The Child of Promise … a Jewish Messiah
When my mother died in 2011, each of the children claimed for our own some of her possessions, which is universally quite normal and customary. One of the things I ended up with was her Bible … The Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version. It was one of the first study Bibles, which contain hundreds of commentaries on and cross references to select passages throughout Scripture. My mother was an ardent reader and student of the Bible, and she loved to underline her favorite passages. Hundreds of verses are underlined. Even some of the commentary is highlighted along with dozens of hand-written notes in whatever open space she could find in her Bible!
This Bible is decades old. Exactly how old, no one seems to know. But on the very first page that includes such things as: THE HOLY BIBLE… Old and New Testaments, Authorized Version and other credits and acknowledgements, my mother wrote, “Saved and Baptized (Nov. 29-1953). Obviously that’s the date when she accepted Jesus as her personal Savior. Presumably, she purchased that Bible shortly thereafter.
Although I don’t touch her Bible too often, when I do, I handle it ever so delicately; as an archeologist would upon discovery of a long-lost artifact or treasure. In fact, that’s what her Bible looks like … a priceless literary heirloom that has rested on some dusty book shelf for a hundred years. Obviously, it was just the opposite. Nearly every time I saw my mother, her Bible was open at one time or another. Still, when I turn the pages, it occurs to me that it might just crumble into dust if I don’t caress each sheet with tender loving care!
Many students of the Bible make it a practice to underline select passages, which is perfectly appropriate. I’m not one of those. Long ago I decided not to underline or highlight favorite passages, because my tendency would be to lock into those verses and, thereby, overlook or minimize the importance of all the verses that were not underscored. But that’s just me … underlining is strictly an individual preference. In that sense, all of the books and verses of the Bible are my favorites.
Still, if say my life depended on it, or even if someone pressed me to identify my favorite passage with the statement, “Oh, come on, everyone has a special verse or two. You’re not being practical or honest to say that you don’t have a favorite;” I would be compelled to say, “I suppose you’re right.”
John 3:16 comes to mind: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (NASB). It is, in fact, the most quoted verse in the Bible, and probably the favorite of millions of Christians. I’m sure many have been redeemed through that verse alone. And rightfully so, as no other verse so systematically or succinctly summarizes who and what salvation is all about than this direct quote from and about Jesus himself. Even many unbelievers have heard of the verse.
Yet, as magnificent as that verse is and always will be, it’s not my single most favorite. That belongs to a passage in the Old Testament that I have on occasion quoted in a handful of previous Eye of Prophecy articles. It is an incredible prophecy of the second Child of Promise, which is the subject of this week’s post in continuation of last week’s article on the first child of promise, Abraham’s son, Isaac. As was documented through various Biblical passages, Jesus Christ was a direct descendant of Isaac, who was the child promised to Abraham, the child who would be the progenitor and prototype of THE CHILD who would alter the course of human history.
A Wonderful Promise
Here it is: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9: 6-7).
This was neither the first not the last great announcement of the Promised One, but it is a proclamation that compresses both the first and second coming of Messiah, written some 700 years before the birth of Christ, and now encompassing nearly two thousand years before his soon-to-be glorious return. Just two verses that integrate the awesome plan of God, first for spiritual salvation and then for the physical establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth, that will last forever.
Here are just a few of many insights that these verses provide for the whole world:
- “For a child is born to us….” This is the ultimate Child of Promise. The present tense verb is demonstrates that this child was part of God’s timeless plan from the very beginning. That it was only a matter of time until the child would actually be born. This birth was that of a human being, but a child unique like no other, because he would also be God Incarnate … flesh and blood. The genealogies of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels trace the birth of Jesus back to Abraham and Adam, respectively; to confirm that Jesus was to come through Isaac, through the Jewish people. But that his heritage also goes back to the first created man (and woman). In fact, the first announcement of a Savior is found in Genesis 3:15.
- “A son is given to us.” Showing us that the child was, indeed, a gift from God to the human race. “For God so love the world that he gave his only Son…” Truly, this son was none other than the Son of God. But it was imperative that the Son would also be a man, for only another man would qualify to be a sacrificial substitute for the human race. A man tempted in every way as we are, but without sin.
- “The government will rest on his shoulders.” Here we have a time-warp panoramic view of the future (both when the prophecy was given and even to this day). People all over the world long for someone who is willing and able to govern the planet and accomplish the highest human aspirations possible such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a well-documented historical reality that the very best form of human government is achieved through a benevolent king, who serves and judges his people equally. Not a government where might is right, but Might through or by Right. From Isaiah’s prophecy, we see that the government will rest upon Messiah’s shoulders, with the unmistakable context and connotation that this is a world-wide reign of the highest order of honor, integrity, and truth. (Kingdom of God). Christ will give a whole new meaning to benevolent ruler; beyond anything we’ve ever seen, experienced, or hoped for in the world’s dismal state of current affairs and the abysmal condition of the human race from time immemorial.
- “And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Once again we see that the child that is born, the son that is given is God himself, for these names belong only to divinity. More directly, this child is Messiah Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son. This statement in Isaiah unequivocally declares that the Messiah is coequal to God, as he bears the very names of Almighty God, plus the additional title of Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace).
