Who Is The
The common 20th century view of Messiah amongst religiously oriented Jews
is someone who will usher in the coveted peace on earth that mankind has longed for since ancient times.
Many religious Jews agree that when the Messiah comes, "the lion will lie down with the lamb" and peace will rule.
Yet, since that day seems no nearer today than it did 4,000 years ago at the time of Abraham, many Jews have abandoned all hope of a coming Messiah, or of the rule of peace on earth.
What the majority of Jewish people do not realize, however, is that the common 20th century Jewish view
of Messiah is not the "traditional Jewish view."
The 20th century religious Jewish view of Messiah-as-King who will establish peace on earth now, while it reflects an important part of the traditional view, overlooks an equally important part - the role of Messiah-as-Servant. This "oversight" was largely a backlash to the growing number of Jews and Gentiles who had concluded that the Suffering Servant spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures was Yeshua (Jesus), the Jew who suffered a humiliating death after claiming to be Messiah.
Ignoring the servant-atoning role of Messiah was then a Medieval reaction to those masses of people who were proclaiming that Yeshua was the fulfillment of Scripture. In all fairness, it must be pointed out that rabbinic motivation for adopting the newer view was reasonable. Anti-semitism posed a constant threat to the nation of Israel, especially following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Jewish leaders, therefore, needed to find ways of keeping Diaspora Jews unified. One way was to reinforce the belief that Yeshua was the "Christian Messiah," not the Jewish one. To do this they often overreacted and distorted the picture of the Messiah in a way that was inconsistent with the picture of the Messiah presented by the the biblical prophets.
Ironically, the majority of rabbis have done a great disservice to the very people whom they wished to preserve. By eliminating a cornerstone of Jewish thought - the Servant Messiah - they have not helped the many Jewish people today who are disillusioned, secularized or otherwise alienated from the very spiritual beliefs that the nation of Israel held for more than 2,000 years. By removing the concept of the Suffering Messiah who brings personal peace to those who embrace Him, they have helped blind them to the hope that lies in Messiah Yeshua.
In addition to overlooking an important aspect of the Messiah's atoning role on earth, most in modern Jewish rabbinical studies overlook the genealogy factor. Biblical Judaism teaches that Messiah's lineage will be a key criterion for his identification. Modern Judaism downplays this, perhaps because Jewish records were destroyed in 70 A.D. along with the Second Temple. Therefore, one must conclude that either Messiah came before the Temple was destroyed or else physical proof of his genealogy is unnecessary because he will be recognizable in other ways; or, worse still, that He will not come.
Most rabbis, if they still believe in the biblical concept of Messiah, opt for the explanation that the genealogical proof is unnecessary since the Messiah will be identified in other ways. Believers, on the other hand, place great importance upon the royal lineage that the Messiah is to possess, and the evidence of such. Not only is the genealogical evidence necessary to identify the Messiah, but it exists biblically.
By tracing the Messiah's lineage and the key roles assigned to him by God throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, it becomes clear that Yeshua met at least two key Messianic criteria.
1. First, He came from the right "kingly roots" second,
2. He fulfilled the role of the "atoning servant."
What The Rabbis Know About The Messiah
by Rachmiel Frydland
Reprinted With Permission of the Messianic Literature Outreach
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