As a happy Christmas note we wanted to give you something to talk about during your festive Christmas dinners with family and friends. And since it’s all about the birth of Jesus (really, it’s not) let us tell you about who Jesus was. Or rather, who he was not. We hope you have a great Christmas time and hope you get to spend it with your loved ones.
In the Old Testament there are some prophecies that tell us what the Messiah would look like, how he would act and how the world would change upon his/her arrival. Christians are keen to claim that Jesus fulfilled all of these Messianic prophecies, but did he really? Let’s have a look at what Jews prior to Jesus expected the Messiah to be like. This is important because Christians now look back on the Bible and are eager to claim everything that suits Jesus was a prophecy. For example they now look to Genesis 3:15 and say that ‘seed of the woman’ some how prophesied Jesus. How they back-up this claim I don’t even begin to understand… it’s all so far fetched. To get to know the actual prophecies one reads the Old Testament and then based on that concludes what he knows of the 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
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 last two about Solomon.
So, if we read the Old Testament, what do we find out about the coming Messiah?
It is obvious that if only one of these conditions is not met one cannot be Messiah. God doesn’t lie, now does he? Jesus failed miserably in fulfilling these messianic prophecies. Many of these Prophecies explain themselves: bring world peace? Surely not the case. All Jews back to Israël? Surely never happened. Jesus a political and military leader? When did he lead a war? We thus see no need to fully explain them. If you want to know more about this, drop us a message and we will explain further. Tow however, are often debated. Why it’s up for debate is also beyond us, the scripture is clear about it.
The bible states that the messiah will be a descendant from king David. Christians are so very very keen to say this is a fact. They will point to Matthew chapter 1 where it read “Jesus, son of David.” But what do we know of the genealogy of Jesus? First lets have a look at the prophecy:
“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.
‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a housefor you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood,and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a housefor my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your thronewill be established forever.’”
2 Samuel 7:11-16
If we read the genealogies of Jesus as presented in the gospel according to Matthew chapter 1 and the gospel according to Luke chapter 3 something remarkable stands out: Joseph has a line with David, not Mary. Jospeh! Jesus is born of a virgin and thus cannot have a line back to David through Joseph. I won’t bore you with the entire chapters but at the end of Matthew’s genealogy it reads (verse 16): “and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” This then proves the earlier point. If one wishes to concede that no-one can be born of a virgin and that thus this proves nothing he would have to explain the next verses. There we read that Joseph wanted to silently divorce Mary for he thought she had cheated him.
The genealogy of Luke, the author of which states in the opening chapter to want to write a as good as possible account on the life of Jesus, read: “He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph” and the goes back all the way to god. But here too it is Joseph that has the lineage back to David. Joseph, who isn’t the father!
It is quite important to note that this is one of the biggest prophecies in the Old Testament that is not being fulfilled. It’s the lineage of David that would forever rule Israel. It would produce a new king. God’s own words prophesied a different Messiah. Paul appears to have foreseen the issues with this. In his first epistle to Timothy, commonly known as 1 Timothy, chapter 1 he writes:
(3)As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer (4)or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. (5)The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (6)Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. (7)They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
1 Timothy 1
It must be noted that there is consensus amongst scholars that this epistles is not written by Paul. In fact, it appears to be written in late first to mid second century (Bart Ehrman – The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. p. 393) But whether he truly wrote this or not it is a remarkable text. It rather literally states that one shouldn’t focus on the genealogies and compare them to the Old Testament, for one should merely accept by faith that Jesus is god. This should of course make every alarm bell go off.
I want to dedicate segment of this piece 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.“
Now if we wouldn’t know any better we would think this passage is indeed about Jesus. But alas 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 whe nthe 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.”
Bart Ehrman – Did Jesus Exist? p.166
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 messianically. 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.
Jesus certainly thought himself to be the Messiah. In that sense I often think he must have been delusional or something for he never fulfilled any of the prophecies- or perhaps never gotten the chance for some. Pilates had him crucified for making the false claims.
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