Messiah – Letter and Spirit
The prophets of the Jewish Scriptures pointed mankind to a glorious future. They spoke about a future of peace and harmony, blessing and happiness together with a universal submission to God. And the prophets spoke about a Davidic king who will rule that utopian world.
The Christian religion is built on the belief that this king described by the Jewish prophets is actually one Jesus of Nazareth. The various Christian denominations have developed sophisticated theological lines of reasoning to justify their belief.
Jews who maintain loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob categorically reject the Christian claim.
There are two sides to this Jewish rejection of the Christian position. On the one hand, the Christian claim for Jesus has no basis in the letter of the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus did not fulfill one Messianic prophecy. The letter of the Bible does not allow the Jewish people to accept the claims of the Church (see https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/of-whom-speaketh-the-prophet/ ).
But this is only one side of Israel’s rejection of the Church’s claims for Jesus. Far more significant is the fact that the Messianic claims of the Church represent the very antithesis of the spirit of the prophetic hope for Messiah. This is not merely a matter of failing to conform to one specific prediction or another. The Christian position stands in direct opposition to the heart and soul of the prophetic concept of Messiah. The entire thrust of the Messiah of Scripture refutes the claims of the Church.
What is the spirit of the Messianic hope of the prophets? What is the spiritual purpose of the Messiah and what is the direction of his government?
The prophets made it abundantly clear that the end-purpose of history is that all mankind recognize and accept the absolute sovereignty of God. This recognition is the pinnacle of human achievement. The greatest success that an individual can achieve is complete submission to the authority of God and this is also the greatest success that human society as a whole can hope to achieve. And the prophets taught that humanity will ultimately attain this goal. There will yet come a day when every man woman and child that lives on this earth will stand together in joyous submission before the One God who Created us all.
The purpose of the Messiah is to lead humanity in this submission to God. In order to lead people in submission the Messiah will exemplify humility before God. As his ancestor David before him, the Messiah will express his own helplessness and poverty before God. The Davidic King will inspire all of mankind to join him in recognizing that every facet of existence a loving gift from God. The absolute submission towards God that abides in the heart of the Messiah will move all of mankind to bend their own hearts in acceptance of God’s sovereignty.
A man who emphasizes not his own poverty before God but rather his alleged superiority over other people is not a leader of submission. A man who draws attention to the supposed divide that separates him from other people is not going to teach mankind that everyone is equally indebted to God. A man who justifies devotion to himself on the basis of qualities that he allegedly possesses is not going to inspire people to recognize that finite existence possesses nothing before God. A man whose heart is facing humanity in demand of their worship cannot exemplify humility before the One who created the hearts of all men. Such a man is not a leader of submission to God; he is a leader of rebellion against God.
The real Messiah will not seek people’s worship and devotion; he will teach people that their hearts already belong to God. The real Messiah will point to the all-encompassing power of God; he will not preach about the supposed inability of God to forgive sin. The real Messiah will speak the praises of God with joy and enthusiasm; he will not speak about his own praises. The real Messiah will draw attention to his own utter helplessness before God; he will not obfuscate that truth with veiled claims to divinity. The real Messiah will be pained that people do not recognize that their very existence belongs to God, he will not rage when people do not acknowledge their “need” for his own services.
The Christian claim for the alleged Messiah-ship of Jesus is the direct opposite of everything the prophets taught us to hope for. This is not merely a matter of failing to conform to the letter of the Law. The Christian claim for Jesus stands in direct conflict with the spirit, the heart and the soul of the Messianic message of the Jewish Bible.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal