THE ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH
PART I
THE PROMISE OF THE MESSIAH: THE PROPHECIES

Beloved Father,
From the beginning of time as we know it, You have loved mankind as a father loves his children. Even when Your first children became disobedient and turned away from Your guiding hand, taking upon themselves the sovereignty over their lives in deciding what was good and what was evil, You did not abandon man to what he deserved. Instead, You laid the foundation for the path to salvation in Your promise that one day a man, born from a woman, would break the power of Satan and restore man to the destiny for which he had been created — eternal fellowship with his Eternal Father. Send Your Spirit to guide us, Eternal Father, as we study the events in the history of man which became the hinge upon which all of salvation history turns - the Incarnation and birth of the Son of God. We pray in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, amen.

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Blessed in the name of Yahweh is He who is coming! We bless you from the house of Yahweh. Yahweh is God, He gives us light.
Psalms 118:26-27 written circa the 11 century BC

[All biblical passages are quoted from the New Jerusalem Bible translation]

The word "advent" is from the Latin adventus, meaning "an arrival." For centuries the children of Israel faithfully awaited the coming of the promised Redeemer-Messiah.  God promised a future Redeemer when man fell from grace in Eden. Yahweh cursed the serpent and promised that the power of Satan (Rev 12:9) over mankind would one day come to an end: Accursed be you of all animals wild and tame. On your belly you will go and on dust you will feed as long as you live. I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel (Genesis 3:14-15).

In the Greek version of this Old Testament text (translated in the 3rd century BC), instead of the indefinite Hebrew pronoun "it," the Greek version reads: "he will bruise your head and you will strike [bruise; same Hebrew verb in both phrases] his heel." This passage has been understood, by both Jews and Christians, to be the first promise of a future redeemer who would be wounded in his struggle with Satan but who would wield a mortal blow against Satan in the final battle. In his Latin translation of this passage, St. Jerome (late 4th - early 5th century AD) used the feminine pronoun and translated this passage: "she will bruise your head," since in the Messianic interpretation of the passage both the Messiah and his mother appear together as victors over Satan (New Jerusalem Study Bible, page 21, note "c."). The Messiah's mother is "the woman," out of all women in salvation history, who would be chosen to bear the new Adam who would redeem all mankind from the power sin and spiritual death. The early Church Fathers called this passage the Protoevangelium, the "first good-news" (CCC 70, 410-11).

Question: When in the Gospels did Jesus use the title "woman" for His mother, a reference which can be understood to identify His mother as "the woman" of Genesis 3:15?
Answer: In John 2:14 at the wedding at Cana, when Mary made a request that inaugurated His ministry and in John 19:26 when Jesus, from the altar of the Cross, gave His mother to the "beloved disciple" to be his mother. The "beloved disciple" represented all Christ's faithful disciples, making Mary the mother of the New Covenant children of God who would continue the struggle against Satan until the climax of the final battle in the Second Advent of the Messiah (Revelation 12:5, 17).

The Fathers of the Church referred to Mary as the new Eve of the new Creation in Christ Jesus. The Virgin Mary is the promised "woman" of the Protoevangelium. She is the Second Eve: the virgin Eve led mankind into sin through her disobedience, but the Virgin Mary made salvation available to mankind through her fiat ("let it be done") of obedience at the Annunciation. Just as the First Eve cooperated in the Fall of man, so the Second Eve cooperated in the redemption and salvation of the entire human race (CCC 411).

THE TWO EVES CONTRASTED

THE VIRGIN EVE THE VIRGIN MARY
Daughter of the first Covenant Daughter of the Sinai Covenant
Pledged obedience under the covenant Pledged obedience under the covenant
Eve's disobedience resulted in the fall into sin of the entire human race. The result was death, physically and spiritually. Mary's obedience to God resulted in the offer of the gift of salvation to the entire human race. The result was eternal life.
Eve's name means the "mother of all living," and indeed all of humanity is descended through her (Gen 3:20). Mary is the "mother of all who truly live" when, at the cross, Jesus gave His mother to the Church as the Mother of all who come to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord and therefore receive the gift of eternal life
(CCC 494, 511).

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 494: [..]. As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race." Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert...: " The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith." Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim "Death through Eve, life through Mary" (Catechism quoting St. Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and St. Jerome).

There are many other prophecies in the Old Testament which promise a future Redeemer-Messiah. Many of the Old Testament prophesies promised a Messiah who would come filling all three of the holy anointed offices of prophet, priest, and king (CCC 436, 1547).

