By Asher Intrater
Part B: Five Foundational Messianic Prophecies in the Torah
In the first segment of this article, we described the different types of Messianic prophecies. Now we want to look at direct prophecies about the Messiah from the five books of Moses.
In the Jewish traditional viewpoint, that which comes first has more authority. The Torah (law) has more authority than the Prophets, which have more than later rabbinic law (Mishnah and Gemara). That ladder of authority is:
1. Torah law
2. Prophetic writings
3. Rabbinic decisions.
Note: This is why in the discussion with the Tsaddukim (Sadducees) about the resurrection (Matthew 22), Yeshua did not respond by quoting the numerous Israelite Prophets concerning resurrection but quoted from the book of Genesis about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Had He only given citations from the Prophets, they would not have seen it as authoritative enough.
For the same reason, it is important for us to be able to identify clear direct messianic prophecies In the Torah. I see five most prominent ones, in this order:
1. Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:15)
2. Scepter of Judah (Genesis 49:10)
3. Angel of YHVH (Exodus 23:20-21)
4. Star of Jacob (Numbers 24:15)
5. Prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18)
In the Garden of Eden, because of their sin, Adam and Eve, become subject to Satan, the serpent, the evil angel. God curses the serpent and tells him that one day a descendant of the human beings, called ‘The Seed of the Woman” will come and crush his head.
Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
The image of the seed continues down through the centuries to Abraham and then to David’s seed. The promised seed, who will destroy Satan, will be the Messiah. (see Revelation 12:1-2, 17; 20:2, 10; Matthew 1:1, 17)
The promise of the seed is transferred through the right of the first-born to Leah, Jacob’s first wife. Her first three sons are disqualified. The fourth son, Judah, passes the test of faithfulness in offering to take Benjamin’s punishment (Genesis 44). He receives the authority of the lineage of the coming messianic king. The seed is “maturing” and is now promised the scepter to rule.
Genesis 49:10 – “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him [is] the obedience of the people.”
The scepter is the symbol of the king’s authority. That authority was only in preliminary form at that time. Shiloh means “the to whom it belongs,” which is also a code name for Messiah. The nations will obey that king.
The next prophecy deals with an “angel” or a “messenger”. The word malach מלאך in Hebrew can mean either. There is to be a special sent one, a divine angelic messenger who will be God’s representative. This starts a different stream of prophecy, in which the Messiah is heavenly as well as human.
Exodus 23:20-21 – “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.”
There are many passages about Angel Yehovah – a theme also dealt with thoroughly in “Who Ate Lunch with Abraham?” This angel is more than other angels. He carries God’s name. All need to obey him. He is sent by God and speaks with divine authority. This is the Messiah, sent from heaven, more than just a son of Judah’s lineage.
The next prophecy occurs right before entering the Promised Land. It comes through the enemy prophet Balaam. The wording is clearly messianic and futuristic.
Numbers 24:15 – I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come out of Jacob; a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab…
The scepter again refers to a king. This king is a warrior commander destroying enemy nations. A star means a person of high standing, power, and glory. This “star” Messiah is to come from Jacob; thus affirming the chosen lineage.
The final prophecy in this series from the Torah is found in Deuteronomy, as part of the laws summarizing commandments for the Israelites about to enter the Land.
Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 – The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear… I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.
Here the Messiah is seen as the prophet above all prophets. Moses was the greatest of prophets, but he said that another prophet would arise greater than he. That is Messiah.
As Messiah is the ultimate Prophet, we as Yeshua’s followers are like a community of prophets-in-training. As the Messiah is the Seed, we are a chosen race of people. As the Messiah is the Angel YHVH, we are those who obey and follow His lead. As the Messiah is the star, scepter, king, and lion of Judah, we are His tribe, His citizens, and ruling “coalition.”
These five prophecies from the Torah form the initial stage of Messianic thought: who the Messiah is and what He does. That line of thought has been developing through the centuries. We are coming close to a day when we will see Him in full glory. Then we will understand much more.