- “His government and peace will never end.” This incredible kingdom of incomparable peace is truly eternal. Peace—not just the absence of war—but a world of wholeness and tranquility never before experienced on this earth currently plagued with corruption, greed, suppression, evil, natural disasters, disease, and death. Try as we may, there will never ever be true harmony on this earth unless it comes through Messiah Jesus.
- “He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David…” Jesus will be the greatest King and Judge of all time. There will be pure absolute justice on this earth, the kind we can only dream about. An unadulterated fairness, with crystal clear standards of right and wrong never before experienced or practiced by mankind. Jesus will rule with a righteous firmness, but with evenhandedness that only a perfect Judge could administer one hundred percent of the time. Indeed, he will forever be Immanuel—God with us on this earth.
Why is it vitally important to understand the genealogical roots of Messiah Jesus? To fully grasp why he is the Promised Child that descends directly from Abraham, and even more specifically from the first child of promise, Isaac … as opposed to Ishmael? Isn’t it enough to know that he is the Savior of mankind? Do we really need to know his ancestral lineage? Through whom he was born and why from that family?
I believe the answer to these questions is a resounding, yes. For both Jew and Gentile. For both to comprehend that God’s covenant with Abraham required two dynamic disclosures. (1) The descendants of Isaac would be given possession of Israel as an everlasting physical inheritance. (2) Through the promised child, Isaac, the Jewish light to the world (Christ) would come, and bring with him eternal spiritual salvation to both Jew and Gentile.
For the Gentiles: Most Gentile believers in Christ know that Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary, in the town of Bethlehem in the country of Israel. But a lot of Gentile believers forget or pay little attention, to the point of making it almost incidental, that Jesus was, in fact, Jewish through and through. That he descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and King David, just like the Scriptures said he would. Accordingly, many Gentile believers place little emphasis on the Old Testament or on Jesus’s Jewish heritage. This, despite the fact that there are hundreds of Old Testament prophecies about both the first and second coming of a Jewish Messiah.
Consequently, they minimize or even ignore the significance of the Jews and their relationship to the Land of Israel that leads to many unfortunate repercussions such as Replacement Theology … which was discussed at length in two previous Eye of Prophecy articles published on July 19th and 26th, 2014. The tragic error that emerges from this totally unbiblical viewpoint is that the Church has replaced Israel in every single Biblical passage that contains prophetic promises clearly intended only for Israel. As a result, some of these Christians even question who has the right to the land in the context of the on-going conflict between Arab Palestinians and Israelis (the Jews).
And, in clear contradiction to several passages in the New Testament (such as Romans Chapters 9-11), Gentiles, both believers and unbelievers, have been falsely led to believe that the Jews forfeited their eligibility to all of the promises found in Scripture, which includes their right to possess and live in Israel; even to the absurd extent that Jews do not have access to the same salvation through Jesus freely given to the Gentiles. That God will deal with them separately, based on whether they keep the Law of Moses, like they were supposed to do thousands of years ago … but didn’t. Actually, they couldn’t, any more than any Gentile can keep all of God’s laws.
On the contrary, God wants Gentile believers to understand that their blessings and benefits spring directly from the heritage of God’s eternal plan for the chosen people, the Jews, as well as the physical ancestry of the very Messiah who would make this heritage possible. Yes, as a whole, but not entirely, Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah. But God made good come out of such a tragic denial that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. So much so that the Lord inspired the apostle Paul to explain it this way:
“…I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!” (Romans 11: 13-15). To me this is amazing. For centuries, the main underlying and disturbing reason that Gentiles the world over harbor deep resentment (even hatred … Anti-Semitism) against the Jews is all too obvious: They are jealous of the sometimes spectacular accomplishments and general success of many Jews in so many fields of endeavor—medicine, science, architecture, construction, the arts and entertainment, philanthropy, and government.
On the contrary, here Paul is telling the Gentiles that he wants the Jews to become jealous of so great a salvation purchased by a Jewish Messiah freely given even to the Gentiles. But this is a different kind of jealousy. It’s not a destructive type of envy; it’s the kind that makes them want what the Gentiles who believed in Jesus had … forgiveness of sin, a personal relationship with Messiah, and everlasting life with God in heaven.
Paul then uses the metaphor of an olive tree and its branches. “But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. ‘Well,’ you may say, ‘those branches were broken off to make room for me.’ Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches he won’t spare you either” (Romans 11: 17-21).
This is Paul’s emphasis: Gentile believers should not feel superior to Jews in general and Israel is particular just because some (not all) Jews have rejected Jesus as Messiah. Rather, both Jew and Gentile can receive the wonderful blessings and promises given to Abraham, which ultimately is God’s righteousness given to them through faith in Christ, and Christ alone. Paul continues:
“I want you to understand this mystery … so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles come to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved … Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy” (Romans 11: 25-31, italics for emphasis).
