Jewish Non-Canonical Writings Reveal a Suffering Messiah

The Non-Canonical Jewish writings Spoke of a Mother of Messiah and His Suffering

 

Mezuzah: http://www.jewfaq.org/signs.htm
Mezuzah: http://www.jewfaq.org/signs.htm

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.        Romans 3:1-2; Paul of Tarsus Cir. A.D. 57

God chose to bring His message to the world through the Jews. As the apostle Paul so aptly stated, “to them God entrusted His oracles.” These oracles are God’s infallible authority and guide for life and revelation of His program for all of creation.    Even though God gave it to them they took it for granted and turned aside from the Holy One who had chosen them for this special appointment. He gave the Jews all the information they would need to understand His entire program. (Amos 3:7) The covenants, which He gave to the Patriarchs, demonstrate His love for them. Who else did he reveal His plan to? Who else did He give laws for sanitary, social, spiritual, health and well being to? The Jews have been set apart from the rest of humanity for God’s special purposes.

 

The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. The three major promises of this covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel and universal promises to all the people of the earth. This covenant is unconditional in that regardless of what Abraham did God would keep His word. God promised that He would bless him and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendants, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him. (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17)

God also made national promises concerning Israel. They are: to make a great nation of his descendants; to give land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates to his descendants forever; and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendents for ever. Finally, God made universal covenants to Abraham that would affect everybody on the earth; it would affect all families of the earth who would be blessed. This promise is intended to be applicable to Israel regarding the blessing and cursing effects. Parts of the covenant have already been fulfilled. For example God did bless him with wealth. His name is great and Israel is a great nation. The blessings to all have been given to all through the oracles of God they received and they brought forth the Messiah.  The promise of the land has not been fulfilled yet. His descendants are indeed in the land but in unbelief and do not yet enjoy the boundaries God set forth for them in Scripture. Why did God choose the Nation Israel to bring His oracles to the world?

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:

But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

The Bible makes it very clear the they were called out to be God’s elect people and did nothing on their own to receive this blessing. It is important to remember that God Loves the Jews and always keeps His promises. The God who originated all creation, which is able to be seen, and those things which are unseen is by His very nature unable to lie. (Titus 1:2)

What must be remembered is that even though they turned from God and He punished them, He never forgot them or the unconditional covenant He gave Abraham.

Jeremiah 31:35-36 

Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name:

If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

The Messiah’s Mother

The Jewish Writings

The Jewish literature does not speak frequently of the mother of the Messiah. It does mention Him having an earthly one though. She is named in the Zefer Zerubbabel, BhM 2:54-57 as being Hephzibah the mother of Metatron (Messiah) Interestingly though the writings also speak of a heavenly progenitor. This within the Kabbalistic Zohar in Ra’aya Mehamna, 3:67b-68a calls him Shechinah or the manifestation of God.

Within the Bible

The Bible makes it quite clear that the Messiah would have a mother. Genesis 3:15-16 describes the progeny or seed of the woman. The seed is of course Jesus and the mother turned out to be Mary. We know that she realized that she was the most blessed of all women because she would bring the Messiah into the world. She was impregnated by a heavenly progenitor called the Holy Spirit the third person of the Triune God.

Raphael Patai not realizing that Roman Mariology is false theology assumes that the “Christians” give her divinity and have her overshadowing her son. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scriptures do not deify Mary. It is only the cult worship of the mother-child, which originated with the Babylonian Nimrod-Semiramis-Tammuz cult that unbelievers see and attribute to true Christianity.

The interesting comparison between the Jews writings and the truth are the fact that they recognized that Messiah would have a mother and that a divine progenitor would participate in the conception. Once again we see that the Jews have the oracles and because of their partial blindness they don’t have the complete pure straight story. This particular subject within the Jewish lexicon is close to the truth.

