The Messiah in the Old Testament –Balaam, Moses (in Deuteronomy)
I began this year by examining a book called The Messiah in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser, of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He went through OT texts to show how the Messiah, Jesus, had been a part of God’s plan from the beginning. In reviewing Kaiser’s book, so far I have looked at his ideas about early Messianic anticipation in Genesis 3:15 (Adam, Eve and the Serpent), in Genesis 9 (Noah), in the promise God made to Abraham that through him God would bless all the peoples of the earth (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18); and, in Genesis 48:10, which Kaiser believes it meant to mean that the one from Judah will govern until the Messiah comes at which point the Messiah (Jesus) will rule the world.
You can check my blog from January and February to read my posts reviewing Kaiser’s assessment of these passages (http://honesttalkwithgod.blogspot.com/). I did not get to blog about the book in March or April, but am back to it now.
Kaiser cites Balaam’s’ prophecy “the man whose eye is clear … who hears the words of God … who sees the vision of the Almighty” (Numbers 24:15-19). Kaiser takes those vanquished kingdoms mentioned in the latter stanzas of v.17 to be representative of kingdoms throughout history who have opposed God’s plans. He says, “The picture painted by Balaam of … the man who would rise out of Israel” is a picture of the coming Messiah. He will literally clean house of all opposition to his rule and reign.”[i]
In Deuteronomy, Kaiser cites 18:15, 18, which forecasts the prophetic role of the prophet. Jesus was seen to supremely fill the roles of prophet, priest, and king. It is common to call him king of kings. We would be equally right in calling Him prophets of prophets. And the book of Hebrews refers to him as the supreme High Priest.
By the time Jesus burst upon the scene, many in Israel were watching for a prophet who would surpass all previous prophets in greatness and knowledge of God. So when he calmed storms at sea and fed multitudes and drove out demons, those around him were sure he was the expected one. Kaiser points to John 6:14 where the crowds said, “Surely this is the prophet who is to come into the world.” Also Kaiser observes that Peter surely saw Jesus this way as he quoted Deuteronomy 18 in his second temple message (Acts 3:11-26). Stephen made the same connection in his preaching (Acts 7:37).[ii]
The Messiah, Jesus, was and is the ruler who surpasses all and is the prophet supreme. In the next installment, we’ll see how Kaiser assesses passages from the book of Job in relation to the Messiah and to Jesus.