Jewish predictions of Messiah’s coming

Messiah for President

"King, the Messiah"

For the last decade, we’ve increasingly heard many Christians say, “Jesus is coming! Soon! This year even!”

I’ve never been one to jump on that bandwagon. We’re closer, but it’s not near. Too many things in Scripture have yet to happen.

Heck, one of Yeshua’s disciples, a devout religious Jew by the name of Paul, told the assembly at Thessalonica that before the Messiah comes, the man of lawlessness would first set himself up as god in the Temple:

Concerning the coming of our Master Yeshua the Messiah and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 

I don’t believe that’s happened yet. If it hasn’t happened yet, then we’re certainly a long ways away, since the Temple is still in ruins, replaced with an Islamic mosque.

Jews, too, are waiting for Messiah

It surprises many Christians to find that religious Jews are waiting for Messiah, too. Did you know they’re as anxiously awaitng Messiah, just as we are?

I'd like to think that many religious Jews, especially among the Orthodox and Chassidic, are Messianic Jews. That is, they look forward to Messiah and are very Messiah-oriented, even in written prayers and songs. If they are Messianic, then perhaps we should clarify and call ourselves “Yeshuatian Messianic Jews”. That is, we believe Yeshua, called Jesus by the Christians, was and is the Jewish Messiah, and that he promised to return and vindicate Israel.

Whether in traditional prayers, or in popular Jewish culture, you have religious Jews talking about Messiah.

photo of Orthodox Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu

For example, popular Orthodox Jewish reggae artist, Matisyahu, writes in one of his songs, King Without a Crown,

I sing to my God, songs of love and healing

I want Moshiach now, time it starts revealing

What's this feeling?

My love will rip a hole in the ceiling

I give myself to You from the essence of my being

And I sing to my God, songs of love and healing

I want Moshiach now

And another popular Orthodox Jewish folk music writer, Simcha Kanter, sings the song Ashreinu,

Am Yisrael [people of Israel] have no fear

Moshiach will be here this year

We want Moshiach now

Even in Jewish ritual prayer we find instances of Jewish Messiah-gazing. In the 15th blessing of the Amidah, we find the Birkat David prayer:

The offspring of Thy servant David,

Quickly cause to flourish,

And lift up his power by Thy deliverance

For Thy deliverance do we constantly hope.

Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who makes the glory of deliverance to flourish.

In the book To Pray as a Jew, Hayim Halevy Donin comments on the Birkat David prayer,

According to tradition, the Messiah will be a descendant of the royal House of David. The “offspring of David” means the Messiah, whose coming will bring to pass the physical and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people.

In another instance, professor at the University of Maryland and contributing editor to Wellsprings magazine, Susan Handelman interviews rabbi Manis Friedman regarding the coming of Messiah and how we’ll know him to be Messiah:

HANDELMAN: The Lubavitch movement has recently created quite a stir with its renewed emphasis on the coming of Moshiach. What does it really mean to say that "Moshiach will come"?

FRIEDMAN: The ultimate authority on that is Maimonides. Maimonides says that there will be a Jewish leader who will be a descendant of King David who will bring Jews back to Judaism, and who will fight G-d's battle. If he does so, we can assume that he is Moshiach. If he then goes on to build the Temple and gather all Jews back to Israel, then we will know for sure that he is Moshiach.

Now this means that Moshiach comes not by introducing himself as Moshiach. Moshiach is a Jewish leader who does his work diligently and accomplishes these things. So Moshiach comes through his accomplishments and not through his pedigree.

HANDELMAN: In other words, does the coming of Moshiach mean that we make this "assumption" about a certain person, but the person doesn't himself declare it - and then one day this person finally says, "It's me"? Or does the candidate actually have to go and build the Temple in Jerusalem?

FRIEDMAN: Maimonides says that once he builds the Temple and gathers Jews back to Israel, then we know for sure he is Moshiach. He doesn't have to say anything. He will accept the role, but we will give it to him. He won't take it to himself. And his coming, the moment of his coming, in the literal sense, would mean the moment when the whole world recognizes him as Moshiach.

HANDELMAN: What specifically does that mean?

FRIEDMAN: That both Jew and non-Jew recognize that he is the responsible for all these wonderful improvements in the world.

HANDELMAN: What will those wonderful improvements in the world be?

FRIEDMAN: An end to war, an end to hunger, an end to suffering, a change in attitude.

We see the concept of Messiah is very much real and active in the Jewish religion. And rightfully so, as the prophets of Scripture certainly tell of an descendant of David anointed to restore Israel to its former glory, spiritually and physically, and be its king. (Sound familiar? King of the Jews, indeed!)