Deposition by Peter Paul Rubens 1612-14

Deposition by Peter Paul Rubens 1612-14

The Suffering Messiah

The Jewish Writings

References occur in ancient rabbinical writings, which reveal that some sages once believed that Messiah must be from God and that He must suffer before He could reign in triumph. And even in Hassidim (a Jewish sect of mystic piety) the truth of a suffering Messiah lingers. The Hassidim declare that many suffering Messiahs of the line of Joseph (one in each generation) will precede the triumphant Messiah of the line of David. Rabbi Shlomo Kartiner once said, “Let Messiah, the Son of David, come. I am ready to be his precursor, the suffering Messiah, son of Joseph.” But the suffering mentioned is not a vicarious suffering for the people’s sins but a suffering merely to hasten national deliverance.

The Zohar states that the acceptance of Israel’s suffering by the Messiah eases that suffering which otherwise could not be endured. Patai in his amalgamation of the Jewish text on Messianic suffering, states that the Messiah himself must spend his entire life from the moment of his creation until the time of his advent many centuries or even millennia later, in a constant and acute suffering.

In the Talmud, a collection of traditions and commentaries from the Post-Biblical period (from about 300 B.C. until about 500 A.D.), there are two messiahs mentioned–one who suffers and is rejected by his people and another who reigns gloriously. The Suffering Messiah is called Messiah Son of Joseph (Mashiach Ben-Yosef) because, like Joseph, his brothers reject him. Thus, this Messiah is rejected by Israel. The Glorious Messiah is called Messiah Son of David (Mashiach Ben-David) for two reasons. First of all, like David he will reign gloriously over Israel and subjugate the other nations under Israel. The second reason that he is called Messiah Son of David is that he must be a physical descendant of David, according to the Tenach (Old Testament).

The Zohar makes some interesting statements concerning the Suffering Messiah:

“…In the Garden of Eden there is a hall which is called the Hall of the Sons of Illness. The Messiah enters that Hall and summons all the diseases and all the pains and all the sufferings of Israel that they should come upon him, and all of them came upon him. And would he not thus bring ease to Israel and take their sufferings upon himself, no man could endure the sufferings Israel has to undergo because they neglected The Torah” (Zohar 2:212a).

So we have two Messiahs one suffering and one reigning gloriously. The one who suffers does so for the sake of Israel as he takes their woes upon himself to east their pain. The suffering lasts from his creation until his advent.

Within the Bible

Psalm 22, which is one of the Messianic Psalms, speaks of the suffering, which Messiah must endure. Verse six succinctly provides the essence of His feeling regarding the suffering He endured.

Psalm 22:6 But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

The Bible speaks of only one Messiah and He does suffer. The fifty-third chapter of the book of Isaiah is another of the Old Testament text, which speaks of a Messiah suffering.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Isaiah calls Messiah a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief as he struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane over the task before him. He was betrayed by one of his own disciples. The religious rulers despised him and the crowd at Pilate’s court rejected him.

Verse 4 tells us why – he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. The sorrow and grief that he bore was for us, for our deliverance, for our salvation.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

Here is why Christ suffered. What he did, He did it for us. He was wounded for our transgressions. He took the nails in his hands and feet and the spear in his side for our transgressions and sins, for all those times we have rebelled against God and his commands.

He was bruised for our iniquities. The soldiers beat him and a crown of thorns was placed on his head for our sins and iniquities. Everything we have done wrong was taken by him.

Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole. He endured the suffering and humiliation of death on the cross that we might be made whole, that we might find peace with God and be able to enter into God’s presence.

With his stripes we are healed. The soldiers gave him lashes across his back. It was these stripes across his body that purchased our healing. Jesus gives us spiritual healing, emotional healing, and physical healing.

John 1:11 says that he came unto His own. That is, the Jews and they rejected Him. Luke 19:1 states that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they did not realize who He was and know that He brought them a peace that surpasses all understanding. They rejected Him and He suffered for them. He suffered because the world hated Him as it hates those who love Him. (John 15:18-19) He told His apostles that they would suffer too because of following Him. The apostle Paul tells us that we as true believers must suffer also for His sake. (Phil 1:29)

The suffering servant comes to us in this dispensation as a lamb, meek, loving with open arms feeling terrible rejection because of the hatred toward Him. He will return when He is ready to bring His vengeance upon an unbelieving sinful world bend on destruction. (Isaiah 61:2) His appearance now is one of a conqueror and His appearance when He is ready to arrive again is analogous to General George Patton with pearl handled revolvers blazing.  He will take the world back. Sin is so strongly held by the human race that it will require a massive cleansing called the Tribulation to bring the Jews to Jesus, make and end of sin and sinful ones and provide for the final world wide evangelization.

The most beautiful insight we can glean from His suffering is that when we realize the extent of His suffering and turn from our sin, the one who suffers more than any human could ever imagine provides comfort to us. The sufferer comforts those who mourn for their sinful condition. He wants a contrite and broken spirit to comfort.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

 

Patai, Raphael, The Messiah Texts (120-140) Wayne State University Press Detroit, MI1979

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Jesus & Zippori A Key to Authenticating The Gospels

Jesus and Zippori

By Dr. Thomas S. McCall

Zippori Photo From Hebrew University

Zippori Photo From Hebrew University

 

One of the more interesting events during our trip to Israel with Zola Levitt Tours in the summer of 2011 was when we visited the Orthodox Kibbutz near the neighboring towns of Nazareth and ancient Zippori (known as Sepphoris to the Romans). The friendly group welcomed our pilgrims and provided our people with dress similar to what was worn in First Century Israel, and a demonstration of how bread was cooked by families in those days.

Zippori is revered by Orthodox Jews as the birthplace of Talmudic Judaism. After the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and Jews were scattered over the world, Rabbi Judah Hanasi codified the “Oral Law”, which had been passed down verbally from generation to generation, as a kind of extended commentary on the Torah, the five books of Moses. His work was called the Mishnah, the core of the Talmud. He did this work in Zippori around 200 A.D. Because of this, Zippori is a favorite place to visit when the Orthodox Jewish pilgrims come to Israel. However, most Christian groups know nothing about Zippori, and do not visit it.

While our group enjoyed the festivities down the hill, I remained by the main building of the Kibbutz, sitting on a bench. When our excellent Israeli guide, Ilan, came over, I asked him if he knew the story of the connection between Jesus and Zippori. He said no, and wanted to know about it. I mentioned a book that was written a decade ago on the subject. At the time I could not remember the title, but later got the name, JESUS AND THE FORGOTTEN CITY, by Richard Batey.

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Satanic Opposition to Yeshuah’s First Arrival

 Satan Tried To Stop Messiah From Arriving

 

Birth of Jesus by Antonio Allegri, called Correggio, 1528
Birth of Jesus by Antonio Allegri, called Correggio, 1528

As we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to this earth it is important that we become aware of the intense heavenly struggles that took place to block His arrival. Satan has made many attempts to stop our Lord from arriving on earth as a man to accomplish His task. Christ delivered us from Satan’s slavery to living freedom when we believe in Him as our savior. The measure of the wealth of God’s unmerited favor to every believer is the cost of Christ’s blood. It was accomplished not “out of” but “according to” the wealth of His grace. We are redeemed through His blood from our sin.  Christ prevailed and, because of this, today we can celebrate His birth. When Lucifer fell he became Satan (“adversary” in Hebrew) and polluted the heavenly realm with the sin he brought in to God’s presence (Isaiah 14:13-14). He then entered the Garden of Eden, and through lying, enticed Eve to defy God. In this manner Satan became “the father of lies” because he originated lying (John 8:44). This single act brought sin into the earthly realm and into the heavenly realm as well.  Eventually Satan convinced one-third of the angels to follow him and rebel against God Almighty (Revelation 12:4). Jehovah God sent Himself, in the body of a man, to atone for the sins of the world. As a suffering servant, His suffering reached a level of pain before and during the crucifixion that we couldn’t imagine as He bore the sins of the world and the spiritual realm as well (Isaiah 49-57). In the cosmic realm Satan tried all he could to prevent Christ’s crucifixion. But Christ battled with the powers of darkness, and won the war (Luke 22: 53). The death He experienced cleansed the heavenly tabernacle, which Lucifer polluted with his sin and fall, as well as providing for the salvation of all who would believe the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 9: 23-26; II Corinthians 5: 21). This is why the Lord Jesus had to come to earth. He had to go to the cross and provide the cleansing of the heavenly and earthly realms. Satan has not given up and we see many instances in Scripture where he tried to stop the Messiah from arriving to accomplish His task. Satan’s tactics would include lying about what God says, and polluting the Messianic family line with occultism if he could not kill them. Satan would also use the lust for political power to destroy the Jews as well as turn rulers and members of the chosen seed family against each other in another attempt to kill off the seed line of the Messiah. It is some of these efforts by Satan that we will examine and see how the Christ prevailed. We must remember that Satan is the force behind all evil in this world.

