In the past week, I have had the great privilege of discussing the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, with many, many people. The advent of a fourth blood moon during the month of September, 2015, has opened up a wonderful world of exchange between those who do not believe and those who do.
One of the best questions that I received, was from a Jew who does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. His difficulty is with the text of Jeremiah 23:5-6, where the Messiah is described as a “King, who prospered.” Since Jesus did not reign as a King, and He did not prosper (was crucified), in the mind of this person, Jesus could not be the Messiah.
The following is my discussion with “Israel.”
Israel, These are really excellent questions. I commend you for your great observations.
The problem with your understanding of this verse, is one that is common. The prophet Isaiah describes the Messiah as coming on two occasions: Once for salvation; A second time: for rulership.
If we read the text of Isaiah, chapter 61, we see this clearly illustrated:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God… Isaiah 61:1-2
As Jesus comes into Nazareth, He arrives at the synagogue to serve on a specific Sabbath as the guest speaker. He is handed the scroll from the Prophet Isaiah, which has apparently already been unrolled to the portion of scripture that would be read on that specific day. Amazingly, the verses of scripture which has been chosen for Jesus to read from is Isaiah 61:1-2:
Matthew records for us, what took place on that day, as Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah. Jesus begins to read the words of the prophet, concerning the Messiah, the “Anointed One.”
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,… Then He closed the book. —Luke chapter 4
Notice what Luke says happened next:
Then He (Jesus) closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus stopped reading mid-sentence at Isaiah’s prophecy: “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord….”
The rest of the verse declares:
“and the day of vengeance of our God.”
As Jesus closes the scroll and hands it back to the attendant, He speaks to those who have gathered—the incredible words:
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Those who heard Jesus speak were wondering two things about the manner in which He had read from Isaiah 61, and the commentary that He had made concerning this verse of scripture.
First, why Jesus did not read the entire text.
Second, how it was possible the he was fulfilling the text.
According to Isaiah, this prophecy could only be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, by stating that today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. This prophecy also speaks of two important points that will be accomplished by the arrival of the Messiah.
First: At His first arrival He will proclaim the acceptable time for salvation.
Second: At His return He will bring the vengeance of God.
Most scholars of that day believed that the fulfillment of this prophecy would be accomplished at the same time. By omitting the second part of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus was making it clear that the purpose of His first arrival was to bring to the world the acceptable time when God will save all those who come to Him through the sacrifice of the Messiah.
The text that you gave me from Jeremiah, is similar to that of Isaiah.
Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, 1. “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; 2. A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:5-6
Jeremiah is speaking of the Messiah who will come and He will be a descendant of David.
Notice that Jeremiah describes Messiah as a King who “shall reign (future) and prosper.” In the day when He reigns and prospers, Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell safely…
Like Isaiah, Jeremiah is speaking two distinct parts of the same prophecy.
One: The Messiah, the “Branch,” a descendent of David will come, the first time (to die for the sins of the world).
Two: He shall reign as King and prosper, the second time (as King of kings and Lord of lords).
These two events do not occur at the same time.
This is one of the key stumbling points for many of my dear Jewish friends today. Not perceiving that Messiah was predicted to come twice.
Isaiah: Messiah will come and proclaim the “acceptable year of the Lord,” the time when all can be saved by trusting in His salvation.
Jeremiah: Messiah will come as the Branch.
Isaiah: Messiah will come again and proclaim “the day of vengeance of our God,” during this time, He will reign over the earth.
Jeremiah: He will be King and prosper. Israel will dwell safely.
The reason that Jesus was rejected by the leadership of Israel when He came the first time, is the same reason that He continues to be rejected today. The leadership of Israel were looking for the King who would prosper, and reign as King; the one who would proclaim the day of God’s vengeance, while forgetting that both prophets described Messiah as first coming with salvation, and a descendant of David.
Jesus is the Messiah, because He fulfilled all of the prophecies that are required for the Messiah.
 1. After Jesus had ascended the steps of the bima to act as the maphtir or reader, the chazzan (clerk) drew aside the silk curtain of the painted ark, which contained the sacred manuscripts, and handed him the megillah or roll of the prophet Isaiah. Βύβλος is the Egyptian papyrus plant from which there are derived Βίβλος and the diminutive βιβλίον in the sense of “paper,” “writing,” “book”; it was here in the form of a roll; and some texts read ἀναπνύξας, “having unrolled” (from ἀναπτύσσω) instead of ἀνοίξας, “having opened,” and so in v. 20 πτύξας would mean “having rolled up.” Ἀπό in ἀπεδόθη implies that the roll which contained only the writings of Isaiah was “duly given” to Jesus. He did not ask for this prophet. It is the general opinion that fixed haphtaroth were not as yet in use, which would agree with Luke’s statement that Jesus “found” the passage which he then read. Isaiah was very likely the prophet from whom readings had been made on previous Sabbaths. Coincidences such as this that Isaiah, the evangelist among the prophets, was placed into Jesus ‘hands on this day are due to divine providence. Source: Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament.
2. Luke 4:16-17 So Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: