No we aren't scoffers, skeptics, atheists, or agnostics.
We know the Scriptures speak of a Messiah.
But does that really mean what we think it means?
What do the Scriptures really say?
Here are some short videos to get you thinking...
Who is the "Son of Man" spoken of by the prophet Daniel?
by Ross Nichols
Do we have to wait for Messiah to come
before prophecies can be fulfilled?
by Web Hulon
Beliefs about the Messiah come from many sources—the Talmud, the Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, and more. They reflect long and deeply-engrained traditions. But the oldest and most authoritative writings, the Hebrew Scriptures, are much less clear about this mysterious personage.
It wasJews, not Christians, who first suggested that Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 53 is a messianic prophecy, but Messianics and Christians made it an indispensible doctrine. But does every part fit? Has Y'shua “seen his descendants”? Allegorically, maybe, but not literally.
If not every detail stands the test, yet one is dogmatic about it, people will throw the baby out with the bathwater. When we read things back into the prophets from the New Testament rather than interpreting the New Testament by the parameters set by the Torah--the ultimate written authority--we'll lose something that is of real importance, though in a different way. But if we take Scripture at face value, without our preconceived doctrines, we can see what YHWH is really trying to tell us.
You see, Messiah (Hebrew, mashiakh) means "the one anointed" (to carry out a particular task).
By this definition, there have been many messiahs throughout history--each anointed for a particular task. Yes, Y’shua was one of them—but only in a metaphorical sense. The Ebionites, arguably the original followers of Y’shua, considered the endorsement at his “baptism” to be the point when he was declared to be “Son of Elohim” (an idiom for the next king in the line of David). But we never see him actually being anointed with oil by a prophet or priest.
Hizqiyahu, on the other hand--and every king in the line of David who was actually anointed--was a literal messiah.
So, if there have been more than one, and if our definition has gotten a little bit skewed over the centuries, might the “Messiah who is to come” not also be something different from what we have imagined?
As Ross Nichols points out in the video on the front page, in Daniel 7:14, the Kingdom is said to be given to one man. In verses 18, 22, and 27 of the same chapter, it is given to a group of people—“holy ones”, plural. This is not a contradiction; Israel needs to function “as one man” to be most effective. And it is hard to imagine any army being organized and disciplined enough to succeed if there is not a strong leader to focus their efforts. But if the Messiah is the head (Colossians 1:18: 2:10, 19), he needs a body to carry out his work. And it, too, seems to be part of the Messiah, as Scripture actually defines it.
Warren Bowles, in his book The Man from Galilee, argues that this phrase from Kefa (Peter) gives us a clue to reconciling these two aspects of Messiah:
“Seeking (to find out) what… the Spirit of Messiah which was in them was referring to...” ” (2 Peter 1:11)
He is talking about prophets who lived long before Y’shua having the “spirit of Messiah”. We see such a spirit descending on Y’shua at his “baptism”—then working powerfully through him for the next three years. He said that spirit—that same anointing--would come upon those who followed in his footsteps (1 John 2:27), and they would do mightier works than he had done.
So is it such a stretch to say that that “body” that completes the work that the head envisioned could then also be referred to as a “messiah”? There are no capital letters in Hebrew to show us when to make a distinction between a messiah and “the Messiah”—so the question can remain open-ended. A key to proper Hebraic interpretation of the Scriptures is that if something can mean more than one thing, we should at least look at all the possibilities, because it can be true on more than one level.
With that in mind, let’s look at another passage from Daniel:
11: 40. “Now at the time of end, when the king of the south engages in a butting-match with him, the king of the north will storm against him with chariots, war-horses, and many ships, when he enters the territories and overwhelms and crosses over
41. “And he will enter the prominent Land, and many will be scandalized…
45. “And he will plant the tents of his palace between the seas toward the prominent holy Mountain, yet he will arrive at his end, and there is no helper for him.
12:1. “But at that time Mikha’el will come on the scene—the great prince who stands over the sons of your people--when there will be a time of distress such as has not been brought about since [the] nation existed until that time. And at that time your people will be delivered—any who are found written in the document.
The context is when the nation of Yehudah (in today’s terminology, the Jews, or the political nation of Israel) appears to have been betrayed by all its allies, is left alone to fight his battles, and appears to be at “his end”. Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) calls this the “time of Yaaqov (Jacob)’s trouble” (30:7), saying, as here, that it has no parallel in history, but that he will be delivered out of these straits. Z’kharyah (Zechariah), in chapters 12-14, also speaks of such a time where the survival of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) is in doubt. That would be an appropriate time for the Messiah to make his appearance, wouldn’t it?
Instead we see someone called Mikha’el! Who is he? By tradition, he is an arch-angel, the field commander of the army of YHWH as seen in Y’hoshua 5:13-15. But this was probably an inference drawn later, as no name is given for the commander. Outside of Dani’el (and Jude) there are ten other Scriptural mentions of a Mikha’el, and they are all names of human beings. So what would lead us to think this one would not be human as well?
As one Scripture answers the questions raised by another, we have a very strong clue there about who this Mikha’el is. We are simply told in Daniel 10:13 that he is “one of the foremost rulers”. Some even say he is the Messiah. But by now we have seen the possibility that there is a “corporate Messiah”.
