By James Fire
RIGHTEOUS BRANCH – DIVINE MESSIAH –
Jeremiah 23:5 -6
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
In the Hebrew Bible it says it like this:
“Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jere. 23:6, JPS, 1917).
Note that this King that will come from David, who will reign and execute justice in the Earth, is called the LORD of RIGHTEOUSNESS. “LORD” here is the tetragrammaton or the YHWH (Yahweh), and always refers to God Himself.
Dr. Eastman rightly asks the question:
“How could the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses be a descendent of David? Why is this person described as a physical being, born of the line of David, one who will reign as king ‘in his days’ and yet his name [would be] ‘the LORD (YHWH) our RIGHTEOUSNESS’?
“Some might argue that this is simply a prophetic declaration that God will rule over the people of Israel at some point in the future. However, an omnipotent being cannot fit the bill here. Such a being isn’t born into time and space with a beginning or end of days. Furthermore, God, in His spiritual, omnipresent state cannot be a descendent of David. What kind of being could possibly fulfill such criteria?~*“The only solution to these requirements would be for God to enter our space-time domain, manifesting Himself in a physical body, being born supernaturally [via a virgin birth] as a descendent of David*, then to “reign as king and prosper, and … execute justice and righteousness in the land!” All these criteria could be solved by God in just such a way. He could be a descendent of David, yet still be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses. Further, by entering the space-time continuum at a finite point, he would technically have a beginning to his physical, earthly days.”
This is the essence of the Christmas celebration – the arrival of the Christ child to the world, the Messiah of Israel! From Koinonia House ministries once again, we have a message from Chuck Missler: A Christmas Devotional – The Deity of Christ.
* Speaking of branches, did you know that the Messiah and His lineage trace not just one, but two family tree lines? In the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, we have two distinct lists of names that are actually identical until we come to King David. From David on, the two family tree lines diverge (from Solomon, a son of David to Joseph, the step father of Jesus; from Nathan, another son of David to Mary, the mother of Jesus) in Matthew’s and Luke’s account, and with good reason! From Koinonia House once again, Chuck Missler in Why a Virgin Birth?
To this agrees the ancient Jewish rabbis, again hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ (one must note that rabbis in the A.D. period and even during the days when Jesus walked this earth, starkly oppose the beliefs and writings of the ancients, and such statements as found in the Babylonian Talmud, Babha Bathra 75th, Midrash on Ps. 21):
“And I will raise up for David, the Messiah the Just” and “By the righteous branch is meant Messiah” (David Baron, Rays of the Messianic Glory: Christ in the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan, 1886.
In such ancient writings such as the Midrash on Psalm 23, Messiah is seen as “Jehovah [who] is a man of war” and “Jehovah our righteousness”; the same can be seen in Lamentations 1:16 where the name of Jehovah is attributed to He who is the Messiah. To apply such titles to any other man, other than the Messiah, is not only unfitting, but unscriptural.
Scripture abounds with references to God, apparently in physical form (i.e. the manifestation of Messiah) coming to this world and making “war with the nations” (Zech. 14:3-4: “…He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east…”) and this corroborates with what the two angels told the disciples on the Mount of Olives regarding Jesus Christ:
And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.
Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
The LORD Jesus, having given His blessing and Great Commission to His followers, standing on the Mt. of Olives, then ascended into heaven out of their sight. The angels declared that He would return "in like manner". Had you been able to record the Ascension on video, and then play it in reverse, you would see Him descend upon the Mt. of Olives and His feet would touch down upon it, just as the Scripture from Zechariah 14 prophesies that God will one day do!Jacob wrestles all night with a Theophany that is a physical appearing of God (Gen. 32: 24-30); Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather likewise encounters a Theophany of God (Gen. 18:1-4) and feeds Him (and His accompanying angels) lunch!
From Dr. Norman Geisler we have the following:
Jesus claimed to be Messiah-God –
“The Old Testament teaches that the coming Messiah would be God Himself. So when Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, He was also claiming to be God. For example, the Psalmist wrote of the Messiah:
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (see also Heb. 1:8)
Psalm 110 records a conversation between the Father and the Son:
Psalm 110:1[[A Psalm of David.]] The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
The LORD here is Yahweh, and the Lord is Adonai; Jesus applied this passage to Himself in Matthew 22: 41-46. The Jews understood this passage as a reference to the Messiah, also known as “the Son of David”, but they had never considered before what the LORD brought up in His question:
“If he is David’s son, how then does he call him ‘Lord’?” This verse plainly reveals that the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of David, though he is a descendent of the royal line of Judah, of the House of David, yet the King, David, defers to Him, calling Him ‘Lord’ Who pre-existed him!
Daniel Chapter 7, in the Messianic prophecy contained therein, the Son of Man is called “the Ancient of Days” (vs. 22), a title that is used twice in the same passage of God the Father (vs. 9, 13).
