FFOZ TV Review: Messiah

ffoz_tv2Episode 02: The term Christ is one of the most important terms in all of Scripture and yet is seldom fully understood by followers of Jesus. In episode two we will explore the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures and learn about the Jewish people’s expectation of the coming messiah. We will study the Hebrew Scriptures and learn that they speak of a coming anointed one, a king who will come to redeem mankind, defeat Israel’s enemies, and set up his kingdom.

The Lesson: What Does Messiah Mean?

In Episode 2: Messiah, the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) television series A Promise of What is to Come takes the audience through what to me was like “The Name of Christ 101.” I don’t mean to be flippant or disrespectful in saying it that way, but I guess I didn’t realize that there were so many Christians in the world today who still labor under a lack of comprehension of the meaning of the title “Christ”.

FFOZ teacher and narrator Toby Janicki starts off this episode correcting what most of us probably believed as children, if we were believers as children, that “Christ” is not simply the last name of Jesus. It’s a title and more than that, probably the most important concept in the Bible, particularly to the Jewish people. It not only tells us what Jesus did but what he is going to do.

Let’s look at two ways we can view Peter’s revelation that Jesus is “the Christ.”

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

Mark 8:29 (ESV)

He asked them, saying, “And you, what do you say about me — who am I?” Petros answered and said to him, “You are the Mashiach!”

Markos 8:29 (DHE Gospels)

By reading this verse using two different translations, Toby illustrates how the declaration of Peter can be viewed in two quite different ways. I find it interesting that Toby used the ESV translation, since in my Pastor’s opinion, it is actually one that promotes more of a supersessionistic or replacement theology viewpoint. Obviously, the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels are designed to “retro-translate” the Greek into Hebrew and then translate that Hebrew forward into English to give the reader a more Jewish context for understanding the gospel message.

As in other episodes, information is cast as a mystery and we are provided with three clues in order to solve the mystery. Today, we confront the Mystery of Christ.

Toby uses John 1:41 and especially the text, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ) in order to show us the relationship or equivalency between the English words “Messiah” and “Christ.” This text was written for the sake of what John anticipated was a mixed Jewish and non-Jewish audience but as Toby points out, the original readers of this gospel weren’t provided with a definition of the term “Messiah.” That means the Jewish people involved, including Andrew and Simon Peter, already knew what “Messiah” meant. Yeshua (Jesus) did not invent a new role, “the Christ” but came to fulfill a pre-existing role: “Messiah.”

This gives us Clue 1:

The Title “Christ” was not new.

aaron-ebyThe scene shifts to Aaron Eby in Israel who provides the audience with a language lesson about the meaning of “Messiah” or rather, the Hebrew word “Moshiach.” He tells us that the Hebrew word “Mashach” means “to smear with oil.” We have examples in the Old Testament of both Kings and High Priests being inaugurated into office by literally having oil poured or smeared all over them.

For instance:

Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?

1 Samuel 10:1 (NASB)

So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”

1 Samuel 24:6 (NASB)

The “one who is anointed” or “anointed one” is “Moshiach” in Hebrew. When this Hebrew word had to be translated into Greek, the Greek word for “smeared with oil” was used, “Christos.” When the Greek was translated into English, rather than render it as “anointed one” or even “Messiah,” translators created a brand new word in English: “Christ.”

The scene returns to Toby for the rest of the message and we arrive at the final two clues.

Clue 2:

Messiah = Anointed One

And Clue 3:

Old Testament prophesies talk about the anointed one.

No one in the days of Jesus had to define what “Messiah” meant because every Jewish person already knew.

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

John 1:45 (NASB)

Messiah had been written about in the Torah of Moses and in the Prophets. Toby provides some key texts citing an anointed King such as David or Solomon and linking them to the anointed King: Messiah. He also reminds us of the two roles that Messiah fulfills, being both King, which we have already seen, and High Priest:

He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:9-10 (NASB)

In addition to quoting from Psalm 2 and Psalm 132, Toby relates the Messianic prophesies from Daniel 9:25, where we learn that Messiah will come to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem, and Isaiah 61:1-3 where Messiah speaks in his own voice through the prophet. This is also the scroll that Jesus read in the synagogue as he declared himself as Moshiach before his people.

The scroll of Yeshayah the Prophet was given to him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it is written:

The spirit of HaShem is upon me in order to anoint me to bring good news to the humble. He has sent me to care for the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the exiles, and for the blind an opening release … to send the oppressed away free … to proclaim a year of favor for HaShem.