When is the Messiah coming, according to Jewish belief?

Like Christianity, Judaism contains a million and one opinions regarding the coming of Messiah. But the Jewish predictions are often very different than Christian predictions of Messiah’s coming. While most Christians find obscure Scriptural passages, bend them a bit, and build elaborate timelines while throwing in some strange rapture doctrines, by contrast, many Jews look to the dreams, visions, and predictions of modern rabbis.

Here’s an example:

In 2004 at a funeral of a Rebbe of Mirrer Yeshiva, Rabbi Elya Svei said that Moshiach is coming in 2009. He said its was told to him and calculated by his Rebbe, Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, who was the top student of the Chofetz Chaim. Incidentally Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman wrote books and spoke about that the timing of Moschiach is comparable to a pregnant lady in her 9th month, which at any moment can give birth. Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman was murdered in the Holocaust, over 70 years ago, so in his times if Moshiach was so close, how much more so in our times more than 70 years later.

And another:

Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel said this past Yom Kippur 2008, was the last Yom Kippur. He’s been telling everyone to do Teshuva [repentance] before Moshiach comes.

Still other Jews look to sources most Christians and Messianics would find very strange, such as prophetic messages from the autistic.

In 1991, the influential chasidic rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson told his disciples, “I have done everything I can, now I am handing over to you; do everything you can to bring Moshiach!” His disciples obeyed with a campaign to usher in the Messianic age through "acts of goodness and kindness," even placing advertisements in the mass media, urging people to prepare for and hasten the Moshiach's imminent arrival by increasing their good deeds.

The popular Jewish Lubavitcher blog, TheCoolJew, has compiled a list of why Moshiach is coming in 2009. Additionally, there’s the Jewish Moshiach Blog Network. A distinct few believe the Messiah has already come in the form of the late Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in the late 1990s. (A view we will discuss in a future post.)

These are interesting reads, if only for a glimpse into how a different religion views the coming of Messiah, a concept original to Judaism but now adopted as a central theology by Christianity.

We, as members of the commonwealth of Israel, grafted-in through Messiah whether Jew or gentile, look forward to the time when all our Jewish brothers see Messiah; they are as anxious for him as we are.

However, I suspect mass Jewish belief in Yeshua-as-Messiah won’t happen until He shows up. And I don’t think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years. What do you fine blog readers think?


  1. I wrote a blog on this six months ago called "The Hastening of Righteousness":

    The bottom line is that the Lord will return when His people are ready. Looking for Date X is futile, as it is their conduct which will determine when Yeshua returns.

  2. J.K.

    I agree. I'm one of those "we have the agricultural calendar" people you mention in your post, but I don't think that means we know the exact end; God's months and seasons he set out for Israel do not spell out Date X.

    Question for you. What you just wrote here in the comment seems to contradict something you wrote awhile ago; does it?

    "The bottom line is that the Lord will return when His people are ready. Looking for Date X is futile, as it is their conduct which will determine when Yeshua returns."

    Contrasted with your writing in Hastening of Righteousness,

    "As God’s people it is our holy conduct—or lack thereof—that will accelerate or decelerate the Second Coming of Yeshua.

    By the way, I am currently reading your "When Will the Messiah Return" book. You've done a nice job in that book. You've contributed so much to the Messianic movement, myself and my family are grateful for all your writings and teachings.

  3. Judah,

    I can't speak for J.K., but it *seems* like those two quotes are saying the same thing... I could be missing something, though.

  4. As always, very interesting. I have always found that while many might find the ultra-orthodox and Messianic Jews as complete opposites, they are actually much closer than any other branch, and I think the Messiah is the reason. When I think of the Hassidic I think of the scribe who asked Yeshua about the most important commandment and His ultimate response, "not far from the Kingdom of God." To me they are very close and I can see them as the first to see the truth.

    I also see a great similarity in how they live their lives, their sense of community and the joy they have. It always seemed much more than secular Jews or Jews of the other branches exhibited. Even coming to values I see a similarity as most Jews are pretty liberal but both Messianic and Orthodox tend more to the conservative side (see the linked top 10 reason and some of them sound like they could come straight from an end times Christian list).

    As for my views as to when the Messiah will return; I am not sure. I do know that God is counting the time based not upon the doings in the US, but upon that in Israel. That is the time clock.

    I basically am hopeful for a soon return, but prepared for whatever may come. I find, maybe rooted in my simple faith that I will trust when God brings it all to be that it will be the perfect timing.

    I guess for me, I do not need to be a meteorologist, but I do keeping looking at the weather to maybe get a few days advanced notice. I am usually skeptical upon any specific predictions and dates.