Selected Scriptural Accounts of Satan’s Attempts to stop God’s Plan

 

The corruption of Adam’s line (Genesis 6)

The apostle Paul, who recognized that demonic warfare was taking place in the spirit world, warned us that we were the objects of their wrath (Ephesians 6: 10-13). After Satan’s success in the Garden of Eden, the next attack by Satan to prevent to coming of the Messiah was the series of events recorded in Genesis 6:1-5. Jewish scholars clearly understood this passage to be a union of angels and humans, which produced a corrupt line of humans known as the Nephilim. This was the cause of the Great Flood, to eliminate these monsters and restart the human line through which Jesus would come. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples that similar events would transpire when He was about to make His second coming to the earth and told them, and us, not to be deceived (Matthew 24: 4. 37).

 Abraham’s seed (Genesis 12, 20)

Attempts to eliminate the family line that would produce the Messiah centered on Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews. Abraham foolishly endangered the Messianic line by lying twice about his relationship to Sarah his wife. At two different times, once in Egypt (where he went against God’s direction), and a second time in Gerar of Canaan, the kings of these realms had taken her into their harem unaware that she was already married to Abraham. Twice both of them could have been killed when the truth was found out, but the Lord provided the means of escape both times.

The populating of Canaan (Genesis 12:6)

Abraham sojourned in Canaan at the Oaks of Terebinth, which was a well- established place of intense pagan worship and occultic practices. Although Abraham was in close physical proximity to this center of pagan worship, he did not participate with them. Instead God came to him and made the everlasting Abrahamic Covenant with him. This revelation and intervention preserved the purity of the Messianic line.

 Famine (Genesis 42)

Famine came into the world and again threatened to terminate the family line of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, in Canaan. They would have died out had the Lord not intervened and caused the events that brought Joseph and then the rest of the family down to Egypt to survive and then thrive.

 Destruction of male line (Exodus 1)

Satan, through Pharaoh Thutmose II, enslaved the Jews to stop the Messianic line from developing. Enslavement was only partially effective so Pharaoh decided to enact a more aggressive policy of infanticide. The king’s instructions were explicit to the midwives: male babies were to be killed and female infants kept alive. The midwives, who feared God, disobeyed Pharaoh and under threat of death delivered the male babies alive to preserve the seed line.

 Pharaoh’s pursuit (Exodus 14)

As the Hebrews left Egypt in the Exodus following a series of miracles brought on by God, Pharaoh chased them with his army. As Pharaoh’s armed troops approached, the Jews became fearful because they were trapped between the Red Sea and a vicious foe behind them. Then the angel of God, who guided them, moved from the front of the Israelites to the rear to protect them from the charging Egyptians. The angel shifted from guide to guardian! All through that night the pillar of cloud, which also had moved to therear to be between the two camps, brought such darkness that military advance was impossible for the Egyptians. That night God performed another miracle by splitting the sea by a strong east wind and drying the sea floor. While the wind kept the sea floor dry and the sea split, the Israelites walked through the sea bed to dry land on the other side. However when the Egyptians came after them, God commanded the sea to return to it’s original state and drowned the entire Egyptian army. Again the Messianic line was preserved.