Question: Did Yahweh promise that He would send Israel another liberator like the first great prophet, Moses? What were the conditions of that promise? See Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
Answer: Yahweh promised that He would send, from among the brothers of Israel (a member of the covenant people), a great prophet like Moses. The people were commanded to listen to the words of this prophet and to do whatever he told them, or they would be answerable to God. This is the first prophecy of the Messiah as prophet.

Question: The golden age of Israel was during the reigns of King David and his son, Solomon. In Yahweh's covenant with David, God made a promise that Old Testament prophets would link to the Messiah. What was that covenant promise? See 2 Samuel 7:10-17; 23:5; 1 Chronicles 17:7-14; 2 Chronicles 13:5; Sirach 45:25.
Answer: David was promised that his kingdom would be an eternal kingdom. An eternal kingdom requires an eternal king.

Question: How did God's revelation to future prophets link the Messiah to King David?
Answer: Prophets like Isaiah (8th century BC) and Ezekiel (6th century BC) prophesized that the Redeemer-Messiah would be a descendant of King David (note: Jesse was the father of David; see 1 Samuel 16:1, 11-13). Also see Isaiah 11:1-2a, 10; Ezkiel 34:23; 37:25c-28.

Perhaps no other prophet made as many Messianic prophecies as the 8th century BC prophet Isaiah.

Question: Beginning with Isaiah 7:14, a prophecy quoted by St. Matthew and applied to Jesus in Matthew 1:23, how many prophecies can you find in the Book of Isaiah that were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth?
Answer:

THE PROPHECIES
of Isaiah
THE FULFILLMENT
in Jesus of Nazareth:
Will be born of a virgin (Is 7:14) Jesus was born of a virgin
named Mary (Mt 1:23; Lk 1:26-31)
He will come from the lineage
of King David (Is 11:1-2, 10; 16:5)
Jesus was a descendant of King David
and was the fulfillment of the covenant promise made to David
(Mt 1:1; Lk 3:31-32; Ac 2:29-36)
Will have a Galilean ministry
(Is 9:1, 2)
His ministry began in Galilee of the Gentiles
(Mt 4:12-16; Mk 1:1-15;
Lk 4:14-15; Jn 2:1)
Will be an heir to the throne of David
(Is 9:7; 11:1, 10)
Jesus was given the throne of
His father David (Lk 1:32-33)
Will have His way prepared
(Is 40:3-5)
Jesus was announced by John the Baptist (Mt 3:1-3; Mk 1:1-3;
Lk3:2-5; Jn 1:19-28)
Will be spat on and struck
(Is 50:6)
He was spat on and beaten
(Mt 26:67; Mk 10:34; Lk 22:63-65)
Will be exalted
(Is 52:13)
He was highly exalted by God
and the New Covenant people
(Ph 2:9, 10)
Will be disfigured by suffering
(Is 52:14; 53:2)
Jesus was scourged by Roman soldiers who gave Him a crown of thorns
(Mt 27:27-31; Mk 15:15-19; Jn 19:1-3)
Will make a blood atonement
(Is 53:5)
Shed His blood to atone for our sins
(Mt 26:28; Rm 3:25;
Heb 9:11-12, 18-22; 1Pt 1:2)
Will be widely rejected
(Is 53:1, 3)
Jesus was not accepted by many
(Jn 12:37, 38)
Will bear our sins and sorrows
(Is 53:4, 5)
He died because of our sins
(Rm 4:25; 1Pt 2:24, 25)
Will be our substitute
(Is 53:6, 8)
Jesus died in our place
(Rm 5:6, 8; 2 Co 5:21)
Will voluntarily accept our guilt and punishment for sin
(Is 53:7, 8)
Jesus took on our sins upon Himself
(Jn 1:29; Rm 6:10; 2 Co 5:21)
Gentiles will seek Him
(Is 11:10)
Gentiles came to speak to Jesus
(Mt 8:5-13; 15:21-28;
Mk 7:25-30; 21)
Will be silent before His accusers
(Is 53:7)
He was silent before Herod and his court
(Lk 23:9)
Will save us who believe in Him
(Is 53:12)
Jesus provided salvation for all who believe
(Jn 3:16; Ac 16:31)
Will die with sinners
(Is 53:12)
Jesus was numbered with the sinners
(Mk 15:27, 28; Lk 22:37)
God's Anointed will heal the spiritually wounded and brokenhearted and to comfort those who mourn
(Is 61:1, 2)
Jesus was God's Anointed who healed the spiritually wounded and brokenhearted and the comfort those who mourn
(Mt 3:16; 5:5; Lk 4:18-19)
God's Spirit will rest on Him
(Is 11:2)
The Spirit of God descended on Jesus
(Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:22; 4:1)
Will be buried in a rich man's tomb
(Is 53:9)
Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea
(Mt 27:57-60; Jn 19:38-42)
He will judge the earth with righteousness
(Is 11:4, 5)
Jesus was given authority to judge
(Jn 5:27; Lk 19:22; 2 Tm 4:1, 8)