  5. @Robyn,

    Ok, I see how it can be read that way. I read it as, "People looking for Date X is futile, and their conduct attempting to hasten Date X is futile." J.K. will clarify I'm sure.

  6. I think some of your posters clarified what I meant. I do not believe that trying to calculate a set time for the Second Coming is wise, and that it frequently takes us away from the daily work of the Kingdom. Just remember, we recently celebrated the 9th anniversary of Y2k! Rather than looking for a set date, I think that the proper conduct of Believers will hasten the Lord's return.

    Yes, I am an advocate of the traditional Rabbinical calendar for *all* of the dates regarding the festivals, but I don't think we're presently in the year 5769. One of my projects this year is to work on Torah In the Balance, Volume II, as traditional-leaning people such as myself often don't explain ourselves very well. (And please note that by traditional-leaning, I don't necessarily mean "Orthodox.")

  7. I forgot to say that even though Judah might be an advocate of an a-traditional calendar, this blog is one of the few places I have found where the subject can be discussed in a fair-minded way. He is not unwelcoming of those who hold to a different view.

  8. I believe that I should always live as if Jesus may appear instantly but I don't know when that will be. I do read the signs of the times but that only tells me that His return is immenent not when. I just don't want to be like the fig tree and not be able to bear fruit at the moment He tells me to!

  9. Thanks for the clarification and kind words, J.K.

    Lady Lavender, thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. You said that signs of the times can tell you whether Messiah's coming is imminent. Do you believe it's imminent? Like, next 10 years imminent?

  10. I am not exactly Orthodox, and I am definitely not Messianic, but I don't think the question that really matters is when the Messiah will come, but if he will be a man or G-d. I think he will be a man.

    I am sorry if I am changing the subject, but that is how I feel.

  11. Kenneth,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. No need to be sorry for changing the subject, IMO, we're still on-topic, still talkinga about Moshiach.

    Like you, most religious Jews think Moshiach won't be G-d. Indeed, when Yeshua made this statement:

    I am the way, truth, and life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know the Father. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.

    ...the religious Jews tried to stone him as an heretic! They didn't think Moshiach would be G-d, either.

    But you know what? Our best theologies and all our carefully constructed religion might just fall to pieces when G-d's plan unfolds.

    The late mystic Rav Kadouri, not a Messianic by any means, had a vision of Messiah. Are you familiar with it? It's pretty amazing. He describes Messiah with some traits that, I think, cannot be ascribed to any human, but only to G-d Himself. It's as if G-d and the Messiah are one.

    And you know what? I think that's right and righteous and aligns with the prophecies in the Tenakh.

    I don't claim to fully understand how Moshiach and G-d are one. Whatever the case, I suspect both Christianity and Judaism will have to undergo some major theological realignment when Moshiach finally does show up on the scene.

  12. Judah,

    I read your article about the rabbi's vision, and it obviously has a lot of similarities to what Messianic Judaism believes, but I don't want to decide based on a 106 or 107 year old rabbi's vision. I think anyone can see weird visions that might not be from good sources. I would rather look at the Tanakh to see what it says.

    Kenneth Greifer

  13. Yes, it is better to go straight to the Tenakh than to rely solely on the dreams and interpretation of our religious leaders. (However, I don't think that means we should discard the words of our religious leaders.)

    I think the Tenakh vindicates this idea of Moshiach being more than a man, coming from G-d Himself. Isaiah spoke about the suffering servant Moshiach. The traits ascribed to him?

    -The sins of the people are laid on him.

    -He makes intercession of everyone who sins.

    -Will die as a guilt offering, but will see life at the end.

    -By knowledge of Him, many will be justified.

    Kenneth, G-d alone can save us from our sins. G-d alone can forgive us of our sins. I do not see any evidence in the Tenakh that indicates that a human being can save us from our sins, or forgive us of our sins or justify us before G-d. What mere human can become a guilt offering for all humanity?

    And yet, that is what Isaiah prophesies of Moshiach.

  14. Judah,

    I have heard all of the usual arguments about the Messiah. I have been studying them for a long time with my own unusual ideas. For example, I think Isaiah 53 is about King Hezekiah. He was called the servant of G-d in Chronicles somewhere (I am writing from memory), his days were lengthened by 15 years when he almost died from a disease, he interceded for the people once or twice, etc. I have many more ideas about this.

    I don't agree with the usual Jewish explanation that it is about the nations saying that Israel suffered for the nations' sins.

