The Jews Expected a Divine Messiah
When we stumbled across the following, we found it quite shocking. Could it possibly be true?
While describing Paul's recital of his conversion to King Herod Agrippa II, Ellen White made
the following comments:
Paul . . . had never seen Christ while he dwelt upon the earth. He had indeed heard of him
and his works, but he could not believe that the promised Messiah, the Creator of all worlds, the
Giver of all blessings, would appear upon earth as a mere man. He had looked for him to come
in robes of majesty, attended with royal pomp, and proclaimed by the angelic host as king of
the Jews. But he found that he had not read the Scriptures aright; Christ came as prophecy
foretold, a humble man, preaching the word of life in meekness and
humility.—Sketches from the Life of Paul, pp. 256, 257, bold added.
We were under the impression that the difficulty the Jews had with Jesus was that they didn't think
the Messiah would be a divine being as He claimed to be. Thus we were quite surprised to find that
Ellen White taught that the opposite was actually the case. According to her, at least some
prominent first-century Jews rejected the idea that the Messiah would be a mere man, not the
idea that He would be divine.
When we turned to the Scriptures, we found confirmation of this very idea:
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Mat. 16:16)
Then Simon Peter answered him, . . . And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the
Son of the living God. (John 6:68, 69)
"Christ" is the equivalent in Greek of the Hebrew word "Messiah." Thus, Peter makes it clear that he
thought that the Messiah would be the same person as the Son of God. And Peter wasn't the only one to express that
[Martha] saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the
Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:27)
And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying,
Thou art Christ the Son of God. (Luke 4:41)
And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God,
that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. (Mat. 26:63)
Thus, even the high priest Caiaphas acknowledged that the Messiah was expected to be the Son of God,
not a mere man.
|Paul before Agrippa—Davis Collection|
If one reads Robert Leo Odom's book, Israel's Angel Extraordinary, one is left with a similar conclusion.
Odom cites various passages from the Talmud, several Jewish encyclopedias, and other Jewish writings.
He demonstrates that Jews and rabbis repeatedly taught that Michael the Archangel is divine,
"the lesser YHWH," worthy of worship, and the high priest in the heavenly temple (pp. 65-68; 107-109).
According to Odom's citations, Michael, as well as being the high priest, "is identified with Melchizadek."
Yet since the Messiah is also said to be a priest like Melchizadek in Psalm 110, an admittedly Messianic passage
(pp. 105 ff.), would not then at least some Jews have identified the Messiah with the divine Michael?
And this is not all. In Jewish thought, Michael raises the dead in the end of time. Yet
Jews also associate the resurrection with the advent of the Messiah (pp. 87-89). If the divine Michael raises the
dead, and if the Messiah also raises the dead, then perhaps John 5:25 really is true when it says that
the voice of Christ the Son of God will raise the dead.
Just how many first-century Jews really did believe that the Messiah would be a divine being, the "Creator
of all worlds"? A minority or a majority? Just the Pharisees or other sects as well? Any rabbis out there know?
The accusation of some critics that Ellen White "plagiarized" Sketches from the Life of Paul from a book by
Conybeare and Howson gives rise to another question: We just searched a bit through our copy of
Conybeare and Howson's book, and have failed to find any such sentiment. If Ellen White borrowed from another author
the idea that the Jews expected the Messiah to be the "Creator of all worlds," from whom did she borrow it?
Give Us Your Opinion
|What do you think about this insight from Ellen White's writings?|