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Prophecies of the Messiah – His Kingdom

Prophecies of the Messiah – His Kingdom

The Hebrew Scriptures
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. …… Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:7-9, 12)

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

The New Testament

Shortly before Jesus’ death and resurrection

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:1-9)

“Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.”….Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. (Luke 19:30,35)

Shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly towards heaven as He was went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Comments and Quotations

“This is the Messiah our Righteousness. But is it not written of the Messiah, “Lowly, riding upon an ass?” Yes, but this shows he will come in humility, and not in pride upon horses.” (Saadiah Gaon [d.942] on Daniel 7:17)

“Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), “Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee”, as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance.” (Sukkah 52a, Babylonian Talmud)

 

The prophecies quoted here appear to set Messiah’s kingdom in tension, a tension which Saadiah Gaon noted. Properly understood, Yeshua fulfils them all. The Zechariah prophecy underlines that Messiah is not a military conqueror, rather he is lowly and rides on a donkey’s colt. His riding on a donkey harks back to the time of the Judges, when men like Samuel travelled in such a fashion, and ruled by teaching the law of the LORD. Yeshua deliberately rode into Jerusalem in such a style to underline that his kingdom would save people by mercy, justice and righteousness, not by violence. Luke’s Gospel adds an important detail – that the colt Yeshua sat on had never been ridden. His own power and peace stilled an animal prone to panic in such crowds, underlining and exemplifying the nature of his kingdom. All this is echoed in the quote from Matthew 28 where Yeshua tells his disciples that their task now is to follow his example of teaching God’s ways, first to Israel and then to all the world, making men and women into his disciples. He does not send them on a military expedition but a teaching tour.

However, the prophecies in the two Psalms reveal there is more to Messiah’s kingdom than gathering disciples who love God’s truth. Messiah is given all power and authority, ruling all for God, so as to bring about submission to God in all of God’s creation. The Psalms make plain that Messiah has opponents and that he has power to deal with them, and will do so very firmly. Strong language like “break them in pieces” has led some to think of Messiah’s kingdom as having a military aspect but nothing in the texts points to that. The wording simply means opponents will find Messiah using means (e.g. economic disaster, natural disasters etc.) to bring about their decline into weakness or even destruction. But Messiah does not achieve submission to God’s truth by such means, but by teaching through his disciples. Yeshua is now seated at the right hand of God, that is, he has all power and authority, and is steadily bringing about the spread of God’s Word through his disciples. Eventually all enemies of God will be ‘under his feet’, and the lion will lie down with the lamb (see page 25). Opponents should beware.