Many accuse us, the Messianic Jews, of making a human, Jesus, into God.
See for example the words of Rabbi Daniel Asor, who writes: “The Old Testament denies pagan idolatry which revolves around human gods, a man-god.” But there is a lack of understanding (or maybe a lack of desire to understand) what we really believe. Do we believe that a man can suddenly become God? Or that a certain man in history was “promoted” and became God? The answer to both these questions is NO! But, can God reveal Himself to humanity in any way He may choose? And if He created us in His image, and according to His likeness, would it be inappropriate that at some point of time in history, He would want to reveal Himself to us in human form? Is this concept even biblical? And what about Jews who lived before the time of Jesus, did they believe that God can reveal Himself as a human? Did they expect the Messiah to be the “Son of God’? The answer to these questions is YES!
Two thousand years ago, the anticipation for the Messiah among our people was at its peak. We can see evidence of this in John’s words to Jesus in the New Testament, after John witnessed Jesus as he was healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, and performing signs and wonders: “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” (Luke 20:7)
But the most interesting thing we can actually learn from even more ancient writings; The Dead Sea Scrolls, that were written long before the time of Jesus, by the Jewish community in Qumran. There we find a description of the anticipation for the Messiah within the community. The Essene Jews, interpreted the prophecy of the prophet Daniel in chapter 7, in a way that the Messiah is expected to be the “Son of God”. They called the Messiah “Son of God” long before Jesus was born (4Q246).
The Messiah is not supposed to be a human like all other humans, but different from the rest, the Son of God. Therefore, his birth should also be supernatural, as a sign from God. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about it in chapter 7: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14) Immanuel: God with us. The Messiah is the Son of God, who was born in such a manner that was itself a sign from God – from the womb of a virgin and without a biological father, exactly as the prophet predicted. But we have already dedicated another video to this prophecy in Isaiah 7.
It’s important to understand that the belief that the Messiah, the Son of God, wouldn’t have a biological father was also held by the Sages. Midrash Genesis Rabbah 35: “The redeemer whom I shall raise up from among you will have no father, as it is written, ‘Behold the man whose name is Zemach [branch], and he shall branch up out of his place’; and he also says, ‘For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground.’”
The same idea can also be found in Midrash Genesis Rabbah 37: “The Holy One said to Israel, you have spoken before me, saying, we are orphans and have no father. The redeemer whom I shall raise up out of your midst will have no father also, as it is said, ‘Behold the man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch up out of his place.” Therefore, the Sages attest to the Messiah as having no biological father, and furthermore, connect him to Isaiah 53.
Now you might be wondering, did the Creator of the universe enter a delivery room and give birth to a son? Of course not. Let’s turn to the biblical definition, in order to understand the meaning of the term, “Son of God”. In the Old Testament, angels, who took part in the heavenly and spiritual nature of God (unlike the worldly and fleshly nature of men) are called “sons of God”. But there are many other examples of “sons” in the Old Testament: God refers to the people of Israel collectively as a son, and the kings of Israel as sons. Is it a surprise then, that the Messiah, the ideal representative of God, who comes from within the people of Israel, the one who is held higher above the entire creation of God, is called the Son of God? The Old Testament also uses the term ‘son’ to describe those among the sons of Israel, who obey and follow God. In the New Testament also, the believers in Jesus are called “sons of God”. So angels, kings, and the people of Israel are all called “sons of God”. It seems that in the Old Testament God had many sons! The people of Israel are even called “my firstborn son”.
But neither the angels nor any of the kings, and definitely not the people of Israel, were sons of God in the literal sense. The term speaks of the inheritance rights of the son. The Kingdom of the King of Kings – the Kingdom of God, is inherited by the Son of God: the Messiah. This is opposed to the mythologies of pagan idolatry; God certainly did not have a romantic interlude with a goddess who then bore a son. Unfortunately, many rabbis are trying to associate the belief in Jesus with precisely that kind of pagan idol worship.
In the Old Testament, Proverbs 30:4 reads this way:
“Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!”
This chapter is presenting the conclusions of Agur. This whole chapter consists of Agur admonishing his two boys, Ithiel and Ucal. He asks them five rhetorical questions:
- Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
- Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
- Who has wrapped up all the waters of the world in his pocket?
- Who has established the universe and continues to maintain all the laws of nature?
- What is his name?
The answer to these rhetorical questions is, of course, God.
But then Agur surprises them with his sixth and last question: What is his son’s name?
Do you already know the answer to this question?
What is the name of the Son of God?