OT3—Study Paper

2007

Brendan Moar

"He's not the Messiah" or Messianism in Post-Exilic Prophecy
A word of caution: Messianic ideas are present in the OT. Moreover, Jesus saw the message of the OT as a whole as applying to him as the promised Messiah [e.g. LK 24]. This side of the cross, we need to be careful of reductionism: seeing the messiah in every single word or passage in the OT. The OT is about more than just the messiah!

1. Where do the post-exilic prophets get the idea of 'messiah' from?
Messianic prediction by the earlier prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah provide the framework of messianism in the post-exilic period.

1.1. Isaiah and the Messiah
• 11:1-10 pins eschatological hope of restoration on the 'shoot… from the stump of Jesse'.

1.2. Jeremiah and the Messiah
• • 23:5-6 looks forward to a Branch of David who will save Judah and Israel. 33:14-22 again looks to the Branch. The Davidic monarch and the Levitical priesthood will be simultaneously revived by the Branch.

2. "He's not the Messiah": misdirected post-exilic anticipations
He's not the messiah: Sheshbazzar; Zerubbabel; Zerubbabel and Joshua Sheshbazzar was the 'prince of Judah' [Ezra 1:8-9]. In Ezra 5:14 he is designated as the governor over the first group of returnees, and in 5:16 he is said to have laid the foundations of the temple. In Ezra 3 when the temple foundations are laid he's nowhere to be seen. There is no record of messianic significance attached to Sheshbazzar. Zerubbabel was Jehoiachin's grandson—therefore of Davidic blood [1 Chron 3:19]. He was governor of Judah [Hag 1:1; 2:2]. He was chose to be like God's signet ring: the stamp (documents) or bearing (envoy/representative) of the ring signified royal authorisation.

Messiah and Post Exilic Prophets

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OT3—Study Paper

2007

Brendan Moar

In Haggai 2:20-23 it appears that Zerubbabel is the one chosen by God to rule in the new age that will be ushered in when the temple is complete. Paul Williamson The age of blessing has begun to dawn with the choosing of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel and Joshua Zechariah 3–6 contains a series of oracles focussing on Zerubbabel and Joshua as God’s chosen rulers and the mediators of his blessing to the community. Paul Williamson Zechariah 4:14 calls them Messiahs:
Zechariah 4:14 So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."

Zechariah 6:11-12 identifies Joshua and the Branch:
Zechariah 6:11-12 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the 12 high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD.

Note that the office of priest and king come together here. Webb sees this as symbolic: Joshua represents the branch, and points the merging of these offices in the messiah to come.

3. Does Zechariah suffer from over-realised eschatology?
Did Zechariah get the messiah thing wrong? NO! Understand 1-8 in context of 9-14: Delayed eschatology. Zerubbabel and Joshua are 'messiah' not 'Messiah'. Zechariah has eschatological messianic figures Ch 9-13 talk about another messianic figure: the Shepherd King. Ch 14 has the coming of YHWH himself: beyond messianism to direct and personal intervention of God. YHWH is in the Holy City with his people, not just in the temple, but the whole city! Zerubbabel and the Temple as eschatological signs So when we take Haggai and the whole of Zechariah together we see that Zerubbabel and the temple of the post-exilic period were anticipations of something and someone far greater which lay in the future. A greater reality looms up behind them, of which they are but signs and symbols. Paul Williamson

Messiah and Post Exilic Prophets

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