In the 20th and 21st century, Jews are coming to Messiah Jesus in greater numbers than since the first century when for decades the greater number, by far, of Christian believers were Jews. And one day all Israel will be saved … meaning those killed for their faith during the Great Tribulation and those alive who have placed their trust in Christ upon his glorious reappearance on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
For the Jews: It’s equally important for the Jews to recognize that the New Testament is simply a continuation of God’s Word to the human race, every bit as historical, accurate, reliable and God-inspired as the Old Testament. That it contains meticulous records of the life of Christ to show how he fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. That Yeshua descended from King David and even further back from Abraham and Isaac. To understand why God spared the first child of promise from sacrifice, but not the second child of promise.
For the first child of promise, Isaac, was to be the physical ancestor of the coming Messiah, thus God would not allow Abraham to follow-through with God’s test of Abraham’s love. But that God’s love for his chosen people and for the entire world (Gentiles) meant God could not and would not spare the second child of promise, God’s own precious Son. Because it was the God-man, Christ Jesus, who would die for the horrible sins of all people and the eternal punishment of those sins in hell forever separated from God. That it’s a historical fact that Jesus arose from the dead to prove that he was the divine Son of God, the very child to be born and son to be given, who is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. To acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is, indeed, their beloved Messiah.
To remind Jews that Jesus was a Jew. That he met all of the qualifications and stipulations spoken of the Messiah as found in the Old Testament. Many Jews to this very day do not know or have placed little emphasis on the fact that Jesus was one of their own; that he descended through the tribe of Judah from where the Messiah would originate. From the loins of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and King David. I personally know a Jewish Rabbi who, after much searching and doubt, found Jesus as his Savior. Before he accepted Jesus as Messiah, this Rabbi used to think that Jesus was a Gentile and that his last (surname) name was Christ! He had no clue that Christ is a title, which is the English version of Messiah in Hebrew.
For Jews and Gentiles Alike
When we comprehend the historical distinction that God himself makes between Isaac, his chosen child of promise, and the child birthed from a servant woman, we better understand the enormous distinction between God’s divine plan of salvation and man-made religious systems that vainly tell God what man will do to gain his favor. It is a concession to our Creator and Savior that his marvelous remedy for our sin-nature and rescue from the penalty of our sins (both physical and spiritual death) is far superior (indeed the only means of reconciliation) to anything that man could invent to solve the sin problem. It is a life-changing recognition of the challenging difference between Law and Grace. Let’s see just how this works as found in the Book of Galatians. Here’s what the Lord tells us through the apostle Paul:
“Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave-wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave-wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother” (Galatians 4: 21-26).
*Note: This illustration is timeless … we see the exact same phenomenon in today’s world: With the exception of thousands of Jews who have trusted in Messiah Jesus, we still see millions of Jews who believe observance of the Mosaic law is the only way to satisfy God’s demands. Or Gentile religions such as Islam, Mormonism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and many others that share one common denominator: hoped-for salvation through keeping of laws and performance of good deeds, or obligatory tithing, or church membership, or baptism, or all of the above. But let’s read Paul’s optimistic conclusion to the Galatians:
“And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit … So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman” (Galatians 4: 28-31, italics for emphasis).
The essential core truth of the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Child of Promise, is that all who place their trust in him will be granted the same inheritance promised to Isaac—to be children of the Most High God. A spiritual birth from above that entitles us to a resurrected new BODY when Christ comes again. A body that will live forever in the New Jerusalem and also on the new earth. With complete freedom from sin, sorrow, and death.
The great mystery of God’s salvation revealed through Messiah Jesus is that both Jew and Gentile will be one new person in Christ. We both will share in the awesome inheritance granted to Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, then all Jews who believe in the 2nd Child of Promise, Yeshua. And all Gentiles who believe in Jesus will be grafted in to this tree of life forever and ever!
And don’t forget: This also includes the perpetual existence of Israel and Jerusalem occupied by God’s chosen people, the Jews. But as in days of old, there will be foreigner Gentiles living in the Promised Land as well as all over the millennial earth.
Things to Ponder
Some Striking Similarities between Isaac and Jesus
Isaac: A miracle birth. Sarah was ninety years old when she conceived and bore Isaac. That just doesn’t happen!
Jesus: An even more miraculous birth. Born of a virgin! That says it all.
Isaac: The promised child (not Ishmael), whose progeny would be the children of Israel, with a perpetual inheritance to the Promised Land of Israel. Both Abraham and Jacob lived part of their lives outside of Canaan (Israel). Only Isaac lived his entire life within the geographical boundaries of Israel. Coincidence?
Jesus: The Promised Son whose death, burial, and resurrection would bring countless (spiritual) children of God into the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God coming to this earth.
Isaac: A foreshadow to the coming Messiah, Isaac was the child of Promise spared as a sacrifice when God substituted a ram, so that God’s promise to Abraham would spiritually and physically come to pass.
Jesus: The very Son of God, whom the Father did NOT spare as the once for all sacrificial substitute for the sins of the whole world. He was and, indeed, still is: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Are you ready for the greatest feature attraction of all time, coming soon to the theatre of your life? Stay tuned for the blockbuster return of the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords!