Out of all the titles for the Messiah, two are going to emerge that we are going to deal with. These titles are Messiah Ben David and Messiah Ben Joseph. Messiah Ben David is alluded to in Gen 49, where Jacob gives a prophecy about his sons (the 12 tribes). In Gen 49.1 it says “the last days” or “acharit yamin” in Hebrew so these verses have a time reference. In Gen 49.8-12 we have prophecy to Judah, the kingly tribe. In Deut 33.1 we have a blessing to the tribes by Moses. In Deut 33.7, Judah would be a blessing and a helper to his people. So, we can see that the king/ruler of Israel would come through Judah, and later the family of David. The other title for the Messiah is Messiah Ben Joseph. There is a prophecy about this eschatological character in Gen 49.22-26 and Deut 33 13-17 where it says that Joseph ruled, the land was blessed and prospered, but he was separate from his brothers and he suffered and was wounded.
In the concept of the “Two Messiah’s”, Messiah Ben Joseph is the Suffering servant Messiah, and Messiah Ben David is the Kingly Messiah. Messiah Ben Joseph would come before Messiah Ben David. The concept of the Suffering Servant, he is the “eved” or servant of God. Before Yeshua came, there already was a concept of two Messiah’s. There were various idea’s, but he is known as the Suffering Servant of God in Isaiah and other parts of the Tanak. When Yeshua comes on the scene, the concept of the “suffering servant” was expected. John the Baptist called him the “servant of God” in John 1.29. Now, it says “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” in that verse, but to his Jewish listeners, that would not have made any sense. There was no lamb that took away sins. But if you take this from the Greek back into Aramaic, there is a phrase that means both lamb and servant. John most probably had “servant of God” in mind in light of all the servant passages in Isaiah. For more information on this, see “The Aramaic Origins of the Fourth Gospel” by C.F.Burney and “Christology of the New Testament” by Oscar Cullman, p 71.
In Isaiah chapters 40 through 55, we have what is called the “Servant Passages.” In Isa 40.1-11, we have several things being said about this servant. The term “arm” is an anthropomorphism for the Messiah. It also says “his reward is with him” and this is repeated in Rev 22.12. He will also be “like a shepherd” which echoes what is said in Gen 49.24. In Isa 49, we have a prophecy about the Messiah. In Isa 49.4-5, he is called “servant.” Now, the “servant” can refer to Israel (Isa 41.8-13, 44.1,21) and it can be the Messiah (Isa 42.1-7, 49.1-7). There are many more examples of this. The Messiah will be despised (Isa 53.3) and this is why Yeshua will be called a “Nazarene” because anyone from Nazareth was “despised” (Matt 2.23). However, he will gather Jacob to himself (Isa 49.1-7). So, by the time of the first century, there were many ideas about the Messiah, but they were beginning to merge. Going back to John 1.45, we have Yeshua called “the son of Joseph.” Now, they were not referring to his step-father Joseph because they had just met Yeshua and didn’t know about his family. This term is referring to the concept of Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant, and this relates directly to what John called him (“servant of God”) in John 1.29, 36. Nathanael responds to this designation that this man they had just met was the Messiah by saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth (meaning “despised”=see Matt 2.23). He goes to meet Yeshua, and Yeshua told him he was without guile (righteous) and that Yeshua saw him “under the fig tree” which is an idiom for the Messianic Kingdom (Micah 4.1-4; 1 Kings 4.25; Zech 3.10). Nathanael responds by saying that Yeshua is the “Son of God” which is an idiom for a king because kings of Judah were seen as “adopted” sons of God (1 Chr 17.11-13, 28 5-7). He then goes on to complete the Hebrew parallelism by calling him the “King of Israel.” All of these titles (“son of God”; “king”; “son of Joseph”) are messianic and they merge in Psa 2.6-7, which is a coronation psalm and part of the ritual.
Now, in John 1.19-51 we also have an eschatological picture being played out. In John 1.19, 29, 39 and 43 we have four days, which symbolized 4000 years of the Olam Ha Zeh. A knowledge of Jewish eschatology will help decipher what is going on. Yeshua is revealed, as we have mentioned above, on the “fourth day” (v 43) and we know that Yeshua came in the year 4000. We also know that the sun (a picture of the Messiah) was revealed on the fourth day of creation. Yeshua is also from the fourth tribe of Judah. We don’t see day five and six, and this is because Yeshua ascended into Heaven for the next 2000 years (Hos 5.15, 6.1-3). In John 2.1 it says “On the third day” (from day four, which means the seventh day) we have a wedding. This pictures the Day of the Lord, the seventh day from when Yeshua left in the fourth day. There will be a resurrection, a coronation and a wedding. So, what do we have in John 2? We have a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Galilee means “circle” and it was an idiom for “heaven” (circle=eternal) and it was in the “north” (Psa 48.1-2; Isa 14.13). So, John 1.19 through 2.1 we have a picture of the 7000 years.
Now, let’s go to Joel 2.23, where we have a prophecy about the two comings of the Messiah. It says that the early and latter rain will come “in the first month.” Early rain is “moray tzedekah” in Hebrew and it means “teacher of righteousness.” So, the Messiah will come like the rain as a teacher of righteousness “in the first month.” But, how can you have the early rain and the latter rain come in the first month? You can if there are two calendars, which we have already discussed previously. The first month of the religious calendar is Nisan, and Yeshua came as Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant, and fulfilled the spring festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Shavuot (Shavuot is the completion of the spring festivals). He will also come as Messiah Ben David in the first month of the civil calendar (Tishri) and fulfill Rosh Ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. So, Joel 2.23 actually tells us what month Yeshua will come the first time, and also the second time.
The appointed times (festivals) are set and they cannot be changed. The terminology that is sued during these festivals relate to the Messiah. If you don’t understand the festivals and their terminology you will miss out on what the Lord wants to communicate. It will also lead you down a road of false interpretation and error about prophecy and eschatology, which in turn will lead many astray. In 1 Thes 5.1-4, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that they have been taught all about the “times” (appointed times/festivals) and “seasons” (the festival seasons, etc) so they were “in the light (of understanding) when it came to prophecy.
In Part 12, we will pick up here and begin to talk about the Messiah and the spring festivals. Then we will do the same for the fall festivals. Lev 23.1-2 reveals that the festivals were for a specific time, for a specific place, to do specific things with specific themes. Another important concept to remember is that these festivals are not Jewish festivals, but they are God’s appointed times. An understanding of all of this is essential if we are to understand the New Testament.