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A Response To Asher Norman’s Book: ‘26 Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe In Jesus’

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Reason 7:  Messiah to be descended from King David

 

Questions:

 

 

Messiah to be descended from King David.

 

According to Asher Norman one of the qualifications of the Messiah is to be descended from King David.  

 

Quite right!  As far as Jesus’ human ancestry is concerned the New Testament does claim that he is descended from David.  Both Joseph and Miriam (Mary) are of the line of David, with Joseph’s genealogy given in Matthew 1 through the royal line of the kings, and Miriam’s genealogy given in Luke 3 through a different son of David, Nathan.  Although the text of Luke 3 speaks of Joseph the son of Heli, this lines up with the convention of not putting the female name, and this genealogy is really Miriam’s.  The Talmud actually refers in three places to Miriam (Mary) bat (daughter of) Heli. (Jerusalem Talmud, Chagigah 2.4, Sanhedrin 23.3, Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 44.2).  Miriam is referred to as ‘a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David’ (Luke 1.27).  Jesus was addressed as ‘Son of David’ frequently in the Gospels most notably in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21).  Nowhere was his status as Son of David questioned by those opposed to him.

 

The New Testament supplies two genealogies of Jesus, which are the subject of much criticism from Jewish sources, but at least there are genealogies there.  No claimant to the title of Messiah today could provide any genealogy going back to David. For more on this subject click this link to ‘The Genealogies of Jesus.’

 

Being anointed King.  

 

Asher Norman points out that Jesus did not reign over Israel as David did.  However significantly David did not begin to reign at the point when he was anointed as king.  Samuel anointed him while he was still a youth at the Lord’s direction in 1 Samuel 16.  Following this he experienced a brief time during which he was honoured by Saul because of his mighty acts, but then he spent a much longer time of rejection by him, spending years as a fugitive living in the wilderness.  It was many years later when he was 30 years old that he began to reign as king, first over Judah only in Hebron and then over the whole of Israel in Jerusalem.  So there was a time between David being anointed king and actually reigning as king and for much of that time he was a fugitive and an outcast.  

 

There is a parallel to this in the experience of Yeshua / Jesus.  In several places in the New Testament Jesus is identified as the King of the Jews / Israel – by the Wise Men (Matthew 2.2), by Nathaniel (John 1.49), by the crowds welcoming him into Jerusalem (John 12.14) and even mockingly by the Romans (John 19).  The angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus to Miriam says he will be given ‘the throne of his father David’ (Luke 1.32).   The New Testament writers speak of Jesus being anointed by God, using the Greek term ‘chrio’ which is the equivalent of the Hebrew ‘mashach’ to anoint as King or High Priest (Luke 4.18, Acts 4.27, Acts 10.38).  From the word ‘chrio’ we have the title ‘Christ’ in Greek, just as we have the title ‘Mashiach’ from the Hebrew ‘mashach.’  Because the New Testament was written in Greek Jesus was known as Jesus Christ, rather than His Hebrew name and title ‘Yeshua ha Mashiach.’

 

He came offering Israel ‘the kingdom of God’ and showing by signs and wonders that He was the Messiah.   The rejection of this offer led to the events of the crucifixion and resurrection which were prophesied in the Tenach.  This was followed by his departure to return at an unspecified date in the future.   In the prophecy of Hosea 5.11 we read, ‘I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offence.  Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.’  The next verses are a call to repentance:  ‘Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn but He will heal us; He has stricken but He will bind us up.  After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we might live in His sight.’  Hosea 6.1-2.

 

The reference to ‘two days’ is interesting.  On the basis that a day is as a thousand years with the Lord this would fit in with a 2000 year period between the departure and return of the Messiah.   There is a passage in the Talmud which states:  ‘The world will exist 6000 years.  2000 years of desolation (meaning from Adam to Abraham);  2000 years of the Torah (meaning from Abraham to somewhere around the beginning of the Common Era) and 2000 years of the Messianic era (roughly the last 2000 years).  But because our iniquities were many, all this has been lost.’  Sanhedrin 97a-b.  According to this Jewish tradition the Messiah was supposed to come about 2000 years ago.  Rashi explains this by saying:  ‘After 2000 years of Torah it was God’s decree that the Messiah would come and the wicked generation would come to an end and the subjugation of Israel would be destroyed.’  The reason Messiah has not come according to Rashi is because Israel’s sins were many.  

