“O Lord, I had listened to thy voice, and became afraid; I comprehended thy works, and was amazed and fell into an ecstasy. In the middle of two animals thou shalt be known, by the approach of thy years shalt thou be fully recognized, when the time comes thou shalt be exalted; when my soul is disturbed, in thy wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:1). [Note. – This verse, woefully mistranslated, appears in the ordinary English version of the Bible as verse 2, from which, however, the greater part of it is missing!]
Habakkuk the prophet, having obeyed God’s law ever since childhood, feared the Lord, because “the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord.” It was for this reason that he received the gift of prophecy and was enabled to prophecy concerning Christ the Messiah. The prophet’s soul was amazed and fell into an ecstasy when he learned beforehand of His birth, wherefore he says: “In the middle of two animals thou shalt be known.” The two rational animals between whom the Messiah became known were the holy Virgin and Joseph the just, for He first became known to the shepherds of Bethlehem in the middle of the two animals, Joseph and Mary; and later to the Magi, or wise men of the East; to Zacharias and Elizabeth; again, Simeon and Anna, the former a just. and devout man, and the latter a prophetess, likewise came to know the God who was the leader of life, whom they beheld for the first time in the temple, between the two (human) animals in question.
The sentence “by the approach of thy years shalt thou be fully recognized” has reference to the fact it was when He was about to end the years of His life on the earth that He became known and fully recognized by His disciples: St. Peter, indeed, frankly confessed aloud: “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” When the appointed time came, as above predicted, He was exalted upon the Cross and thereby made the object of worldwide renown. The sentence “in thy wrath remember mercy” has reference to the time when God, in wrath, darkened the sun and quaked the earth, and rent the veil of the temple, but nevertheless remembered to show mercy in spite of His wrath, for He did not destroy the crucifiers but merely frightened them in order to convince them that they had in truth crucified His Son, whom they had hanged upon a wooden cross until He gave up the spirit to God.
But the expression “two animals” can also be conceived as intended to signify two peoples, to-wit, the Jews and the Greeks, for it was in the middle of these peoples that Christ came to be known to the other peoples of the earth, through the logical law of contradiction, since the Jewish people condemned Christ the Messiah to death as a false prophet and deceiver of the people, whereas the Greeks honored and glorified Him as “a true God of a true God,” i.e., as a God in reality and as having been begotten of the real God. In accordance with the logical axiom that two contradictory sentences or judgments cannot both be true nor both be false, one of them must necessarily be true and the other necessarily be false. In this case the faith and judgment of the Greek people has been proved true by the prophecies being fulfilled which had predicted the nature and character of Christ the Messiah, as well as His sufferings and death and His resurrection from the grave; accordingly, the contrary judgment of the Jewish people, who refused to obey and accept the divine words of the gospel, but, on the contrary, denied and argued against them, must of logical necessity be considered false and be false in reality, because it contradicts the holy prophets.
“And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephrathah, thou art but a few of the thousands of Judah; yet out of thee shall he come forth to me who is to be the ruler of Israel, and whose forthcomings have been since the beginning, from the days of the first age” (Micah 5:2).
When the Magi, or wise men of the East, came to Jerusalem seeking to learn where Christ had been born, they were told:
“In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, land of Judah, art not the least among the provinces of Judah: for out of thee shall come forth a leader who shall shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2:5-6).
“Thus speaketh the Lord almighty, saying, Behold a man, whose name is Dawn (or Sunrise or East or Branch – the text is not specific in Greek); and from underneath him he will dawn and build the house of the Lord, and he will receive virtue (power and glory), and shall take his seat and rule upon his throne, and shall be a priest seated at his right hand; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6 : 12-13).
Here Zechariah is prophesying that God will send an extraordinary man, and he shall be called “Dawn” because he will dawn upon the world like the sun and shed the light of truth and of justice and of peace upon its horizon. Consequently Dawn is a fitting name for Him. He will build the House (Church) of the Lord of logical stones, He Himself being the chief cornerstone of the entire edifice of God’s Church; He will cause God to make peace with rational beings, and will take His seat at the right hand of God as priest and king. This man, whose name is Dawn, is none other than Christ the Messiah sitting at the right hand of His Father after His ascension into heaven. But the foolish Jews are still waiting for Him to come. This divine prophet also prophesied that this same man, whose name is Dawn, would enter Jerusalem triumphantly as king sitting upon the foal of an ass. This prophecy was couched in the following words:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee, just and bearing salvation; he is meek and is riding upon the young foal of a beast of burden” (Zechariah 9:9).
