely Adam and Eve. It created a man in Its own image and after Its own likeness, namely, the God-man and our Lord Jesus Christ, or Messiah, only after five thousand and fifty-eight years. This prophecy, therefore, is the first one concerning a Messiah that was preannounced by God the Father Himself. But because of the fact that Adam was the first to be created, the reader is apt to be confused so as to be incapable of understanding that the expression “Let us make” has reference to another man and not to Adam, and consequently the reader may fail to devote sufficient attention to the passage in question to enable him to gain an insight into its true meaning. This prophecy concerning the Messiah is the foundation and basis of the entire universe of God’s creation; if this prophecy be precluded, the entire edifice of God’s creation fails of its purpose as having no raison d’etre, for the creation of the whole world was based upon and justified, so to speak, by this prophecy. The manner in which a man was to be created in the image and after the likeness of God was preannounced by God the Father in another prophecy, cited in the next paragraph.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
This prophecy is one which God made when He condemned the Serpent for deceiving Eve by telling her
“Ye shall not surely die. For God cloth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).
In the first prophecy He enigmatically preannounced merely the creation of a perfect man, while in the second prophecy he preannounced the birth of that man by a new woman at enmity with the Serpent, and that her seed would crush the Serpent’s head. The second prophecy explains and supplements the first, and so the two prophecies may be considered one.
This prophecy is a summary inclusive of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah and forms, so to speak, a receptacle of them. Therein is foretold the birth of a new man by a new woman in the image and after the likeness of God, at enmity with the Serpent and not contaminated by him, who is to knock the figurative Serpent in the head and abolish his dominion, that is to say, the dominion of sin and death. Eve did not know good and evil, and the cunning Serpent found it easy to deceive her. But the new woman knew good and evil and the deceitful suggestions of the cunning Serpent, and eschewed his evil thoughts. He was unable to lead her astray because she was at enmity with him and hostile to his suggestions.
By “seed of the Serpent” is meant the evil and wicked men who disobey God and obey the Serpent. But who is meant by “seed of the woman”? A woman has no seed. It is the man who has the seed, and through intercourse introduces it into the woman’s body for the purpose of conception and childbirth. But the prophecy in question attributes seed to the new woman. This is in truth worthy of observation, and needs to be noted with care. The new woman had a child, whom she conceived and bare without seed of man, which is to say, supernaturally and superhumanly, while still a virgin. This conception and birth was unique and exceptional, wherefore it was called “her seed.”
“He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” “He” has reference to the offspring of the woman. The pronoun “he” has the meaning of the numeral “one”; this signifies, in other words, that the son of the woman, having been conceived and born without the seed of man, is a powerful person who will knock the Serpent in the head, though he himself is knocked in the heel. The Serpent’s head is his evil thoughts and cunning designs, which Christ the Messiah frustrates by means of the light of truth, one by one. (This is narrated by St. Matthew in ,his Gospel, 4: 1-12). By “heel” is meant the body of Christ the Messiah, which after being put to death on the cross unjustly as a result of the action of the cunning Serpent called the Devil, was restored to life justly through resurrection and thereby crushed the head of the Serpent forever through the agency of God’s justice. Thenceforth the enmity and warfare, however, continues between the seed of Christ and the seed of the Devil. This prophecy was clearly fulfilled as regards the new woman, Mary the Virgin, and her Son the Messiah. (All this is narrated in the holy Gospel according to St. Luke, 1:26-39; 2:1-21).
Prophetic Promises to Abraham concerning a Messiah
“Now the Lord said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land which I will show thee; and I will make thee into a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be blessed. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the races of the earth be blessed “(Gen. 12: 1-3).
Contrary to the idolators of that period Abraham proved faithful to the true God, whom he did not even know. But God, who “trieth the hearts and reins,” knew that his heart was in the right place; and called upon hlm tor co-operation. Abraham believed implicitly in all that God told him, obeyed, came out, and settled in the place which God showed him. But Abraham was childless, because his wife Sarah was barren. Nevertheless, Abraham had moral and logical faith that wherever God so willed, the conditions of nature could be overcome and changed, and “nothing is impossible with God.” He had faith in the omnipotence and morality of God, and was confident that whatever came out of God’s mouth was sure to become realities, and such ought to be the faith of all pious persons in God.
Believing in God’s blessing and His promise that in him would be blessed all the races of the earth, Abraham begot, as promised, a son named Isaac when he himself was a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. God then called upon Abraham to sacrifice this only-begotten son to God as an example of love for all future generations. Abraham unhesitatingly took his only-begotten son Isaac and was about to sacrifice him for love of God, but just as he brandished his knife to carry out the sacrifice, he heard a voice forbidding the human sacrifice and saying,
“Abraham, Abraham,” and he said, “Here I am,” whereupon the voice said, “Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is called to this day. In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou has done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son,- thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen. 22:11-18).
This prophecy promised Abraham two seeds, a carnal and a spiritual seed: the carnal seed was his sons Isaac and Ishmael, wllo typified the starry (heavenly) and the sandy (earthly) seed, respectively, while the spiritual seed was Christ the Messiah. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” How? Through faith in Christ the Messiah, who is a child of Abraham, because the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was descended from Abraham; and all the nations are blessed by virtue of their faith in and obedience to Christ the Messiah.
The fulfilment of this prophecy is therefore an indisputable fact, inasmuch as it is already in progress and course of realization, since it can be seen by everyone that only those nations are blessed which have accepted and believed Christ.
(to be continued)