Christians claim that Jesus was the promised Messiah from the Old Testament, but was he according to Jewish standards? We are going to take a look into why Jesus is not the promised Messiah the Jews were waiting for.
The Word “Messiah”
We first need to take a look at what the word Messiah actually means. The word Messiah means “anointed one” or “chosen one”. The Greek equivalent being “Christos” hence the name Jesus Christ. It simply means: Jesus the anointed one. This may come as a surprise to some of you but there were several other anointed ones in the Old Testament. David and Solomon being two of them.
“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.” – 1 Samuel 16:13
The Son of God
Another claim Christians make is that Jesus is the Son of God. Again, this is not a unique claim in the Old Testament. Again, both David and Solomon were “Sons of God” as we can read in the following passages:
“I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.” – Psalm 2:7
“I will be his father, and he will be my son.” – 2 Samuel 7:14
“Behold, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my Son, and I will be his Father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel for ever.” – 1 Chronicles 22:9/10
The first passage is about David being the Son of God, the second and the third are about Solomon.
Evidence for Jesus in the Old Testament?
Well, to be honest, there isn’t any. Christians speak of the tons and tons of evidence in the Old Testament pointing to the coming of Jesus when actually there is none. It’s been all taken out of context. Why? The Messiah wasn’t supposed to suffer according to the ancient Jews. Specifically, the Bible says the Messiah will:
1. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
2. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
3. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
4. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).
If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah and Jesus failed miserably in fulfilling these messianic prophecies. The bible also states that the messiah will be a descendant from king David. And Jesus, being born from a virgin, is not a direct descendant. Jospeh never had intercourse with Mary. God impregnated Mary, not Joseph.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” – Jeremiah 23:5
I want to dedicate a segment of this article to Isaiah 53 as most Christians will bring about this example to prove Jesus was the promised Messiah. Isaiah 53 speaks of a “suffering servant” who by Christians is said to be Jesus. Let’s have a look at the passage:
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors .For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.“ – Isaiah 53
Now if we wouldn’t know any better we would think this passage is indeed about Jesus. But helas for the Christians it isn’t. One of the first things I always ask Christians is if they can point out in the passage that they’re referring to where the word messiah (or anointed one) gets mentioned. The answer is nowhere. Secondly, as scholars have long noted, the suffering servant isn’t the messiah, but Israel as we can read for ourselves in Isaiah 49:3:
“He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
Here’s what Bart Ehrman writes about the passage in his book: Did Jesus Exist?
“It is Isreal who is God’s servant, who has suffered for the sins of the people and so brought healing. Isaiah 53 was written during the Babylonian exile when the Babylonian armies had taken the leaders of Judah hundreds of miles away and forced them to live in Babylon. Isaiah is lamenting the exile but indicating that the suffering will bring atonement for the sins of the people, and God will restore their fortunes . He is not talking about the future messiah.” (p.166)
Biblical scholar Christine Hayes agrees:
“Second Isaiah also contains the famous Servant Songs. The identity of the servant in these passages has been a puzzle to biblical interpreters for centuries, especially because the servant is at times a collective figure and at times an individual figure. In chapter 49 the servant is described as a prophet but with a universal message, rather than a message for the Israelites alone. The servant or prophet is first identified as Israel herself. Yet in verse 5 it would appear that the prophet/servant has a mission to Israel, to bring her back to Yahweh. But it is the famous and difficult passage in Isaiah 53 that most movingly describes the suffering and sorrow of Yahweh’s servant.
There have been many attempts to equate this man of sorrows with all kinds of figures. Early on, Jesus’ followers saw Jesus as the suffering servant of Yahweh in Isaiah. The NT writers borrowed passages from Isaiah when constructing their narratives of Jesus’ life and death. He depicted as the innocent and righteous serbvant who suffered for the sins of others. In the teachings of Paul, however, Christians are identified as the servant who suffers with and for Jesus. Despite these later theological interpretations, the anonymous writer of Second Isaiah was not writing about a remote Nazarene teacher and charismatic healer who would love more than five hundred years later. Examined in its original context, it appears most likely that the servant is Isreal herself, described metaphorically.” – Christine Hayes – Introduction to the Bible (page 311/313)
So Isaiah 53 has been quite clearly taken out of context. Another thing I ask Christians who come up with this passage, is if they can find a Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53 from before the time of Jesus interpreting the passage messianicaly. They can’t. There is no such interpretation prior to the time of Jesus. So the ancient Jews never interpreted this passage as being about the messiah, that was a later Christian invention.
One can only conclude from this that Jesus is not the promised Messiah the Jews were hoping for. Christians thought Jesus was the messiah and therefor went looking in the OT for passages about somebody suffering and said that this had to be about Jesus, but the reality is that this is all purely made up and taken out of context.J