The Messiah in the Old Testament

A challenge

If you were asked to demonstrate that the Messiah, who is called Jesus in the English Bible, but Yeshua to Jews, would come at the time he did, that he was the son of God, who came to deal with the sin of the world, plus describe his attributes, from the Old Testament only, could you do it? Jesus could, and did, often to the detriment of the scribes and Pharisees whose proud arrogant ways were in the firing line of Christ, the Messiah. He also spoke to his disciples from the Old Testament using the writings of the Moses (the Law i.e. Torah) and the Prophets to explain what would and did happened to Him. For example, Jesus used the Old Testament when he spoke to the two on the Emmaus road (Luke 24) about his life, death and resurrection. Paul writes:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. 3:16 - 17.

So let use Scripture to understand the Messiah.

The Messiah in the Old Testament

We can see the Messiah in the Old Testament in at least six different ways:

  1. Indirect reference e.g. Genesis 3:15 (the women’s seed) and the enigmatic verse (Matt 22:44) Jesus stumped the Pharisees with: Psalm 110:1:
    The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
  2. Direct reference to Him usually through prophecy e.g. Daniel 9:25 (Messiah), The Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18), Psalm 22.
  3. Direct implied reference to Him e.g. Isaiah 9:6 (Wonderful counsellor)
  4. Within the trinity e.g. Genesis 1:1, Psalm 2 (especially verse 6).
  5. In bodily form: compare angels which cannot be worshipped, Daniel 8:16, and the Man seen in Joshua 5:13-15 or Judges 13:6 etc. Noting that the name angel, which means messenger, denotes the office not the character.
  6. As a type such as Boaz the Kinsman redeemer of Ruth.

The Name

The Messiah in Hebrew (Mashiah - מָשִׁיחַ,) – is similar to Christ in Greek (Χριστός) and is mentioned 39 times (in 38 verses) in the Old Testament, but is rendered “anointed one”, and only once is the Hebrew rendition used – in Daniel 9:25, 26.[1] In the former case, “anointed one” or similar phrase pertains to the priests, which of course Jesus was, but not of the order of Aaron, but Melchizedek. The usual understanding of the word Messiah, is Prince of the Chosen People – who will rule in the Messianic Kingdom, in a time to come based the Davidic Covenant, see; 2 Samuel 7:11b-16 & 1 Chronicles 17:10c-14[2].

In the New Testament Messiah is only used twice, in John 1:4, and John 4:25.

Yeshua or Jesus is the promised Messiah or Christ. He is who is Jehovah the Saviour and was foretold in the Old Testament. Leaving aside the analogies and types which speak of the Messiah, for instance David, the Old Testament clearly taught of the coming of the Messiah, and this Messiah was Yeshua (in Hebrew) or Jesus as English speakers know him, all of which was understood at the time of Jesus.

The Son of Man is used once in the Old Testament: Daniel 7:13.

The Prophet: used Deuteronomy 18:18.

The Star: used in Numbers 24:17, linked to the 2 Peter 1:19, and Revelation 22:16.

The Messiah

The Jews were waiting for the Messiah from the day of Abraham:

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad. John 8:56 

But the first glimpse of the Messiah is told to Adam after his fall, and was expected by Eve to be a son born to her.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15 

He was foretold by Israel (Jacob)

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him [shall] the gathering of the people [be]. Genesis 49:10 

He was foretold by the prophet Balaam.

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. Numbers 24:17 

Moses looked forward to the day of the Messiah,

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. Deuteronomy 18:18 

Jesus alludes to Moses’ foretelling of the Messiah when speaking to the corrupt Pharisees: John 5:46.

David was revealed that his throne is the throne on whom the Messiah shall ascend, which will not end, as prophesied in the Old Testament

 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Samuel 7:13

David, who foreshadowed the Messiah, for David was a type of Messiah, spoke much of as did other psalmists eg. Psalm 2 (Noting in this Psalm the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit converse),

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee Psalm 2:6 

The Messiah is found in the Psalms – often in the Last Days with the Remnant of his People; Psalm 9, Psalm 21, Psalm 40.

Zion is spoken much of in the Old Testament (152 times in the KJV) as the place of reign of the coming Messiah – that is Jerusalem.

