[Note: This is the text to a sermonette I gave once about two “difficult scriptures” that are Messianic scriptures in the OT, one in Proverbs 30 and the other in Psalm 110.]
How many Jews do you know that have converted to the truth? I know a few myself, two of whom later ended up as ministers in the Church of God. In the Book of Acts, there are many such examples of Jews converting to Christianity based only on the proper understanding of the OT scriptures themselves. Paul himself, the most prolific author of the New Testament, had been a highly trained rabbi before becoming a Christian on the road to Damascus.
Perhaps it may be rare nowadays to see Jews converting to true Christianity, but that is probably due to the small amount of religious Jews around in these times. However, there are several difficult scriptures in the Bible that can only be analyzed satisfactorily with a look at Jesus Christ. While there are several such scriptures, the sermonette today will focus on two of them, one in Proverbs and the other in the Psalms, as well as their revealed meaning in the New Testament.
Two Difficult Scriptures
The first difficult scripture is found in an unusual place, Proverbs 30. While I am summarizing this chapter, I would like you to turn to it. Chapter 30 of Proverbs consists of the wisdom of Agur. We do not know who Agur was, where he lived, or even the meaning of the words Ithical and Ucal in the superscription to the chapter. However, in this obscure chapter of the Bible we find one of the clearest messianic prophecies in the Bible. Verse four of Proverbs 30 contains the following comment: “Who as ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?” Besides sounding a lot like the closing chapters of Job, this verse appears to refer clearly to Jesus Christ. Indeed, with knowledge of the New Testament it seems difficult to see the verse in any other way.
The second difficult scripture is Psalm 110. This Psalm, written by King David, is difficult for a variety of reasons, some of which will be explored shortly. Psalm 110 is clearly messianic, and is quoted repeatedly in the New Testament. For these reasons, it is one of the most controversial psalms for Orthodox Jews. At least two verses in this chapter are of interest to us today. The first is verse one, which states: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Two different words are used for God here. Yahweh is used for God the father, and Adonis is used for Jesus Christ. Since two God beings are referred to here, it is a challenging scripture for those who believe in a strict monotheism. Jesus Christ himself used this verse in Matthew 22:44 to silence the Pharisees, who could not tell Him how a Son of David could be his lord and master. Here, the Pharisees could not admit that the Son of David, the Messiah, could be a member of the Godhead. The concept was too difficult for them to understand. Of more importance for us today, though, is the fourth verse of Psalm 110, which states: “The Lord has sworn, and I will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” This verse is an exceedingly difficult verse, highly puzzling even today for many people.
Solutions to the Difficulty
Thankfully, the Bible provides solutions to these two difficult scriptures. First, while Proverbs 30:4 is never directly cited in the Bible, the riddle it poses is answered definitively in John 3:10-13. In this passage, Christ gives Nicodemas, a member of the Sanhedrin, some very basic advice concerning the messianic scriptures. John 3:10-13 says the following: “Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”” Here we see Proverbs 30:4 answered directly, and rather well—only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has yet ascended to or descended from heaven.
The answer to the second difficult scripture is less direct. The author of Hebrews, whoever he was, gives us some tantalizing hints concerning the identity of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:11-17. I would like you to turn here and read these verses with me. In Hebrews 7:11-17, the change of priesthood from Levi to Judah is commented on in an interesting way: “Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is a change in the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And yet it is far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”” Here the author of the book of Hebrews, by appealing to Abraham’s conduct as well as the prophecy in Psalm 110 recorded by David, not only implies that Melchizedek was Jesus Christ in preincarnate form, but clearly states that the Melchizedek priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood due to its permanence and its focus on life rather than death. Hebrews 5,6, and 7 together provide a great deal of messianic context to both Melchizedek in general and Psalm 110 in specific.
In conclusion, it is important to note that these difficult scriptures can still teach us today how to deal with the difficulties of biblical exegesis. It is not only the Pharisees who stumble over the Bible and fail to properly understand scripture by analyzing either the OT or the NT in isolation. First, the Bible is large enough and complicated enough that in order to grasp the full picture of what is said anywhere in the Bible, it is important to have a sufficient grasp of the entire scriptures. It is all included for our benefit, and we should be willing to study all scripture for doctrine and instruction. Also, unlike the Pharisees and others, we cannot refuse to follow where the scripture leads and thus preclude the correct answer to a difficult riddle that the Bible presents to us. Finally, we must be willing to accept that we may not know all that we would like to know, and that if such knowledge cannot be obtained in this life, we must wait for an answer from God Himself. However, we should study the Bible and seek to discover as much about it as we can, and practice what knowledge we gain from the Bible in our personal lives, for we never know when, like the devout Jews of Jesus’ time, the answer to a difficult scripture may be right there in front of our own eyes, just waiting for us to grasp it.