The Divinity of Yeshua
The Divinity of Jesus
“In contrast to much of the sceptical scholarship, careful analysis of the gospels in the light of their Hebraic expressions, clarifies what is not always apparent in English translations; That Yeshua consistently and frequently makes claims for His divine identity” (D. A. Pryor ).
If we see Yeshua in His historical Jewish setting, and then read the Gospels from a Hebraic perspective, the good news is that Yeshua clearly and continually makes bold and even shocking claims to His Messianic identity. The view of the Gospels harmonizes well with the writings of Paul and His explicit teaching on the divinity of Yeshua. The apostle Paul clarifies and builds upon the Hebraic teachings of Yeshua. He makes very explicit what is only implicit and hinted at in the Synoptic Gospels. He makes the divinity of Jesus very plain.
Scriptural evidence in John’s Gospel
- John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
- John 5:18, “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
- John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.'”
Scriptural evidence in Paul’s Epistles
- Colossians 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
- Philippians 2:5-8 “Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
- (1) D. A. Pryor book, Behold the Man, Centre for Judaic Christian studies, 2005. P105
Biblical Terminology for Messiah
Yeshua did not burst onto the field with loud proclamations that He was the Messiah – that would have been a very problematic strategy – instead He taught using the methods of His day, revealing the truth through the images of parables and linking his message to key scriptures. The Jewish world of Yeshua was far more Biblical literate than theologians have ever acknowledged, the Jews of the day should not be compared to illiterate medieval peasants, who were mere labourers in the fields of Europe. With Jewish children being schooled from the age of five in the Tanakh (books of the Old Testament) by their rabbis, there was a high degree of Biblical literacy among the population. This would have allowed the cultivated heart to easily receive the good news being proclaimed by Yeshua.
It is a habit of scripture to refer to a prophesied individual in a descriptive manner, for example, the apostle John is the last of the Biblical writers to warn of Satan’s messiah, who he names the Antichrist (1 John 2:18). The name refers to the fact that the man will be both “anti” or against Christ, and also a counterfeit replacement for Yeshua. A close look at scripture shows that a number of Biblical authors write in detail about the Antichrist, each giving him a name fitting to their own description of him. Daniel refers to the false messiah as the Little Horn (Daniel 7:8 and 8:9); then he is called a contemptible person in 11:21; and a wilful king in chapter 11:36. The final reference is in 9:26, where Daniel refers to him as the prince that shall come (KJV). Zechariah calls the Antichrist the idol shepherd (Zech. 11:16-17), which is in strong contrast to Yeshua, the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. In the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he calls the Antichrist the man of sin and the son of perdition (2 Thes. 2:3 [KJV]), and that wicked one (2 Thes. 2:8 [KJV]). All these adjectives that Paul uses to describe the Antichrist point to his rebellion against God.
So, just as the false messiah is referred to in various descriptive ways, there are various descriptive titles in the Old Testament for the coming Messiah. Here are some of the Biblical terms used for Yeshua Mashiach:
- My Servant
- The Branch
- The Stone
- Son of David
- Son of Man
- Consolation (comfort received) of Israel
This study will have a closer look at the significance of the first five terms.
The key to correctly interpreting these terms is to examine their context, and the context for Yeshua is always Hebraic. Examples are:
Zechariah 3, contains the fourth of eight visions given to the prophet Zechariah. God shows Zechariah a judgement scene, Jesus (the angel) sits in judgement over the High Priest Joshua (the highest spiritual authority at that time), with Satan standing as his accuser. Zechariah, as High Priest, represents the nation of Israel, and the scene depicts the High Priestly garments of Zechariah as being covered in filth (excrement), with Satan standing on his right side as his accuser. Satan is rebuffed, being told that Israel is “a brand plucked from the fire” (vs. 2). Verse 8 reveals how Israel will be saved from the fire of judgement: ”Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch”. God is speaking to Joshua and the “friends” who are the religious leaders of Israel, such as the Sanhedrin in the time of Yeshua. These are men with sound knowledge of the Tanakh, and therefore should recognise the sign of “my servant the Branch” as a reference to the Messiah. The scriptures that link to Zechariah 3:8 “My Servant” are:
- Isaiah 42:1 & 3: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations… A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.
- Isaiah 49:5-6: “And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’.”
- Isaiah 53:11-12: “By his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”.
In Philippians 2:6-9, Paul gives us clarity as to why Jesus is given the title of “My Servant”: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name”. All the actions of Jesus recorded in the Gospels were for the benefit of others, Jesus the Son of God left His throne in heaven and took on the role of serving mankind. At the last meal He had with the disciples, he took on the duty of a humble household servant, and washed their feet. All the disciples had, had the time to fulfil this Middle Eastern courtesy for guests at a meal, but pride had prevented them from doing so.
