Part IV of IV (click here for Part I):
The Son of Man
Daniel 7:13-14: "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days [God] and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve [pelach] Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed."
Matthew 26:63-64: "But Jesus kept silent and the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure you by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven."
1 Peter 3:21-22: "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him."
Jewish scholars argue that the phrase "One like a Son of Man" denotes that this is not quite a man, so it is probably an angelic being (possibly Michael the archangel).
Christians argue that this predicts Christ, and "One like a Son of Man" is affirmation of either his dual God-human nature or his post-resurrection immortality (see Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35-36; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:50-56; 1 Peter 1:3-4). This is sort of like the mystery surrounding the individual in Psalm 110 (discussed here: Part III). Rabbis of the Talmud also recognized this scripture as messianic, and argued that if Israel was worthy, Messiah would appear in the clouds (reference to Daniel), but if they were not worthy, he would appear humble riding on an ass (compare Zechariah 9:9 and Mark 11:1-11).
Moreover, it couldn't be an angel, as son of man typically denoted an individual of human origins, even though this individual was sometimes given unusual divine status in apocalyptic scenarios (discussed here: The Evangelists: Son of... da man?). The word for "serve" which is what the nations do, is the Aramaic word pelach and denotes worship of a divine being (whether the God of Israel or pagan gods), yet there are no other scriptures in the Old Testament declaring that God would allow the world to worship an angel or Israel in this way, in fact, just the opposite, including the forbiddance of this practice expressed by the early Christians (see Colossians 2:18; Hebrews 1:4-6).
Romans 1:3-4: "...concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 15:12: "And again, Isaiah says, 'The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.'"
I have presently found no rebuttals for this particular Isaiah passage with the exception of the infamous Jeconian curse or the issue of Jesus' legal Davidic descent that I discussed in another article (The She Seed: ).
The terms "root of Jesse," David's father, and the "son of David" have always been messianic motifs; that the Messiah would be as a future descendant -- Son of David -- of these two patriarchs, and has always been recognized as such by both Christian and Jewish theologians (other messianic OT scriptural references Psalm 89:1-4; Jeremiah 30:8-9; 34:22-25; 37:24-25; Hosea 3:4-5). According to Isaiah, this particular Jewish figure must clearly be known even to the Gentiles and sought after worldwide. This is unusual in that Isaiah does not specifically state Yahweh himself will be sought after by the Gentiles.
Fact is, whether accidental or not, it correlates with the Jewish man from Galilee, Jesus, who was also declared a descendant of David. He is proclaimed Son of David fourteen times in the gospel Matthew, Mark and Luke combined. He was recognized as the descendant of David as early as Paul (noted above) and the Hebrews epistle (Hebrews 7:14), both dating pre-70 CE (other places: 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5, 22:16). Scholars also argue that these beliefs were formulated as creeds, especially Paul's Davidic declaration, with Semitic origins that can be traced much earlier than they appear in the letter itself.
However, even if one unjustifiably argues that Jesus' Davidic lineage was somehow a massive early conspiracy by Christians, they couldn't possibly have contrived the fact that Christ along with the Jewish God Yahweh are both revered by the Gentiles, and presently sought after by approximately two billion people in different regions, nations, countries and continents. Jesus as the Son of David was the earliest proclamations made by Christians even before the movement became a worldwide phenomenon, yet if Jesus is not this "root of Jesse," this would be one very stark coincidence as there is presently no other Jewish figure at the head of a worldwide religion that is known and sought after by such a diversity of peoples of just about every tongue and nationality. Also note that this Isaiah prophecy is tied to the contextual string of other connected messianic pericopes of Isaiah (9:1-7, 10:16-20, 11:1-10, 12:1-6) that the early Christians also identified as fulfillments.
Isaiah 49:6-7: "He [God] says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations [Gentiles] so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and its Holy One, to the despised One, to the One abhorred by the nation, to the Servant of rulers, kings will see and arise, princes will also bow down, because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You."
There is no doubt that "My Servant" is not Israel in this case, because he is the one who will restore Israel in the first part of this passage (which Christians argue will occur in his second coming). However, orthodox Jewish scholars argue that restoring all the tribes (particularly the house of Judah and the house of Israel, mentioned in other prophecies) is one of the requirements of being Messiah, which Jesus has not done. Christians argue that a prequel to this was done when Israel miraculously became a sovereign nation in 1948, but the prophecy in its entirety is to be specifically accomplished in his second coming.
Interestingly, the phrase "One abhorred by the nation [singular]" implies that he is actually despised and abhorred by Israel, the "nation" itself. Naturally, the translation from the Masoretic text (49:6-7) has it as…
"Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him who is despised of men, to him who is abhorred of nations, to a servant of ruler: kings shall see and arise, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD that is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee."
"Nation" as plural takes care of this little issue, so he is not despised by Israel but the world in general. Problem, is that "nation" is also attested to in the Qumran Isaiah scroll, which dates years before the Common Era and supersedes both Christian and Jewish translation bias.
In any event, Jewish scholars probably assume that the subject of the "despised one, abhorred of the nations, and a servant of ruler," is either Isaiah himself who is speaking for God, or Israel. Problem is, Isaiah was simply a messenger who delivered blessings and curses to Israel and heralded future dynastic and messianic prophecies, yet he never restored the tribes of Jacob and Judah (the Northern and Southern tribes… the "offspring of Israel"). Moreover, Isaiah was never used to spread God's salvation to the Gentiles and throughout the world. Therefore, the Jewish scholar has two choices here:
If we choose #1, then who is the one who has been "chosen" by God at the end of the passage, Israel or the Messiah? It would seem less ambiguous to assume, in regards to the flow and context of the passage, that the subject is specifically about the Messiah throughout the whole passage. Only problem is, the Messiah never appears to be "despised" and "abhorred" by anyone in any other prophecy other than the ones Christians tout as the Suffering Servant, such as Isaiah 53 (discussed in Part II), which Jewish scholars insist is Israel. Thus there seems to be somewhat of a dilemma here for the Jewish scholar. Since the contemporary Jewish Messianic view is that the Messiah will not be a servant, nor ever was, the Jewish scholar must insist option #1, that this passage is confusingly talking about both the Messiah and Israel in the same context.
|24. Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.|
|25. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times|
|26. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determine|
This is by far one of the most remarkable overall historical prophecies there is, only in this case, no one, Jesus, the apostles, or the gospel authors could have manipulated or fabricated the events to fit it. Again, I took this passage from the Masoretic text. The hotly debated issue, even among Christian factions, is the specific (to the day) historic timeline this was to occur, and there are a myriad number of profound theories about the "Seventy weeks" and "seven weeks and threescore weeks," how to interpret it, where the historic countdown should begin, and how to calculate the numbers accurately. Furthermore, specific calculations, once again, is where critic and apologist draw swords, which is pretty much a circular argument, as it is just as easy to find ways to calculate it to make it fit a Christian scenario as it is to find ways to make it not work, and neither one can prove conclusively who is right or wrong.
Therefore, I won't waste space here quibbling over this issue because the specific timeline pales in comparison to the overall accuracy of the prophecy, which if fulfilled, would automatically demand that a Christian timeline calculation be given the benefit of the doubt. However, the Messiah-Truth counter-missionary website presents two arguments against a Christian scenario:
They spend a great length of time analyzing B, which is actually quite pointless; what I find interesting is that they totally ignore the most significant passages sandwiching these verses. However, before we get into that, let's address the points above. The Hebrew word "anointed" is mashiyach or moshiach where the word "messiah" comes from, and it's interesting to note that the Tanach Chabad, one of the most pro-Jewish modern bibles there are, actually agrees with "the anointed one" (9:25-26).
Nevertheless, they themselves admit that the Hebrew does not have a definite article here, which makes "an" or "the" subjective dependent on one's theological view of the passage. As far as Jesus not being properly anointed, this is correct, since the anointing in the Old Testament was done when a Jewish king was chosen to lead the people, and the process was a literal pouring of oil over the head of the chosen king by a qualified priest. The gospels don't record Jesus being anointed as king (whether he was or not in actuality is not really certain) probably because he did not technically serve as a king. Judeo-Christians argued that Jesus fulfilled his first role as the Suffering Servant, or literally as a priest who dealt with atonement, and not just symbolic of the high priest who offered the sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 9:24-25), but who was the sacrificial offering himself (John 1:29; ; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelations 5:6).
Despite the fact Christians traditionally honor him as "king" in many hymns and songs of worship, this is really a proclamation of his role as the heavenly ruler who sits "at the right hand of God," in addition to a future event when his kingly role here on earth will technically be fulfilled after his second coming. The woman who anointed Jesus just before his arrest and execution was not his kingly anointing, regardless of what a few misguided Christians might believe, and Jesus makes this clear himself what it pertained to (John 12:3-7). Moreover, a moshiach (anointed) wasn't just restricted to officially anointed Jewish kings. Cyrus, king of Persia (a non-Jew), who released the Jews from Babylonian captivity, was also declared by God as his moshiach (Isaiah 45:1).
