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Concept of Messiah

36 CONCEPT OF MESSIAH (Kenneth Moakan) As a Muslim, I do not feel the subject under discussion is a strange one, rather it is one of the cardinal beliefs of the Muslims to believe in and accept all the prophets of God and the concept of Messiahship finds mention in the Holy Quran. This concept of the advent of a Messiah is in vogue among the three greatest religions of the world – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Whereas the Jews believe that a Messiah will appear, the Christians believe that he has appeared in the person of Jesus and will re-appear a second time in the latter days to gather his flock and establish a permanent Kingdom of God. The Muslims adhere to the belief that Jesus is the Messiah and that in his second advent he will come as a Muslim and will establish the supremacy of Islam by waging a vicious war on those who would not accept Islam. He would also kill all the swine and break the cross. This belief of the Muslims is based on a misconceived application of the sayings of the Holy Prophet, Muhammad ( on whom be peace). The Ahmadi Muslims on the other hand, believe like the Christians and the generality of the Muslims about Jesus being the Messiah, but they have a totally different concept about his second advent. This aspect will not be dealt with in this paper but has been treated many times before and could in the future, God willing, be again treated for the benefit of seekers after truth. Other religions too, seem to be incorporating the idea of Messiahship into their system. Of late it is being peddled in certain quarters of Hinduism that Krishna is the Christ or that the teachings of Krishna are those which the Christians promulgate. This view is also shared by some factions of the Buddhist religion. That the Buddha is the same person as Jesus is being portrayed and that the teachings of Christianity have been literally taken from the pages of Buddhism. The Zoarastrians, too, somewhat believe in this concept and writing in his Dasatir, the great Sasan I, prophesied, that a prophet would be raised in the latter days, and would be of Persian descent and that his progeny will be CONCEPT OF MESSIAH 3 7 he’was referring to his second advent, since Christians and Muslims do not possess any evidence suggesting there were any progeny of Jesus .whom they believe to be the Messiah, neither do the Jews possess any evidence otherwise. The term Messiah as is generally understood, refers to a very great prophet, who will be an anointed one of God. The idea of the appearance of a Messiah seems to have been embedded in the teachings of Judaism since the time of Moses, for there are many a prophecies which are being pointed out by them and also by the Christians in the Old Testament presupposing the advent of a great prophet who might be taken to be the Messiah. In fact, much of the Old Testament abounds with references about the character of a great one. In short, it may be safely said, that the hope of the resurgence of the Jewish nation rests with the appearance of a Messiah. The Jewish scholars have been interpreting many passages from the Old Testament to justify the rise of a Messiah within their rank and file who will confirm to their beliefs and standards and lead them heroically.- Addressing the serpent God said: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15) The outcome which the seed of the woman shall inflict upon the seed of the serpent is a crushing blow upon his head, whereas that which the seed of the serpent will inflict will be so insignificant that it is only referred to as a slight bruise of the heel. The Hebrew verb used here takes on a double accusative form and it is evident from the Targum that it implies ‘To crush, to grind to powder and to pulverize”, This has been pointed out in Genesis” 3:15 whereit graphically portrays the outcome of an age-long conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent after the supposed fall of man from the Garden of Eden. Prof. Delitzsch declares: “Only when we translate it: ‘He (the seed of the woman ) shall crush thee on the head’…., does the sentence include the definite promise of victory over the serpent, when, because it suffers the 38 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS deadly tread, seeks to defend itself, and sinking under the treader is mortally wounded” (Gen. 49:17). This is believed to be a cryptic oracle and is the goal towards which history is moving. That the scholars of Judaism have been interpreting this passage as a Messianic prophecy is very clear from the Palestinian Targum which states that in Genesis 3:15 is the promise of the healing of the serpent’s bite at the end of the days, in the days of king Messiah’. The subject matter of Genesis 3:15 has been treated in the Targum Palestine with the following additional statement: “Never-the-less for them there shall be a medicine; and they shall make a remedy for the heel in the days of the King Meshiha.” Reference is made here to the Messiah who will cure them of their ills and restore them to their original purity which they believe they had before the fall. The Palestinian Midrash (Bereshith rabba xii) declares ‘The things which God created perfect since man sinned have become corrupt and do not return to their proper condition until the son of Perez (i.e. according to Gen. 38:29; Ruth 4:18ff, the Messiah out of the Tribe of Judah) comes’ This interpretation makes the Messiah the restorer and reconciler of the one estranged world to God. The rabbinic designation of Messiah is M’nahem and is doubtlessly based upon the Lamentations of Jeremiah as found in 1:2,9,17 and 21. Here the Prophet Jeremiah laments over the position of Zion being laid waste and no one to bring her comfort and deliverance. This Comforter or Deliverer is being depicted in Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and in Isaiah chapters 51 and 52 and who is believed to be the Messiah. Another passage used is from Isaiah which reads: “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive; and bear a son; and shall call his name Emmanuel.”(ISAIAH 7:14) Emmanuel means’God with us. From this it is implied that the one who has been prophesied will be strengthened by the hand of God. Among the CONCEPT OF MESSIAH 39 Hebrews it is customary that children are given names to commemorate some significant occasion or the great workings of the Almighty in the hope that the child may be influenced by its name and live up to its high expectations. For instance, Isaiah means ‘the Lord hath saved’; Jeremiah means, ‘the Lord doth establish’; Zephaniah means, ‘the Lord hath hidden’; while Zechariah means, ‘the Lord hath remembered’; Ezekiel stands for, ‘God is strong’; Daniel is, ‘God is my judge’; Joel means, ‘the Lord is God.’ It is presupposed that the child bearing these names will, in a limited degree, to say the least, exemplifies some of the fine characteristics embodied in these names. No one in his right senses will say that because anyone bearing the name of Daniel which means ‘God is my judge’ therefore that person is God who judges or that one having the name of Joel which is ‘the Lord is God’ that all those having the name Joel are divine in any way. Therefore, the name Emmanuel is simply an expression suggesting that God is with His people and will protect and help them-. It is believed that the functions of the Messiah are depicted in Isaiah 53. In the said manner Moses prophesied about a Law-bearer greater than himself (Deut. 18:18); Jeremiah projected to a greater deliverance than that which the Children of Israel gained with the exodus from Egypt (Jer’23:7 & 8); Ezkiel made reference to a Temple of far more magnificence than Solomon’s Temple (Ezek. 40-48). Thus the entire history of Israel is- believed to be typically significant. The usual rabbinic explanation of Isaiah 7:14 is that it was fulfilled with the birth of Hezekiah. This position is of special interest, in-as-much as it identifies the child as coming from the Davidic line and will sit upon the throne of David from the stem of Jesse whose benign reign is pictured in chapters 11 and 12. Furthermore, in Isaiah 8:8 it is said that the land of Emmanuel is Palestine, which statement in this connection assumes his Davidic origin and regal power. Other commentators identify Emmanuel with Isaiah’s second son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz. The reason advanced for this position is that Maher-shalal-hash-baz’ birth is recorded in the following chapter and that the prediction concerning the child is very similar to the account concerning the prophet’s son. Chapters 7 to 12 of Isaiah have been called the Book of Emmanuel. The future Messiah occupies the central position in this section of the scripture which is the Jewish concept. Prof. Delitzch in his comment on Isaiah 7:14 has stated that ‘It is the Messiah whom the prophet here beholds as about to be 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONSS born, then in chapter 9 as born and in chapter 11 as reigning three stages of a triad which are not to be wrenched asunder, a threefold constellation of consoling forms, illuminating the three stadia into which the future history of his people divides itself in the view of the prophet.’ Isaiah 59 is one of the chapters in which it is believed and interpreted as containing evidence of the coming Messiah and that his appearance will be heralded when the nation of Israel as a whole is plunged into the abyss of sin and disbelief. From other passages it is beleived that at that time Israel shall be in the greatest distress possibly ever imagined. Fore-seeing her predicament and picturing her sorrow, Isaiah represented Zion as a forsaken woman or as lying prostrate upon the ground, whom he encourages to arise and to welcome this long-expected deliverer. The verses preceding the vision of this all conquering Messiah (Isa. 59:15-21) and the prophet’s encouraging exhortation to Zion to welcome him (60:1-3) speak of the re-gathering of Israel (4-9) of the metropolitan character and position of Zion under the Messiah’s reign (10-14) and of the restoration of Edenic conditions to Jerusalem (15-22). From these and other passages it is believed that the Messiah is scheduled to come to Zion and having established himself as her King, to extend his reign until it encircles the globe. Although the concept of the advent of a Messiah is being projected by many a scholar from the earlier books of the Old Testament, it was not until the last two verses in the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5,6) that the concept of the Messiah gained momentum. Here it is stated that Elijah will make a monumentous appearance before the great advent of the Lord. It may however be noted, that the manifestation of the Lord was given three times for appearance, once in Sinai, then in Seir and finally in Paran. (Deut 33.2) Believing that Elijah went up by a whirlewind into heaven (2. kings 2:11), the Jews were at that time believing that he would eventually return and were eagerly expecting and awaiting him. It may be remembered that the Jews were expecting the advent of three persons , Elijah, Christ, and .That Prophet. This is evident from the fact that when Jesus was preaching to the Jews, they were rather suspicious about his claims. Some of the disciples summoned the courage to question Jesus about the objections of the Jews, so they asked him “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? (Math. 17:10) CONCEPT OFMESSIAH 41 prophesied in Deut. 18:18 was due, some travelled towards and settled in Arabia in which is located Paran where it is mentioned that the third manifestation of the power and glory of the Lord was to have taken place, in the hope of the fulfilment of their dreams. Up to this day the Jews are still awaiting the advent of their Messiah to the degree that one of their prayers which they offer after having a meal, is that God should make them worthy to be able to receive the Messiah. And our last prayer is All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all The Worlds. Ameen. SPIRITUAL EQUALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN “For men who submit themselves wholly to Allah, and women who submit themselves wholly to Him and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey Allah and women who obey’Him, and men who are truthful and women who are truthful, and men who are steadfast and women who are steadfast, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity, and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him, Allah has prepared a great reward.” (Quran 33:3 6) “Allah will turn in mercy to believing men and believing women; Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.” (Quran 33:74) “Whosoever does good whether male or female, and is a believer, shall enter Paradise and they shall not be wronged a whit.” (Quran 4:125)

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