How Philippians 2 relates to believers who seek to attain the mind of Christ, is explained in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.
Through the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians we are able to understand that there is a spiritual process taking place in our lives. We are being changed from the glory of our salvation, to the glory of attaining the mind of Christ. The process is step by step and stage by stage, where the Holy Spirit through life circumstances deals with our pride. For only in humility are we willing to follow the example of our Saviour and give of ourselves to serve others. Only once we have attained the mind of Christ will we able to be called by the glorious title “servant”. It is only those believers who are eternally minded that truly understand that giving up this life to serve is no great loss, as they gain eternal riches in the Kingdom (Matthew 6:19-20).
There are a number of scriptures that use the term Branch in the Old Testament when referring to the Messiah:
- “‘The days are coming’, declares the Lord. ‘When I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land… he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6).'”
- “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1)”.
- “I am going to bring My Servant the Branch (Zechariah 3:8).”
- “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord (Zechariah 6:12).”
Yeshua was strongly tied to the symbolism of the olive tree (Messiah means “anointed one”). He came from Nazareth, which means “olive branch,” and one of His names is “Jesus (saviour) of Nazareth (olive branch).” Also, Yeshua is a descendent of David, which connects Yeshua to Jeremiah 23:5, “I will raise up to David a righteous Branch.” Note that Zechariah 3:8 combines “Servant” and “Branch” when describing the salvation of Israel. The combination covers Yeshua as both the suffering Messiah, the Son of Joseph, and the Kingly Messiah. The Branch from the line of David.
The “Stone,” is the third image of the Messiah that is given by God as an explanation as to how “the brand” will “be plucked from the fire” in Zechariah 3.
“For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day” (Zechariah 3:9).
God is speaking as Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of a mighty army, strong to save, and He says I am going to send you a stone. A stone is yet another Messianic title, which is revealed in Isaiah 28:16: “therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: Whoever believes will not be in haste (disturbed)’.” The symbolism is repeated in Psalm 118:22 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.
The apostle Peter confirms the fulfilment of Isaiah 28:16-17 prophecy by Jesus, writing: “As you come to him (Yeshua), a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame’” (1 Peter 2:4-6). So, although Yeshua was initially rejected, God the Father has made Yeshua the cornerstone of our salvation. There is no other way.
The stone in Zechariah 3:9 is not only singular, but it is completely unique having seven eyes. The number seven is God’s number and represents completeness, and perfection. The seven eyes therefore represent the fact God is all seeing, nothing escapes His attention. It is interesting to note that Jewish sages attach a further meaning to the eyes, saying that it means God pays special attention to this stone. This interpretation should hold special significance for believers, who being moulded into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) will have the eyes of the Lord paying very special attention to them!
Peter uses the symbolism of Yeshua as the cornerstone to dramatic effect as a warning to what will happen to those who reject Yeshua: “‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the Word, as they were destined to do” (1 Peter 2:8). When the cornerstone is rejected, the building will firstly fail, and secondly the rejected cornerstone will always be in the way, a physical obstacle, but also a reminder to why the home built without the cornerstone is unstable.
Son of David.
There are seventeen verses in the New Testament that describe Jesus as the “Son of David.” When the Jews called Yeshua the “Son of David,” they expressed their faith that He was the Messiah. There was also the firm belief that the “Son of David” would fulfil the covenant promises of the Messiah ruling over Israel, as the Kingly Son of David (2 Sam. 7:13). This would also include the fulfilment of the land promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:18, which is “the land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” – the river of Egypt is not the Nile as represented in the diagram below, but the Eastern most branch of the Nile delta. This land covenant has never been fulfilled. Some theologians claim that Solomon did fulfil the requirements, however his territory did not reach the boundaries promised to Abraham, and a number of vassal states, which were not Israel, are included in that definition of Solomon’s territory. Only the Messiah, the Son of David, will fulfil that promise when He establishes His Kingdom.
The Son of Man
The fifth term we are going to look at is “Son of Man,” a title Yeshua used for Himself. To fully understand the significance of this title we need to refer to one of the most important passages in the Book of Daniel:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).
Let’s consider each aspect of this important vision:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man….” (Daniel 7:13a).
It is clear in the Old Testament that the term “son of man” is a Hebraic way of saying “human being.” It occurs 107 times in the Hebrew Bible, mostly in the Book of Ezekiel as God’s way of addressing Ezekiel as a man. For example:
“[God] said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.'” (Ezekiel 2:1)
We see it in Psalms:
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
It is also used this way in the Book of Daniel, as God addresses Daniel:
“‘Son of man,’ he said to me, ‘understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.'” (8:17)
However, Yeshua uses it in a different sense. He commonly referred to Himself with the title of “the Son of Man,” and only rarely as the “Son of God.” Why is this? There are two main reasons:
- Accurate: Son of Man, drawn directly from the imagery of Daniel 7:13-14 is an accurate description of who He really was and is.
