QUESTION: I have a question about the Jewish Messiah. I understand that the Old Testament made numerous prophecies regarding the Messiah—such as the fact that he would be a great prophet like Moses; wonderful counselor, sacrificial lamb, etc., etc. However, nowhere have I observed in the O.T. that the Messiah would be God. It is a quantum leap to jump from all that to say that Jesus is God, and possibly a blasphemous jump at that, if it is not so. Does the Messiah have to be divine?
ANSWER: You say that it is a quantum leap from the Old Testament prophecies you mention to believe that the Messiah must be divine. Faith itself is a quantum leap. The journey of faith often leads us to encounter things that at first seem misty and vague, but as we try them in our experiences, we find them to be true.
The prophecy of Psalm 2:7 that the Messiah would be the Son of God and reference to the Son of God in Proverbs 30:4 infer the deity of the Son. This was clearly understood by the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. When Jesus said to them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” they wanted to kill him because by saying that God was his Father, he made himself equal with God (Read John 5:17, 18 and also John 10:30-33).
If Jesus had said that he was the Son of God and he was not, it would have been blasphemous. So you must understand that the term “Son of God” was one which the most devout rabbis understood as belonging to a being who was equal with God.
Or take Psalm 110:1: “THE LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” The one whom the psalmist is calling Lord in Psalm 110:1 can be assumed to be the same person whom he is calling the Son of God, the Messiah, and the ruler of the Gentiles in Psalm 2.
Throughout Isaiah there is a different kind of reference that hints at the deity of the Messiah. It is in the phrase “Arm of the Lord.” It is obvious that the Arm of the Lord is the Savior, and that God accomplishes salvation by his own right arm. This is a continuing anthropomorphism. Another passage that hints at the deity of the Messiah is Micah 5:2 where it is said of the one born in Bethlehem that his goings forth are from “old, from everlasting.” In other words, Micah is talking about one who always had existed, and that one could only be God.
Yet another passage, taken in context, gives an indication of the Messiah’s deity. Read the whole of Isaiah 48 and notice verse 16, where the Messiah is speaking. The verb is absolutely singular: “Come near unto me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.” If the deity of the Messiah is not taught by exact precept in the Hebrew Scriptures, they do provide ample indicators or hints that the Messiah (Jesus) is—had to be—God. The New Testament certainly teaches it.