a very important messianic prophecy,
is quoted in
Revelation and the Gospel of John.
In this episode we tackle the Rabbinic objections to the
Messianic interpretation of Zechariah 12:10.
Dig deeper into the scriptures and let
of your faith be strengthened
by this powerful podcast!
THE DOUBLE MEANING OF MESSIANIC PROPHECY
ONE FOR ISRAEL
There is a lot of biblical prophecy that speaks about Jesus. But I think it’s fair to say most people are blind to the double meaning in those passages. Many believers would cite Isaiah 53 as an obvious example of a biblical prophet speaking of the promised Messiah. We could also talk about the numerous other prophecies concerning His birth and early life,
matters over which the man
Jesus of Nazareth
could have no control:
The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
He would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10)
He could come out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1)
He would be called a Nazarene (Isaiah 11:1)
Then there are all the impossible miracles he would perform during His lifetime: He would heal lepers, open the eyes of the blind, and the lame would leap for joy as foretold in Isaiah 35:5-6. The religious leaders knew this to be true. They were looking for those signs.
There are prophecies saying that the Messiah would be the Son of God
(Psalm 2:12, Proverbs 30:4)
and yet God Himself
(Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Zechariah 2:10).
There are also many prophecies about the way in which the Messiah would die; the timing and His manner of death,
long before crucifixion was even invented, again,
matters out of His control:
He would be ‘cut off’ before the
second temple was destroyed
His hands and feet would be pierced
He would be mocked and tortured before
His friend would betray Him
He would be offered vinegar on the cross
None of His bones would be broken
(Psalm 34:20)… and many more.
WHY CAN’T JEWISH PEOPLE SEE?
You may be aware of these prophecies and many more like them. There are hundreds. We can look back with the confidence of hindsight and say, as improbable as they might have sounded at the time (a virgin giving birth? Really?), they came to pass exactly as described.
It’s easy for Christians to wonder why Jewish people don’t get it… why can they not see? Well. It’s in large part due to the fact that there is a double whammy going on in most of these prophecies. Christians often only see one side of the prophecy, and Jewish people tend to see the other.
If you look at Micah 5, Christians will see the birthplace of Jesus, miraculously foretold with perfect accuracy. If a Jewish person looks at Micah 5, they see a heroic warrior coming to kick butt at the end of time. Take a look, but try to read it through the eyes of Israel. Go on—really, take a quick look—it’s here if you don’t have a Bible handy. Try and see what Jewish people see.
But most biblical prophecy works like this. Whether it’s Isaiah 61 (Good news to the poor AND the day of the Lord’s vengeance) Isaiah 9 (unto us a child is born AND God’s kingdom rule from Jerusalem, punishment of the wicked) or just about any prophecy you care to look at.
It’s time to start using two lenses. Christians need to start adjusting their vision to see the warrior Messiah in the very passages they know so well. Because it’s not like the Jewish Messianic expectation is wrong—it will indeed happen, just as it is written. And Jewish people need to start seeing that the first incarnation was there, in the midst of these passages, all along. And it’s not too late for them to receive Him as Messiah today, two thousand years later!
WHEN WE DON’T SEE THE DOUBLE MEANING
John the Baptist got it, but then again,
Here’s how he introduced his cousin,
Jesus of Nazareth:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 1:11-12)
He knew Jesus had come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He also warned of the unquenchable fire of God that was coming in judgement at the end of time. But perhaps he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing.
John saw both the first and second coming simultaneously, so when he was locked up in prison, on death row, the confusion about why the Messiah wasn’t busting him out of jail and blasting the evildoers must have been hard to take.
Now when John heard in prison about
the deeds of the Christ,
he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them,
"Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
and the dead are raised up, and
the poor have good news preached to them.
And blessed is the one who is
not offended by me.”
He knew his cousin could rescue him, yet somehow He wouldn’t. He saw that this Jesus was truly the Messiah who would winnow, thresh, and burn, but John reported the two comings in one breath. As is very common in Biblical prophecy. John didn’t seem to understand what he had seen. Why wasn’t Jesus executing vengeance as the prophecy said? But John wasn’t wrong, was he? It was just an issue of timing. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me”, says Jesus. John had been so sure at first declaring, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” But now he gets the disciples to go and check—did I get it wrong? The temptation to doubt and become disappointed with God, dismayed and offended must have been strong.