- Ambiguous: “Son of Man” is ambiguous enough that His enemies aren’t able to seize on the title as blasphemy. Son of Man wasn’t laden with religious or political baggage. If, on the other hand, He had openly called Himself Messiah or Son of God, His ministry would have been cut short by His enemies.
Though “Son of Man” may seem ambiguous, as we’ll see in 7:13-14, it is actually a title full of divinity and glory and power. In verse 13 of chapter 7, Daniel sees one who looks human (“like a son of man”) but is actually the divine heir of the Kingdom of God. By taking the title “Son of Man,” Jesus is speaking Kesher, saying, “I am the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel’s prophecy!” And, He confirms this in His trial before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:64).
- The above explanation on Daniel 7:3a is adapted from Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Jesus Walk Bible study series, Four Beasts and the Son of Man (Daniel 7) http://www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/5_son_of_man.htm. (2019/06/20).
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Daniel 7:13b).
Daniel in his vision sees the Son of Man in human form before the Ancient of Days, but he is “coming with the clouds.” He is riding the cloud chariot, which scripture reveals to us is the exclusive privilege of God alone. See, for example, the following verses:
- “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds – his name is the LORD – and rejoice before him.” (Psalm 68:4).
- He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:3b).
- “See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt.” (Isaiah 19:1a).
The divine link with clouds is also regularly attributed to Yeshua: in Acts 1:9, Yeshua ascends into a cloud. In I Thessalonians 4:17 the rapture raises saints to the presence of Yeshua in the clouds. Yeshua also refers to His return at the end of the Tribulation as “coming on the clouds”:
“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30b; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27).
“You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62).
John in the book of Revelation confirms the return of Jesus with the clouds, writing:
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him….” (Revelation 1:7a).
“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one ‘like a son of man’ with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” (Revelation 14:14a).
“He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” (Daniel 7:13).
Daniel 7:9 reveals that the “Ancient of Days” carries the ideas of eternity, with the wisdom of the ages:
“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire”.
This is clearly Adonai, our Lord and Father, seated on a flaming throne, waited on in His court by myriad attendants, books open, judgment rendered. He is seated in all His glory, much like Isaiah saw Him:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.'” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
The Son of Man appears before “the Ancient of Days,” Almighty God in all His glory and power.
“He was given authority, glory and sovereign power” (Daniel 7:14a).
In Daniel’s vision the “Ancient of Days,” almighty God the Father, gives the Son of Man all authority, glory, and sovereign power, which are all symbols of a divine being. Yeshua confirms this “authority” when, after the resurrection He appears to the disciples (Thomas being absent) in the upper room and says:
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
Then just before His ascension Yeshua tells His disciples:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations….” (Matthew 28:18b-19a)
The great commission has the Son of Man passing on His authority to all who seek to follow after Him, so as to fulfil The Fathers plans and purpose.
“All peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him” (Daniel 7:14b).
Daniel 7:14b is a body blow to Judaism’s rejection of the Trinity and the deity of Yeshua, as Daniel clearly states that he sees in his vision a “Son of Man,” who is treated as a God in heaven, being given authority and receiving worship. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson explains that the Greek word used for worshiped is pelah, which in its original form meant the ploughing of a field, but over time came to represent the effort given to glorifying a deity, in worship and service (1).
- (1) Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Jesus Walk Bible study series, Four Beasts and the Son of Man (Daniel 7) http://www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/5_son_of_man.htm (2019/06/20).
- The above explanation on Daniel 13 and 14, is adapted from Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Jesus Walk Bible study series, Four Beasts and the Son of Man (Daniel 7) http://www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/5_son_of_man.htm. (2019/06/20).
Summary of Titles:
The symbolic titles reveal the hypostatic union of Jesus (fully man and fully God), He is the Son of Man, from the righteous Branch of David, who came to serve, and establish Himself as the cornerstone of our faith. They emphasise Yeshua’s understanding of the Kingdom of God, one of the major themes of His ministry. This Son of Man who has all authority, will return to earth as the Son of David – the righteous Branch, and He will rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem.
The Biblical terminology for Messiah that we studied link The Messiah with David, The Messiah therefore must be the Son of David, the righteous Branch, the Son of Man. The hypostatic union of Yeshua is further evidence for the literal interpretation of prophecy and the reality of a Millennial Kingdom. Yeshua is all man and all God, as the Son of Man He will have a thousand-year rule in Jerusalem, seated on the throne of David. As the Son of God, Yeshua will have an eternal rule from The New Jerusalem. The Biblical titles for the Messiah demand a Kingdom rule.
