The Bible ascribes a wide variety of names to God. Each one tells us something very important about his character and how we relate to him. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues a teaching series on the names for God.
It's called His Name is Wonderful. In this next study, which represents the third message in a 12-part series, we'll examine a Hebrew reference that's often misunderstood. It's especially fitting as we step into the Christmas season.
Can you guess which name I'm referring to? Chuck titled today's message, The Meaning of Messiah. Just without exception, when I hear the name Messiah, I don't think of a scripture, I think of a piece of music. I think of the masterwork of George Frederick Handel that was accomplished in the middle of the 18th century, believe it or not, and lives on to this day as if it had been written last year. There is something about the Messiah by Handel that not only makes Christmas complete, but it seems to complete the year for the Swindoll family.
Cynthia and I, I don't believe, have spent a Christmas where we did not either hear a live or recorded performance of that great masterwork. Somehow it stands out as a one of a kind. Whoever has traveled to Paris has come, of course, to the world famous museum, the Louvre, and if you have ever been to the Louvre, you will remember one statue, perhaps over all the others. It is framed at the top of a long staircase, and it is lit in sort of golden indirect lighting. It is the great winged victory of Samothrace, dated 200 years before Christ. When Cynthia and I saw this for the first time and the only time, we were about halfway up the stairs and we stood to catch our breath. As we looked up in this domed area by itself, it looked as though she was alive, about to fly. As you approach closer you see the fluid lines of the sculpture, whoever he was, and you begin to relive the scenes that must have surrounded the history and have caused those chips and marks on that what we might call the patina in the stone. You try to imagine where she was to begin with and who did the work and the battles she endured and how she finally found her way to the Louvre.
And in spite of all the other original works, both in cabinet and on canvas and up and down the endless halls of the Louvre, there's something about the winged victory that puts her in a category all her own. That's the way it is for me, at least in my opinion, when I think of Handel's Messiah. I don't know of a more meaningful choral work in my life than that one. As a little boy, as soon as my voice and the voice of my brother and sister reached maturity enough to sing such a thing, I recall my mother taking us three to the first Methodist church where it was done, at least that was one area that we were familiar with and led by a magnificent conductor. And the conductor was gracious enough to allow some untrained voices as well as those who had sung it for decades. And we blended our four voices with the voices of those others in the choir, it must have been several hundred, and it was sung one particular evening every year. And I remember those pieces and when I hear them today, I replay in my mind the significance of those words.
And when I hear the story that surrounds the Christmas story, I again recall the music. To my amazement, most Christians haven't the foggiest idea what the name Messiah means. I say to my amazement, perhaps I shouldn't because there was a time in my life when I was singing the great song, the great master work, but I didn't know the meaning of the word either. I suppose if you were to ask the average church goer, that person would say, well, that was one of the things they call Jesus. He was often called that.
That's partly true and partly not. It is one of the things they call Jesus, but he was not often referred to that in scripture. In fact, you may be surprised to know only twice in the Old Testament and only twice in the New Testament does the name even appear. And each time of course to the Lord Jesus. And again, interesting fact, both of those references in Old and New Testament appear in the same book, that is twice in the same book in the Old Testament and twice in the same book in the New.
Let's look at each of the four for a moment. Daniel chapter nine. In back to back verses, we'll read the name Messiah here and nowhere else in the Bible that is in the Old Testament. Daniel nine concludes with a magnificent revelation of the future. That isn't our point at this moment, so there's no need to get into it. But just listen to the verses.
Nine, 25 and 26. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until, and here's the first reference in all the Bible, Messiah. Until Messiah, the prince, there will be seven weeks and 62 weeks. It will be built again with plaza and moat even in times of distress. Then after the 62 weeks, and here's the second and last reference in the Old Testament, the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary and its end will come with a flood even to the end there will be war.
