Did Old Testament Believers Expect A Divine Messiah?

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.


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The Widow’s First Laugh

A widow’s first laugh can be a painful experience.

Many weeks and months of lonely sorrow have passed, and suddenly she realizes she just laughed. Maybe something she saw on TV, or someone told her a funny story, or she just laughed at a child in the mall.

“What was that? Did I just laugh? How dare I laugh when Jeff’s only been gone a month or so. What kind of person am I? What will people think of me being happy when I should be sad?”

Such guilt is multiplied when the loss and suffering involves children, painful terminal illness, or tragic loss in a traffic accident.

“How can I allow myself to be happy with so many painfully unanswered questions about evil and suffering?”

That’s really the question Rick Ritchie answers in his article When Happiness Comes, published in this month’s Modern Reformation.

To put the question simply: “Is it OK to let happiness ease the pain of suffering, especially the pain of unanswered questions about evil?”

Perhaps surprisingly, Ritchie’s answer is “Yes!”

When we’re happy, we stop questioning – or at least our questions recede to the background. The question may still exist, and it may still exist unanswered for us. But we don’t need the answer as badly…This is sometimes how things get resolved. The universe no longer looks so dark.

He’s not saying we should follow the world in desperately seeking happiness as a way of numbing the agony and muffling the questions. No, but he is saying that if happiness does creep up on us, we should let it in with gratitude and worship

Although this seems to be a superficial and trivial answer to the problem of suffering and evil, Ritchie argues that we should embrace such happiness as a taster of what God will ultimately do when he abolishes all suffering and evil.

In the short run, having evil fade when happiness comes is a sign and shape of the final answer. When God wipes away every tear on the last day, we will be satisfied.

But what if happiness never returns? What about those who know little if anything of earthly happiness? This is not out of divine miserliness. Rather, says Ritchie, this provides “an opportunity for God to show his power later.”

The worse your lot, the bigger the challenge he will have in doing this. He will live up to it.

So, mourning friends, do not feel guilty when that first smile creases and cracks across your face. Don’t condemn yourself when the first laugh catches you by surprise. Embrace it and welcome it as an appetizer of the endless smile and forever laugh the Christian believer will experience in the eternal happiness of heaven.


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40 Joys Through Jesus

Needing a bit of a pick-me-up on Sunday afternoon, I ran a search for “joy” using Logos Bible software and found over 40 joys produced by Jesus. Hope these cheer your own heart as they did mine. “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4).

Christ’s nearness: For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:44)

Christ’s coming: When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. (Matt. 2:10)

Christ’s birth: And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. (Luke 1:14)

Christ’s availability: Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. (Luke 2:10)

Christ’s Word: This is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. (Matthew 13:20)

Christ’s value: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Christ’s home: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Matthew 25:21)

Christ’s resurrection: So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. (Matthew 28:8)

Christ’s reproach: Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:23)

Christ’s power: Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Luke 10:17)

Christ’s salvation: Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

Christ’s too-good-to-be-trueness: But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” (Luke 24:41)

Christ’s ascension: And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  (Luke 24:52)

Christ’s marriage: He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. (John 3:29)

Christ’s joy: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).

Christ’s re-appearing: Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. (John 16:22)

Christ’s answers: Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24)

Christ’ prayers: But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13)

Christ’s healings: For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city. (Acts 8:7-8)

Christ’s conversions: So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. (Acts 15:3)

Christ’s finishing line: But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

Christ’s Kingdom: For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

Christ’s hope: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Christ’s people: That I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. (Romans 15:32)

Christ’s servants: Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

Christ’s Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22)

Christ’s faith: And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith. (Philippians 1:25)

Christ’s unity: Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)

Christ’s strengthening: Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (Colossians 1:11)

Christ’s Spirit: And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

Christ’s return: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

Christ’s love: For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. (Philemon 7)

Christ’s refreshing: Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. (Philemon 20)

Christ’s reward: Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Christ’s trials: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. (James 1:2)

Christ’s faith: whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)

Christ’s sufferings: but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings. (1 Peter 4:13)

Christ’s glory: that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13)

Christ’s sanctification: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 4)

Christ’s preservation: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 24)


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