The Messiah—A Blessing for All Nations
THE Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke of a future time when “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and the lion shall eat straw like the ox,” a time when persons “shall not hurt nor destroy.”—Isaiah 11:6-9.*
But how would such peaceful conditions be attained? Interestingly, Isaiah associated such conditions with a future ruler whom he called “a shoot out of the stock of Jesse [the father of ancient King David of Israel].” This descendant of King David would be an ideal ruler, a man who would not judge matters by any mere external appearance or by hearsay, but who would judge with righteousness, establishing justice and peace. What is more, this future ruler would not be just a ruler for the Jews but, rather, someone to whom all nations could look for guidance. Indeed, as Isaiah foretold, “Unto him shall the nations seek.”—Isaiah 11:1-10; compare Isaiah 9:5, 6.
While in the years that followed Isaiah’s prophecy the Jewish nation came to refer to this awaited ruler as the Messiah, or anointed one, the identity of the Messiah has long been an issue. History tells of numerous people over the centuries who have claimed to be the Messiah, each one rising and falling in popularity. Jewish anthropologist Raphael Patai noted “the readiness of the masses to give credence to any imposter or self-deluded dreamer who claimed to be the Messiah.” And, as could be expected, those who put their hope in a false Messianic claimant ended up in bitter disappointment. This surely shows how cautious we need to be in identifying the Messiah.
Still, Isaiah indicated that we would need to “seek” the Messiah if we would share in the blessings he would bring. Thankfully there is much we can learn from the history of past Messianic claimants, as well as from the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. Hence, we invite you to consider the following articles.
All Bible quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures in this series of articles are from The Holy Scriptures by the Jewish Publication Society of America (JP), unless otherwise indicated.