Is Jesus the Messiah?
I am currently reading through Nicolus Hunnius work “Epitome Credendorum.” In Chapter 15 he begins to write upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. But as a preliminary he deals with the question whether Jesus is the Messiah or not.
330. A. Respecting the coming of the Messiah, there are two questions,to be inquired into: namely 1. Whether the Messiah or the Saviour, whose coming the prophets had foretold must necessarily have come already? — That a Saviour has been promised by God in times of old, who might bear the burden of our sins, and deliver us from our spiritual enemies, can be proved by bible passages, such as: Genes. 3, 15; 2, 3; Deutr. 18, 15; Isa. 35, 5; 53, 4-6; 59, 20; Mich. 5, 1. Hagg. 2, 8; Zach. 9, 9; Mal. 3, 1. ff. All the promises contained in these passages can be proved to have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, by the following argument: A great part of the circumstances by which the Saviour was to be recognised, do not any more exist in our days, so that the Messiah could now not possibly be marked out nor recognised; from which we conclude, that as the circumstances, which God has pointed out as such, at the existence of which the Messiah was to be recognised, do not any more exist, it follows that the Saviour must have already appeared. For they were expressly said only to be discernible in the time of the Saviour. But these signs have not been seen since 1800 years, which proves that the Saviour must have already appeared 1800 years ago,
331. Of the signs which were said to be contemporary with the appearance of the Saviour, there are especially to be mentioned four, viz:
a. the Saviour was to come at the time when the government should be taken away from Israel. Genes. 59, 10: “the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” Now it is well known that the Jewish nation has lost its independence 1800 years ago; that it had then come into the hands of the heathen Herod, and that, in the time of Christ’s birth, the whole nation was paying tribute unto the roman emperor Augustus, Luk. 2, 2. Thus the first sign of the coming of the Saviour was dispensed with, inasmuch as the nation, about this very time, was loosing its independence, and this sign could therefore refer to no other than to Christ.
332. b. The Saviour was predicted to appear whilst the second temple was as yet standing, which had been erected by Serubabel in the time of the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, subsequent to the babylonian captivity; and concerning which Haggai, 2, 6 ff.: had been prophesying, “yet once, it is a little while, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with my glory…. the glory of the latter house, shall he greater than that of the former.” — Malachi. 3, 1: “Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare my way: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in.” This pledge also has been redeemed, as this temple has been destroyed 1700 years ago, and not a vestige of it is to be found any where; which being the case, the Messiah, even if he should come at any other time, could not be recognised.
333. c. The levitical sacrifices should cease before the coming of the Messiah: Jerem. 3, 15. 16. 17: “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land in those days, they shall no more say: the ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it, neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more; at that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, unto Jerusalem;” etc. — Daniel 9, 25. 27: “Unto the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks:… and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice to cease.” This proves that the Messiah was to appear after the cessation of the sacrifices, and as this event has taken place 1800 years ago, the Saviour must have then appeared — whereby also this sign has found its determination.
334. d. The Saviour was to come from the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and was to be a descendant of David. — Faithful Abraham received the promise: Genes. 22, 18: “In thy seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Of the tribe of Judah Jacob has prophesied,.Genes. 49, 10; and unto David this Son was promised, 2. Samuel. 7, 12. 13: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish Ws kingdom” etc. The Messiah was to be recognised by this, that he was to spring from the generation of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and be a descendant of David. But to discern this, namely who among the Israelites now living be belonging to the one tribe or the other, is an utter impossibility, since all the leading tables, registers, etc. have been lost in the progress of events; and this sign again being done away with, the Saviour must have appeared already.