The fulfilment of this latter prophecy is narrated and verified by the evangelists (See Matt. 21:5; John 22:13; Luke 19:27).
These are the principal prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament and they have been fulfilled in the person of Christ the Messiah and Lord. A witness in whom the Jews may have supreme confidence is St. John the Baptist, whom they believed to be a prophet sent by God.
“And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, saying, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No. Then they said unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, [as said the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 11:3)]. And they who had been sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou, then, if thou be not the Christ nor Elijah nor the prophet? John answered them by saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you whom ye know not; he it is, who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things occurred in Betharaba beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1:19-28).
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is preferred before me: for he was before me, and I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John testified, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, He upon whom thou shalt see the spirit descending and remaining, the same is he who baptizeth with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have testified that this man is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
But what still remains to be fulfilled out of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah? The establishment of His kingdom on earth, as in heaven, with all nations paying homage to His name, in accordance with the prophecies of the holy prophets. (See Is. 2:1-6; 11:1-10; Dan. 2:44; 7:18, 27; Micah 4:l; Joel 3:10, etc.). This final act in the grand drama is already at hand. It is safe to say that it will be actualized after the end of the Armageddon, through the supreme wisdom and supreme power of God, and all the nations will be united in that kingdom as one flock under one shepherd, the Messiah. Amen.
We have cited two trustworthy and credible witnesses, Moses the beholder of God and John the Baptist, in order to convince the Jews that Christ is the Messiah. Moses foretold the Jews that God would raise up a prophet like himself, that is to say one who would be a ruler, prophet, and lawgiver. And sure enough, no other prophet arose after Moses as his equal or superior, except Christ the Messiah, who, however, was incomparably greater than Moses in all respects and for all intents and purposes. Moreover, had God intended to raise up a prophet in the person of a man merely equal to Moses, what could be the reason for his being sent by God the Father? And in what way could such a man do anything more for us and for you than did Moses? And can it be that God has anyone else to send you that is superior to or better than His beloved Son, whom He sent over 2000 years ago? Or can it be said that any man or angel could have saved us from the original sin and from death? Certainly not. Wherefore it has been written:
“No old man nor an angel, but the Angel of His Presence (i.e. the Lord and Messiah) himself hath saved them, because he loved them and spared them” (Isaiah 63:9).
Who else came to you and bore witness that he was the Son of God, taught, prophesied, legislated, suffered, was crucified, buried, and resurrected from the grave, and ascended into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God the Father in all the glory which He possessed before the world even existed? What Messiah, then, superior to Him are you awaiting to be sent to you? Repent, therefore, and return to the Lord and accept Him.
John the Baptist baptized Him in the River Jordan as a man and pointed Him out to the Jews of that time as being the Messiah they were expecting, the Son of the living God. To all those who believed in Him He gave authority to become children of God. The first were the twelve Disciples and the seventy Apostles, all of whom were Jews by birth, who believed Him to be the expected Messiah and Son of the living God; and in His name they established and instituted the first Apostolic Church in the city of Jerusalem composed of Jews and of proselytes. Behold, then, the “one hundred and forty-four thousand (Revelation 7:4) sealed of every tribe of the children of Israel,” or, twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes, who were witnesses most veracious and most credible and trustworthy of the truth who had been selected from the members of that first Apostolic Church and who had believed and been justified through their obedience to the Messiah. Behold, finally, the ceaseless warfare being waged by all the nations, or heathens, against the Messiah and true Christianity and being crushed and put down by the invincible Nazarene; and their fall is near at hand. For, after the end of the Armageddon, the Church of the Messiah, the Nazarene who was crucified and who rose again from the dead, will receive His kingdom and will retain possession of it for ever and ever (Dan. 7:18).
In the face of such prophecies and so many historical facts and proofs concerning the Holy Trinity, the Messiah, and His Church, what excuse and defense can you of the opposition offer. You shall have to give an accounting in the day of reckoning and trial before the bar of justice.