1Cor. 15:3-4 ¶ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…
What arrests our attention in this statement is the repeated phrase “according to the Scriptures.” For the Apostle, the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua of Nazareth was all “according to the Scriptures.” This reminds one of the story, told by Luke in chapter 24 of his Gospel, about the beleaguered disciples as they left Jerusalem following the eventful days of Pesach and headed west some 15 miles toward Emmaus. The “stranger” that met up with them and began to raise questions was none other than the risen Messiah, though in some mysterious way He hid Himself from them. As they conversed, their statement that “and we had hoped that He was the Messiah” must have at once saddened and shocked the Master. How could these men be disciples of the Torah and not understand the events that had just taken place? He rebuked them for being “foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken.”
“Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. Luke 24:26-27.
Apparently, the Master, His disciples, as well as Paul, had come to recognize that the Tanach—the Torah, Prophets and Writings—contained all of the revelation necessary to identify the Messiah and to understand that His mission included not only His appearance on the scope of world history, but also His suffering before He would enter into His glory. And one would therefore logically conclude that this revelation of Messiah in the Tanach became the basis of their message as they spread out to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world. Unfortunately, as the Christian Church and the Synagogue split, the Tanach became less and less important to the Church as she built her foundations upon the “New Testament.” The result was that the Apostolic Scriptures were misinterpreted and misapplied, and the character of the Messiah was transformed into a non-Jewish Savior Who had rejected the chosen people Israel in favor of His new bride, the Church. In essence, the “Old Testament” was just that—old and outdated in favor of the “New Testament” which defined the “new people of Israel.” Sadly, many of the references to the Tanach in the writings of the 4th and 5th Century Church Fathers were for the purposes of polemic against the Jews. The Hebrew Scriptures no longer held a significant place in the definition of the Church, but only functioned to “prove the Church right” against the Jews. The “New Testament” was entirely sufficient for the Church’s self-definition, and especially since she had defined herself as “other” in regard to the ancient people of God. If one wanted to know about “the Christ,” the best place to look was the Gospels. One would only go to the Hebrew Scriptures to persuade the Jews.
The Tanach is the foundation of it all. In the inspired Scriptures of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings we discover who God is, who we are, how we relate to God through faith in His Messiah, and how we are to live in order to honor Him and become His covenant partners. The Tanach is the foundation of our lives in Messiah. It is the book of who we are in Him. And the Apostolic Scriptures are the inspired continuation of the Tanach, showing us how perfectly and absolutely the promises of God are “yes” and “amen” in Yeshua (2Cor 1:20), demonstrating the manner in which Yeshua met the qualifications and characteristics of the Promised One.
So it is for this reason that the study of “Messiah in the Tanach” is so essential for us. For only as we understand the character and purpose of Messiah as detailed in Moses and all the prophets are we able to see in Yeshua the One for whom our souls long. And in coming to stand firm upon the foundation of the Tanach, our faith in Yeshua is made that much more secure.
This is an excerpt from the course “Messiah in the Tanach” by Tim Hegg.