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. Psalm 2:6 

The Messiah does not yet reign as King, but will do so – Jerusalem will be the place he rules from for example (See also Zechariah 8) -

So you shall know that I am the Lord your God,
Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.
Then Jerusalem shall be holy,
And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.
Joel 3:17 (NKJV)

Political deliverance of Israel; The Messianic concept as a political delivery grew after the kingdom divided, as Israel looked for a strong leader to deal with their enemies and return the nation to one of prominence and wealth, notwithstanding the words of the prophets who warned them against their sin and iniquity: which they repented not of, hence forgetting the suffering servant as found in Isaiah 53

For God will save Zion
And build the cities of Judah,
That they may dwell there and possess it. Psalam 69:35

See Also Isaiah 25:9, Jeremiah 42:11.

Prophecy about the Messiah

The suffering and humiliation of Christ is clearly foretold, indeed, the Gospel, notably Matthew demonstrates the truthfulness of the prophecies in Jesus Christ: see Psalm 22, Psalm 16, Psalm 40, Psalm 69 Isaiah 53 etc.

For example compare Psalm 22:18 with Matthew 27:35

They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

The reviling that is portrayed in Psalm is exactly that used against Jesus: e.g. Psalm 22:8 compared with Matthew 27:43.

His beating and scourging e.g. Isaiah 53:5-7 compared with John 19:1

He answered them not: Isaiah 53:7 compared with Luke 23:9 etc

He was to be killed with wicked men (Isaiah 53:9), noting the reference to the rich, which Joseph of Arimathea was (Matthew 27:57).

Rejected by his own people: Psalm 69:8

Betrayed by a friend: Psalm 41:9 (note the exact place Judas left Jesus, forever, never to return).


Psalms are full of direct and indirect references to the Messiah, much of it being prophecy about his first coming.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them.

Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD's, And He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth Shall eat and worship; All those who go down to the dust Shall bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, That He has done this. Psalm 22:1-31

Psalm 45, especially verse 7, where he is indicated by being anointed about his fellows. For this to occur he had to be one an equal footing to begin with – hence in the form of a man, from whence he is elevated by God.

Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

The Nature of the Messiah

The nature of the Messiah is shown in various portions of the Old Testament – The Prophets. Isaiah 11 shows him to be the king and ruler over the house of David in the time to come, and demonstrates the rightness of him being the heir to the throne:

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots… Isaiah 11:1

Arising from the tribe of Judah

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting Micah 5:2.

From the House of David

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 2 Sam. 7:12 (NKJV)

The rightful holder of the sceptre – Throne of David. See Psalm 45 and Isaiah 66.

He was to come physically as a man

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young etc. Isaiah 40:10-11

Born of a virgin

Note that prophecy is to be read literally – see how Daniel read and interpreted the prophets[3], and as saviour unless otherwise explicitly stated as shown in Isaiah 53, which also clearly foretold the suffering he must suffer for our sake.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Isaiah. 7:14 (NKJV)

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?...Isaiah 53:1


The Old Testament is also very specific as to when, where and how he was to be born. For instance Bethlehem – See Micah 5:2 (above)[4] was prophesied to be his birthplace, born into the tribe of Judah (also Matthew 1, Luke 3), at a time of great turmoil (Jeremiah 31:15 & Matthew 2:18), after the second temple was repaired etc etc.

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:9

The forerunner to Jesus

Jesus did not come into the world unannounced, but the prophets stated a forerunner would first appeared. This was John the Baptist (see Matthew 3, John 1:19, Luke 3 etc).

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1

Summary of the prophecies of the Messiah and their fulfilment in the New Testament