Indicators from Yeshua that He was Divine
“Your Sins Are Forgiven”
Dwight Prior explains that “when Yeshua boldly claims that he forgives sins, the kesher connections are to be found in the book of Leviticus (4:35). Sins are not pardoned by the (Hebrew) priests; they only perform the rites and announce that the individual’s sin ‘shall be forgiven him’. It is God alone who has the authority to forgive (salach) sins. When one person extends forgiveness to another person, a different Hebrew term is used, nasa (Genesis 50:17 – Joseph forgives his brothers). Thus, when Yeshua declares “your sins are forgiven” using the salach, the scribes react that he is blaspheming (Matthew 9:3)”. The scribes knew that forgiving sins was a divine activity.
However, Yeshua did not only forgive (salach) the sins of an individual, but would also provide conclusive evidence of His authority to do so. He would perform a physical miracle from the same source as the forgiveness. An example of this is when Yeshua was confronted by the scribes for telling a paralytic man that his sins were forgiven, Yeshua answered them saying, “which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic— “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:5-6).
- The kesher links of Yeshua forgiving sins are taken from D. A. Pryor book, Behold the Man, Centre for Judaic Christian studies, 2005. P110
He Accepted Worship
During His confrontation with Satan in the wilderness, Yeshua rebuffed Satan’s attempts to be worshiped by Him, saying “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8). Yet on more than one occasion Yeshua accepts the worship of those that follow Him:
- After Yeshua joined the disciples in their boat by walking across the Sea of Galilee, Matthew records that “those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
- Matthew 9:18–26 records that on one occasion “a ruler came and knelt before Him (NIV; ESV), saying, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live’.” While kneeling before a person cannot on its own indicate worship, other translations give greater depth to Matthews statement: “Bowed before him” (NASV; GOD’S WORD Translation); “prostrated himself before him” (Literal Standard Version); “Adored” (Douay-Rheims Bible); “worshipped him” (NKJV; Amplified Bible; ASV; ERV; New Heart English Bible; Word English Bible). The difficulty in translating the Greek word prosekynei can be seen in the fact that it could be used for a slight bow in the head, all the way down to being prostrate. However, the use of the word prosekynei must be seen in the context of the narrative, the word implies that the ruler was humbly and reverently pleading as one would do in prayer to God. The man was a ruler in the synagogue and would well know that his prosekynei was unacceptable behaviour toward anyone but God.
- During the Triumphal entry of Yeshua into Jerusalem, the crowd was shouting “Hosanna” (Matthew 21:9; John 12:13). Hosanna is directly translated as “save us,” and it was both a plea for salvation and an expression of adoration. The crowd was using the word as a form of worship.
- Yeshua claimed equality with the Father saying “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33).
- Yeshua also made claim to being eternal when He said “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8: 58), implying He existed before the birth of Abraham. Also, by using the term “I AM” for Himself, Yeshua is speaking kesher, linking to the great “I AM” title God gave Himself in Exodus 3:14, when speaking to Moses from the burning bush. The immediate, violent reaction from the Jews to His amazing revelation, clearly indicates they fully understood that Yeshua was claiming not only divinity, but to be the Holy God who called Himself Yahweh. YHWH is derived from the Hebrew word Ehyeh, which is the first-person form of hayah, “to be”, and is interpreted as meaning “I am”.
- Yeshua claimed to have a unique bond with the Father, which included an authority that He alone possessed to reveal the Father to others: “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).
- The third commandment is to never use the name of the Lord in vein, so by Yeshua claiming that His name could be blasphemed, is claiming equality with God the Father: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).
- The Jews of the Gospel period believed the messiah would be a man, anointed by God, in a similar manner to David’s anointing. On one occasion Yeshua confronted the Pharisees regarding this belief, asking: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They, according to their logic answered, “The Son of David”. Yeshua then said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44-45). The Psalmist statement contains two different Hebrew words for “Lord” in the original. The first “Lord” is actually Yahweh, the covenant name for God, while the second “Lord,” which represents the Messiah, is Adoni, meaning “master” or “Lord”. Psalm 110:1 may therefore be written as “Yahweh says to my Adoni…” Yeshua is making it clear through scripture that the Messiah would be both the Son of David, and the Son of God, something that the theology of the Pharisees could not comprehend.
