Saturday, January 2, 2010

Messianic Musings

I've been reading through the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament lately and have found a number of fairly interesting connections. In particular is the significant connections between the description of the Son of Man in Daniel 7 and the Melchizedekiah Priest-King of Psalm 110. This is of course no particular surprise in light of the fact that they both refer to Jesus- nonetheless few interpreters have made connections between the two prophecies directly.

Crisp H.T. Fletcher-Louis has made an interesting suggestion that the Son of Man in Daniel 7 is clearly a High Priestly figure. First, the figure's enthronement is set over against the ascendency of what would be consider to be ritually unclear animals- namely ones who are an unnaturally mixed. Secondly, creation is purified by the removal of these beasts and the advent of God's universal kingdom. The Son of Man comes to God "one clouds of heaven." This is itself quite reminiscent of the ritual of the Day of Atonement whereupon the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies (the presence of God=the throne of the Ancient of Days) on clouds of incense- purifying creation with his ritual act of atonement. The clouds are of course also suggestive of the divine Kavod's presence with Israel in a cloud. The reference to the 'One like the Son of Man' also is reminds us of the advent of the divine Kavod in the divine Chariot in Ezekiel chapter 1. The figure is also worship when he is enthroned at the end of the vision. On the other hand, the symbolism associated with the High Priest is highly suggestive of a imitation of God person and presence. He wore garments of Glory (his golden Diadem), he wore a crown containing the Divine Name, his garments were splattered with blood- much like God's ("I the Lord God am a Man of war"- also think of the Word of God in Revelation 20 "his robe dipped in blood"). The High Priest is of course also human and represent the true humanity. He re-enters the Holy of Holies through the fulfillment of the law- in this he re-enters God's presence just as Adam was thrown out of God's presence through the violation of the law. Furthermore, he dwells in the Temple which is a re-creation of the Eden (a subject of a future post). Lastly, the Son of Man is given universal dominion- much like Adam. It is of course also suggests the dominion of the Davidic Messiah of Isaiah 11 and Psalm 2. In this Psalm, the Messiah, YHWH's Son, is placed on the Holy Mountain (the Temple Mt.!!!) and the nations rage against him- much like the beastial figures of Daniel's vision. He is finally handed universal dominion as "his inheritance." Again, this matches the Danielic Son of Man exactly.

How is this connected to the Melchizedekiah king prophesied in Psalm 110? In some fairly significant ways. He is a Priest-King- as we have shown that the Son of Man also is. He is a divine-human figure "the Lord said to my Lord." He is an "eternal Priest"and he is one who receives universal dominion while he sits at God's right hand. The Son of Man ascents to the throne of God who sits in the heavenly court. This matches perfectly "sit at my right as I make your enemies a foot stool." In short, the Son of Man matches the description of the Messiah promised in Psalm 110. It is therefore not an accident that Jesus uses the Psalm to prove his divinity when he has previously referred to himself as the Son of Man. Also, although the title "Son of Man" tends to be isolated to the Synoptic Gospel, the use of the 110th Psalm in other writings of the NT also implies the Son of Man title.

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