Prophecies About Messiah Old Testament
Messiah would be born of a woman Genesis 3:15 Matthew 1:20
Galatians 4:4
Messiah would come from the line of Abraham Genesis 12:3
Genesis 22:18
Matthew 1:1
Romans 9:5
Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac Genesis 17:19
Genesis 21:12
Luke 3:34
Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:33
Hebrews 7:14
Messiah would be a prophet Deuteronomy 18:15 Acts 3:20-22
Messiah's bones would not be broken Exodus 12:46
Psalm 34:20
John 19:33-36
Messiah would be heir to King David's throne 2 Samuel 7:12-13
Isaiah 9:7
Luke 1:32-33
Romans 1:3 – yet to take up this position
Messiah would spend a season in Egypt Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14-15
Messiah would be called a Nazarene Isaiah 11:1 Matthew 2:23
A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah Isaiah 40:3-5 Luke 3:3-6
Messiah would be spat upon and struck Isaiah 50:6, 53:5 Matthew 26:67
Messiah would be crucified with criminals Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
Mark 15:27-28
Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin Isaiah 53:5-12 Romans 5:6-8
Messiah would be silent before his accusers Isaiah 53:7 Mark 15:4-5
Messiah would be buried with the rich Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty Isaiah 61:1-2 Luke 4:18-19
Messiah would be born of a virgin Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:22-23
Luke 1:26-31
Messiah would be called Immanuel Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:23
Messiah would bring light to Galilee Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthew 4:13-16
A massacre of children would happen at Messiah's birthplace Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16-18
Messiah would be preceded by Elijah Malachi 4:5-6 Matthew 11:13-14
Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1
Luke 2:4-6
Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob Numbers 24:17 Matthew 1:2
Messiah would pray for his enemies Psalm 109:4 Luke 23:34
Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:5-6
Messiah would resurrect from the dead Psalm 16:10
Psalm 49:15
Matthew 28:2-7
Acts 2:22-32
Messiah would be called King Psalm 2:6
Zechariah 9:9
Matthew 27:37
Mark 11:7-11
God the Father would declare Messiah as His Son Psalm 2:7 Matthew 3:16-17
Messiah would be forsaken by God Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
Messiah's hands and feet would be pierced Psalm 22:16
Zechariah 12:10
John 20:25-27
Soldiers would gamble for Messiah's garments Psalm 22:18 Luke 23:34
Matthew 27:35-36
Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed Psalm 22:7-8 Luke 23:35
Messiah would ascend to heaven Psalm 24:7-10 Mark 16:19
Luke 24:51
Messiah would be falsely accused Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:57-58
Messiah would be hated without cause Psalm 35:19
Psalm 69:4
John 15:24-25
Messiah would be betrayed Psalm 41:9
Zechariah 11:12-13
Luke 22:47-48
Matthew 26:14-16
Messiah's throne will be anointed and eternal Psalm 45:6-7
Daniel 2:44
Luke 1:33
Hebrews 1:8-12
Messiah would be seated at God's right hand Psalm 68:18
Psalm 110:1
Mark 16:19
Matthew 22:44
Messiah would be given vinegar to drink Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
John 19:28-30
Messiah would be rejected by the Jews - his own people Psalm 69:8
Isaiah 53:3
John 1:11
John 7:5
Messiah would speak in parables Psalm 78:2-4
Isaiah 6:9-10
Matthew 13:10-15, 34-35
Messiah would be praised by little children Psalm 8:2 Matthew 21:16
Messiah's price money would be used to buy a potter's field Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:9-10
Soldiers would pierce Messiah's side Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34



[1] “Messiah” usually rendered anointed or similar: Leviticus 4:3, Leviticus 4:5, Leviticus 4:16, Leviticus 6:15, 1 Samuel 2:10, 1 Samuel 2:35, 1 Samuel 12:3, 1 Samuel 12:5, 1 Samuel 16:6, 1 Samuel 24:7, 1 Samuel 24:11, 1 Samuel 26:9, 1 Samuel 26:11, 1 Samuel 26:16, 1 Samuel 26:23, 2 Samuel 1:14, 2 Samuel 1:16, 2 Samuel 1:21, 2 Samuel 19:22, 2 Samuel 22:51, 2 Samuel 23:1, 1 Chronicles 16:22, 2 Chronicles 6:42, Psalm 2:2, Psalm 18:51, Psalm 20:7, Psalm 28:8, Psalm 84:10, Psalm 89:39, Psalm 89:52, Psalm 105:15, Psalm 132:10, Psalm 132:17, Isaiah 45:1, Lamentations 4:20, Daniel 9:25, Daniel 9:26, Habakkuk 3:13

[2] Compare Jeremiah 25:11 with Daniel 9:2.

[3] Matthew 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, [in] the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

David Simon
Revised and re-written 14 May 2017
\God\The Messiah in the Old Testament