Given the multiple messiahs* of Israel’s history it does not come as a surprise that also in the messianic age we see at least 2 messiahs sat next to almighty G-d. The two messiahs are clearly shown in Zechariah 6:12, 13. The first messiah is with an allusion to King David (the branch or shoot) himself or one of his descendents and the second is a priestly messiah:
12 and speak unto him, saying: Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying: Behold, a man whose name is the Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the LORD; 13 even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and there shall be a priest on his throne (עַל-כִּסְאוֹ); and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. Zech 6:12, 13
In the 7th chapter of the book of Daniel, we learn of a prophetic vision granted to Daniel. He tells us of four great beasts rising out of the sea, one after another. After describing each of the four beasts Daniel sees “one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic) coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). Nearly all Christians do not entertain the slightest doubt that this verse is talking of their messiah Jesus! Indeed, they will even selectively quote that Jewish commentators like Rashi, who says that this verse is speaking of the King ‘moshiac’ (משיח Hebrew). To the Christian mindset ‘moshiac’ and ‘messiah’ are understood as interchangeable and are equivalent terms! A look at Daniel 7 shows that the Hebrew word ‘moshiac’ cannot appear anywhere in Daniel 7 because Daniel 7 is in Aramaic. The term ‘one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic)’ is found in Dan 7:13.
Dan 7:13 is one of the few passages in scripture that comes along with a commentary. The commentary is Daniel 7 itself and the commentary informs us who the “son of man” is in Daniel 7:13! The commentary informs us that after Daniel had seen the vision he approaches an angel and asks for a clarification of all that he had seen (7:16). The angel replies that the four beasts represented four kingdoms, and the final dominion will be given to the “holy ones of the most high” (7:18) – a reference to the nation of Israel. The angel elaborates further by telling us that the dominion under all of the heavens is given to “the nation of holy ones of the most high” (7:27) – again a clear reference to the nation of Israel. According to the angel, each of the beasts represents a different kingdom, while the son of man in Daniel’s vision represents Israel. Can a man represent a kingdom/ people? Speaking of Babylon; “and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first [was] like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man (כאנש), and a man’s (אנש) heart was given to it. (Dan 7:4, 5)
The mistake is to ascribe divinity to these Messiahs, there is only one divinity something which even Jesus acknowledged as such: Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17;3)
It is unfortunate that earliest writer in the NT was Paul a person who never actually met Jesus. It was Paul who might actually be called the “founder” of Christianity, with its distinctive theological doctrines. Even though Jews disagreed on how one might reflect and live out all the teachings and commandments of the Sinai revelation, especially regarding what came to be called halacha (literally “the way” or “the walk”), that is how to fulfill the various commandments, in general religious Jews, who took seriously the revelation of Torah, agreed on the obvious point that Israelites of all persuasions were obligated to live according to the commandments in order to be faithful to the Covenant.
It is also unfortunate that In Paul’s thinking, instead of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations” which is the classic understanding of Judaism, we have “Israel “after the flesh” (i.e., the Jewish people), non-Jews whom he calls “the nations,” (i.e., Gentiles) and a new people called “the church of God” made of all those whom he designates as “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:32).
The notion that Christianity depends on “grace” and Judaism on “works” is a terribly unfortunate misunderstanding of Judaism. What divides Paul from Judaism is his insistence that God’s justifying forgiveness is only extended to those who accept his Divine Christ faith.
A Strange Paradox
In a strange paradox to Christianity depending on “grace” and Judaism on “works”, there are parts of New Testament which appear to have missed the efforts of the redactors of the New Testament. The strange paradox seems to re-affirm what might be labelled classical Abrahamic faith:
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10
Perhaps the thoughtful Christian or messianic may possibly wish to consider how quickly their respective organizations have rejected the definitive content of these New Testament declarations? Perhaps thoughtful Christian or messianic may consider the the disharmony between the statements attributed to Jesus above and his idolatrous claim of being “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? Perhaps thoughtful Christians or messianics may possibly consider the Jesus who was stripped and still is stripped of his most basic identity as a Jew who affirmed the oneness of G-d and who upheld the commandments of the Torah as the way to eternal life? Perhaps thoughtful Christians or messianics may possibly consider Abrahamic faith?
Alternatively and in addition, the Christian before considering the issue of a divine messiah, may wish to consider the context prior to such an innovation as a divine messiah. The context is vital to understand that prior to such an innovation as proposed by the NT, the terms son of G-d, son of man and servant inter Alia are plainly defined in the Jewish Scripture and are in no ways jettisoned in a single messiah (divine or otherwise) who eclipses/ replaces Israel who are plainly defined as G-d’s servant and son.
* Priests are messiahs[Lev 4:3], Kings are messiahs[1Sa 24:6], G-d’s people are messiahs[ Psalm 105:11-15] and a non-Israelite King Cyrus is a messiah too[Isa 45:1]!