Against David’s line (II Samuel 7)

King David decided on his own that he would build the Lord a temple. It is clear from the context that this refers to a literal house and not a dynasty. This was premature in the Lord’s timing; in fact it was not God’s will for David to build Him a temple at all. If David forged ahead with Nathan, the prophet’s, authorization it would have been contrary to God’s plan. Satan had obviously tricked Nathan into thinking that this was the Lord’s will. Nathan initially had a favorable response to David’s desire but this was changed by the Lord’s visit to him. Because the Lord Himself intervened, Nathan rescinded his words to David. David was instructed not to build the temple at this time, but his son after him would have the honor of doing so. David was of the family of Judah, the great-grandson of Abraham who was given the pledge that the Messiah would come through him (Genesis 49:10). Instead of David building a Temple, God would build a royal house, which would be a dynasty of kings that originated with David. It would be a kingdom that would never end; the kingdom and its throne would be permanent, a realm over which the Son of David (The Lord Jesus) would reign forever. So again Satan attempts to lead God’s people astray, but the Lord intervenes to make sure the Messianic line is preserved for the kingdom reign.

Jehoram kills his brothers (II Chronicles 21)

As King Jehoram of Judah came to power, he killed his brothers along with others of the royal family, perhaps because of his close ties with the wicked rulers of the northern Israel. He too would suffer a cruel death after a brief reign of only eight years. Despite Jehoram’s personal evil, however, the Lord did not destroy the nation, for he remembered his everlasting covenant with David, that David’s line would continue forever. Satan tried again to stop the family line by causing Jehoram to kill his brothers, but not the entire Messianic line. God intervened and killed Jehoram and allowed Jehoram’s sons to remain alive.

Arabians slew all but Ahaziah (II Chronicles 22)

Satan sent a group of Arabians to Jerusalem to kill the sons of the King Jehoram to break the Messianic line, and only Ahaziah the youngest survived. As a king he was wicked and died in battle with Jehu’s army, the king of the Northern kingdom. The king’s servants buried him in Jerusalem (2 Kings 9:28). In addition to murdering the two kings, Jehu almost annihilated the royal families of both Israel and Judah (2 Chron. 22:8; 2 Kings 10:1-14). The Lord preserved another Satanic attempt to destroy the seed line by preserving the life of Ahaziah’s youngest son Joash.

Athaliah kills all but Joash (II Chronicles 22)

Jehu was in power in the north; and there was no male survivor in the Davidic dynasty except Joash, an infant son of Ahaziah back in Jerusalem. Ahaziah’s wicked mother Athaliah took the throne and started a bloody massacre to exterminate the royal family, which would have ended the Messianic line. Then Jehosheba, Ahaziah’s sister, hid her baby nephew from the queen, and spared the infant Joash’s life, Ahaziah’s son. He was kept in safety until the six years of Athaliah’s reign ended (841-835 B.C.).

 Blood Curse on Jeconiah

The kings of the southern kingdom had declined in morality, and one of the most interesting enigmas in Scripture emerges from the blood curse that God pronounced on Jeconiah (also known as Coniah): Jeremiah 22:28-30 28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. 30 Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah (KJV).  The Messiah was prophesied to come from the royal line of David, but with a blood curse on the royal line of Jeconiah this could not happen. God always keeps His word. How can the Messiah come from the royal line that is now subject to a blood curse? God gives us the answer through the differing genealogies of Christ recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew, as a member of the Tribe of Levi, focuses his gospel on the Messiahship of Jesus and presents Him as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Thus, Matthew traces the legal line from Abraham through David, then through Solomon to Jacob the father of Joseph, the legal stepfather of Jesus. On the other hand, Luke traces the bloodline from Adam (the first Man) through to David and his genealogy from Abraham through David is identical to Matthew’s. But after David, Luke departs from the path taken by Matthew and traces the family tree through another son of David (the second surviving son of Bathsheba), Nathan, down through Heli, the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was a virgin and therefore not subject to the blood curse. Even though the text of our Bibles in Luke chapter three say Joseph is the son of Heli, he clearly can’t have two fathers; Heli is Mary’s father. Scriptural evidence to explain the substitution is given in Numbers 27:1-11 and 36:1-12. Normally inheritance came through the sons. The daughters of Zelophehad had petitioned Moses for a special exception to the inheritance law since they were the only surviving relatives in their family. This was granted to them when they entered the land under Joshua. The one exception to the law in which inheritance is permitted through the daughter is if no sons are available, and she married within her tribe. The pure blood of Christ relies upon this peculiar exception granted to the family of Zelophehad in Numbers chapters 27 and 36. Heli, Mary’s father, apparently had no sons, and Mary married within the tribe of Judah. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, of the house and lineage of David and carrying legal title to the line, but without the blood curse of Jeconiah. The Greek text of the Luke passage is marked to indicate that Heli is Mary’s father. Joseph clearly cannot have two fathers.

