Messianic expectation has been with the
Jewish people nearly as long as we have existed. Throughout Israel there
are still posters and banners with a photo of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson,
proclaiming him as the Messiah. The caption boldly declares, "Baruch
HaBa Melech HaMashiach" (Blessed is He Who Comes, King Messiah). The
Brooklyn rabbi, whose aim indeed was world redemption, died in 1994 and
has not surfaced since.
Maimonides, the brilliant 12th century physician, author and rabbi, penned
his famous thirteen principles of faith to encourage every Jew to remain
faithful to messianic expectation. Principle twelve states:
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. And even
though he may tarry, I will await His coming every day. And he who doubts
or diminishes the greatness of the Messiah is a denier in all the Torah
for it testifies to the Messiah...And part of this principle is that there
is no king of Israel except from the house of David and from the seed of
These words are strikingly reminiscent of 2 Peter 3:3,4,8-9 in which the
apostle exhorts us not to give up on the promise of the Lord's
return. Rather, he indicates that through our expectant faith, we are
"looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter
Yeshua's words in Matthew 23:27,38 stir in us a well-founded
expectation of His coming. "You will not see me again until you say
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'" The
original context from which Yeshua is quoting is found in Psalm
118:19-26. This Messianic prophecy includes the remarkable lines,
"The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief
cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our
eyes." Here we are introduced to the intriguing feature of a rejected
Redeemer who becomes the foundation for the entire nation.
Messiah Ben Joseph
This theme was taken up by generations of Jewish scholars who needed to
resolve the dilemma of a Messiah who is described in the Hebrew
Scriptures as both suffering and reigning. Their solution was two
messiahs. One would come in the likeness of Joseph, the son of Jacob
who suffered rejection at the hands of his brothers, hence the title
Messiah ben Yosef. The second would arrive as a triumphant king,
conquering all of God's foes, hence the title Messiah ben David. In
his book, Messiah Texts, Dr. Raphael Patai, noted anthropologist
and author of more than 25 books, explores the ancient myths located in
numerous Jewish sources over many centuries. For those of us who see in
Yeshua of Nazareth the fulfillment of both Messiah ben Yosef and ben
David, his findings are
Chapter 17 is entitled "Messiah ben Joseph" and references Daniel 9,
Psalm 2 and the Babylonian Talmud as evidence that the Messiah must
suffer and die! Then, Messiah ben David "will come after him (in some
legends will bring him back to life...) and will lead Israel to ultimate
victory, the triumph and the Messianic era of
The Joseph prophecy includes the essential role played by his Gentile
sponsors. He was not just hidden from his brothers, but elevated to
Ruler of Egypt, saving the world from famine.
Romans 11:11-15 matches this picture of a latter day Jewish embrace of
Yeshua that follows an initial Gentile ingrafting. Paul even foresaw the
temptation to which the Gentile church ultimately succumbed, that of
thinking that God had rejected the Jews and shifted all their promises to
the Church (See, Romans 11:18-24).
Messiah Ben David
The biblical basis for the Messiah being David's greater son is
rooted in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and 1 Chronicles 17:7-14. These passages
contain God's promise to establish the throne of David's
kingdom forever. More dramatically, God states that the son of David who
will sit on the throne forever will be God's son. "I will be his
Father and he shall be my son" (1 Chronicles 17:13).
This unequivocal promise brings amplification to the disciples'
question, addressed to the resurrected Messiah in Acts 1:6: "Will you
at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" Clearly they were
expecting the risen King to take his place over all Israel right then and
there. They understood that the Son of David had come to rule and reign
over the earth from Jerusalem.
With the benefit of 2000 years hindsight, we know that Yeshua's
response "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father
has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7) anticipated a profound
delay. Yet with that same benefit of elapsed time, we can also see that
a key component of the kingdom being restored is NOW in place. That
component is the restoration/resurrection of national Israel.
Israel's Return to the Land & David's Reign
Jeremiah clearly refers to the Davidic King/Messiah when he says "But
they shall serve the Lord their God and David their King" (Jeremiah
30:9). The prophet speaks in the context of God's declaration that
He "will bring back from captivity my people Israel and Judah ... and
I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers"
(Jeremiah 30:3). Ezekiel confirms Jeremiah's words, "David my
servant (who) shall be king over them" (Ezekiel 37:24,25). Ezekiel
makes this startling promise immediately following his prophecy about
Israel rising out of the grave - the dry bones coming to life and being
placed in our own land.
And finally, the most succinct and perhaps literal of these prophecies
which link the Messiah's return as the King of Israel to sit on
David's throne is Hosea 3:4,5: "For the children of Israel shall
abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred
pillar, without ephod or teraphim (all the service and
equipment of the temple). Afterward the children of Israel will
return and seek the Lord and David their King. They shall fear the Lord
and his goodness in the latter days". Incredible? It's right
there in the text! Without a doubt, Messianic Jews living in the reborn
nation of Israel, worshiping the God of Israel as Yeshua's
disciples, signifies the coming of the King. Let's turn the
Master's words in Matthew 23:39 into a positive statement: "You
WILL see me again when you say Baruch HaBa, ba Shem Adonai".
Returning to Schneerson's followers - why do they put up signs
saying "Melech HaMashiach"?
Because the Jewish expectation, based on these and many other passages, is
that Messiah is King of Israel. As quoted in the Gospels, Zechariah
9:9,10 states "Behold your king is coming to you ... lowly and riding
on a donkey". In Isaiah 9:6,7 we read that the ultimate ruler will
sit "Upon the throne of David and (rule) over his Kingdom!"
Covenant, Intercession and a Jewish Wedding
The significance is huge. If we are merely waiting for a world Savior, it
is an event without a specific rooting in history, prophecy or geography.
But if the return of the King is in fact, the fulfillment of the
ancient covenant between God and His people Israel, it alters the
situation dramatically. Then, the role of the Church becomes one of
assisting Israel to embrace her King, and primarily of linking in deep
friendship with the portion of Israel that already takes part in His
Kingdom, the Messianic Jewish community.
This is the meaning of the phrase "Baruch HaBa". It also
happens to be the opening blessing of the Jewish wedding ceremony. As the
bridegroom approaches the wedding canopy (chupah) the presiding Rabbi
proclaims the words, "Baruch HaBa ba Shem Adonai". Indeed,
as we declare these words, our Bridegroom Yeshua is already approaching
the chupah. We are so close to the wedding supper of the Lamb. Yes Lord,
1Patai, Raphael, Messiah Texts, Avon Booms, New York, 1979
2Ibid, p. 166