20:20 VISION AND THE PROBLEM OF UNPREPARED PEOPLE
It was hard for Jewish people in the time of Jesus to accept that this humble carpenter from Nazareth who died the cruel, humiliating death of a criminal was their Messiah. But equally, many Christians are too settled and fixated on this first coming to see what Jewish people see.
They are simply not mentally ready for the warrior
from the tribe of Judah
who will execute vengeance and punishment,
which is exactly what Jewish people have been expecting.
The problem of an unprepared people is that they
not only miss it when
God acts according to
but they may even oppose it.
The religious leaders of the day were not ready for what they saw,
they were offended by the humble incarnation,
so they rejected Jesus and stood in opposition to God’s perfect plans.
Lord, let it never be said of us
that we opposed
We want to be with You,
ready and waiting,
rejoicing and joining in
Your activity on earth.
Just as so many Jewish people struggle to see Jesus
in their Bibles,
Christians often fail to see what God has said about
about God’s plans regarding Israel and the
to come because they’re just not used to reading the Bible
with Jewish lenses.
Just as Jesus is there through the whole Bible,
plain as day when you know how to look,
God’s prophetic plans for the end of time.
You just have to get your
We need to look with both lenses.
These are the days for seeing both together. More and more Jewish people are tuning in to the truth about Jesus, finally seeing Him in the Hebrew Scriptures, and
it’s time for Christians
to start adjusting their focus
to look at the Bible through
to get to know the warrior Messiah,
Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Look again at passages of prophecy and see what John the Baptist
saw ahead of his time.
Get ready for the Lord of lords and
King of kings,
because here He comes.
Not lowly on a donkey this time.
This time He’s on a white horse,
here to execute judgement and put
everything right. And John the Baptist
will be thrilled.
Paul, in his prayers “for saints who are in Ephesus,
and are faithful in Christ Jesus”
(Ephesians 1:1, ESV), asks that God
“may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better”
Prior to his prayer for the spirit of wisdom and revelation,
Paul reminds the Ephesian believers of the blessings God has
bestowed upon them
their adoption as children through Christ (verse 4),
the wisdom and insight they have
and “the mystery of his will
according to his good pleasure,
which he purposed in Christ”
(verse 9). He also reminds them that they have been
“marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”
(verses 13–14). Now he desires for them to be given
the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Since Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation
the spirit of wisdom and revelation that Paul prays for cannot refer to the initial gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s reference could easily be to an attitude or frame of mind (although the NIV and ESV capitalize Spirit, other translations such as the NASB and BSB translate it as “a spirit,” and the NLT simply has “spiritual wisdom and insight”). If not the Holy Spirit, then what does Paul ask for in his request for “the spirit of wisdom and revelation”? The key is in the phrase that follows, “in the knowledge of him”
so that you may know him better”
Paul had commended the Ephesians for their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love toward all the saints (Ephesians 1:15), but now he is asking God to give them a deeper and greater understanding of the mysteries of His character and will, to know Him more thoroughly and intimately. Now that they have the Holy Spirit in their hearts, Paul desires Him to grant them more understanding and greater insight. The “wisdom” is a better understanding of the doctrines of God, and the “revelation” is a clearer picture of the divine character and will. In the NLT, the prayer is that believers would have “spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” The AMP translation has Paul asking that God “may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him.”
God is infinite, and He can never be fully known by finite creatures.
We all need wisdom from above.
No matter how far we may advance in our
understanding of God,
there is an unfathomed depth of knowledge that remains to be explored. Scripture is full of admonitions to
in our knowledge of Christ
(2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15).
Paul outlines some of the mysteries he wants the Ephesians to understand through this spirit of wisdom and revelation. He desires them to grasp “the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18). This is the hope of eternal life, which Paul refers to as the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, ESV).
We inherit the riches of eternal life through Him
who saved us and called us to holiness in
Christ before time began
(2 Timothy 1:9). Paul also prays the Spirit will reveal God’s “incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19)—power so great it raised Jesus from the dead. It’s a power that we can only comprehend as we possess the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
The spirit of wisdom and revelation is the
work of the Holy Spirit to help the people of God understand
the things of God more fully and completely.