Haman’s attempts (Esther 3)

Mordecai was the single Jew in the Persian King Xerxes’ court. Mordecai’s job was to represent the Jews and translate the king’s orders for the Jewish community. Haman, also close to the king, wanted to kill Mordecai for not bowing to him when ordered to do so, because Mordecai said that he, a Jew, does not bow to Haman. In the story, Haman and his wife Zeresh instigate a plot to kill all of the Jews of ancient Persia. Haman attempts to convince King Xerxes to order the killing of Mordecai and all the Jews of the lands he ruled. Killing Mordecai would not solve Haman’s problem because a new Jewish representative will take his place and will also not bow to him. So Haman decided to kill the whole nation of Mordecai, including Mordecai himself, and then there will be no need for a new Jewish representative, who might not bow to him. The plot is foiled by Queen Esther, the king’s recent wife, who herself is a Jew. Haman is hanged from the gallows that had originally been built to hang Mordecai. The Lord used Esther to intervene and save the entire Jewish nation and thereby preserve the Messianic line to Jesus.

Joseph’s fears (Matthew 1)

In the ancient days of the Jewish marriage practices, the engagement was considered to be an integral part of the marriage. So much so that any sexual activity during or outside of the engagement period was considered adultery, which could be punishable by death. When Joseph heard that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit he wanted to privately and quickly break the engagement. This would have given Jesus the status of bastard and therefore disqualified her baby from a Jewish legal perspective as the Messiah. Satan had obviously convinced him that Mary’s story of being visited by the angel Gabriel and pregnant with the Holy Spirit was unbelievable.  It was only through God’s intervention that Joseph believed the story and stayed with Mary, which gave Jesus a Jewish legal mother and father in an earthly sense. Satan’s plot was again foiled.

Herod’s attempts (Matthew 2)

King Herod was an insecure man. He was also not Jewish. He was from Edom and was a half-Jew at best. The occupying Romans put him on the throne. One of the worst persecutions that Herod orchestrated was the killing of the young male children as recorded by Matthew chapter 2. Herod was threatened that a true King of the Jews would replace him when the Magi met with him to locate the baby Jesus so that they could worship Him. Scripture explains that Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him over the Magi’s visit. This is not grammatical hyperbole. The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. Herod consulted his chief priests and scribes to find out what the Scriptures said about the location of the birth of the Messiah. He relayed the Bethlehem location (Micah 5:2) to the Magi then followed that with a request for them to come back to him to verify the Messiah’s location.  This was under the guise of Herod “worshipping” Him too.  When the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, he realized that he had been tricked and ordered all male children less than two years of age in Bethlehem and its environs to be slain. Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather was also warned in a dream and went to Egypt for safety.