    I have a whole internet site of my own full of my own unusual translations of these quotes. I think that some scribal errors in how the Hebrew letters were divided into words have caused a lot of controversies over the years, but I can't get any scholars to consider my very unusual ideas.

    I hope that someday people will be willing to consider other possibilities besides the usual Messianic versus Traditional Jewish explanations of these quotes.

    If you look at my site by clicking on my name, you can see that I have a 240 page "book" of new and unusual ideas about these quotes. You would probably consider me to be an "anti-missionary." I know that anti-missionaries tend to be mean because they have been mean to me when I try to show them my ideas and translations. I hope I am not mean to people who I disagree with about these quotes. I try to be respectful.

    Kenneth Greifer

  15. Kenneth,

    Yeah, I'm aware Judaism has traditionally interpreted this to mean Israel. (Although, that has not always been the case. Indeed, before the middle ages, Judaism interpreted this almost exclusively to mean the Messiah.)

    I think you're wise not to interpret Isaiah 53 to mean Israel.

    Skimming your book, you've obviously put a lot of your thought and knowledge of Hebrew into your rebuttles of Messianic Judaism.

    Your unusual interpretation of Isaiah 53 I reject because it doesn't fit; Hezekiah didn't die as a guilt offering, for example.

    Your book only lightly touches this point, saying the Septuagint doesn't clearly say "guilt offering", though others such as the MT, do. (I have a Dead Sea Scrolls at home, which I will consult and get back to you soon.)

    I find this too often, Kenneth: rather than reading Scripture for what it is, people will skirt the passages that lead them to Yeshua as Moshiach, finding elaborate, unusual schemes around this.

    (Christians do this too, but that's another story.)

    Regarding yourself being an anti-missionary, you're still welcomed on this site. I only ask that you would sometimes be the student, and not always the teacher.

  16. Judah,

    Thank you for your kind response. I do try to listen to other points of view, so I hope I don't always act like a teacher and never a student, as you said.

    In my explanation about Hezekiah and Isaiah 53, I think that I say "if his soul will make a guilt offering, he will see a seed, he will lengthen days,..." (written from my memory.) I think that maybe when Hezekiah cried after being told he would die, that was his soul's guilt offering. Then he was given more years to live, during which maybe his son Menasseh was born. He started to rule at 12, so he was probably born during the extra 15 years. So in that way, maybe it means Menasseh is the seed he will see when his days will be lengthened.

    I see why Messianic Judaism sees this prophecy as being about a Messiah who dies for people's sins. I don't think I try to disprove that as much as I try to show a possible alternative explanation. I am not sure the quotes are specific enough to prove who is the subject of the prophecy.

    Kenneth Greifer

  17. Judah,

    I think I misunderstood what you said about Hezekiah not dying as a guilt offering because I don't think Isaiah 53 actually says the person died. I think the people died for their sins like Isaiah 22 says about the people being punished for sinning by dying, and I think the person who died (bared his soul to death) and was counted with evildoers was the Assyrian king or general. There are many details in the book about the different possibilities.

    Kenneth Greifer

  18. Judah,

    I believe it has been imminent since Jesus ascended and it will occur according to God's time, will, and purpose. We should always be looking up in expectation of our redemption.

    Having said that, I see many scriptures being fulfilled right now and it does seem to be very near. However, there are other times in history that if I had lived then, I would have said the same thing, and many Christians did say the same thing. It truly is not for us to know the time and season but only to wait in hopeful expectation.

  19. Kenneth,

    Fair enough. It will be interesting to see how Dead Sea Scrolls renders it; as the DSS has been helpful in other contested passages such as Ps. 22. I will post here in the comments when I find out.

  20. Hi JH

    We have a heavily Jewish area in the city of Melbourne. I live just outside Melbourne but I love driving through these suburbs and seeing the Jewish scool, Yeshiva college, Hadassah hospital, all the Hebrew shopfronts (It has to fill that little void until I can travel to Israel;))

    There is a private home on one street with a very professionally painted banner reading MOSHIACH IS COMING SOON! WE MUST BE READY- PRACTICE ACTS OF KINDNESS EVERYWHERE.

    Love it.

  21. It is my understanding that God has "His appointed times" for everything. Including the Second Coming of Messiah. Yeshua came at the "appointed time" and will return at the "appointed time."

  22. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:10-11)

    The angels are saying,
    Come on guys, there is work to do!

    We should be ready, but not preoccupied with watching so much that it hinders the spread of the good news.

    @Kenneth Griefer:
    This is what the LORD says:
    "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)

    It is not always best to search for new paths. It is a tendency that we all have - we want to be independent thinkers. But God wants to show us His way. Be open to those ancient paths.