The Messiah

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse … You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Was Jesus an imposter or was He the Messiah, the Son of God? This is the vital question we all need to answer for ourselves, for it could make the difference between life and death. One thing is sure, Jesus has created more controversy than any other founder of the religious systems of the world. He also made some astounding claims that would make Him the sole source of salvation to fallen man, thus creating tension between the various religious systems which cannot be readily resolved without compromise.

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (John 6:38)

I and my Father are one. (John 10:30)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 13)

Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ-myth,’ but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories. (F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?)

No serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus. (Otto Betz, What Do We Know About Jesus?)

We have 27 different New Testament documents as well as many writings of the early church fathers (Polycarp, Eusebius, Irenaeus, Origen) documenting the historicity of Jesus. It is also noteworthy that Christians throughout the ages were prepared to suffer persecution and even death for Christ’s name’s sake, and the entire human history has been divided into a pre- and post- Christ era, which has been entrenched in our calendar for centuries.

What, then, does a historian know about Jesus Christ? He knows, first and foremost, that the New Testament documents can be relied upon to give an accurate portrait of Him. And he knows that this portrait cannot be rationalized away by wishful thinking, philosophical presuppositionalism, or literary maneuvering. (John Montgomery, History and Christianity)

But there are many non-Biblical sources which seem to confirm the New Testament texts. Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman historian, writing in about 115 AD, speaks about Nero’s persecution of Christians in the year 64 AD:

But all the endeavours of men, all the emperor’s largesse and the propitiations of the gods, did not suffice to allay the scandal or banish the belief that the fire had been ordered. And so, to get rid of this rumour, Nero set as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinery of cruelty, a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for the moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, that receptacle for everything that is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe, which there finds a following.

Tacitus has a further reference to Christianity in a fragment of his Histories, dealing with the burning of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70, preserved by Sulpicius Severus.

Lucian of Samosata was a satirist of the second century who spoke scornfully of Christ and the Christians. He connected them with the synagogues of Palestine and alluded to Christ as:

…the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world… Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.

Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian who became a Pharisee at age 19; in A.D. 66 he was the commander of Jewish forces in Galilee. After being captured, he was attached to the Roman headquarters. He says in a hotly-contested quotation:

Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.

The Arabic text of the passage is as follows:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and (He) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his diciples did not abandon his dicipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that He was alive; accordingly, He was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

The above passage is found in the Arabic manuscript entitled, Kitab Al-Unwan Al-Mukallal Bi-Fadail Al-Hikma Al-Mutawwaj Bi-Anwa Al-Falsafa Al-Manduh Bi-Haqaq Al-Marifa. The approximate translation would be: Book of History Guided by All the Virtues of Wisdom. Crowned with Various Philosophies and Blessed by the Truth of Knowledge.

The above manuscript, composed by Bishop Apaplus in the 10th century, has a section commencing with, “We have found in many books of the philosophers that they refer to the day of the crucifixion of Christ.” Then he gives a list and quotes portions of the ancient works. Some of the works are familiar to modern scholars and others are not.

Suetonius, the Roman historian, refers to Chrestus (another spelling for Christus, i.e. Christ) in his Life of Claudius (Roman emperor from 41 to 54), which was written about 120 AD. He is probably referring to quarrels between Jews and Christians about Jesus.

Since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome.

Tertullian, jurist-theologian of Carthage, in a defense of Christianity (A.D. 197) before the Roman authorities in Africe, mentions the exchange between Tiberius and Pontius Pilate:

Tiberius accordingly, in those days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all the accusers of the Christians.

The Jewish Talmud, a collection of Jewish traditions which dates from the 3rd century, states:

On the eve of Passover, they hanged Yeshu of Nazareth…

ThereMara Bar-Serapion wrote a letter (between 70 and 200 AD) to his son from prison to encourage him to emulate the wise teachers of the past:

What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burying Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.

The latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica uses 20,000 words in describing this person, Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon. Concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus, it records:

These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition)

Either He was telling the truth, or He was not; compromise seems impossible. If He was right, then this controversy will escalate to its final conclusion culminating in His glorious return to this earth to reclaim His dominion and to judge the living and the dead. If He was wrong, then the Messiah, according to the various belief systems, has not yet come, or he has come a number of times in the form of world teachers, or he will not come at all.

Buddhism and Hinduism teach that the Christ, the world teacher, has experienced numerous reincarnations at different stages of human progression. The Muslims teach that Jesus Christ was a prophet, but that he was not the Son of God. However, they also teach that He was born of a virgin, worked miracles, was the Messiah, lived a sinless life, went up to heaven, and is coming again before the end of the world. The Jews, excluding the Messianic Jews, reject Jesus completely. To them He is an imposter.

Christians themselves are divided in their attitudes toward Jesus. Some see Him as God, Saviour, Lord and Messiah while others refuse to accept His divinity, choosing to see Him as a special created being. Who is right? Let us consider the evidence:

Prophetic Evidence

Now let us consider only a few of the 300+ prophetic references to the Messiah in the Old Testament scriptures. These prophecies were written over a 1,500-year period. Some sceptics object to the use of these prophecies as support for Christ’s Messiahship, claiming that they were written at or after the time of Jesus. Here something important must be borne in mind. Conservative scholars estimate that the last Old Testament book was written around 450 BC, but those claiming a later date cannot possibly push that date closer than about 250 BC - the reason for this being the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was completed during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus. This is an historical fact and it places a span of at least 250 years between the Old Testament predictions and their fulfillment in Christ.