The Kingdom of Israel was plunged into civil war after the death of King Solomon. Ten Israelite tribes rejected the rule of the House of David, and the kingdom divided into the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah composed of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (930 BC). The Northern Kingdom, ruled by nine different royal families, was destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC. The majority of the people were exiled into Assyrian dominated territory to the east, and five other ethnic peoples were imported and resettled in the former territory of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (722 BC; see 2 Kings 17:5-6, 24-41).

Question: Why did God withdraw His protection from the Northern Kingdom and allow the ten tribes of Israel to be conquered by the Assyrians and sent into exile, never to return as a unified people to their ancestral lands? See 2 Kings 17:5-18.
Answer: The Israelites of the Northern Kingdom were unfaithful to the covenant they ratified with Yahweh at Sinai. Among other breaches of the covenant, they worshipped pagan idols and they murdered innocent children, offering them in sacrifice to false gods. Instead of being a "light" of truth and righteousness to the nations that surrounded them, they wanted to be like their pagan neighbors.

The Southern Kingdom of Judah continued to be ruled by Davidic kings. God was faithful to His covenant promise to David, but the Southern Kingdom of Judah was seldom blessed by Davidic kings who were faithful to Yahweh.

Question: What promise did the Prophet Isaiah make to a bad Davidic king in the 8th century BC? The Apostle Matthew applied this prophecy to the birth of Jesus. See Isaiah 7:14.
Answer: Judah was in danger of being attacked by the Arameans. Standing in the presence of King Ahaz with Isaiah's own young son (Isaiah 7:3), the prophet told the King of Judah that God would spare his kingdom and encouraged the king to ask for a sign from God for verification of his deliverance. When the king refused to ask for a sign, the prophet gave him a future sign of deliverance when the virgin from the House of David would give birth to a son. In Hebrew, ha almah, with the definite article "the," identified the promise of a particular virgin (St. Matthew would quote this passage and apply it to Jesus and the Virgin Mary in Matthew 1:23, using the Greek word parthenos, "virgin," the same Greek word found in the Septuagint Greek translation of Isaiah 7:14). Then, pointing to his own young son, Isaiah gave Ahaz a sign of his present deliverance and the elimination of the Arameans as a threat to Judah (Isaiah 7:16-17).

Note: the only other reference to the mother of the Messiah in the Old Testament is found in Micah 5:2/5:3 in the passage that prophesizes Bethlehem as the site of the Messiah's birth: But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old. Hence Yahweh will abandon them only until she who is in labor gives birth, and then those who survive of his race will be reunited to the Israelites. He will take his stand and he will shepherd them with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of his God, and they will be secure, for his greatness will extend henceforth to the most distant parts of the country (Micah 5:1-4/ 5:2-4; emphasis added). This passage links Isaiah's prophecy to the Incarnation and to the second great Pentecost when God took possession of the New Covenant Church praying in the Upper Room in Jerusalem in 30AD.

In 587/6BC, Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple were destroyed by the Babylonians. King Zedekiah was captured by the Babylonian general Nebuchadnezzar, son of the King of Babylon, and was forced to watch his sons being murdered before he was blinded (2 Kings 25:7). Then Zedekiah, the last Davidic king of Judah, and his people were taken away into exile. The covenant people were condemned to live in exile for seventy years in the lands of Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:17-21), as prophesized by the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:10-11; 29:10).