As I stated, counter-missionaries seem to totally ignore the actual meat of the prophecy all together, probably because those other passages make it crystal clear what succession of historical events would take place before and after the revelation of this anointed one. After the first Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 BCE, the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians, which set the stage for the release of the Jews by Cyrus and the subsequent rebuilding of Jerusalem and the second Temple in 537 BCE (there were apparently a few official decrees to rebuild, hence, the exact timeline controversy). Daniel wrote the passage above at a time he was in Babylon. Jerusalem, as well as the first Temple, had already been destroyed (Daniel 1:1) and the decree to rebuild the second had probably not yet occurred (though the actual date of the book of Daniel is debated, it was indisputably written before the Common Era).
Not only is an "end to sin" and "everlasting righteousness" (verse 24, in the above passage) a sticky point critics must try and explain apart from a permanent atonement theology, but once again, the passage doesn't get much clearer with the succession of events as follows:
The Messiah (anointed), who would once and for all deal with iniquity (which remains ambiguous and unexplained outside of Christian soteriology), had to come between the time Jerusalem was rebuilt and its ensuing destruction in 70 CE (compare to Malachi 3:1, which was also indicative of the presence of the second Temple, discussed in Part III, Foretelling of Jesus' precursor - John the Baptist).
Statistical fundamentals state that probability escalates at each crossroad of chance. Though these prophecies continue to be grappled over by opposing viewpoints and translations, a glaring and continuing historical fact Jewish scholars must contend with is that for 2,000 years traditional Jews mysteriously have had no functioning Temple in Jerusalem and no functioning priesthood or sacrifices, though they do indeed long for such a system to this day...
"Since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70, Conservative and Orthodox Jews have beseeched God four times a week to 'renew our days' as they once were---a plea for the restoration of the Temple. Although Zionism was largely a secular movement, one of its sources was the prayers of the Jews for a return to Palestine so that they could build a temple . . . Learned Jewish opinion has long debated when and how the temple can be rebuilt. The great medieval philosopher Maimonides, in his Code of Jewish Law, argued that every generation of Jews was obliged to rebuild the temple if its site was ever retaken, if a leader descended from David could be found, and if the enemies of Jerusalem were destroyed."
The Christian argument for this is that since Jesus served as the ultimate priest, the ultimate and final sacrifice, and even a symbolic representative of the Temple itself (John 2:19-21), the consequences for iniquity have been forever quenched and God is now satisfied, thus God has had no further use for an atonement ordinance that was initially commanded by him to be an everlasting event (see 29:13-15, 30:1-10; Leviticus 16:27-29, 16:34); and an ordinance that was at the core of ancient Judaism for thousands of years. Michael Brown notes...
"Either God has left us completely bereft of the major atonement system, a functioning priesthood, and a functioning temple, or else everything that we're speaking of finds its fulfillment in the One who came when He had to come."
Whether one accepts this as a solution to this problem or not, one must deal with the series of historical circumstances that serve as stark coincidence after stark coincidence, especially in face of Daniel 9:24-26 (discussed above) who declared that prior to the downfall of the Temple, reconciliation for iniquity would be forever dealt with, hence, no need of an additional atonement system. The sacrifices have ceased, yet no such substitution for atonement is evident in modern Judaism today other than rationales to explain why an ordinance that dealt with atonement, which was strictly commanded by God to be everlasting, no longer exists, not only leaving Daniel's proclamation of atonement empty but no explanation for this perpetual void left within the Mosaic law.
Another interesting tidbit is that, in the Talmud, there is a remarkable and eerie account describing an ongoing forty year process before the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE (keep in mind that Jesus would have been crucified just before this 40 year period, around 30-36 CE) where certain anomalies continued to occur during the Day of Atonement, indicating that the offerings in the Temple were no longer being accepted at all for that 40 year stretch up the time it was destroyed. Apparently rabbi Johanan Zakkai considered it an omen for the coming destruction. Again, the Talmud is a Jewish source that was separate from any Christian influence, and the rabbis certainly would have had no reason to make this story up since it clearly shed a disparaging light on the relationship between God and the Jews in the first century.
There are also references in Old Testament scripture that the knowledge of the Lord (Yahweh/Jehovah) would be known throughout the world through this individual, his servant, such as the Isaiah passage discussed earlier. One thing that is clear, however. Whether Christians are making an error in judgment on a mass scale and worshiping a false Messiah or not, these prophecies fit Jesus as far as him being:
No one can dispute the sheer spread of Christianity throughout the world, with adherents that believe they worship the same God of the Old Testament and the same God they believe initially instituted Judaism. If Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah who would herald a new covenant, be the ultimate substitute for the mandatory system of animal sacrifices, bring the knowledge of Yahweh/Jehovah to the world, and would himself be known and honored by the Gentiles worldwide, then this is one heck of series of uncanny historical coincidences and one heck of a mass conspiracy that accompanies it, leaving one to wonder just who this particular Jewish Israelite will be in the future and how God will achieve this when glaring prophecies, many of which were supposed to be fulfilled during the advent of the second Temple, were left dangling unfulfilled.