 

But supposing the Messiah did come, paid the price of sin as prophesied in Isaiah 53, departed for a period of time during which his message was to go to the nations of the world and will return after an approximate 2000 year period?  (I am not setting a date for the second coming of Jesus here).  In the New Testament there are a number of passages which speak of a departure and a return of the same Jesus after an unspecified period of time.  In Luke 19 Jesus told the parable of the talents ‘because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought that the kingdom of God would appear immediately.  Therefore He said, ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’  ‘The nobleman’ of the parable is clearly Jesus himself.  The purpose of this parable is to correct the idea that He was about to bring in the visible Messianic Kingdom immediately and to give his disciples teaching about what they were to do in the interval between his departure and his return.   In John’s Gospel Jesus told the disciples that he would go away and come again.  John 14.2-3, 14.28, 16.16.  

 

During this time of the interval between His first and second coming they were to announce the ‘kingdom of God’ to the whole world.  Through this kingdom all who repent and believe in Jesus as Saviour and Lord would receive eternal life in the kingdom of God.  In the book of Acts following His resurrection Jesus made it clear to the disciples what this task was – receive the power of the Holy Spirit and go into all the world and preach the Gospel.  Interestingly at this point the disciples asked the question, ‘Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’  Acts 1.6.   

 

The question is very interesting in relation to the question of the Davidic kingdom.  Jesus had already met with the disciples after his resurrection and explained to them the significance of his death and resurrection:  ‘These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.  And He opened their minds that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem.’ Luke 24.43-47.  So He showed them from the three divisions of the Tenah (Jewish Bible) – Torah (Law of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Chetuvim (Psalms) – the prophecies that he had fulfilled in the events of the crucifixion and resurrection.  

 

Just a few days later the disciples are asking the question ‘Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’  The implication of this is that they are saying, ‘Now we understand that you had to fulfil the prophecies of the Suffering Servant, which you have now done.  Will you now, straight away, complete the programme by setting up the throne of David and reigning over a restored Jewish kingdom (with the Romans thrown out!).  Jesus’ answer is not to say, ‘Forget it.  There will be no Jewish kingdom in the future.’  He says the timing of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel is not something you can know about and you should concentrate on taking the Gospel to the world.   The text goes on to show that the restoration of the kingdom to Israel will come about through the second coming of the Messiah.  As Jesus is taken from the disciples on the Mount of Olives, the angel says, ‘This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.’  (Acts 1.11).  

 

He was taken up in the clouds of heaven and he will return in the clouds of heaven as Daniel prophecies:   ‘I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.’  Daniel 7.13-14

 

He was taken up from the Mount of Olives, He will return to the Mount of Olives as Zechariah prophecies.  ‘Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.  And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.’  Zechariah 14.3-4.  

 

Both passages in Daniel and Zechariah prophesy a kingdom being given to the one who comes.  Isaiah’s prophecy describes both the birth of the Messiah at His first coming and His reign on David’s throne at His second  coming.  ‘For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called  ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’  Isaiah 9.6-7.

      

This shows that this one will be born as a Child, given as a Son but also be the Mighty God and the Everlasting Father.  He will also have an eternal government on David’s throne.  

 

How can someone be a son and the Everlasting Father at the same time?  If he is a mortal reigning on David’s throne how can he establish it with judgment and justice forever?  Why is he called ‘the Mighty God’?  One rabbinic explanation of these verses is that they refer to the godly King Hezekiah, but this does not make sense.  The one spoken of being born as a male child has to be at the same time an eternal person.  In fact He has to be God.

 

In Jeremiah 23.5 we read of the descendant of David who is clearly identified as the King Messiah.   In the next verse we read:  ‘In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell safely:  Now this is the name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’  The name given to the Messiah contains the divine name, a clear indication that the Messiah is to be a divine being.