When he rolled up the scroll, returned it to the chazzan, and sat, the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were focused on him. He began saying to them, “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Lukas 4:17-21 (DHE Gospels)

But all is not fulfilled. The Messiah came once but, as we saw in the previous episode The Good News, the Messiah has yet to establish Israel as the head of all nations, redeem her people, and bring peace to Israel and the nations.

As we Christians wait for his return, Jews all over the world wait also for Messiah, as it is said:

I believe with great faith in the coming of Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I still believe every day that he will come.

the twelfth declaration of faith

Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, wrote that declaration over a thousand years ago, and still Jews all over the world await the Messiah in great and perfect faith.

And so do we.

What Did I Learn?

Not to put too fine a point on it, I have heard most or all of this information about the meaning of “Christ” and “Moshiach” before. I guess you don’t have to spend too much time in the Hebrew Roots or Messianic movements before the subject comes up. Also, I believe this information is (or should be) largely available in most churches.

If I learned anything new, it was that, by creating this specific episode, the content planners at FFOZ must believe that this is new and valuable information for a traditionally Christian television audience. If that’s the case, then many Christians must have a great need for even the most basic information about the “Jewish Jesus” or Yeshua HaMoshiach.

If you found this message about the true meaning of the title “Christ” interesting and illuminating, I highly encourage you to watch the complete episode and all of the other episodes available at tv.ffoz.org. It is First Fruits of Zion: A promise of what is to come.

I hope to review the next episode very soon.

13 thoughts on “FFOZ TV Review: Messiah”

  1. I believe you may have been perhaps too kind to refer to this episode as “The Name of Christ 101.” Such a title implies an introductory course at a university level, but this one seemed pitched rather at an elementary school level. And yet, somehow, while the anointing of kings and priests was cited, still missing was the flavor of meaning in the notion of one particular ultimate anointed Jewish king and what he was to accomplish or is yet to accomplish. Also missing was foundational information about the role of even an ordinary anointed Jewish king, which would seem to be a critical indicator for what might be expected if extrapolated to an ultimate one. Further, while the notion of priestly overtones was introduced in connection with this ultimate anointed one, I suspect that the same sort of audience at which this episode was pitched is also lacking any understanding of the role of an ordinary anointed Jewish priest, or a high priest — let alone either the ordinary or the midrashic sense of the role of a non-Levitical priest like Melchitzedek.

    But maybe I’m expecting too much from an introduction to such a subject, or perhaps I’m overestimating the capabilities of its intended audience. Maybe what I’m calling foundational information isn’t really so elementary, though I think it was so 20 centuries ago when Rav Yeshua was being discussed as a possible messiah candidate. Of course, there is certainly some advanced information yet to be formulated for popular consumption, regarding the methods by which a “ben-Yosef” messiah would operate as distinct from the methods and results of a “ben-David” messiah in fulfilling overall messianic requirements outlined in various prophecies. Understanding such distinctions is necessary to explain and justify which messianic aspects have been already fulfilled in part, which ones are yet to be fulfilled, and how the distinction between them is beneficial.

  2. To be fair PL, I think there is only so much you can squeeze into a thirty-minute television show, especially maintaining the format that has been created as part of the show’s “brand.” I agree that what you probably consider elementary may well be brand new information to the intended audience.

    I don’t mean to insult the intended audience which is most likely most people who go to church. I do believe that, based on a recent conversation, many Christians in churches today don’t really have the opportunity to get information even at this level.

    A couple of things seem clear to me. The first is that each of these TV episodes build on one another and so, by the end of the season, the regular viewers should have a sort of “template” for how to view their faith from a foundation of Messianic Jewish thought. The second point is that FFOZ intends for the show to whet the appetite and curiosity of their viewers, so that they’ll desire more in-depth information. They can then turn to other FFOZ products to “go deeper,” so to speak, and through study, generally progress in the direction you suggest.

    PL, you possess information and experience that I doubt most Christians have or even realize they are missing. When you want to reach new audiences who have little or no background in what you are trying to teach, you have to start where they are.

    In Acts 14:8-20, Paul and Barnabas spoke with a totally pagan Gentile audience for the first time. Previously, their Gentile audience consisted of non-Jewish God-fearers in the synagogue who had a basic understanding of Judaism and ethical-monotheism. The people in Lystra had no clue about any of that and their reaction to Paul and Barnabas is obvious proof.