- Yeshua standing in Judgement before Caiaphas, the corrupt high priest, discloses the full truth of His identity. Caiaphas, determined to condemn Yeshua for blasphemy asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61). Yeshua firstly answers using the sacred name of Yahweh, saying “I AM.” This alone was sufficient for Caiaphas to condemn Yeshua, but Yeshua continues saying, “But I tell you this, hereafter you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Caiaphas recognizes the reference to Daniel’s exalted figure, and is enraged at this extreme claim, he tears his robes in dramatic indignation, accusing Yeshua of blasphemy. Caiaphas also understands that Yeshua is tell him that although he is standing in judgement of him now, one day the roles will be reversed, and Yeshua will be seated on the judgement throne with supreme authority, and Caiaphas will be standing condemned before it.
The above examples make it clear that Yeshua consistently and frequently made claims for His divine identity.
A side note of interest, is that the keen observer would realise the repeated use of scriptures from Matthew in the evidence of the divinity of Yeshua. The Gospel of Matthew has a special emphasis on the worship of Yeshua, Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Jews and portrays Yeshua as their Messiah, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Messianic expectations of the Jews at the Time of Yeshua
Messianic expectations, are defined as the beliefs and expectations a person, or group of people hold regarding the advent of The Messiah. The Jews of Yeshua’s day, were looking for the Kingly Messiah, the Son of David. A Messiah who would free them from the oppression of Rome and establish His rule over the nation of Israel, from the throne of David in Jerusalem, entering a time of unprecedented peace. They did not understand the prophecies that indicated the Messiah would firstly appear as the Son of Joseph, the suffering Messiah, to free the people from the oppression of sin.
A study of the messianic expectations of the Jews at the time of Yeshua, are not only very revealing, but also very important for clarification of eschatological (end times) expectations of the Church.
The expectation of Simeon and Anna
Two witnesses to the expectations of the Jews at the time of Yeshua were present at the Temple for His dedication:
Luke 2:25-35 describes an encounter of infant Yeshua, Mary, and Joseph with a man named Simeon. Luke records that, “it had been revealed to (Simeon) by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”. Simeon’s prayer on that occasion indicated that his life’s purpose was now complete and he could die peacefully in the knowledge that God’s salvation (for both Jews and Gentiles) had come. Dwight Prior reveals that the kesher significance of Simeon’s wondrous proclamation, links to important Messianic prophecies:
” …my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
This proclamation of Yeshua as the awaited Messiah makes a Kesher connection with Isaiah 24:23: “The Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory”. Also, Isaiah 25:9 “This is the Lord, we waited for Him, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation”.
Note that Simeon’s proclamation covers the salvation the Son of Joseph will bring, and the rule from Jerusalem with the “great glory,” that the Son of David will bring, when ruling from Mount Zion. The use by Isaiah of the title “Mount Zion” is significant, as “Zion” is a term that is only used to describe the presence of God in the midst of His people, the Jews. Isaiah therefore, is referring to a Kingdom rule by the Messiah, not the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. Simeon’s prophecy over the infant Yeshua therefore, points to both Yeshua the Son of Joseph who brings salvation to mankind, and to Yeshua the Son of David, who will restore the throne of David on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
The second witness was the prophetess Anna, who confirms Simeon’s proclamation by saying, “to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).”
Dwight Prior explains that “the word translated ‘redemption’ (lutrosis in Greek) literally means ‘‘losing’’ in the sense of ‘liberating’. It corresponds to the Hebrew word ge’ulah – as in ‘the freedom (liberation) of Jerusalem,’ a phrase found on Jewish coins during the revolt against Rome in AD. 68-70”.
The word “redemption” has a deeper significance in that it has a connection with Yeshua as the “Kinsman Redeemer”. Anna’s prophecy is a pointer to Yeshua as both the Son of Joseph and the Son of David. To understand this statement, we need to look at the book of Ruth, and the book of Revelation. Boaz is the “kinsman redeemer” in the book of Ruth, he is the nearest relative of Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. So, he is the one who is charged with the responsibility of restoring the land rights back to Naomi by buying the property of Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband (Ruth 4:2-11). Boaz is a shadow of the reality of Yeshua (typology), who as the Lamb of God paid the price for the sins of man, and as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is going to claim that right, to “liberate” the earth from Satan. In Revelation 5 we are shown Yeshua as our kinsman redeemer, standing before the throne of God, about to take the seven sealed scroll from the hand of God. W. A. Criswell, in his book Expository Sermons on Revelation, gives an excellent explanation of the use of the scroll in Biblical times (1). He explains that Jewish law ensured that no Jewish family would lose their lands because of debt. Should a Jewish family be in financial distress their losses would be listed in a scroll and sealed seven times. The conditions necessary to purchase back their land and possessions would be written on the outside of the scroll. When a kinsman redeemer, who met the stated requirements came forward, he was able to purchase the property back for the family, from the person to whom the property had been forfeited because of their debt. This ensured that no family would ever lose their right to land given to them by God. The seven seals are therefore not judgements in the form of the trumpet and bowl judgements in Revelation. Rather, they are what must occur before the kingdoms of the world can be taken from Satan, and returned to mankind through the Kingsman Redeemer – Yeshua. The process starts with mankind’s rejection of Jesus, and their turning to the false messiah, the Antichrist.
