Messiah who dies and doesn’t usher in peace
[This post was originally published a year ago].
Many detractors of Yeshua as Messiah claim that he didn’t fulfill ANY of the requirements or prophecies to qualify as a messiah and therefore he has failed in his mission and must be then unequivocally declared a “false” messiah. However, as I will show in my post, this reaction is either purely polemical at its core or simply done out of ignorance . This is because it does not fully take into account (or ignores) either the teachings of our prophets in the Tanakh, our sages, or even the voices in traditional Judaism today. The detractors overlook the little publicized knowledge that the Jewish tradition (Talmud, Sukkah 52a, b) holds that there are two messiahs, Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David. Today, however, this teaching is once again being publicly discussed within traditional Judaism, including the largest and most influential of modern movements in Orthodoxy: Chabad. This teaching is significant because it demonstrates that each appearance of the two appearances of the Messiah (one that leads to Messiah’s death and one that leads to his triumph and to ushering of global peace) plays an essential role in the Redemption plan of G-d.
Jewish tradition speaks of two redeemers, each one called Moshiach. Both are involved in ushering in the Messianic Era. They are Moshiach ben David and Moshiach ben Yosef… Moshiach ben Yosef will be killed in the war against Gog and Magog. Again, it is unclear whether the death will be in physical battle, or as a result of the spiritual battles which he will wage against the forces of evil. (Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, Chabad.org, The Battle of Gog and Magog)
Those of us who are followers of the Master know that when Yeshua was sent to Israel, his mission as Maschiach ben Yosef was not to usher peace on earth (that part of Redemption, according to Jewish tradition, would be done by the second “instance” of messiah), but rather to defeat the spiritual forces of the adversary that have held Israel and the whole world captive at the time and to initiate the redemptive process. In Jewish tradition, this battle is associated with the battle of G-d and Magog, a mysterious and little understood event. This is a complex subject, and we are told that even the Jewish tradition itself is not conclusive on whether the battle will be spiritual or physical, or even if it has already taken place:
The prophet Ezekiel (chapters 38-39) describes a climactic battle that will be instigated by Gog and/of Magog, and will be waged against Israel and G‑d. The defeat of Gog and Magog will precipitate the Messianic Redemption. It is difficult to dwell on this topic because it is so shrouded in mystery. We are uncertain as to the identity of Gog and Magog, whether Gog and Magog are the names of nations or individuals, whether this battle will be a physical or spiritual battle, and even whether it has already occurred or not. (Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, Chabad.org, The Battle of Gog and Magog)
In light of the above, I would like to submit that this battle was indeed spiritual and that it indeed has already occurred at the coming of Messiah Yeshua as Maschiach ben Yosef, and the spiritual forces he battled were the adversary (satan) himself and the forces under his command. Yeshua himself confirmed this much when he said the following to his disciples:
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. (Yochanan/John 12:31)
And here are his words regarding the spiritual battle that he came to wage vs. the supposed idyllic messianic peace that some claim he were suppose to bring (if he were a “true” Messiah):
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matityahu/Matthew 10:34)
An influential rabbi, academic and scholar Jacob Immanuel Schochet describes the details of the first messianic mission in this way:
The essential function of Mashiach ben Yossef is to prepare Israel for the final redemption, to put them into the proper condition in order to clear the way for Mashiach ben David to come. Of that ultimate redemption it is said, that if Israel repent (return to G-d) they shall be redeemed immediately (even before the predetermined date for Mashiach’s coming). If they will not repent and thus become dependent on the final date, “the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a ruler over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman’s, thus causing Israel to repent, and thereby bringing them back to the right path.” In other words, if Israel shall return to G-d on their own and make themselves worthy of the redemption, there is no need for the trials and tribulations associated with the above account of events related to Mashiach ben Yossef. Mashiach ben David will come directly and redeem us.
No one can deny that Israel has certainly suffered many trials and tribulations since the coming of Messiah ben Joseph, just as it is also plain to see that the overhwhelming majority of Jews have yet to return to G-d. The obvious conclusion is that we, as a nation, are not yet worthy to usher in the coming of Messiah ben David.
It is also interesting that the Jewish tradition (not to mention our prophets) even supports the understanding that Israel will eventually mourn Mashiach ben Yosef as a nation, something that I attribute to the fact that the people of Israel as a whole did not recognize Yeshua when he came and will feel sorrow as a result:
[The] prophet Zechariah (12:10) describes the national mourning that will follow his death. (Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, Chabad.org, The Battle of Gog and Magog)
How strange it is for a Jewish ear to hear that Maschiach is to be killed. How strange it is to hear that Israel will mourn for their Messiah. How “goyish” is that!? That sounds too much like “that guy” that Jews are not suppose to even talk about. Surely, if Messiah is killed – he has failed! Since Yeshua did not bring everlasting peace when he came and was killed – he must have failed as Messiah (or so we are told)! Well, as I have shown above both the dual mission of Messiah and even Messiah’s death in the battle for Redemption is a very Jewish thing, something that both our prophets and our sages have taught, something that our rabbis still teach today.