The Task For Messiah

by George F Spall

1. Messiah – A Mr Fixit

If ever the world needed a Mr Fixit, that time is now. One country, the U.S.A., which has a mere 6% of the world's population uses 50% of the world's resources, leaving the other half for the 94% of people. . . .

World planners hope to bring world living standards nearer to those of the U.S.A. but they will hardly have time to do that. Crisis point is not far away. It is now estimated that the earth's resources have dwindled to twenty years for oil, twenty-two years for natural gas, one hundred and eleven years for coal, ninety-three years for iron and twenty-one years for nickel and copper. Not long!

A cartoon strip shows two men strolling through a subway cutting, chatting together. One asks, "Now where are we going?" The other replies "Nowhere!" and receives the retort, "Then why are we going there so fast?"

Civilization is indeed in a fix. There is a story of a young couple who took her mother along with them on a safari. One morning she was missing from the camp, and after a search they found her crouching in terror at the mouth of a cave.

Facing her was a lion crouched ready for the spring. "Do something!" screamed her daughter. "Oh no," the husband answered. "The lion got himself into that fix -- let him get out of it himself."

Professor Toynbee, Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, was quoted in THE TIMES: "By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons and at the same time making the world more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for deifying any Caesar who might succeed in giving the world unity and peace."

When he was Secretary-General of N.A.T.O. Henry Spaak said much the same thing. "What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people, and to lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and be he god or devil, we will receive him."

2. Messiah – A Superman

Thus does the world cry for a superman. Judaism has high hopes of such a man. He is designated 'Messiah', or as the Hebrew has it, 'Ha Mashiach' which means 'Anointed'. Christians too have high hopes. It is part and parcel of their belief that Jesus of Nazareth, who was born uniquely, loved sinlessly, died tragically, was resurrected miraculously will come again to reign gloriously. To them, the Lord Jesus is Messiah.

Judaism says that the Messiah will be but a human being, divinely appointed no doubt, and certainly divinely anointed, for the word 'Messiah' means exactly that. They know he will be of the lineage of David, for the Bible makes that abundantly clear (Isaiah 9:6,7). Christians reply: "Yes, and that same Jesus fills that requirement exactly (Matthew 1:17). And Christ was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Micah in the Hebrew Bible: "But thou, Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are of old from everlasting." (5:1). The theologians who deem that last sentence to indicate that the anointed is more than man, have some good reason for their opinion surely. The Hebrew phrase -- "from before time, from before everlasting" can scarcely be said of any ordinary human being.

Nor is this concept derived from an isolated passage in Israel's Scriptures. Psalmists and Isaiah have similar things to say. Let us not invite either Mr Passion or Miss Emotion to sit at the table with Professor Reason while this is considered. The idea that Messiah cannot possibly be both God and Man is not so unreasonable and impossible when you properly assess the situation.

The account of the way in which the first family ever lost their happy relationship with the Eternal sheds much light on the matter. It is generally forgotten that Adam, the first man, had been given specific instructions. "And God blessed them and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: AND HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the face of the earth."

It was therefore of great importance that both Adam and Eve should have resisted the Tempter, now known to us as Satan, when he subverted their loyalty and obedience to the Creator. The confrontation is not just between men and men but with Man and a supernatural Being. Messiah will need to conquer, not just at the human level but on a higher sphere. The situation was lost to an archangel, Satan, one who in the first instance was next in importance to the Lord God omnipotent, and it was that omnipotence he challenged and craved. It is beyond any mere man to retrieve a position like that.

The first verse in the Bible draws our attention to the fact that this earth was to be the stage for a tremendous drama. Take notice of the bold statement: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" . Imagine it! This tiny planet gets a mention in the context of the incredibly vast, incomprehensibly immeasurable universe which is billions of light years across. The arch-fiend Satan, known to us by about a dozen names in the Bible, sought to thwart the purposes of God. From other passages in the Bible we know that he tried to take over the throne of Deity (see Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28). When Adam yielded to him Satan took over the throne of Humanity. It was, and is, a battle of the gods.

3. Messiah – Restorer of Command, Communion, Communication

Consider what else Man lost when he yielded up the command entrusted to him. His disobedience filled him with guilt so his communion with his God was destroyed. Guilt made him fearful of his Friend and made him hide. Communication was lost as well as communion. The task for Messiah is to restore all three – communication, communion and command.

A paragraph addressed particularly to Jewish people is found in the book "Hebrews" in the New Testament. Indeed it introduces the book. "God, who at sundry times and in different manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days, spoken to us by his son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high."

Here is one who speaks as a prophet speaks, communicating, Who purges sin, Who as a priest deals with sin and Who is entitled to sit down with the Majesty on high, and does so. A King indeed, with power and authority to command. With sin purged, then communion is restored. Here is a Man Who operates on earth in all three areas, functioning as King, Priest and Prophet. Would such a one not qualify as Messiah? Could a man who is no more than man do all that and still be able to be described as "upholding all things by the word of his power" and "be seated on the right hand of the majesty on high" ? This question deserves to be investigated closely because King David himself wrote about such a Messiah in Psalm 110: "The Eternal saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I place thy enemies as a stool for thy feet. The staff of thy strength will the Eternal stretch forth out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies", and in Psalm 2: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed . . . Yet have I set king upon Zion my holy hill. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son: this day have I begotten thee." (2:2,6,7).

Thus Messiah is more than a human Mr Fixit, or even a human concept of Superman -- He is indeed the Restorer between God and Man of command, communion and communication, the Holy One of Israel indeed, blessed be He.