The confusion factor
We know from what we discussed in Part I that the Jewish hope in the Judeo-Christian era was for Messiah ben David who would conquer Rome and reestablish Israel's preeminence. The Judeo-Christians never reformed this belief and essentially concluded in their theology and ideology that Jesus came first to suffer and die to accomplish redemption (indirectly implying he was Messiah ben Joseph, or the Suffering Servant), then resurrected and left to return sometime in the future to fulfill his second role as Conquering King (Messiah ben David), and they were all in one accord with this messianic blueprint (see Matthew 24:42-44; Mark 13:26; Luke 17:24-25; John 14:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 4:15-16, 5:23; ; -81 Timothy 6:13-14; Hebrews 10:12-13; 1 Peter 1:10-12; James 5:8; Jude 1:14-15; Revelations 16:15, 19:11-16, 22:20).
Some of the best Jewish minds -- writers of the Qumran scrolls, the Pharisees, the rabbis, etc. -- were grappling over these dual messianic personalities -- Suffering Servant/Conquering King -- for centuries before and after the advent of Christianity. Who were these diverse figures? One who would majestically appear in the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13-14) or one who would appear riding lowly on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9); one who would die a martyr for the people (Zechariah 12:10), while one would triumph and prosper (Isaiah 11:1-5). Whether it was one individual, two or even multiple individuals, or whether it was an angelic being with little resolve among them. Then along comes the Judeo-Christians who managed to piece all these profound concepts together into a blueprint they used to express through one man in less than six decades. How could Jesus' adherents have collectively and agreeably molded such a complex scenario into one person, within a historical setting, expressed in separate written texts, and a scenario that is pretty darn convincing based on what we have examined in this entire article, in spite of the interpretive nitpicking of certain words here and there in some of the scriptural prophecies that were proclaimed? This is the confusion factor.
Another factor beside this issue is that their expressions of this messianic portrait are way too subtle. They never spell out the entire portrait to us directly. Though they were perfectly clear about the hope of Jesus' triumphal return (noted in some of the passages above), this dual messianic puzzle they pieced together in one man is not specifically explained to us in just one New Testament document. One would have to read the entire New Testament to get a clear picture of the entire blueprint, like bits and pieces to a puzzle scattered in different documents. The prophecies they used to support this messianic blueprint are not only scattered and fragmented as proclamations throughout the New Testament, but displayed strangely conservatively or briefly quoted, which of course were taken from passages that are structured as long poetic dirges or monologues throughout the Old Testament (examples: Isaiah 9:1-7; Isaiah 11:1-10; Isaiah 61:1-7; Psalm 110:1-14; Isaiah 53; etc). In fact, there are many messianic prophecies we didn't explore in this article, and some we did that are either not mentioned at all in the New Testament, or quoted by one or two New Testament authors and not the others, sometimes directly pointed out as a prophecy fulfilled, sometimes indirectly, but in every case quoted only in brief strands. For example:
Craig Evans states...
"It would be almost impossible to explain this lack of diversity in opinion on the identity of Jesus if his messiahship did not in fact derive from the pre-Easter ministry."
1.Jewish Encyclopedia, Son of Man (www.jewishencyclopedia.com).
2. Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b,v. 33-38 (www.come-and-hear.com).
3. Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus, pp.220-221; 2010.
James D. G. Dunn and Doris Donnelly, Jesus: A Colloquium in the Holy Land, pp.47-64; 2001.
4.Fred P. Miller, The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll, Column XLI, section 5 (www.ao.net/~fmoeller/index.htm).
5. Uri Yosef, True Messiah - Properly Anointed; False Messiah - Smeared with Ointment (www.messiahtruth.com).
6. Jews for Judaism, Daniel 9:25 Translation (http://jewsforjudaism.org).
7. Lambert Dolphin, Preparations for a Third Jewish Temple (he cites Mortimer Zuckerman, US News and World Report, pp. 95-96; 1990 (www.templemount.org).
8. Michael L. Brown (as interviewed by Lee Strobel), The Case for the Real Jesus , p.200; 2007.
9. Talmud - Mas. Yoma 39a - 39b (www.yashanet.com).
10. Craig A. Evans, Messianc Hopes and Messianic Figures in Late Antiquity (pdf), p.37; 2006 (http://craigaevans.com).