Amazingly Anna emphasizes the prophecy of Simeon, by prophesying that the infant Yeshua will be the answer for those looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem”. He will be the Kinsman Redeemer who will as the Lamb of God pay the price for sin, and as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah claim the territory of earth back for mankind, by defeating Satan and his false messiah, and then establishing a Kingdom rule on earth.
- The kesher links of Simeon and Anna are taken from D. A. Pryor book, Behold the Man, Centre for Judaic Christian studies, 2005. P106
- (1) W. A. Criswell, Expository Sermons on Revelation – Five Volumes, Zondervan, 1966
John the Baptist’s Expectations
John the Baptist had the same expectation of the Messiah as ordinary Jews of his time, this is seen in his fiery speeches. When John warns of the need to repent, it is because he believes an earthly Kingdom is at hand, John emphasizes this by saying that “the axe is already at the root of the trees” (Luke 3:9). We see this tension between John the Baptist’s expectations of the Messiah, and Jesus’ self-understanding in a couple of places:
- The Gospel of Luke (4:16-30) records that in the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus stopped reading Isaiah 61 after the words “to proclaim an acceptable year of the Lord,” He does not then continue to read, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Against the expectations of those present, the Messiah had come to declare God’s favour, not His vengeance.
- Dwight Prior (1) points out that in Luke 7:18-35. John sends a couple of his disciples to enquire, “Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?” This is a Kesher reference to Ha-Ba (the King who comes) prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 – the Messiah who triumphs over His enemies.
John is clearly confused, it is apparent that in line with his fiery rhetoric, he expected a forceful Messiah proclaiming the authority of God on earth. The answer Yeshua gives John’s disciples is that they are to tell him of the “healing,” both physical and spiritual that was taking place: “Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receives their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” John would recognize Isaiah’s prophecy in those words. However, Yeshua understands that this answer would not be the one John was looking for, so Yeshua adds a warning for John not to stumble or be offended.
- (1) The kesher link of John the Baptist is from D. A. Pryor book, Behold the Man, Centre for Judaic Christian studies, 2005.P109
The Messianic expectation of James and John
According to Church tradition the disciples James and John, “the sons of thunder,” were cousins of Yeshua, as Salome their mother was the sister of Mary, Yeshua’s mother. So, as Salome was Yeshua’s’ aunt, that could explain her familiarity with Yeshua when she brazenly petitioned Yeshua on behalf of her sons; requesting that “(Her) two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left in the kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). Yeshua knows that James and John are behind the request, so He directs His response to them. Now, although this request is very ambitious and arrogant, it is very apparent that they expected there would be an earthly Kingdom over which they hoped to attain a superior status of honour. Yeshua did not rebuke the two brothers, but corrected their misconception regarding His Kingdom rule, a very appropriate time to do so. The brothers did not understand the Kingdom was already, but not yet. They expected a crown, but would receive a cup of suffering, they wanted to rule, but had to learn to be servants. However, they will attain a crown eventually, when Yeshua returns to establish His earthly Kingdom, they with the other disciples will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28–30).
The Messianic expectation of Judas
Judas was a Zealot, a political group that stemmed from the days of the rebellion of the Maccabees against Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greek tyrant who tried to Hellenise Israel. This political group had strengthened in number with the Roman occupation of Judea, and became the guerrilla terrorists of their day. Judas was very likely a young patriotic Jew who hated living under the oppression of Roman rule. He was not the only Zealot among the disciples, Simon the Zealot is listed in Matthew 10 as one of the disciples. However, it is clear from scripture that Judas’ motivation for following Yeshua was different to all the other disciples. Like the other disciples Judas believed Yeshua was the Messiah, but he did not give his life over to Him – to love Yeshua. Instead, he gave his life over to the political and material gain that he believed he could attain from being in the inner circle with Jesus – he gave himself to the love of money and power.
Judas was not interested in the Kingdom for the Kingdom’s sake, or for the sake of Yeshua; he had no regard for others. He was interested in the Kingdom for what he might gain from it, if he were in the inner circle with Yeshua. Judas was committed to following Yeshua, but his commitment was self-serving, it was for self-interest and self-gain. The prosperity preachers of today mirror the actions and attitude of Judas; having no concern for others, they do not preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, but rather preach the gospel of greed, using the name of Yeshua for their own profit.