Conclusion

There are many more attempts that could be demonstrated from Scripture where Satan tried to stop the birth of the Messiah. He was not able to prevail and we are clearly shown that the Lord God will always prevail and His enemies will not. Our Lord was born on exactly the day the Lord prophesied in Daniel 9:27. Here the Bible predicts that the Messiah will be on earth in 483 years from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem after the last siege of the Babylonians in 586 B.C. King Artaxerxes issued that decree to Nehemiah in about 444 B.C. Some believe that this decree was made at an earlier date. In any event, counting out the exact timetable of the 183,880 days described in Daniel chapter 9 puts the timing of the appearance of the Messiah within Jesus’ lifetime. Satan could not stop Jesus from coming and nobody will stop Him from coming back.   Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

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The Enigma of Melchizedek

Melchizedek

Abraham Meets Melchizedek by Rubens Cir 1625

Abraham Meets Melchizedek by Rubens Cir 1625

Genesis 14: 17-24   

 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh (the same is the King’s Vale). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 and blessed be God Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him a tenth of all. 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24 save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men that went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their portion (ASV 1901).

After the battle of the kings and the rescue of Lot as well as those women that were captured with him Abram met with two additional kings. The first one mentioned is the king of Sodom. This is the successor to the first  king of Sodom because the first one perished in the slime pits with the king of Gomorrah in the vale of Siddim (Genesis 14: 10). Abram met with the new king of Sodom and a king named Melchizedek. This man has a Hebrew name, which is the combination of two names: Melech means King and Tzedick, which means righteous. וּמַלְכִּי־צֶ֨דֶק֙

So we have a righteous king identified in the eighteenth verse that goes out to meet Abram. He is further identified as the king of Salem, which is ancient Jerusalem (Psalm 76: 2). They meet in the vale of Shaveh, which is the valley of Jehoshaphat on the east side of the temple mount. On the east of that valley is the Mount of Olives. Today this valley is called Kidron. It will be the location where the Lord Jesus judges the sheep and goat Gentiles after the Great Tribulation in the seventy-five day interval before He sets up His Millennial Kingdom. It is named after the king of Judah who reigned from 867-851 B.C.

Ancient Jerusalem Depicting the Valley of Jehosaphat

Melchizedek is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. Here he is said to be a priest of the “God Most High.” This is the first mention of a priest in the Bible and the title is El Elyon. אֵ֣ל עֶלְי֔וֹן

This Hebrew title of God is found four times in these verses. It is only found elsewhere in Psalm 78: 35. Frequently we find “Most High” but only here and in Psalm 78 do we see “God Most High.” With this designation appearing here so uniquely it has special significance. First it means that God is the possessor of heaven and earth. It also means that Jehovah God had a relationship with Melchizedek. And Melchizedek was a follower and minister of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Some have suggested that he was a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus. Or even a theophany. This designation is difficult to validate when compared to other preincarnate appearances of the Lord Jesus since in those instances they don’t hold an office on earth. They make a quick appearance and then they are gone. Here Melchizedek is said to be both priest and king. Abram acknowledged him as his superior and seemed to recognize that God had revealed Himself to this man.

Later during the Levitical priesthood under the Mosaic Law the offices of priest and king were separate and were not to be combined. The Lord Jesus did hold both offices as being God Himself. The book of Hebrews teaches us that the Law was imperfect (Hebrews 7:11) and was only a shadow of things to come.

Hebrews 7:11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? (NKJV)

The writer of Hebrews is making a case for necessity for the Lord Jesus to come into the earth as both king and our priest fulfilling the Law. The Law could never save us only point out our sin.

Romans 7: 7-9

7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died (KJV).

It is only the Lord Jesus who can forgive sin. Melchizedek did not forgive sin. He blessed Abram but did not forgive any sin. In Hebrews we see that Melchizedek is used as a “type” of the Lord Jesus. Since he was a priest and a king. David knew that this was the case too as he wrote in Psalm 110.

Psalm 110: 1-7

1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

He knew that one would come from God who would be God and would usher in the establishment of a messianic priesthood and kingdom. This Psalm was written about 500 years after the inauguration of the Levitical order. This shows that David realized the imperfection and impermanence of the Levitical order. Melchizedek is only a follower of God and not God Himself. Jesus is forever a priest and king.

The Jewish Midrash Rabbah (Bereshit Rabbah) teaches that Shem, Noah’s son and the Messianic seed son is Melchizedek. This is not too farfetched an explanation since Shem continued to live thirty-five years after Abraham died. Both lived in the same region of Mesopotamia. Of the three sons of Noah Shem was the most righteous and was chosen to bring the Messiah through his line of descendants. It is altogether possible that Melchizedek is Shem. The  Bible teaches that Shem lived for 35 years longer than Abraham, which makes this Midrash all the more plausible.

