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Survey of the Messianic Prophecies

The Old Testament books, as we shall see, are filled with prophecies about the Messiah and His blessed Kingdom. The goal of the Old Testament prophecies was to prepare the Jews, and through them all of mankind, for the coming of the Savior of the world, so that when He came, He could be recognized and they would believe in Him. Yet, the task of the prophets was difficult for several reasons. First of all, the Messiah was to be not only a great person, but at the same time God, or — the God-person. For this reason, the prophets were faced with the task of revealing the Godly nature of the Messiah, but in such a way, that it did not give rise to polytheism, to which ancient people were so prone, Jews included.

     Secondly, the prophets had to show that the work of the Messiah would consist not only of the external improvements of living conditions: in the abolition of illness, death, poverty, social inequality, crime and so forth. The goal of His coming into the world in the first place was to help people rid themselves of inner evils — sin and passions — and to show the way to God. Truly, physical evil is only the result of moral evil — sinful deprivation. Why even a wound cannot be healed by applying grafted skin to it, before the infection is cleaned out. For this reason the Messiah would have to begin the act of salvation of people by destroying evil at its very root — in the soul of the person. Without this no external, artificial or compulsory changes in living conditions could bring happiness to humanity.

     However, spiritual rebirth is impossible without the free will and active participation of the person himself. From this stem all the difficulties of the Messiah’s task: a person must be saved through his own voluntary participation! Since the person is presented with the freedom to choose between good and evil, then it follows that universal happiness is not feasible, as long as the righteous and sinners coexist. In the end there must come a selection between one or the other. Only after God’s interference in the fate of humanity by universal judgment and selection, can a new life begin for the spiritually reborn, in which happiness, peace, eternal life and other blessings will reign. The Old Testament prophecies encompass all the facets of this long and complex spiritual-physical process associated with the coming of the Messiah.

     Of course, the majority of people during the Old Testament times could not ascend to a clear understanding of the purpose of the coming of the Messiah. For this reason God, through the prophets, gradually revealed to people the identity of the Messiah and the order of His Kingdom, in accordance with the degree to which people, using the spiritual experience of past generations, reached a higher spiritual level. The period of messianic prophecies encompassed many millennia — beginning with the foreparents Adam and Eve and extending to times close to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the beginning of our era.

     In the Old Testament books, several hundred prophecies about the Messiah and His blessed Kingdom can be found. They are scattered throughout almost all the books of the Old Testament, beginning with the Five Books of Moses and ending with the last prophets Zachariah and Malachi. The Prophet Moses, King David, the Prophets Isaiah, Daniel and Zachariah wrote the most about the Messiah. We will mention only the most important prophecies, and along the way will stress those main thoughts which are touched upon by them. Setting these prophecies, for the most part, in chronological order, we shall see how they gradually revealed to the Jews newer and newer facts about the coming Messiah: about His God-person nature, about His character and course of action, about many details of His life. Sometimes, the messianic prophecies consisted of symbols and allegories. We will discuss these during the examination of the prophecies.

     Often the prophets in their prophetic visions compound events that may be separated one from the other by many eras and even millennia into one picture. Those reading the prophets’ writings must become used to seeing these events in such a multi-era perspective, in which the beginning, middle and end of a long and complex spiritual process are shown simultaneously.

     The wordmessiah” (meshiah) — is from the Hebrew and meansanointed,” i.e. anointed by the Holy Spirit. In the Greek translation it is written “Christos.” In ancient times, the anointed were called kings, prophets and High Priests, because during their ordination to these positions holy oil was poured on their heads, as the symbol of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in order to successfully execute the responsibility placed on them. In the capacity of a proper name, the prophets always related the wordMessiah” to the certain Anointed of God, the Savior of the world. We will use the name Messiah, Christ and Savior alternately, having in view One and the same Being.

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