Did Old Testament believers have any expectation of a Divine Messiah?
When I was recently asked that question, my instinctive reaction was to say “No.”
The Old Testament believers knew that the Messiah would be a man, that he would suffer, and that he would be glorified after his sufferings (Gen. 3:15; Luke 24:25-27; 1 Peter 1:11-13). But they did not know that he would be God.
Or did they?
As I thought more about this, I began to realize that there were some clear Old Testament indications that the Messiah would indeed be God.
1. The many Angel of the Lord appearances in which the Son of God comes to earth in human form (not human flesh yet), stunning some of His people into the realization that they had just seen God (Genesis 16:13; Judges 13:22).
2. Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah being called “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14) and “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
3. God’s constantly expressed desire to dwell near to and among His people in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. Whatever else these two structures taught, it was that God loved to live with and like His people.
4. The conversation between the LORD and the Lord in Messianic Psalm 110.
5. Hebrews chapter one quotes the Old Testament seven times to prove the deity of the Messiah. Surely that wan’t just with hindsight.
6. In Zechariah 12:10, the Lord says “They will look on me whom they pierced.”
Perhaps all this explains the readiness of the wise men, Simeon, and Anna, to worship the infant Jesus.
Of course, just as in the New Testament, “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). Spiritual enlightenment was still needed to believe these verses and put them all together with the rest of the Old Testament revelation.