Abram took wine and bread (not communion) from him and gave him a tenth of the spoils of the war.

The rest of the spoils went to the king of Sodom and others including food for his 318 warriors. Abram did not want anybody to say they made him rich. Some remarks on this section of Scripture are in order as we conclude.

  1. This is the only place in Scripture where Abram is portrayed as a warrior.
  2. God does not speak in this chapter.
  3. A high priest-king represents him.
  4. The Abrahamic Covenant is operative here as a blessing for blessing occurs. The curse is seen in the demise of the four kings.
  5. In the N.T. Melchizedek is treated as a Type of Jesus as well as in Psalm 110. He is never seen as the Lord Jesus. Hebrews says he was like the Son of God. This is the grammatical figure of speech called a simile. It makes an expressed comparison between two different things. An example is Revelation 1:14b, “His eyes were like a flame of fire.”
  6. Melchizedek has no record of a genealogy. Not that he did not have one, there was just no record of it.
  7. The term Zedek is a common name. We find it in Joshua 10: 1 where the king of Jerusalem was called Adonizedek. He was wicked and idol worshipping not the “Lord of Righteousness” as his name would suggest.

While the true identity of Melchizedek may remain a mystery because of the brevity of scriptural information, his importance as it relates to the superiority of Christ’s priesthood becomes very clear as we consider the following:

 A. MELCHIZEDEK RECEIVED TITHES FROM ABRAHAM

1. Abraham paid a tenth to Melchizedek

2. Just as the nation of Israel would later pay a tenth to the

sons of Levi

— Thus Abraham, great as he was, showed his deference to

Melchizedek

 

B. MELCHIZEDEK BLESSED ABRAHAM

1. Melchizedek blessed him “who had the promises” (Abraham)

2. There is no dispute that “the lesser is blessed by the better”

— Thus Melchizedek is clearly “better” than Abraham

 

C. MELCHIZEDEK’S SERVICE WAS NOT AFFECTED BY DEATH

1. In the priesthood under the Jewish system (i.e., the Levitical

or Aaronic priesthood), tithes were received by “mortal men”

(whose service ended at death)

2. But it has been witnessed that Melchizedek “lives”(“remains a priest continually”)

3. How he lives and remains a priest continually, the Bible does

not say

— But in this way Melchizedek is greater than the Levitical

priests (a point made concerning Jesus later in the chapter)

CONCLUSION

 1. There is a lot more we wish we knew about Melchizedek…

a. Was he a “theophany”, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ?

b. Was he is an angel?  Enoch? Shem?

c. Was he simply a man?

1) One whose Biblical record is such that he serves as a “type”

of Christ

2) If so, where did he come from, and how did he

come to be “priest of God Most High”

d. And how does he remain a priest continually?

Understanding “The Greatness Of Melchizedek” helps prepare us to appreciate the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood. Jesus currently holds to all three offices eternally (Prophet, Priest, and King) but he functions in them chronologically. He came as a prophet (John 4:44).  Today he is currently holding the office and functioning as high priest (Hebrews 5:6,10).  He was announced as King in his 1st coming but was rejected (Matthew12: 22-45).  At his 2nd coming he will be realized as king and function as one (Isaiah 9:6 Matthew 25:34-45).

Both type and fulfillment of Melchizedek are king and priest, By their being no genealogical line with no record of birth or death he prefigures Christ as the priest who continues forever. In the O.T. no King could be a priest nor could a priest function as a King. Only Christ is able to fill the office of being a Priest, a Prophet and a King (Hebrews 7:17, 20, 24). If Melchizedek was Christ we would have to deal with two incarnations, since all priests were taken from among men. If he is a type of the one who was to come, then it would certainly fit the Biblical account and make more sense. This however remains an enigma with scholars debating on both sides but all agree together in its typology.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

 

 

 

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