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I am struggling with Judaism and Christianity on the role of the Messiah. I have been taught that the Messiah is not some divine figure, but a righteous leader who will castigate nations for their treacherous ways and resolve their conflicts. (Isaiah 2:3-4).

After studying the entire New Testament thrice, it is hard to see the compatibility of Jesus life with this role, as during the first century, no peace was acquired, nations continued to war against each other, and etc.

The book of Matthew particularly makes claims that the Jewish prophets foretold of Jesus’ role.

What prophecies or scriptures do you guys think are the most evidently clear in order to help me resolve my “incompatibility” issue?

I am looking for scriptures ONLY from the Old Testament with reason as to how this applies ONLY to Jesus’ life. (I would appreciate even the most common scriptures such as Isaiah 7:14 and why you think these scriptures confirm that Jesus had to come, die, AND resurrect for us to have an eternal relationship with our Creator).

I hope my question is clear, I have been fed too much information from both sides it’s hard to juggle it all. I will be researching similar questions on the Jewish stack exchange and conducting comparative analyses on the role of the Messiah.

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    I wish you luck on your journey. I should mention that it's rare to find "proof" for any belief system. Proof is exclusively reserved for mathematics and logic. When it comes to theology based on empirical data, I would recommend you work in ways of probability. It's impossible to be 100% certain, so go with what seems closest to the actual truth of things given all the data. Best of luck!
    – Luke Hill
    Jul 10, 2022 at 1:35
  • @LukeHill Much appreciated friend! Jul 10, 2022 at 1:40
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    Many OT scriptures conflate the first coming of Messiah (to restore) and the second coming of Messiah (to end all in final judgment). This is understandable in that the prophets looked forwards in time to two functions in the future. More diligent study of all scripture and more diligent analysis of each individual prophesy is necessary to perceive which prophecies relate to which coming.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 10, 2022 at 20:27
  • @NigelJ I apologize, I am very unfamiliar with the notion of the Messiah coming twice. Where is this idea in the OT? Jul 11, 2022 at 4:20
  • The two comings are made clear in the actual coming of Christ and in his prophecy of his return. Only now is all revealed. Now, we can look back and perceive, with more clarity, what was previously prophesied. (It will take more than three readings to gain spiritual understanding. I have studied the scripture for over half a century and still I have much to learn.)
    – Nigel J
    Jul 11, 2022 at 8:46

4 Answers 4

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There is no disagreement between Judaism and mainstream Christianity as to Messiah's role as "a righteous leader who will castigate nations for their treacherous ways and resolve their conflicts." The disagreement arises as to WHEN Messiah will accomplish the "end game" - as per Psalm 2.

A time is to come when all the nations will assemble against Yahweh and his Messiah (Ps. 2:2). There will be utter rebellion against God in heaven and his Messiah, to the point that God will deride them, turn to his Son and say,

"Ask of me - and I give nations - thy inheritance. And thy possession, the ends of the earth. Thou dost rule them with a sceptre of iron. As the vessel of a Potter thou dost crush them." (Psalm 2:8-9 YLT)

Even the first century Christians thought that was going to happen in their life-time, forgetting the many parables Jesus had told them about him going away for a long time, to a far place, to receive a Kingdom, then to return to earth in glory. By the time the last book of the Christian Greek scriptures had been written (circa A.D. 95) God had revealed to the elderly apostle John the monumental global events that would build up, over time, culminating in the sudden, glorious appearing of Messiah with hosts of angels, in the clouds, to start the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. There are even prophetic writings in the Hebrew scriptures about that, which agree with the book of the Revelation, but there's no space to delve into that here.

Those who do not believe in the Messiah's pre-human existence and post-resurrection sitting at the right hand of God in heaven, will never "get it". But I would suggest that the Hebrew scriptures have long taught that God is never in a rush to do anything; that centuries often pass from his prophetic utterances until their fulfillment. Jesus foretold in Matthew chapter 24 that "just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man [himself, in kingly glory]". People will take no note of the increasing wickedness of the times, and be caught unawares when divine judgment is poured out on an ungodly world. Jesus even quoted the prophecy in Joel 2:10, 31, that immediately after great distress of those days (just before he descends from heaven):

