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Who is “Messiah”?
Who is “Messiah”? Are you sure you know for sure? Did you realize the Bible speaks of MANY messiahs? Many messiahs but only 1 who is “THE Messiah” to come. How can there be many Messiahs? What does the word from Hebrew even mean?
There’s often a debate - especially involving Jews – if Jesus/Yeshua is the long awaited Messiah mentioned in scripture, especially by the prophet Daniel. Many Jews have long waited for the coming of their messiah and expect him soon. This is one reason why there’s been a lot of talk – much more than usual – for construction of the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem.
We Christians see in our view of Messiah not just a ruler, but our Savior. The one who takes sin upon himself and becomes our Redeemer and Savior – and not just king. But for Jews, the predominant view was that the true messiah would not have died but would have set up the kingdom with Israel at its center.
So let’s look into this very word “messiah.”
Let me get right to the main points:
The Hebrew word “Mashiach” is where we get the English word “Messiah.” It means anointed one. The equivalent from the Greek language is “Christos” – where we get “Christ,” also meaning “anointed one.”
So “Christ” and “Messiah” mean the same thing: anointed one. I find Messianics and Hebrew Roots brethren prefer “Messiah” and regular Christians prefer “Christ,” but both mean the same. I use both since I’m addressing everyone.
The Septuagint (LXX) Greek version of the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”) invariably used the Greek form “Christos” in their verses about an anointed one. So it became natural for the New Testament writers to also choose that designation – Christ – over Messiah. So in the New Testament, we don’t much of “Messiah” except in John 1:41 and 4:25 - but we read of “Christ” – and both mean Anointed One. Messiah does not mean “moral one” – as many anointed priests and kings were anything but moral. But “Messiah” does point to someone who was called to be set apart for holy use by God, though no man was ever perfect except THE Messiah.
- We have come to identify this term “Messiah” with Jesus Christ – meaning “Savior Anointed one,” so sometimes we read of “the Christ” – the anointed one. Of course you know that “Christ” was not his name or surname. It seems people feel compelled to avoid saying just “Jesus,” his NAME, which in Hebrew is Yeshua. The name Jesus is used many, many times by itself in New Testament scripture. And 56 times it comes with the descriptor “Christ” – as “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus THE Christ” – Jesus or Yeshua, the Anointed one.
- But in its first usages, did you realize the word “Messiah” applied to a lot more people than just the Savior. In fact, the idea that the Messiah was also our Savior did not really fully develop until the new covenant times. That concept is not as clear in the Tanakh, or Hebrew Scriptures, commonly called “the Old Testament” by Christians.
- So Messiah means “anointed one.” But if Yeshua is the Messiah, who anointed Him? King David was anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel, but when and where do we read of Jesus being anointed with oil? We don’t. So how is he “the anointed one,” the Messiah, the Christ?
GOD anointed Him, but not with oil, but with what OIL REPRESENTED. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit from HIM, from God the Father. The Holy Spirit is the power, presence, DNA from either God the Father OR Jesus Christ. So it was the Holy Spirit from God the Father that anointed Jesus the Messiah at his water baptism by John. So Jesus/Yeshua was baptized/immersed both in water and by God’s Holy Spirit, all at the same time.
Acts 10:38 (after speaking of the beginning of his ministry, Peter says this:
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
Acts 4:27-28 also clearly says GOD anointed Yeshua.
- In John 4, to the woman at the well in Samaria, Yeshua identified himself for the first time ever as the coming promised Messiah. Look to whom he chose to reveal himself: a disgraced Samaritan woman, married and divorced four times, now living with someone (the 5th), and so disgraced that she went for water at the hottest time of the day so other women wouldn’t be there. The story is in John 4. When she mentioned the coming Messiah, Yeshua basically told her that HE was THE promised Messiah (John 4:25-26).
The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."
In the Scriptures, there were MANY genuine Messiahs – meaning “anointed ones” who were “A messiah” – but only ONE who was to be “THE Messiah.” All priests were anointed ones (Leviticus 4:3; 8:12; Psalm 105:15). Kings also were anointed ones (1 Samuel 24:7-11; 2 Samuel 23). This made Kings and Priests “messiahs” – anointed ones. It’s the same word.
Someone anointed with oil by a prophet was considered a very special set-apart person chosen by God himself. This is the very reason David, when fleeing from King Saul, could not strike or kill Saul when given the opportunity. He said he could not strike the LORD’s anointed (1 Samuel 16:6; 24:6-10; 26:9-11, 16, 23).
When an Amalekite came to David after Saul’s death, claiming to have been the one who killed Saul, David had them executed! It would be well worth your time to read the account in 2 Samuel 1:13-21. 3
Who else was anointed with oil? God told Elijah to anoint ELISHA to be the prophet to replace Elijah (1 Kings 19:15-16). Many do not commonly realize this. So prophets were also anointed ones, “Messiahs” in the meaning of “anointed one.”
Jesus Christ was whom all these priests, kings and even prophets depicted. HE was indeed THE Prophet and Royal Priest of God Most High. I’ve been talking about Isaiah 53 recently. We’ll read Daniel 9 soon. If Yeshua was not the promised Messiah, who else fulfilled all those prophecies by the dozens, like HE did?
- One more point: Messiahs, anointed ones, included especially Israelite kings and priests, but not just Israelites and Jews.
