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Theology > Jesus > Anticipation of Christ > The Jewish Hope


The Jewish hope was the hope for a Messiah, a hope anchored in God’s Revelation to the nation. Because of what God had said to the nation, the nation had hope that One would come who would deliver them from all trouble and introduce a period of peace and prosperity.

The Jewish people believed in one God who had made covenant with them, and part of the covenant was God’s identification with the nation of Israel as His people. Because of this identification with them He would preserve them and secure for them a future, a future that would be initiated by and predicated upon the Anointed One that God would provide. Their responsibility was to live in expectation and obedience to the Law. But the fulfillment belonged to God.

From the time of Abraham the people had lived with great expectation. The words spoken to Abraham had initiated their hope, words that spoke of a people, a nation, land, and blessings. The Abrahamic Covenant was restated to Isaac and Jacob. And then to Moses a Prophet was predicted, and to David a King was promised. All of these facets were repeated and enlarged by the prophets who held before the people the hope of a glorious age.

During times of punishment and removal from the land, the nation was sustained by the hope that their ordeal would end and God would show Himself strong for the people. Emerging leaders were evaluated in terms of the expectation of the people that a Messiah was coming who would deliver them and lead them. Following is just a sample of the verses that supported the Messianic expectation:

Therefore Yahweh himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isa. 7:14; “young woman” or “young girl,” while perhaps lexically acceptable, neither transl. bring out the force of the Heb. word; besides, the fact of a pregnant virgin is the sign);

In that day the Branch of Yahweh shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel (Isa. 4:2);

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isa. 9:6-7);

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His law (Isa. 42:1-4);

And behold, One like the Son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:13-14);

For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn way anymore (Micah 4:2-3);

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little among the thousands of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2; see: Matt. 2:1-6);

Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech. 9:9).

The people longed for a kingdom, a kingdom that would restore the glory of the Davidic Kingdom. In other words, the people desired and expected a visible and historical manifestation of the kingdom when the Messiah appeared.

Roman subjugation of the Jews only served to heighten their expectation that God would supernaturally intervene, deliver them, and establish them as a nation. Expectancy was great during the years preceding the birth of Jesus.

The expectation of some was informed by the Spirit, and there was an identification of Jesus with the Scriptural concept of a Messiah:

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. and it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel (Lu. 2:25-32).

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