"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken". (See also Isaiah 13:10-11 & 34:1-4; Ezekiel 32:7; Zephaniah 1:14-16; Revelation 6:12-13 & 8:12)

Although those Hebrew prophecies had an initial fulfilment back then, there is a greater, global fulfilment yet to come, when the resurrected Messiah (now seated at God's right hand) asks for his rightful inheritance. Then he will arise as King to smash the rebellious nations with a rod of iron. From his first appearing to provide God's righteous, legal means of forgiving sinners, till then, the good news of salvation is going throughout the world, to draw sinners to faith in God's Messiah. But when he unexpectedly appears with hosts of angels, as proof, it will be too late to try to turn to him then. Now is the day of Salvation, but when he appears, it will be to usher in the Day of Resurrection and Judgment - the Day of the Lord.

It's the time-scale involved that causes misunderstanding as to when Messiah will complete his role.

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Over the last 2,000 years, this same question has perplexed many. The key to understanding the answer is to recognize what the Old and New say about the dual roles of Messiah. And thus the timing of said roles.

The two roles are Suffering Servant and King of kings.

Suffering Servant

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? Isa 53:1

The "arm of the LORD" is a reference to the King of kings role. But it is phrased in a way of "hiddenness". Who believes the report of the King of kings, to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? Because guess what ...

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. v2

So far, so good.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. v3

What? We despised the Messiah?

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. v4

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. v5

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. v6

What? The Messiah will be a sacrifice?

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. v7

Yep.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. v8

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. v9-10

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. v11

Messiah as suffering servant?

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. v12

Jesus Christ told His disciples over and over that all about Him would be fulfilled.

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Luke 24:25

King of kings

Go back one chapter in Isaiah to 52.

The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Isa 52:10

Christ's death, burial, resurrection was done in the open and published (New Testament) for all to see.

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. v13

"My [suffering] servant" of the next chapter who ascends to heaven and will return.

So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. v14

There are many more Old Testament scriptures that speak to this dual role of Messiah. For example, the foreshadowing of the scapegoat, Abraham and Isaac, Malachi, and other scripture that reveal the two roles.

The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD. Psalm 146:10

And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. Micah 4:7

But I will stop here and wait for a response that this is the type of information the OP looks for.

EDIT TO ADD:

OP: Firstly, how do you make sense of the fact that the servant has already been named to be Israel, whether the entire nation or just the righteous remnant (per Isaiah 44:1-2, 45:4) Also see Isaiah 48:1 which states ‘the descendants of Jacob are called Israel.

Abraham is also called His servant (Psalm 105:42). David is called His servant (Eze 34:24). Moses is called His servant (Exo 14:31). The prophets are called His servants (Jer 25:4).

With that in mind, Isa 53 when it speaks of the Suffering Servant is singular, a "he". It is Israel that is sick (Isa 53:4). The Servant is bruised for our iniquities (Isa 53:5). We have wandered, not the singular Servant (53:6). His soul labored, God is pleased (53:11).

The point is there are a number of people called as God's servants. Yes, Jacob is His servant (Isa 48:1). Keep reading.

Remember these [idols], O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I [LORD] have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Isa 44:21-22

It wasn't the nation, it wasn't a righteous remnant, but it is the LORD who redeems.

ADDED re Isaiah 53:8

What the OP must show is that the servant is plural.

Isa 53:8 8 In humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death. (LXX)

All the translations are singular in reference to servant (he). But because of their transgressions, they were stricken; He was plagued, though He did nothing wrong (Isa 53:9).

8 By restraint and by judgment he hath been taken, And of his generation who doth meditate, That he hath been cut off from the land of the living? By the transgression of My people he is plagued, (v 8 YLT)

9 And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth. (v 9 YLT

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  • Indeed a starting point. Much thanks. I will proceed to play devils advocate as I heard Isaiah 53 to be attributed differently. Jul 9, 2022 at 19:25
  • Firstly, how do you make sense of the fact that the servant has already been named to be Israel, whether the entire nation or just the righteous remnant (per Isaiah 44:1-2, 45:4) Also see Isaiah 48:1 which states ‘the descendants of Jacob are called Israel. Jul 9, 2022 at 19:32
  • @Bpotential Are you suggesting that the nation of Israel is the suffering servant? Jul 9, 2022 at 21:15
  • @Bpotential Isaiah 48:1 says the house of Jacob are called by the name of Israel and have come out of the waters of Judah. I suggest this points toward a specific blessing of a specific person (Shiloh) of a specific tribe: Genesis 49:8-12. Jul 9, 2022 at 21:22
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    @MikeBorden It is fair to assume the Prophet Isaiah wanted us to read all prior chapters to 53. I am simply conveying text previous to chapter 53 that calls Jacob/Israel God’s Servant. Jul 9, 2022 at 21:26
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Knowing Hebrew is instrumental to understanding Isaiah 2.

1The word that Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it.

To the house of who's god? Answer: the house of the God of Jacob!

What shall come forth from zion? Answer: Torah!

3And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mount, to "the house of the God of Jacob", and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," "for out of Zion shall the "Torah" come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Here's the Hebrew for verse 3

גוְהָֽלְכ֞וּ עַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֗ים וְאָֽמְרוּ֙ לְכ֣וּ | וְנַֽעֲלֶ֣ה אֶל־הַר־יְהֹוָ֗ה אֶל־בֵּית֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב וְיֹרֵ֙נוּ֙ מִדְּרָכָ֔יו וְנֵֽלְכָ֖ה בְּאֹֽרְחֹתָ֑יו כִּ֚י מִצִּיּוֹן֙ תֵּצֵ֣א """"תוֹרָ֔ה"""" וּדְבַר־יְהֹוָ֖ה מִירֽוּשָׁלִָֽם

That hebrew word right above in quotations literally says Torah.

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    If you want to add to a previous answer you have posted, please use the Edit feature under posting to make additions/corrections. I have taken the liberty of making the edit for you and marking this post for deletion.
    – agarza
    Feb 11, 2023 at 17:12
  • It is not clear what point you are trying to make about the word 'torah'. It means law. For from Zion goeth forth a law, And a word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. Young's Literal.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 12, 2023 at 10:27
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Isaiah 53

3Despised and rejected by men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness, and as one who hides his face from us, despised and we held him of no account.

Luke 2:52

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Was he really despised and rejected by men?

Luke 4:14

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues,👉 "AND EVERYONE PRAISED HIM" 👈

Really? Despised and rejected by men?

Matthew 21:46

46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but 👉they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.👈

Really? despised and rejected by men?

Luke 23:26-27

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 

27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 

Really? Despised and rejected by men?

Matthew 15:30

And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them.

Mark 2:13

And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.

And 1 day of being in pain would not be a reasonable definition of accustomed to pain!

Ezekiel 18

19Yet you say, "Why does the son not bear with the sin of the father?" But the son has practiced justice and righteousness, he has kept all My laws and he carries them out; he shall surely live.

20The soul that sins, it shall die; a son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and a father shall not bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

The servant,repeatedly mentioned as Israel fits the description of despised, rejected and smitten.

Jeremiah 30

17For I will bring healing to you, and of your wounds I will heal you, says the Lord, for 👉they called you an outcast, that is Zion whom no one seeks out.👈

Isaiah 53:4

"SMITTEN"

4 Indeed, he bore our illnesses, and our pains-he carried them, yet we accounted him as plagued, 👉"smitten"👈 by God and oppressed.

Isaiah 53:3

3Despised and rejected by men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness, and as one who hides his face from us, despised and we held him of no account.

"REJECTED", "DESPISED" AND "SMITTEN"

Jeremiah 14

19👉Have You indeed "rejected"Judah? Has Your soul "despised Zion"?👈 👉Why have You smitten👈 us and we have no cure? We hope for peace, but there is no good, and for a time of healing, but behold, there is terror.

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  • Welcome to Christianity! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Feb 11, 2023 at 17:02
  • Welcome, friend! This is a certainly a well-researched answer, but it might perhaps benefit from an introduction or a conclusion summarising your position. Otherwise, you seem to be arguing that Jesus does not in fact fit the role of the Suffering Servant, contrary to what Christians generally argue. Is that what you meant to communicate?
    – Wtrmute
    Feb 12, 2023 at 2:27
  • An answer with just a string of scripture is not an answer. An answer needs to argue a case and needs to use scripture to support one's conclusions. As it is, this answer can be read any way the reader feels like.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 12, 2023 at 10:21

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