335. 2. A second question is, who may be this Saviour: Jesus Christ of Nazareth, or any other Individual? We answer: that besides Jesus of Nazareth no other Saviour can be named, if we consider, in the first place, the deplorable end all those have found who have unjustly laid any pretension to this high distinction, as Theodas and Judas of Galilee, cf. Acts. 5, 36. 37., and also Barcochab, who had, in the time of the emperor Adrian, declared himself to be the saviour, and after having roused the people to revolt, was, along with his deluded countrymen utterly destroyed. Since then the Saviour has come already of a certainty, and since none can be pointed out as being that Saviour, but Jesus of Nazareth, it follows that he must be undoubtedly the Messiah.
336. It is also to be considered, in the second place, that the appearance of the Lord Jesus has been accompanied by all the signs of the Messiah. And we must therefore conclude, that such an individual by whom all the signs, by the existence of which God intended to have recognised his Messiah, are to be found, must indeed be the Messiah which He has promised. Now in the Lord Jesus all those marks which were to point out the Saviour are to be met with, in so clear and circumstantial a manner that nothing can be wanting; which proves the Lord Jesus to have been the promised Saviour. All this will be sufficiently understood, when we point out those sings and apply them upon the Lord Jesus. He was to be born of a virgin from the seed of Abraham, out of the tribe of Judah and of David’s house, just at a time, when the independence, of the Jewish people was to be at an end, when the temple was still standing; but the sacrifices were soon after to cease; he himself should be a mighty teacher, and perform many wonders and signs; he should be rejected and despised by his own people, sold for thirty pieces of silver and after having been nailed to the cross and killed, rise up again on the third day from the dead and ascend into the heavens. These were the contents of the prophecies made concerning him.
337. Although the Jews maintain that at the time of the Saviour’s coming the swords have not been beaten into ploughshares, nor their spears into pruning hooks: Isa. 2, 4; — that the wolf did not then dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid, ibid. 11, 6; although the mountain’s did not then drop sweet wine nor all the hills sweet wine, Amos 9, 13; yet this all can be fully and satisfactorily answered and accounted for, by the consideration that the kingdom of our Messiah was not to be a kingdom of this world; that, on the contrary he was rather to be poor, despised, and rejected of men: Zach. 9, 9. Isa. 53, 2. 3, And we are moreover told that the fathers of old, who had departed from this life previous to the Saviour’s coming, were to be partakers of this kingdom, which proves that the latter was not to an earthly, but a heavenly and spiritual kingdom.
338. It was for this reason that the prophets used to clothe their visions concerning the spiritual things of the Messiah in parables of earthly and worldly subjects; and we have to learn from this that not all their prophecies concerning the kingdom of Christ, are to meet with a literal fulfilment. Thus we read Isa. 55, 12: “for ye shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hand.” Nor does the nature of the different prophecies admit of Christ’s kingdom being looked upon, and expected to be, an earthly kingdom.
339. For instance: the view that there was to be no more strife upon earth contradicts the prophecy made by Daniel 7, 18.21.22: “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever… I beheld and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” — We are also told that there should be great rejoicing in the kingdom of the Messiah, a promise which is again contradicted by the mournful state, the Messiah and his people were predicted to come into. For we read, that he was to be poor, Zach. 9, 9; that the shepherd was to be smitten and his sheep scattered ibid 13, 7; that he was to belike a worm, a reproach of man and despised of all people; that dogs should compass him, his hands and his feet be pierced, that he should be able to tell his bones, Pslm. 22, 6.16.17; — he was to be esteemed stricken, smitten and afflicted, Isa. 53, 4. 5. All which could not have been accomplished, if the establishment of a kingdom of worldly enjoyment, such as the Jews expected it, had been intended.
340. Like as, therefore, these prophecies have been shown to require to be spiritually discerned and understood, so also are they to be considered to have found their spiritual fulfilment. That which has been prophesied concerning peace, intends to convey an impression of that time when Jew and gentile shall dwell together in peace and harmony; — or if we read of wine and milk than those spiritual and heavenly gifts of the grace of God are intended, which nourish and sustain the soul in the same manner, as is the case with wine and milk with reference to the body.