God himself referred to one special Gentile king, CYRUS, as HIS OWN anointed (see Isaiah 45), over 100 years before Cyrus was born. God calls him His own Anointed one! Or we can say, God’s own Messiah. In Isaiah 45:1, the word for “anointed” in Hebrew is “mashiach” or Messiah.
"Thus says YHVH to His anointed [“messiah’],
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held —
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
2 'I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, YHVH,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
4 For Jacob My servant's sake, And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.”
God called this messiah – by name – over one hundred years before he was even born. The great living God had purposed this Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the second temple, and that is exactly what happened. Here are more amazing words from God:
“Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built,"
And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."'
And this may be a surprise: being a messiah or an anointed one does not mean you are righteous or moral, as Cyrus worshipped pagan gods like Marduk. It just means you have been set apart for special designated purpose, like being a king or priest. 4
But the majority of kings and priests ended up NOT being righteous. So kings and priests were “messiahs” (anointed ones) but NOT Saviors.
Let’s end with a few scriptures about anointed one Jesus of Nazareth, or by his Jewish name Yeshua. I explain it this way: yes, there are many who were called “messiahs” in the Bible, but only one who will ever be THE Messiah, and that one is our Savior.
The CLEAREST scripture that pointed to THE MESSIAH specifically is in Daniel 9 in the famous 70 weeks prophecy. It’s also in this prophecy where the TIE IN TO SIN AND FORGIVENESS is clearly shown – showing the connection THE Messiah was to have with saving his people. Daniel 9:24-27 was fulfilled in Yeshua.
Daniel 9:24-27 NASB
"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. 25 "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27 "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
12 You marched through the land in indignation; |
ou trampled the nations in anger.
13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For salvation with Your Anointed (Messiah)
You struck the head from the house of the wicked,
By laying bare from foundation to neck.”
There’s another prophecy in Daniel 2:34-39, 44-45 you should carefully read. THIs shows Someone is coming who will topple all world governments and set up His kingdom on this earth and rule the earth. A Stone strikes the image depicted here and the stone “became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35).
More can be found in Daniel’s prophecies (Daniel 2:21-27) about THE Messiah saving His saints, his holy ones, in the last days and giving dominion and rulership to them. When scripture speaks of “God’s anointed” – this is speaking of THE Messiah, God’s anointed, anointed by God himself, as Yeshua was. God Most High is with this Anointed one in a singularly unique way. We worship him. He was seen by many hundreds after his death, as God had resurrected Him and He still lives today, just waiting for the command to return to save Israel. His resurrection was so convincing that thousands of believers were willing to die for him, for they either SAW him directly after his resurrection or the evidence was so powerfully demonstrated to them. They also saw that the prophecies of the virgin conceiving and their Son being a descendant of King David, were all fulfilled in him (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:10-11). The prophecies of the peaceful kingdom (Isa 11:6-9) will be fulfilled at his second coming – which is close.
Habakkuk 3:13 – Holman – “You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed. You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck.”
I pray any of you Jews reading this, just pray to the One you call “Hashem” – the Name. Ask him to reveal to you who The Messiah was, or is, or will be. I recommend you read the New Testament on your own. You’ll see that this anointed one by God, THE Messiah, was a Jew, born in Bethlehem, raised and preached in Galilee of the nations and gentiles and was crucified. Then over 500 saw him elevated to heaven after his resurrection. All the apostles were Jews. ALL of the early believers were Jews. Many priests and orthodox Jews (Pharisees) joined with them in worshiping this Yeshua Messiah – Jesus the Christ. Don’t MISS your Messiah!
My Jewish brothers, we long for you to see this Messiah and see how He can transform your life. He LIVES. He’s coming again. Give Him a chance to show you who He is.
In Judaism there’s an acronym -- YESHU – that unfortunately means “May his name and memory be obliterated.” The holy man Yeshua has been so maligned in Judaism that it will take a miracle to remove centuries of bile against him and for many to open their hearts to Him. His full name as the mashiach (Messiah) was Yeshua, meaning “Savior, salvation.” And yes, He came once already to die for us all - -and is coming again. This Messiah Yeshua is coming again to finally rule all the nations from Jerusalem. Amen. Zech 14:16-18. Isaiah 60:6-9; 66:18-23.
NO one should want the full beautiful Jewish name Yeshua to ever be blotted out. It’s by that precious and powerful name that we’re saved from our sins and through Him and his perfect life, we can stand righteous before God. He clothes us with HIS righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). This same Yeshua is coming back to fight for Israel as you can read in Zechariah 14. HE is “the LORD” who is coming to fight as a man does in the day of battle (Zech 14:3-4). Yes, Yeshua is the Word of the Old Testament and is also YHWH. Don’t miss your Messiah!
Yeshua fulfilled all the prophecies of Messiah regarding the first coming. All the prophecies not yet fulfilled, of a worldwide kingdom, will be fulfilled when he comes again. Amen. If Yeshua is not the promised Messiah, then who is? Don’t miss him!
Honor him. Love him. Worship him. HE is THE Messiah – the Anointed One of God. He said he will return in glory with all the angels and all the nations will be gathered before him (Matthew 25:31-32). THIS is the ruling Messiah to whom all nations will eventually come to Jerusalem to worship Him, the LORD, as Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-4 so clearly say to us.
Praise the Holy Name of the One we worship and of his glorious Anointed One.
Thank you so much Philip for making me know the meaning of Messiah. You have put it so well. I recommend readers to study this blog and understand the meaning of Messiah and who is Messiah. Be blessed for the good Work Philip.