 

The prophet Nathan gave a prophecy to King David concerning the line of kings that would come after him:  

 

‘And it shall be when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be one of your sons; and I will establish His kingdom.  He shall build me a house and I will establish His throne for ever.  I will be His father and he shall be my son; and I will not take away my mercy from him, as I took it from him who was before you.  And I will establish him in my house and in my kingdom for ever; and His throne shall be established for ever’         1 Chronicles 17.11-14.

 

This son is promised an eternal house, an eternal kingdom and an eternal throne.  Since the line of kings that followed David has long ceased this must either be a false prophecy or it must point to some other descendant of David who would also be an eternal person.  Since only God is eternal this descendant must be more than a mortal man.  He has to be God.

 

When the angel Gabriel came to Miriam (Mary) and announced the virgin birth of the Messiah to her he said, ‘Behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Yeshua (Jesus / salvation).  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever and of His kingdom there shall be no end’  Luke 1.31-33.

 

It can be no accident that the three eternal things promised to David of his ‘seed’ in 1 Chronicles 17.11-14 – an eternal throne, an eternal house and an eternal kingdom - are prophesied here of the ‘seed’ of Mary who was to be conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit:  ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore that holy one who is to be born shall be called the Son of God’  Luke 1.35.  It is nothing for God to overrule the laws of nature in order to bring His purposes to fulfilment: ‘For with God nothing will be impossible’  Luke 1.37.

 

The purpose of the Messiah coming the first time is to deal with the sin problem of humanity.  Through His death and resurrection He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:

 

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

 

The only one who could have fulfilled this prophecy is Yeshua / Jesus who died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world and through whom all people, Jewish and Gentile, can receive redemption.

 

Jesus told his disciples to take this message to all the nations so that salvation may come to people from all races and tribes.  He promised that at the end of this age He will return, not this time as a Suffering Servant, but as the Reigning King with all the power of God at His disposal.  He will come at a time of general unbelief and apostasy in the church, violence and sexual immorality in the world, and when Jewish people are again in the land of Israel and a great controversy is taking place over Jerusalem.  

 

For these prophecies to be fulfilled there must be a two part coming of the one Messiah, first as the Suffering Servant and then as the Reigning King.  Remarkably there are also prophecies which show that there will be a long period of time during which the majority of the people of Israel will be out of fellowship with this Messiah: ‘For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.  Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king.  They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days’.  Hosea 3.4-5.  In other words there would be a long period of time in which Israel would not have a King over the united people and not have the ability to offer sacrifices or have the oracles of God.    

 

Rabbi David Kimchi, one of the greatest Rabbinic commentators on the scriptures who lived from 1160 to 1235, wrote of these verses:  ‘These are the days of the present captivity in which we are in the power of the Gentiles and in the power of their kings and princes and we are ‘without a sacrifice and without an image’, i.e. without a sacrifice to God and without an image to false gods; and ‘without an ephod and without teraphim’, i.e without an ephod to God by means of which we could foretell the future as with the Urim and Thummim; and without teraphim to false gods.  And this is the present condition of all the children of Israel in the present captivity.’  (Quoted by David Baron, ‘The Ancient Scriptures for the Modern Jew’, page 49).  The ephod is the means whereby God made known his will through Urim and Thummim on the High Priest’s breastplate (See 1 Samuel 23.9-12, 30.7-8).  The teraphim were the speaking oracles of pagan gods.    

 

However in the latter days they will seek the Lord and ‘David their king’.   ‘David’ here means Messiah ben David who will rule and reign over Israel in the latter days of this age.  This will be fulfilled at the return of Jesus after he has gone away for a long period of time and then returns as Israel calls out to him for salvation in the time of great trouble that is coming upon the nation.  (Zechariah 12.10, Matthew 23.39).  Then he will restore the kingdom to Israel and rule and reign from Jerusalem as David’s greater Son:

 

‘Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’  Isaiah 2.1-4.

 

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