The Kingdom was a reality for Judas, both as a Zealot, and as a man who sort to ensure prosperity for himself during the Messiah’s rule.
The Messianic expectation of the Triumphal Entry Crowd
On the Saturday evening (after 18:00 – see Feasts of the Bible 1), of the week of His crucifixion, Yeshua made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Yeshua humbly rode on the back of the foal of a donkey, and multitudes of people shouted “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38), interspersed with cries of “hosanna,” which means “save us”. The celebration of the crowd was motivated by their belief that Yeshua was heading to the Fort of Antonia – Pilate’s residence – to overthrow the tyrannical Roman governor, and then proclaim Himself as King. The spectator Pharisees, on seeing and hearing the messianic hopes of crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” (vs. 39), for they perceived the cries of the crowd to be blasphemous. Now this was an excellent opportunity, if there was not going to be a Kingdom rule, for Yeshua to put the record straight, but He does not. Instead He answers that, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). Now most commentators take this as poetic licence, however I believe that Yeshua is emphasizing the importance of the occasion for all of creation, and if the people do not celebrate it, creation would. Paul reminds us that the whole of creation was brought under the fall of mankind, when he writes “the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:22).
To the surprise of the crowd Yeshua, instead of heading for Pilate’s residence, turns and heads for the Temple Mount. The Passover Lamb of God was being presented to the people at the house of God. The Lamb comes before the Lion, the Suffering Messiah before the Son of David.
The Messianic expectation of The Disciples on the road to Emmaus
As a covenant people of God, the Jews of the Second Temple period were eagerly waiting for a King Messiah to liberate them from the heavy hand of Rome. Even the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35), were deeply distressed over the death of Yeshua. Their despondency was not only over Yeshua’s death, but also that they had “hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:25), freeing them from the oppressive rule of Rome. Their hopes for a Messianic redemption and the establishment of an earthly Kingdom had been dashed.
The book of Acts records that the disciples were asking Yeshua about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6). Jesus did not deny the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, but He refused to give them a time when it would happen. The heavenly Father, as sovereign God, reserves that for Himself. When Yeshua joins the two disciples on their journey to Emmaus, He explains it was necessary “‘that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”. Yeshua made no attempt to correct the two disciple’s expectation of a future Kingdom.
A study of the messianic expectation of the Jews at the time of Yeshua clearly indicated they were looking for a Son of David Messiah, who would establish an earthly Kingdom which would be an unprecedented time of peace. Time and again we see the matter being brought into scripture. Now, if the concept of an earthly Kingdom is false, then Yeshua had more than enough opportunities to make this clear, to correct a false doctrine – He did not – there will be a Kingdom. However, for the Jews of the Gospel period it was a matter of already, but not yet. The disciples, including men like Paul, Barnabas, Timothy and Luke, with woman like Salome, Mary (the mother of Mark), Pricilla and Lydia, will one day in the future, be ruling with Yeshua in Jerusalem.
Yeshua the Divine Prophet
Yeshua is our King, and High Priest, but He is also a prophet, His prophecies are used in Christian apologetics as evidence of His divinity. The most popular example is Yeshua’s prophecy of the destruction of Herod’s Temple:
“I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).
This prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Roman general Titus crushed the Jewish revolt. After a brutal battle to break through onto the temple mount from the North, the Romans finally succeeded on the day the Jews call Tisha B’Av, the exact same day as Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonians captured Jerusalem. After four months of siege fighting, the Roman soldiers had revenge in their hearts. Disobeying the command by Titus to preserve the temple, the building was set alight. The fire was so intense that the gold plating of the temple melted down into the cracks of the temple platform. To loot the gold, the temple and the platform was dismantled fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy.
Yeshua fulfils the role of God and prophet when He warns the Jews of the consequence of their rebellion against Him. However, just as in the Old Testament, God through the prophets spoke of the way back to a restored relationship with Him for His covenant people, so too does Yeshua, and that is through “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Yeshua firstly warns that the Antichrist will be accepted as the Messiah by the Jews:
“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43).
The rise of the Antichrist signals the start of the last seven years of Tribulation that Jeremiah labelled “the time of Jacob’s trouble”. The way back for the Jews, to a restored relationship with God through the true Messiah, commences when the Antichrist proclaims himself to be god. Yeshua points to this land mark occasion, saying:
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15).
At this time the Church has been raptured into heaven and the attention of God is fully on the nation of Israel. The Tribulation is a time of God dealing with the Jews, and restoring them back in relationship with Him. The nation of Israel, because of their rejection of the suffering Messiah, will accept the Antichrist – the false king messiah – who will institute a false peace. Half way through the Tribulation, the Antichrist will call himself god, and place a statue (abomination) of himself in the temple (Holy Place), and demand that people worship his idol. Scripture warns of this dramatic occurrence three times: the first is in Daniel 9:27, and then Yeshua, by referring to Daniel’s abomination in Matthew 24, is confirming that the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy is still in the future. Finally, John as part of his detailed explanation of the Antichrist in Revelation 13, explains the worship of the Antichrist’s idol is going to be connected to buying and selling with a coded mark. The clear repetition of this warning three times in scripture, must solidify this warning in the hearts and minds of all believers. There is a time coming soon when Satan will install his false messiah on a throne in Jerusalem. For those living during the Tribulation, the establishment of an idolatrous image in the Holy Place, will inevitably result in the judgment of God. The idol then is the abomination that brings desolation. Yeshua then warns the Jews of the consequences for those Jews who will reject the Antichrist, because of his claim to godhood, saying:
“…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath” (Matthew 24:16-20).
Having described the sign which is responsible for the start of the Great Tribulation, Yeshua then emphatically informs the Jews what should be done when the abomination of desolation appears – flee! Don’t pack your bags, don’t even go to find your hat and coat – flee immediately. Note that the language Yeshua uses is aimed at the Jews, they will be the ones living in Judea – closest to the action, and observing the Sabbath.
The warning Yeshua gives is for the Jews to understand firstly, the urgency of the moment, and secondly, that they are going to be refugees. The life of a refugee is difficult enough with the loss of a home and burdensome loads to carry, without also having to have to deal with cold winter temperatures. Further hinderances to their flight would be the restrictions of a Sabbath day’s journey, and the impediment that a pregnancy would have on travel. Bringing a child into the world during the last days, will also increase the difficulties of daily living for the refugee parents.
So, Yeshua confirms His Divinity through prophecies, and it is important to note that His prophecies are literal. The Temple was literally taken down stone by stone, so too, will there be a literal Antichrist, a literal image erected in the Holy Place and a literal Tribulation. The end times theories that replacement theology has spawned, all reject the restoration of the nation of Israel, a literal Antichrist and the seven years of Tribulation. For them the prophecies of Yeshua are spiritualized to occur during the Church period, so there is no concern for the severity of these prophecies for mankind. This error will have extreme consequences. It is the duty of every believer to pray into these prophecies, and to use every opportunity to make both Jew and Gentile aware of Yeshua’s warnings to them.
The Divine Jewish Saviour’s Harvest
The divinity of Yeshua cannot be separated from His Jewish culture. Yeshua on resurrection did not suddenly stop being the Jewish Messiah. His covenants to return and rule and reign over the restored nation of Israel remain intact. The harvest of believers, will follow the three-part instruction God gave to the Jews regarding the requirements for the grain harvest:
1 The First Fruits
1a. The Jewish harvest started with the First Fruits wave offering before the Lord (Leviticus 23:9-10).
1b. The harvest of the believers started with a First Fruits wave offering before the Lord. The Gospel of Matthew records that on the day of Yeshua’s resurrection, “tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52). These saints went to heaven and were presented as the First Fruits of Yeshua’s harvest.
2. Main Harvest
2a. Once the First Fruit harvest had been presented to the Lord, the labourers could go into the field and harvest the grain.
2b. The main harvest of souls will be at the return of Yeshua for His bride at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thes. 4:16-17).
3. The Gleaning
3a. The last phase of the Jewish harvest was the gleaning. God’s instruction to the Jews was, “(You) shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest… You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner” (Leviticus 19:9-10).
3b. The last harvest will be the resurrection of the Tribulation saints at the end of the seven years. Where those that have died or were put to death by the Antichrist during the Tribulation, will be raised from the dead, to serve the Lord during the Millennial Kingdom. They are shown in the Book of Revelation, in Chapters 6:9-11 and 7:9-12.
Dwight Prior critically points out a common misconception, writing, “The majority of Christians today tend to view Yeshua as a “universal man,” and they consider the Jewish background to be incidental, and of little spiritual significance.” Prior then goes on to emphasize his point by stating “The facts are that Jesus was:
- Born a Jew
- Raised as a Jew
- Taught as a Jew
- Died as a Jew, with a psalm on His lips
- Will return as a Jew – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah
- Will return to Jerusalem and reign over the earth from there”
- D. A. Pryor, Behold the Man, Centre for Judaic Christian studies, 2005.P63
The Jews of the second temple period – Simeon, Anna, the Emmaus disciples and John the Baptist were all expecting a Davidic, Kingly Messiah, to free them from the oppression of Rome. Yeshua clarified His earthly ministry as one of redemption not judgement, but He never corrected their belief of an earthly rule over the nations of the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem, by the “Son of David,” as being wrong – just not yet!