Prior to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Prophet Jeremiah removed the Ark of the Covenant, the focus of worship for the covenant people, from the Jerusalem Temple. It was upon the Ark of the Covenant that the invisible presence of God resided with His covenant people (Exodus 25:10-22; 26:33-34; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:6, 21). Jeremiah hid the Ark in a cave on Mt. Nebo (2 Maccabees 2:1-6), but he prophesized that in the promised Age of the Messiah the Ark would no longer be necessary as the center of worship, the holy people would not miss it nor would another be made to replace it (Jeremiah 3:16-17). Although all the other articles of Temple furniture were re-created for the Temple that was rebuilt after the return from exile, the Ark of the Covenant was not rebuilt and the gold covered box that was the earthly Ark has not been seen from the day Jeremiah hid it in an unknown location of Mt. Nebo. The first century AD Jewish priest/ historian, Flavius Josephus, recorded that both Roman General Pompey (63BC) and Prince Titus (70AD) entered the Sanctuary of the Temple and found there was no Ark of the Covenant (The Jewish Wars, 1.7.6; 6.4.7; Antiquities of the Jews, 14.4.4). From the time the Temple was rebuilt after the return from the Babylonian exile, the Holy of Holies was an empty space. The sacred articles of furniture that Titus looted from the Jerusalem Temple can be seen on the Arch of Titus in Rome (click for pictures); there is no image of the Ark(click for picture).

Question: Why did Yahweh withdraw His protection from Judah? The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel used prophetic imagery to describe Israel's relationship with Yahweh in covenant unity and imagery to express Israel's violation of her covenant duties and obligations. What symbolic images did Jeremiah use to express covenant unity and covenant infidelity in the following passages? See Jeremiah 2:1-3, 9-13; 3:6-10; 5:19 and Ezekiel 16:1-23, 59-60.
Answer: Like the Northern Kingdom, Judah worshipped false gods and abandoned her covenant with Yahweh. Jeremiah expressed covenant union in terms of a marriage covenant with Israel the faithful Bride and Yahweh the Bridegroom. When Judah practiced idol worship, Yahweh's Bride became an adulterous wife who murdered Yahweh's children by offering them to false gods (both physically and spiritually).

Question: Did God withdraw the covenant promise He made to David that David's throne was to be an eternal throne and that his kingdom would last forever? See Numbers 23:19-20a; Palms 100:5; 103:17-18; 105:8; Ezekiel 16:60; Romans 11:29.
Answer: No, even though man as God's covenant partner is unfaithful, God is always faithful to His covenant promises.

Yahweh, faithful to His covenant promise to David, restored the repentant people of Judah to their homeland at the end of the seventy-year exile (Jeremiah 29:10-14). Babylon was conquered by the Persians (539BC) and the Persian King Cyrus issued an edict of return (2 Chronicles 36:22-23) in 538BC, allowing the Jews and all people conquered by the Babylonians to return to their ancestral lands. The citizens of Judah, however, did not return as an independent people. Instead they returned as citizens of the Persian Empire, ruled by Persian appointed governors who encouraged the Jews to rebuild the Temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem and to re-established their rites and rituals of worship.

The last time Judah functioned as an independent state was for a brief hundred years from 164-63 BC. The Maccabean Revolt broke the rule of the Greek Syrian kings and established Judah as an independent state ruled by the descendants of the Maccabees, the priest-kings known as the Hasmoneans. These kings were, however, not descendants of the great David.

Judah ceased to exist as an independent state after the Roman conquest of 63 BC when Judah became the Roman province of Judea. The Romans ruled Judea with the same efficiency with which they ruled the other Roman provinces. The resources of the province, both human and material, were ruthlessly exploited for the glory and wealth of Rome. In the 37 BC, Rome established an Idumean ally, Herod son of Antipater, as the client King of Judea, and he successfully, if brutally, ruled the province. Rome even allowed the Jews their peculiar religion as long as the sacrifice of a bull was made daily for the Emperor at the Temple in Jerusalem and the emblem of the Roman eagle was displayed over the entrance to the Temple.

