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Explore what the Hebrew Bible says about the Coming Messiah. From His birth in Bethlehem to His miraculous life and sacrificial death, learn how Jesus fulfills these ancient prophecies, affirming His role as the true Messiah. Engage with a scholarly, objective interpretation based on the Historical-Grammatical method.
The question of Jesus being the Messiah is not only central to Christian belief but also crucial for understanding the Hebrew Bible. To be convinced that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, we must delve into the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. Jesus Himself alluded to these prophecies when He said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Lk 24:44, UASV). By doing so, He challenged His listeners to examine the Hebrew Scriptures. This article will explore what the Hebrew Bible says about the coming Messiah’s birth, nature, life, death, resurrection, and return, demonstrating how Jesus fulfills these prophecies.
The Hebrew Bible furnishes us with clues about the Messiah’s birthplace and timing. Micah foretells that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to be among the kinsmen of Judah, from you one will go out for me to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from the days of long ago.” (Mc 5:2, UASV). The passage from Genesis 49:10 not only situates the Messiah within the tribe of Judah but also limits the timeline, noting that the Messiah must arrive before Judah loses its tribal identity and judicial authority—events which transpired in the first century C.E. Additionally, Isaiah 7:13–15 predicts a virgin birth for the Messiah. Thus, according to the Hebrew Bible, the Messiah would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem within the first century C.E.
Far from being a mere earthly king, the Messiah is depicted in the Scriptures as having a unique, eternal nature. Micah 5:2 not only talks about Bethlehem as His birthplace but also describes His origin as “from antiquity, from eternity.” Isaiah takes it further, bestowing upon the Messiah titles like “Mighty God” and “Eternal Father” (Is 9:6, UASV). These affirmations reveal the Messiah as not merely human but divine.
Isaiah 35:5–6 specifies the Messiah’s miraculous deeds, such as opening the eyes of the blind and making the lame walk. Isaiah 61:1 describes Him as one who would bring good news to the poor and heal the brokenhearted. Despite these life-affirming acts, Isaiah also warns that the Messiah will be “despised and rejected by men” (Is 53:3, UASV).
Daniel 9:26–27 restricts the timing of the Messiah’s death to before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 C.E. Psalm 22:16, remarkably, predicts crucifixion as the means of His death, even before this form of execution existed. However, the most poignant prophecy is in Isaiah 53:5-6, which sees the Messiah’s death as a substitutionary sacrifice for human sin.
Isaiah 53:10 states that after His sacrificial death, God will “prolong His days.” This is complemented by David’s confidence that the Messiah would not be left in Sheol (Ps 16:10, ESV), pointing toward resurrection.
Zechariah 12:10 integrates the Messiah’s role as the Suffering Servant and as the victorious King. It acknowledges His first appearance when He was pierced and anticipates His return as the one who will deliver Israel.
Probability and Conclusion
Peter W. Stoner’s mathematical calculations underscore the impossibility of one person fulfilling even just eight of these predictions by chance. The odds stand at 1 in 10^17, akin to finding one marked silver dollar in a state of Texas covered by such coins.
Given these prophecies and their detailed fulfillment in Jesus, one can confidently affirm that the Hebrew Bible does not merely suggest but robustly supports the identification of Jesus as the Promised Messiah. It is through the objective Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation, coupled with a literal translation philosophy, that we reach this conclusion. Thus, the Hebrew Bible offers a thorough, cohesive, and divinely-inspired portrayal of the Messiah, which Jesus of Nazareth fulfills convincingly.