Jesus also said He was the Messiah at His trial before the high priest. When asked, “Are you the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus responded, “I am . . . and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” At this point the high priest tore his robe (an unlawful act according to the Torah) and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? . . . you have heard the blasphemy!” Mark 14: 61- 64. There was no doubt that in claiming to be the Messiah, Jesus was also claiming to be God (See also Matt. 26: 54; Lk. 24: 27).
Back to The Search for the Messiah with Dr. Eastman:
THE WORSHIP OF MESSIAH –No where in the Old Testament are the people of Israel allowed to worship any but the LORD God that delivered them from Egypt, and He alone would they be permitted to serve. This is of paramount importance to the observant Jew and vitally important to his faith (Deut. 8:19).
Yet there is a passage that declares that One to Whom there will be given a dominion, glory and a kingdom that all the peoples (including Israel), nations and languages shall serve – his kingdom shall not pass away, and shall not be destroyed. Obviously this is speaking of the eternal kingdom as ruled over by Messiah, whom all, including Israel shall serve:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Compare this with:
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.
How can these passages be reconciled if not by conceding that the Messiah (“The Son of Man” a title that the LORD Jesus attributed to Himself over 80 times in the Gospels) would in fact be “the LORD thy God” which Scripture clearly states is alone worthy of worship and service (pelach in Aramaic; the same word is used in Daniel 3:16-17, 27-28)?
Mark Eastman points out: “According to Daniel 7:14, the group that will serve the Messiah is composed of ‘all the peoples, nations, and languages.’ That is, every person on earth will serve (pelach) him. However, Daniel 7:27 states that the same all inclusive group will be serving “the Most High” God.
“Has Daniel contradicted himself? How do we reconcile this dilemma?”
Again, the conclusive reconciliation is that God was prophesied to reveal and manifest Himself physically, literally and spiritually as the Messiah.
All the angels of God were commanded by God Himself to worship “the Son (Who would be Jesus) through Whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom He made the worlds” and is “the express image of His (God’s) person”.
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
Mark Eastman comments: “In this portion of the book of Hebrews, the writer quotes a number of OT passages and then attributes them to Jesus as God’s Son and "the brightness of His (God’s) glory and the express image of His person," the writer then quotes Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7:14, Messianic verses which are [also] found in Jewish Bibles.”
If Jesus were merely an angelic being, or something higher than the angels, yet lower than God Himself, God would be commanding the angels to commit idolatry, as no one is worthy of worship except God alone! The one time some angelic being (cherub or ‘super-angel’) solicited worship from others, it got him cast out of heaven, and condemned by God (Lucifer; Isaiah 14th chapter and Ezekiel 28th chapter)! The worship of Lucifer, vicariously in the last days through the Beast, the anti-Christ is so heinous to God, that any that commits such worship are irredeemable (Rev. 13:8)! It is clear that God will allow worship only of Himself, and no other!
In the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament constructed 3 BC) the following rendering is most telling:
“For I will sharpen my word like lightening, and my hand shall take hold of judgment; I will render judgment to my enemies and will recompense them that hate me. I will make my weapons drunk with blood and my sword shall devour flesh, it shall glut itself with the blood of wounded, and from the captivity of the heads of their enemies that rule over them. Rejoice ye heavens, with him, and let the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance and recompense justice to his enemies and will reward them that hate him; and the LORD shall purge the land of his people.” Deut. 32:41-43, Septuagint Version.
Dr. Geisler supplements these observances with some commentary of his own:
Just as the Old Testament forbids worshipping anyone other than God (Ex. 20:1-4; Deut. 5:6-9), so also the New Testament agrees, showing that humans refused worship (Acts 14:15), as did angels (Rev. 22: 8-9). But Jesus accepted worship on numerous occasions, showing he claimed to be God. A healed leper worshipped Him (Matt. 8:2) and a ruler knelt before Him with a request (Matt. 9:18).
After He stilled the storm “those who were in the boat worshipped Him saying ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matt. 14:33). A group of Canaanite women likewise did so (Matt. 15:25), the mother of James and John (Matt. 20:20), the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6), all worshipped Jesus without a word of rebuke [from Jesus, certainly an observant Jew who obeyed the Torah]. The disciples worshipped Him after His resurrection (Matt. 28: 17). Thomas saw the risen Christ [and the wounds upon Him] and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
This could only be allowed by a person who seriously considered himself to be God. Not only did Jesus accept worship due to God alone, without rebuking those who gave it, but He even commended those who acknowledged His Deity (John 20:29; Matt. 16:17).
And this concludes part TWO of this series; in part THREE, the triunity nature of God will be examined, as any treatment of the Deity of Christ must by necessity, examine such an essential doctrine as this, as it is entirely pertinent to this assertion of the Divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth: God incarnate. A comparison between the Father and the Son as co-equal will also be considered. Until then, may the LORD continue to bless, encourage, sanctity and use us His children, for His glory; amen!