    If you look at what Paul says, he’s giving them a really, really quick and basic lesson in Judaism and God. Paul’s talent, which is why he was chosen to be sent to the Gentiles, was to be able to reach people where they were at and make his message understandable to them.

    I think that’s the intent of FFOZ TV as well.

    1. I think you’re probably right about the FFOZ TV intent, and I’ll credit your recent experience over mine to evaluate the current needs of the average Christian-in-the-pew, so to speak. But even 45 years ago, the Christians with whom I had contact were educated folks, often at the university level, and I don’t think they would have sat still for a presentation such as this one. I might have felt a bit insulted by it, myself. Obviously they would have represented a quite different audience from the target of this presentation, though their backgrounds included Reformed/Calvinists, Methodists, Pentacostals/Charismatics, Baptist fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and a Catholic or two. Of course their common denominator was an educational level that enjoyed a discussion of the Existentialist philosophers or CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien analogies just as much as the next fellow, which is probably why they got along fine with the Jews in the crowd. It’s probably true, though, that the information from this episode, even if condensed into the mere few minutes required to list it, would have been innocuous enough that even the most dyed-in-the-wool supercessionists in the crowd wouldn’t have argued against it.

  3. I’ll have to take my friend’s word for it, but it seems that many of today’s churches have sacrificed education and information for entertainment and programs in order to fill the pews and keep people coming. My opinion is that people aren’t leaving the church in droves because they aren’t being entertained enough but because they aren’t being educated enough.

    Those people who stay are the target audience for many of today’s churches. They are the television and internet generation who require an almost constant bombardment of entertainment-laden content in order to remain engaged.

    I hope that doesn’t sound too cynical.

  4. One of the most interesting things to notice about the Luke 4 passage, where Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61, is where he stops. What he doesn’t say is as important as what he does say and provides a clue as to what his first “mission” was.

  5. That is extremely interesting, Ruth. I’d never considered it before. In our Christian Bibles, he actually stops in the middle of Isaiah 61:2, which is also the middle of a sentence. The sentence goes on through verse 3:

    and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning,
    and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

    Verse 4 starts, They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated, which probably addresses the aftermath of war and probably the rebuilding of the Temple.

    I was having a conversation with a friend last Sunday afternoon and we were discussing when the Third Temple would be built. He believes it will be after Messiah’s return and that Messiah will do the rebuilding (probably, he’ll have a construction crew do the actual work). That would seem to fit with how I’m reading scripture here.

    1. I think your friend is missing a clue or two about the rebuilding of the Temple. If the anti-Messiah is going to make a one-week (7-year?) covenant and then halt sacrifices in the midst of that “week”, then a Temple will need to exist in which that can happen — before the real Messiah arrives to put an end to his shenanigans. So a third Temple must be built sooner than your friend envisions, and its existence will serve as a clue about when the Messiah will appear.

  6. Yes, it’s quite illuminating.

    I’m not so sure about the timing of the 3rd Temple re-build as there has to be something to “defile”– I hold these things quite loosely– but it’s fun to daydream. 😉

  7. The rest of the Isaiah 61 passage that Yeshua doesn’t read that day,

    “…and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

    brings to mind the Ezekiel 9 passage where the man in linen and a scribes equipment is told to go and put a tav on the foreheads of all those grieving in Jerusalem about all of the disgusting practices.

    In light of these passages and loads of others, it always perplexes me how anyone can buy into RT.

    1. Sorry, Ruth — Could you clarify what it is you’re abbreviating as “RT”, and what connection you perceive between it and “disgusting practices”?

      1. Hi PL,

        Sorry for being vague!

        RT = Replacement Theology held by Christians.

        I’m not connecting RT to the disgusting practices, but in light of the verses were discussing, I’m bewildered at how Christians can think they will ever “replace” Israel.

        The “disgusting practices” are taking place in Israel, and there are those (Jews) who mourn it. They are the ones to be marked on their foreheads. I had several thoughts going on in my head at once, hope this helps clarify.

  8. before the real Messiah arrives to put an end to his shenanigans. So a third Temple must be built sooner than your friend envisions, and its existence will serve as a clue about when the Messiah will appear.

    Conceded, PL and Ruth. Mea culpa.

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