We’re Glad You Asked…
QUESTION: What kind of Messiah are the Jewish people looking for? Do they think he will be a boy, a young man, an adult who already has authority in the Jewish faith, or what? Will all the Jews agree that he is the right one when they find him?
ANSWER: Most contemporary Jewish people are not looking for the coming of a personal Messiah. Reformed Jews talk about a messianic age, which might or might not be led by a great statesman. By and large, Conservative Judaism agrees with Reformed thought on this matter.
Orthodox Jewish people at least give lip service to the idea that the Messiah will be a person, as the daily prayer book includes the affirmation, I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he tarry, yet will I wait for him.” Sadly, however, among many this “perfect faith” is merely perfunctory performance of a prescribed ritual.
Jewish legends about the coming of the Messiah are abundant and diverse, but all seem to agree that he will come as a warrior/statesman and establish lasting peace—that is, as an adult. (One legend has him arriving on a white horse.)
Because of the prophecies that seem to contradict the messianic glory passages, some scholars have believed that there would be two messiahs—one the son of Joseph who would suffer and die, and the other the descendant of David, who would rule and reign.
One legend predicts that when the Messiah comes, either the whole world will be submitted to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or the entire world will have altogether abandoned the one true God.
Most Jewish people today do not concern themselves much with this question, but even those who have formulated an opinion seem to overlook the fact that the Messiah will be who and what he is by God’s design, not by what they choose to believe about him.