Scripture interprets Scripture for us. The above-mentioned passage in Z’kharyah says that, when the nations assemble around Yerushalayim,
“YHWH will liberate the tents of Yehudah [the Jews] first, so that the splendor of the House of David … may not be magnified above Yehudah. In That Day, YHWH will surround the inhabitants of Yerushalayim with a protective covering, so that the feeblest among them on That Day will become like David, and the House of David will be like Elohim—like the messenger of YHWH in their presence.” (Zkh.12:7-8)
This is a key. Who are the last known leaders from the House of David? Y’shua and his brother Yaaqov (James), who led his followers after Y’shua’s departure. This is probably why Yehudah and the House of David are spoken of here as two separate entities. Yehudah today does not represent the House of David, and a distinction is made here between Yehudah and the House of David.
When a kinsman redeems another kinsman according to the Torah, the one who is redeemed becomes a member of the household of the one who redeemed him. So those who recognized the ruler of the House of David as their kinsman redeemer thus become part of the House of David. The followers of Y’shua (mainly the Northern Kingdom of Israel in exile)--are the ones who have carried on the House of David, and are therefore the subject of this prophecy.
The clincher is that phrase, “the House of David will be like Elohim”. The last word in Hebrew is ka’Elohim. The name Mikha’el means “Who is like Elohim?” (“Mi ka'Elohim?”)
The answer is right here in Z’kharyah 12. It is the House of David--all who consider the Davidic ruler to be their own king. Already many are standing up for Israel, thus marking themselves as ultimately not Christians, but “lost sheep” from the House of Israel or Efrayim, who are still held captive by the Church. They feel a strong connection to Israel, but do not realize who they really are—descendants of Joseph or one of the tribes of Israel that after Solomon became a separate nation from Judah.
The House of Joseph is ready in some ways; they may need only this one piece—a common enemy with Yehudah--to come fully (back) to life. This is how a nation can be born in a day. (Yeshayau 66:8) This is Mikha'el standing up.
Will there be a particular person who is the quintessence of this “Mikha’el”? Z’kharyah draws a connection between the House of David and “the messenger of YHWH in their presence”. In the ancient “law of agency”, one who speaks for another is to be treated as if he were the one who sent him. How much closer could any human being get to being “like Elohim” without literally being Elohim?
So it is likely that there will be one head, but he will not stand alone; he will be leading a whole people. By the time the returning Northern Kingdom of Israel is again called “sons of the living Elohim” (Hos. 1:10)—just like the kings in the line of David were (Psalm 2, Psalm 110), they are “in the place where it was said, ‘You are not my people’.” I.e., they are back in the Land of Israel, probably having come out of mere support for Yehudah, still not aware of who they really are.
The very next verse in Hosea describes the two houses of Israel together choosing one head. Could it be this same “Mikha’el” from the House of David? (Compare Y’hezq’el 34:23.)
Z’kharyah 13 describes the “man who is My associate”. Who could that be but the messenger who is “like Elohim”?
Yeshayahu 49:22 speaks of nations bringing our sons and daughters who are still left outside the Land back home on their shoulders after Tzion is amazed to find herself full of children she vaguely remembered but had not realized belonged to her.
Why are the sons and daughters brought separately? Because the men have come as soldiers in advance of them to liberate the city from a siege by all nations, then their families are reunited with them after the battle is won.
So all of these prophecies seem to be pointing to one event or series of events. Messiah turns out to be a whole army anointed for the task of restoring the throne of the House of David.
The leader has not shown up yet, but will you let that keep you from training today to be part of that army so you’re fit and ready when you’re “called up”? The Torah is the training; community—building cells that can later merge into that “one body”—is the training ground.
YHWH can bring the king in whatever way he wants, but we have a role in “hastening the day of Elohim” (2 Peter 3:12)—bringing that Sabbath of the world, also called the Messianic Kingdom, more quickly than it would ever come if we just sat around waiting for a clock to strike “12” or the moon and stars to line up in a certain way so that the world would all of a sudden, magically, become perfect.
In a way, we are at least a part of Messiah’s coming. Y'shua did not have the type of worldwide communication that is now at our fingertips. The way he told us to find the Lost Sheep of Israel is to light a light and set it on a lampstand. One does not carry a menorah from place to place, or it will be extinguished. But set it in place, and people will be able to see where it is and come find refuge. There must be a place for the lost sheep to come home to, which is why we must establish Israelite communities. As we love one another as ourselves, the light shines more brightly, just as our ancestor Yosef revealed himself only when his brothers needed him most. This cannot be accomplished from a distance, but face to face. We must be there for one another.
Each of us has a part to play in the coming of the Messiah. So don’t wait around for a single figurehead; he may or may not show up. Instead, BECOME part of the Messiah. That way, it doesn't matter whether or not he shows up in the way we expect; the job will still get done.
So when will the Messiah come? When you bring him! Do the part you’re anointed to do, and the Messiah will be here, whether in "his" final form or not. He'll be here in the way he needs to be here today.