Once again, under the domination of a pagan Empire, the covenant people began to long for the Messiah-Redeemer and looked for the promised signs of the prophets to be fulfilled. A number of factors led religious Jews to believe the coming of the Messiah was eminent. First, the prophecy of the 70 weeks-of-years made to the prophet Daniel in Daniel chapter 9 (490 years) as a time period to be fulfilled before the coming of the "Anointed One," was now completed. Then too, the Jews had calculated that there were 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham and 1000 years from Abraham to David's conquest of Jerusalem. Now, another 1000 years had passed since David had established Jerusalem as the city of God, making the time from Adam to Abraham 2,000 years and from David to the present 2,000 years. In addition to these signs, the fourth world kingdom to dominate the covenant people prophesized by Daniel was now ruling over the people of God (Daniel 2:38-40). The time was ripe, and the people were expecting the Redeemer-Messiah to come as a Prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), a Priest like Phinehas (Numbers 25:11-13; Sirach 45:23/28-24/30), and a King like David (2 Samuel 7:11-16; 23:5; Sirach 45:25/31). It was time for the Redeemer-Messiah to come and to free His people from their Roman oppressors and to establish Daniel's prophesized fifth kingdom, through which the Messiah would not only govern the holy people of God but through which He would rule a kingdom that would have dominion over all the nations of the earth forever (Daniel 2:44-45; 7:13-14, 27): And kingship and rule and the splendors of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High, whose royal power is an eternal power, whom every empire will serve and obey (Daniel 7:23).

The Jews offered the Tamid daily sacrifices (Exodus 29:38-42) and the other sacrifices of the Sinai Covenant at the Temple in Jerusalem, and they faithfully studied the Scriptures in their Synagogues, especially the final prophecies of Yahweh's holy prophet, the post-exile prophet, Malachi ("my messenger"). [Note: the Jews identify this prophet with the scribe Ezra who led a second migration of Jews out of Babylon in the seventh year of the reign of Queen Esther's stepson, Persian King Artaxerxes I (464-423)].

Question: What prophecies did this mid-fifth-century BC post-exile prophet make concerning a sign related to the advent of the Messiah? What was the "sign"? In Scripture, a "sign" is always a visible indicator of a greater blessing promised by God. Read the Book of Malachi beginning in chapter 3. Malachi is the last book of the prophets in the Old Testament.
Answer: There are two significant passages that promise a "sign" before the advent of the Messiah. The "sign" is a messenger who will come in the spirit of the Prophet Elijah, the 9th century BC prophet who was sent by God to call the people of Israel to repentance (1 Kings 17- 2 Kings 2:11):

With great expectations, the covenant people watched for the coming of Elijah and awaited his announcement of the Redeemer-Messiah, the new Moses who was promised to liberate them from their bondage to the Romans in the same way the first Moses liberated the children of Israel from the Egyptians. Therefore, during the annual feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread (Nisan 14th and Nisan 15th - 21st), which celebrated Israel's liberation in the first Exodus, the people looked for the one who was promised to come and to inaugurate a new Exodus liberation.

For the 1st century BC/AD Jews of Judea and the faithful remnant of Israelites from the Galilee, the holy festivals of Nisan the 14th to the 21st not only looked back in history to a time when God redeemed the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, but also looked forward to a future redemption and reunification of Israel when the Messiah was to come to free His people from bondage and oppression to the Roman Empire. Jewish author Hayyim Schauss wrote of this deep longing 1st century AD Jews felt for the promised Messiah at the festivals of Passover/Unleavened Bread: The highest point in the evolution of Pesach came in the last century of the second Temple, when the Jews suffered from the heavy oppression of the Romans. It was during this period that the Messianic hope flamed up, and in the minds of the Jews the deliverance of the future became bound up with the first redemption in Jewish history: the deliverance from Egypt. Jews had long believed that in the deliverance to come, God would show the same sort of miracles that he had performed in redeeming the Jews from Egypt. This belief gained added strength in this period of Roman occupation and oppression. Jews began to believe that the Messiah would be a second Moses and would free the Jews the self-same eve, the eve of Pesach. So Pesach became the festival of the second as well as the first redemption; in every part of the world where Jews lived, especially in Palestine, Jewish hearts beat faster on the eve of Pesach, beat with the hope that this night the Jews would be freed from the bondage of Rome, just as their ancestors were released from Egyptian slavery (The Jewish Feasts, page 47).This expectation was fulfilled in the spring of 30 AD.

TIME LINE BC AD
World Empire: Roman Empire
37 BC 27 BC 3/2 BC 14 AD 28 AD 30 AD
Herod
Selected
"King of the Jews"
by Rome
Octavian
Proclaimed
Augustus Caesar
by Roman Senate
Jesus
Birth
in Bethlehem
Caesar Augustus
Death

Tiberius
Reign Begins
Jesus
Ministry Begins
Jesus is 30 yrs old
Crucifixion
Resurrection
Ascension

2nd Great Pentecost

Birth of
New Covenant Church

 

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