Some skeptics have suggested that these prophecies were accidentally or coincidently fulfilled by Jesus. According to the Science of Probability the chance of any one human being - up until the present - fulfilling a selection of just eight of these prophecies (including the one on the crucifixion) is 1 in 1017. And here we are considering only eight prophecies. What if we were to consider forty-eight prophecies? Then chance then becomes virtually zero (1 X 10157). (Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict)

According to science today, the number of particles in the entire universe is only estimated to be somewhere between 1072 and 1087. In other words, the probability of Jesus Christ coincidentally fulfilling every one of the Messianic prophecies exceeds the number of particles in the entire universe.

Since it would be impossible to discuss all of the Messianic prophecies in depth in this single page, I am going to single out a few of these for closer examination before dealing with the seventy week vision of Daniel chapter 9.

Old Testament New Testament
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) And the angel came in unto her, and said…behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. (Luke 1:28-31)
…when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit…And Joseph…took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18,24,25)

The name Immanuel literally means God with us. Skeptics will argue the fact that Christ’s name was Yeshua, not Immanuel, not realizing these two names are identical in meaning. Yeshua literally means Yahweh (the name of God) the savior.

We know the birthplace of Christ was in Bethlehem, which means the bread-basket.

But thou, Bethlehem…though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)

Even the miracles which He performed in the New Testament were foreshadowed in the prophecies of Isaiah:

Old Testament New Testament
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. (Isaiah 35:5,6) And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)

In the Psalms we read that the Messiah speaks in parables.

Old Testament New Testament
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable. (Psalm 78:1,2) All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them. (Matthew 13:34)

The triumphal entry of the Messiah was also properly predicted.

Old Testament New Testament
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass. (Zechariah 9:9) And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon…at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice…saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:33-38)

Even the price which was paid for His betrayal by His trusted friend Judas is prophesied in the Old Testament.

Old Testament New Testament
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9)
So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12,13)
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed…And the chief priests took the silver pieces…And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. (Matthew 27)

His suffering and crucifixion were foretold in detail:

…they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:16)

…and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced… (Zechariah 12:10)

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Old Testament New Testament
Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause. (Psalm 35:19)
They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head… (Psalm 69:4)
…They hated me without a cause. (John 15:25)
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6) Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands (Matthew 26:67)
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter. (Isaiah 53:7) And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. (Matthew 27:12)
…and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12) Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. (Matthew 27:38)
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalm 69:21) They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. (Matthew 27:34)
Into thine hand I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5) Father into thine hand I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. (Psalm 34:20) But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs (John 19:32,33)
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. (Psalm 22:18) Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be. (John 19:23,34)

The manner of Jesus Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection were prophesied in magnificent detail all throughout the Old Testament scriptures. But there is a particular prophecy in Daniel which puts the entire debate of Christ’s Messiahship to rest. This prophecy is so precise that it has become a nightmare for those who wish to reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

Daniel Chapter 9

Some Talmudic Rabbis have become so irritated with the prophecy in Daniel chapter 9 that they cursed it and all who read and attempt to understand it.

May the bones of the hands and the bones of the fingers decay and decompose, of him who turns the pages of the book of Daniel, to find out the time of Daniel 9:24-27, and may his memory rot from off the face of the earth forever.

A more disruptive prophecy has probably never been spoken, and there are many in the world who would like us to believe it is a dangerous prophecy to investigate. In my opinion, it is the mishandling of these few verses in Daniel chapter 9 which has kept the entire world, and particularly the Christian world, bound in chains of deception. The Christian world is deceived by this prophecy because misunderstanding it has single-handedly formed the foundation for every doctrine which teaches of a future seven-year showdown with the antichrist.

And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God…Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. (Daniel 9:20-23)

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)

According to prophetic symbolism, one prophetic day is equal to one literal year. Therefore, seventy prophetic weeks (70 weeks x 7 days) is equal to 490 literal years. Thus verse 24 of this text may also be read this way:

490 years are determined upon the Jews and upon Jerusalem, to finish transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Forgive me for seeming redundant, but I feel it is important to emphasize this verse one last time before proceeding. You see, Daniel was having these visions during the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC. Gabriel told him there are 490 years which are set apart for the Jews and Jerusalem, a city which had already been destroyed. The culmination of these 490 years would be the following:

There is only one who can accomplish these prophecies, and that is the Messiah. This is a Messianic prophecy. Furthermore, each of these tasks were completed by the Messiah Jesus Christ at that moment on the cross (recorded in John chapter 19) when he said, It is finished, and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

So now we know this is a Messianic prophecy, and we know we are dealing with a specific period of time, since we are given a measure of 490 years to count.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

Here Daniel is told when the counting of these weeks are to begin.

Artaxerses I, King of Persia, issued the decree in 457BC. 457 BC + 483 years (49 + 434) points to the year 27 AD.

Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. (Ezra 7:12,13)

And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, (Ezra 7:21)

In the year 27 AD, Jesus was baptized and began his ministry.

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene … Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened. (Luke 3:1,21)

That fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar was 27 AD.

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22)

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:15)

But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. (Galatians 4:4)

These New Testament verses speaking of the fulness of time, are referring to the weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. Jesus the Messiah was baptized and annointed by the Holy Ghost at the conclusion of the 69th week of Daniel’s prophecy; and this marked the beginning of His ministry to the Jews.

The Seventieth Week

Today there are many doctrines that take the final week of Daniel’s prophecy - the 70th week - and throw this period of time far into the future to support an idea of a seven year conflict with the antichrist. These doctrines ignore the explanation of the vision in Daniel 9:24; the seventy weeks are determined for the Jews, and Jerusalem to:

ALL of Daniel’s 70 weeks are Messianic. Jesus began His ministry to the Jews at the beginning of the 70th week, and we are told by the prophecy that after the 69th week, the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself (Daniel 9:26).

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

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