The Two Messiahs Question

Sep 05, 2017 No Comments by

sukkah2007The Feast of Tabernacles (also called Sukkot) is a week of joyous celebration and fellowship. After the Feast the celebration of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah follows. In the book Celebrate! The Complete Jewish Holidays Handbook is this comment: “The distinct feature of the day (Shemini Atzeret) is recitation of the prayer for rain so that the earth will be able to produce in the coming year.   It is not said earlier during Sukkot, which marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, because we do not want rain to prevent us from dwelling in the sukkah or to interfere with our enjoyment of doing so.”

When rain fell during these times, I remember our Jewish friends dancing with joy. Sukkot is observed over seven days and on the eighth day comes Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

There is significance in the seven. In Hebrew seven means perfect, complete, satisfied. Shemini Atzeret follows on the eighth day and is called ‘the eighth day convocation.’

 Numbers?

So, what about 7 and 8? It took 7 years for the First temple to be built. Solomon chose to dedicate the Temple during Sukkot. “All the people of Isra’el assembled before the king at the festival in the seventh month.” (2 Chronicles chapter 5: 3)

 Do you know what happened on the eighth day? “ then, the house, the house of ADONAI, was filled with a cloud; so that because of the cloud, the cohanim (priests) could not stand up to perform their service; for the glory of ADONAI filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5, verses 13,14)

 ‘Filled with a cloud!” The Holy Spirit filled the temple on the eighth day of the Feast.

To emphasize the significance of the number 8 consider the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests. They were set apart for seven days (Leviticus chapter 8 verse 35). It was on the eighth day they were anointed. For seven days they were in stages of preparation, they were anointed on the eighth day.

David was the eighth son of Jesse. He was chosen to launch a new life for Israel. (1 Samuel 16:10-11) (Interesting, a title for Jesus is Son of David!)

In Hebrew the number eight comes from a root meaning ‘to make fat’,’ ‘to abound in strength.’

When we are (7) complete and satisfied in the Lord, (8) then comes great strength. The lesson is clear!

In Israel, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are celebrated simultaneously. Simchat Torah is the celebration dedicated to completing the yearly cycle of public Torah reading and starting it again. The name means ‘joy of the Torah.’

Holiness

For Christians and Messianic believers there is an interesting connection to the joy of this celebration. Jews who left the booths they occupied throughout Sukkot, enter into Shemini Atzeret with great hope and joy.

Leviticus chapters 17 to 26 are designated as ‘The Holiness Code” which harks back to “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus chapter 19, verse 2)

Holiness requires the people separate themselves from the world, and prioritize their fellowship with God. The key Hebrew word for fellowship is badal, it means to remove from something.

The celebrants were instructed to be qadas meaning ‘holy’. Anything ‘set apart’ is removed from the common to the sacred.

The seventh day was holy, meaning set apart. According to Leviticus chapter 21, verse 7 the priests of Israel were holy. Everything associated with worship and sacrifice is holy.

Jesus called His followers to be set apart.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2 verses 15-17)

The Musaf, the additional service on Shemini Atzeret, begins with a special prayer for rain.

Two Messiahs

th-1In Hosea chapter 6, verse 3 and Joel chapter 2 verse 23 we are informed that the coming of the Messiah will be like the rain. Just as there are spring (former) rains and fall-winter (latter) rains in Israel, the Bible speaks of two comings of Messiah.

During the first coming of the Messiah, He fulfilled the role of Messiah Ben Yosef, the Suffering Messiah-Prophet-Priest as described by Isaiah. “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… Isaiah chapter 53: 3”

During His second coming, the Messiah will fulfill the role of Messiah Ben David, the Conquering Messiah-Rabbi-King.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah chapter 9, verse 9)

Interesting that the Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend says: “The anointed king of the House of David of Bethlehem who will be sent by God to inaugurate the final redemption in the end of days.” (Page 132)

As this October 11-13 Simchat Torah is celebrated, I am reminded Jesus is described as ‘the word made flesh.’ The testimony that God revealed through the prophets during the Old Testament period was now made human with the coming of Christ

One day a famous Rabbi was discussing the coming of Messiah with me. We discussed the two messiahs and how Jesus would fit both.

“When Messiah comes,” he said to me, “May I be the first to ask, Is this your first or second visit?” I referred him to John chapter 1.

 

 

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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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