Missionaries points to Psalm 22 as a key Messianic prophecy. The individual described in this passage suffers grievously and is ultimately saved by God. The salvation of this individual is then to be related in the assembly of Israel. The story of this deliverance will then cause all the nations to turn to God. Missionaries contend that no other individual fits this description aside from the Christian Messiah .
Missionaries see the conversion of the world to faith in Jesus as an essential element in Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jewish Bible. The central “provable” prophecy that missionaries believe that Jesus fulfilled is the conversion of the world.
The problem with this argument is that it flies in the face of the Jewish scriptures. The scriptures clearly tell us exactly how the conversion of the world will be achieved. The message is repeated quite a number of times in an open and unambiguous manner. Isaiah compares the error of the nations to a veil that covers their faces (25:7), and to a thick cloud of darkness (60:2). The prophets teach that God will use the physical salvation of the Jewish people to dispel this dark error. When the downtrodden and persecuted nation is exalted, and their enemies are destroyed, the nations will see the light and be converted to the service of God. Israel’s deliverance is the catalyst for the conversion of the nations. This lesson is repeated by the prophets again and again (Isaiah 17:12 – 18:7, 25:1 – 8, 30:26, 34:1 – 35:10, 40:1 – 11, 41:17 – 20, 49:8 – 13, 52:7 – 10, Zephaniah 3:8 – 20, Psalm 9:8 – 13, 40, 66, 69, 98, 102, 117 ). Any faith that the nations are coming to before the light of God is openly revealed upon Israel, can only be a part of the darkness that the prophets yearned to see dispelled (Isaiah 60:1 – 3).
David’s own suffering and deliverance play a central role in this procedure. David’s personal experiences forged his own relationship with God, and inspired the nation of Israel in her relationship with God. Under the guidance of David’s songs the nation of Israel will ultimately repair her own relationship with God and be delivered from their troubles. When this deliverance occurs, all of the nations will join Israel in paying homage to God.
In Psalm 22 these concepts appear in historical progression. The first section of the Psalm describes David’s personal suffering and his subsequent deliverance. Verses 23 – 26 describe David’s praise of God amongst the congregation of Israel. Verses 25 and 27 speak of Israel’s subsequent praise of God (- the “meek” and the “seekers of God” that the Psalmist speaks of are the people of Israel – see Isaiah 61:1-3, Psalm 9:13,19, 24:6, 69:33, 149:4 – ). Israel’s turning to God draws the nations of the earth to join them in paying homage to God (verse 28).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal