The Messiah in the Old Testament

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Throughout the pages of Old Testament revelation, the prophets of Israel and Judah displayed a pervasive Messianic hope. In their messages, which were often characterized by judgment or doom, often there was also a distant hope that ultimate deliverance would come from God. This deliverance was more than a supernatural phenomenon; it was the work of an anointed servant of God designated “the Messiah” (cf. Daniel 9:25). This title, which became a name of Jesus, was a title of the preincarnate Christ in that eternal day before the beginning of time. From the very beginning, opposition to God is the same as opposition to “his anointed” (Psalm 2:2). In the consummation of this age, the kingdom of Jehovah is identical to the kingdom “of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15). In the context of the Old Testament, the term “Messiah” or “Anointed One” had specific relevance to the three offices into which the candidate was normally initiated by an act of anointing-the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. Because of this I have called it the “Threefold Anointed Office.” Prophetically, the coming Messiah (“anointed one”) was portrayed as holding each of the offices. Typically, the New Testament identifies Christ in the context of the past principal holders of these offices-namely, the Prophet Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15-19), the Priest Melchizedek (cf. Psalm 110:4), and the King David (II Samuel 7:12,13). The candidate for each of these offices was anointed with oil (cf. I Kings 19:16; Exodus 29:6,7; I Samuel 16:13). In fulfillment of the type, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit as He began His public ministry (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10,11; Luke 3:21,22; John 1:32,33). We must assume that the early disciples understood the title “Christ” in the Old Testament context of “the Messiah. “ John the Baptist confessed that he, himself, was not the Christ (John 1:20), yet those who left John to follow Jesus announced boldly, “We have found the Messias” (John 1:41). The divine anointing of Jesus for specific service was important in both the teaching of Jesus and the Jerusalem church (cf. Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38).

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