One of the most common objections to the possibility of Jesus being Messiah is, why is there still so much war when Messiah is supposed to bring peace? A conversation might take this form. When will Messiah come? With a knowing look and a wry smile a response follows “You will know!” You reply, “How will I know?” “Messiah will bring peace!” Case closed! To respond to this question it is imperative to look at the key biblical passages relating to the Messianic Age and it would help to look at two further questions. Firstly, when will Messiah bring peace? Secondly, did Jesus fulfil messianic prophecy?
The concept of Messiah bringing peace comes from texts such as Isaiah 2:1-4; 11:6-9; 65:17-25; Micah 4:1-5 as well as other ones. There is a lot we can ascertain from the Messianic Age from the references listed. Jerusalem shall be established, and all nations shall go up to it. Messiah will judge and rule from Jerusalem. Nations shall not lift up weapons against other nations and war will cease. The animal kingdom will be restored so that animals and even young children will be able to live in harmony and play with what are currently wild and potentially dangerous animals. Life expectancy will greatly increase. In many ways, the Messianic Age or Millennial kingdom will mirror many parts of the garden of Eden.
So the argument appears to be watertight and logically consistent that Messiah can’t have come yet since these criteria clearly haven’t been fulfilled. Some people take the above verses literally and others metaphorically. Some believe in a Messiah to come and others believe in merely an age of peace. The author believes that Messiah will come and bring peace and understands this prophecy as literal. But the author is also certain that Messiah has come and will come again to fulfil the rest of the prophecies that haven’t been fulfilled yet.
Messiah Ben Yosef and Messiah Ben David
Since some scriptures speak of Messiah as One who has to suffer (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) and others to Him ruling and reigning (Psalm 2), some have adopted the view that there are two individuals who are Messiah. In the Talmud intriguing discussion enquires as to whether Messiah will come riding on a donkey or in the clouds of heaven and continues until today.[i] The first has to suffer and the second comes to reign. Messiah Ben Yosef suffers and Messiah Ben David reigns.
But could it be that Messiah Ben Yosef and Messiah Ben David are one and the same and that Messiah has come and is coming again? Could it be that Yeshua came to save the first time and will come to judge when He returns? Could it be that Messiah suffered to make atonement for sins and that when He returns, He will judge the earth and rule from Jerusalem? Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Matthew 21:4-5), fulfilling Zechariah 9:9, though when He returns, He will come on a white horse as king of kings and lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16)
Did Jesus Fulfil Messianic Prophecy?
This can only be determined if we examine the prophetic scriptures carefully. Which Messianic candidate fulfils scripture accurately? Daniel 9:24-27 tells us that Messiah had to be cut off (killed), before the temple was destroyed. That happened in AD70 so Messiah must have come before that. Psalm 22: 16 foretells Messiah’s hands and feet being pierced and Psalm 22:18 his clothing being gambled for. This prophecy was foretold before crucifixion was even invented and both parts of that prophecy were fulfilled in Matthew 27:35. What about others who have made strong claims to be the promised messiah? Will Messiah come from New York or Smyrna or even Jerusalem? What does the Scripture say? Micah 5:2/1 tells us that Messiah will come from Bethlehem Ephrathah and be from the tribe of Judah. Where was Yeshua born? Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was from the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1-2).
Psalm 41:9 speaks of Messiah being betrayed and Zechariah 11:12-13 tells us the amount of the betrayal as thirty shekels of silver and that money would be used to purchase the potter’s field which was fulfilled in Matthew 27:9-10. Messiah would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man (Matthew 27:57). Isaiah 35:5-6 mentions that Messiah would have a miraculous ministry. The Talmud states that Yeshua was hung on the eve of the Passover[ii] and doesn’t argue that He didn’t perform miracles though does dispute the authority by which He performed those miracles and attributes that to magic.[iii] The resurrection of Jesus was foretold in Psalm 16:10 and His ascension in Psalm 68:18.
Messianic Expectation of an Age of Peace
Undoubtedly many Jewish folk expected Messiah to bring the end of all war immediately. They would have desired the immediate end of Roman occupation and war and an age of peace. Note the disciples’ question to Jesus in Acts 1:6 immediately before He ascended to heaven. “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Previously Jesus mentioned that when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, they would be sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:28-30).
Did Yeshua answer their question directly? Instead of a direct reply, He responded, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Nonetheless this same Jesus will come in like manner in the same way that He departed to heaven (Acts 1:11).
Messiah Our Peace
Isaiah had prophesied of a Son who would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6/5). Yeshua claimed that He is the one who brings peace when He spoke to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you (John 14:27-28a).” Similarly Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Yeshua Messiah is our peace because He has broken down the wall of separation” (reconciled Jewish and Gentile folk through His substitutionary sacrifice).
One can have peace with God by being reconciled to Him when a person asks God for forgiveness and they receive Jesus as Lord and Messiah and turn to Him and trust in Him. One can also have the peace of God in a situation by taking their prayers and petitions to God who is able to guard our hearts and minds in Yeshua Messiah (Philippians 4:6-7). But the Scriptures also speak of when Messiah returns, and He will bring peace and fulfil all the other Messianic prophecies mentioned about the millennial kingdom.
The Messianic Kingdom
In addition to the references in the Tanakh (Old Testament), Revelation 20:1-7 speaks of a time with the believers will reign with Messiah for 1000 years on the earth. In this passage the period of time referring to one thousand years or a millennium is mentioned no less than six times so one can be certain it is speaking of a literal duration of time of that length. Zechariah also reminds us that all nations that are left of those who came against Jerusalem will keep tabernacles and go up to Jerusalem each year to keep that (Zechariah 14:16-21). These events obviously haven’t happened yet though will occur when Messiah returns and reigns in Jerusalem.
When this happens swords will be beaten into ploughshares, the animal kingdom will be restored and there will be peace on earth and the conditions will be like Eden in many ways, though even Satan will be removed at this point (Revelation 20:1-3). For the minority at that time who refuse the Lord they won’t be able to blame either their environment or Satan as it will be evident that the problem of sin is in the human heart and that everyone needs the Messiah to atone and forgive them for their sins (Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Finally Isaiah gives us valuable information concerning how peace will come about in the Middle East. How will this peace come about? Will it come through a treaty? Who will be able to achieve what no one else can achieve? What is God’s long-term plans for the Middle East? Only the Peacemaker can bring real and lasting peace. God will make Israel, one of three with Egypt and Assyria. He will restore Israel, Egypt and Assyria and make them one, calling them Egypt my people, Assyria the work of My hands and Israel the work of My inheritance (Isaiah 19:18-25).”
[i] Dr Eitan Bar Isn’t the Messiah supposed to bring World Peace? https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/isnt-the-messiah-supposed-to-bring-world-peace/