Desolations are determined. If you like marking your Bibles, you might put a reference in the margin there that notes these are the only two references in the Old Testament to Messiah. I'll come back in a moment to the meaning of the name because it would have to be traced in its etymology from Hebrew because that is the first place it appears. And then in the New Testament, the book of John contains both references, not back to back verses, but chapters rather closely related. John one and John chapter four. Look at John one verses forty and forty one. John one forty.
One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, that is Andrew said to Simon Peter, we have found the Messiah, which translated means Christ. I'll come back to that a little later in this talk, but go to chapter four and verses nineteen to twenty six. You'll see the other reference and the second and last reference to Messiah in the New Testament.
John four nineteen. This brings us to the dialogue between Jesus and the woman at the well. The woman said to Jesus, sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said to her, woman, believe me an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the father. You worship that which you do not know. We worship that which we know for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the father in spirit and truth. For such people, the father seeks to be his worshippers.
God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. Now notice what the Samaritan woman says. The woman said to Jesus, I know that Messiah is coming. He who is called Christ. When that one comes, he will declare all things to us. The first time Messiah appears in the New Testament, the word fell from the lips of Andrew.
As he told his brother Peter, we found him. And the second time it appears, it appears from the words of the Samaritan woman as she said to Jesus, we know that Messiah is coming and when he comes he will tell the truth to all of us. Did you notice something about the New Testament references not true in the old? In both references, and you may want to look back at John 1 along with John 4, in both references there is an additional comment. John 1.41, we have found the Messiah parenthesis which translated means Christ. And John 4.25, I know that Messiah is coming parenthesis, he who is called Christ.
Bear with me through a little bit of background, I think it will make the name stick more intelligently and permanently in your mind. The Greek name Christ is from a verb creo. It answers to the Hebrew verb mashak, M-A-S-H-A-H, sort of a guttural H, mashak. In fact mashak is the word Messiah as it is transliterated into English. Messiah is nothing more than a Hebrew word mashak, from mashah, interesting word.
It meant originally to smear, to anoint, to spread a liquid. When they got into the New Testament and the New Testament was developed in the language of the common people, common Greek, the term creo which worked its way into the noun Christus, Christ took the place of mashia. When we say Messiah we are using a Hebrew word that means the same as the word Christ. I think it would be interesting if you ask people what the name Christ meant, many would say it sounds to me like Jesus' second name, Jesus Christ.
But that name really isn't the proper name. It is a description of that which was done unto him. He was the, he is the anointed one. So literally if we want to be literal about it, he is Jesus the Christ.
And when you refer to Christ you could just as well refer to Messiah for they are the same. There is more of interest to me in the Old Testament. I found that three different kinds of people were anointed or who had liquid spread on them which was used to consecrate them to their work. First prophets. First kings chapter 19. If you have a copy of the Old Testament turn to first kings 19 and you will see that Elijah, a prophet, is commanded to anoint Elisha, a prophet, upon whom would be placed Elijah's mantle. First kings 19, 16.
Take 15 with it. The Lord said to Elijah return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus and when you have arrived you shall anoint Hazael king over Syria and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. Interesting. Both are called anointed positions. One is a king and one is a prophet. But here it is Elisha the prophet who is to be anointed as a prophet. In Exodus 28 the priests were anointed to their roles. 28 verses 40 and 41. Exodus 28, 40. And for Aaron's son you shall make tunics you shall also make sashes for them you shall make caps for them for glory and for beauty and you shall put them on Aaron your brother.
God's telling Moses this. And on his sons with him, now note, you shall anoint them, mashak them, you shall spread liquid or oil upon them and ordain them and consecrate them that they may serve me as priests. So prophets were anointed into the office.
Priests were anointed into the office and you've already seen and I'd like you to look one more time at the example. First Samuel 16 is a beautiful illustration of a king being anointed. Sixteen, twelve and thirteen is the familiar story of David's anointing when he was just a shepherd boy.
First Samuel 16, 12. So he, that's Jesse, sent and brought him in. Him would be David. Jesse, David's father, sent to the field and brought in David the youngest in the family. Now David was ruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance and the Lord said, that is he said to Samuel who was searching for a new king, arise, mashak him, for this is he.
And Samuel did that. That's why David wrote in the 23rd Psalm, you have anointed my head with oil. You have messiah'd me.
You have mashak'd me. I think it's interesting that in these positions we have illustrations of our Lord Christ, Lord Messiah as prophet, priest and king. It was only proper that he be the one who was anointed with oil. Theologically I think there is more.
In fact let me suggest to you three or four things. Such anointing meant authorized separation to God's service. When a prophet was anointed he was authorized to be separated unto God's service. In fact he was frequently called God's anointed. Often in the Old Testament people were reminded not to touch God's anointed.
Which brings me to a second theological fact. Divine enablement accompanied mashak. When one was anointed with oil from God there came a divine enablement. In the days while scripture was being completed the enablement might include the ability to do miracles. To work phenomenal works at will.
To stand out in a crowd. To speak truth without error. So it was with prophets. So it was as priests served in the holy place, places where the average citizen could not go because they had been anointed.
One more thought on this. Ultimately the promised redeemer bore the title mashak and no one else. No one else though he may have been anointed was ever called the Messiah. Only the true son of God yet to come.
Let me be very specific here about the title. Messiah was to be the agent of God through whom the destiny of Israel was fulfilled. Messiah was the agent of God through whom the destiny of Israel was fulfilled.
That may mean very little to you Gentiles and to those of us who were not of Israel but to those who are the Israel of God it is remarkable what that means. This one and this one alone who was to be anointed as the fulfillment of my destiny, my nations destiny is the one I await, I anticipate, I look for him. Back in John chapter one verses forty and forty one there is something that is implied by Andrews words. When we look at what the name actually means Andrews says to Simon Peter we have found the mashak. We found him. What does that imply? Well it implies that they were looking for him. If you've lost something and you've told the family that you've lost it and you find it you say I found it, I located it. Means you were looking and maybe they with you were looking for it and that's the way it was with Messiah. It wasn't a half hearted or haphazard statement oh by the way we found out the Messiah is around. It was listen Peter we've located him he's here he's come. A.T. Robertson says Andrew and John had made the greatest discovery of the ages far beyond gold or diamond mines. We have found the Messiah. He's the one.
In other words we're not looking any further. The question comes now did did Peter really believe him? Did he acknowledge that he was in fact Messiah? Matthew chapter sixteen verses thirteen to sixteen Peter reaches the zenith of his career as a disciple.
In fact he never before distinguished himself more greatly. In Matthew sixteen thirteen when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi began asking his disciples saying who do people say the son of man is? Who are they saying I am?
What's the scuttlebutt? What names do you hear coming out from people as they talk about me? He asks his disciples and they said some say you're John the baptizer and some say you're Elijah and others even say you're Jeremiah you're a prophet one of the prophets and he looked at them and he said but you who do you say I am?
That was most important as he looked at his circle of immediate friends who do you say I am? Simon Peter said you are Mashiach you're Christos you're the Christ notice the Christ the son of the living God. So literally Messiah means the anointed one.
There's much more that Chuck Swindoll wants to share with you on this topic. He's talking about the meaning of Messiah and this is insight for living. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry visit us online at insight world dot org. Well just a short while ago we wrapped up a brand new series called clinging to hope. A number of our listeners have reached out to inquire about Chuck's brand new book by the same title. We still have a limited supply on hand so it's not too late to purchase a copy but get in touch with us right away. To purchase a copy go to insight dot org slash hope or you can call us if you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. Well right now is the perfect time to extend our thanks to all those who support insight for living. You know we couldn't provide these daily programs without your partnership and this is the perfect time to reinforce the value of your contributions because you are truly making a difference.
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Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to insight.org slash events. Insight for living ministries tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll continues his helpful message on the meaning of Messiah tomorrow on insight for living. The preceding message the meaning of Messiah was copyrighted in 1987, 1992, 1998 and 2022 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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