Friends, I proudly state that I am a Messianic Jew. In fact, it is one of the Thirteen Principles of Judaism: "I believe in perfect faith in the coming of the Moshiach, and even though he may tarry, I await his coming ever day." I also know that the Moshiach has not arrived yet and the many pretenders to this claim have all failed or not fulfilled the requirements of the Moshiachood. It's important in these discussions to clarify what the Jewish belief in Moshiach is. After all, the Jews were the ones to whom the concept of Moshiach was originally given, at a time when the rest of the world was praying to sticks and stones. It goes without saying that the Jewish people possess the true knowledge of the Moshiach as opposed to descendants of pagans.
What is the moshiach? The Jewish tradition of "The Moshiach" has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands "The Moshiach" to be a human being - without any overtone of deity or divinity - who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as "The Messiah". The criteria are:
- He must be Jewish- "...you may appoint a king over you, whom the L-rd your G-d shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you." (Deuteronomy 17:15)
- He must be a member of the tribe of Judah- "The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the sceptre from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10)
- He must be a descendant of King David and King Solomon- "And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever..." (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13)
- He will redeem the Jewish people and ingather the exiles -"And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)
- He will rebuild the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, in Jerusalem- "...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)
- He will bring world peace - "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)
- He will bring the Jewish people back to perfect observance of the Torah - "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)
- He will spread the rule of G-d and belief in Him around the world, to all peoples - "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the L-rd" (Isaiah 66:23)
All of these criteria are best stated in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 37 verses 24-28:
And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. they shall also follow My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their G-d and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the L-rd who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.
Judge for yourself: Has any man fulfilled all of these requirements? Keep in mind that the Torah says that the Moshiach will accomplish his task in one try. The Moshiach "shall not fail nor be crushed, till he have set the right in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his teaching" (Isaiah 42:4).
When will Moshiach Tzidkeinu (the Righteous Moshiach) appear? "Today, if you hearken unto His voice!" (Psalm 95:7). He can come today or tomorrow, and every righteous act, mitzvah or good deed accomplished brings his coming closer. Isaiah (60:22) says about G-d, "in its appointed time, I will hasten it". The Rabbis asked how could it be possible for HaShem to hasten the coming of the Moshiach, since he would no longer appear in his appointed time. They resolved this difficulty by saying that if Israel does teshuva and the world is worthy, the Moshiach will come via signs and wonders, miracles and great things, immediately, and if we are not worthy, he will come in his appointed time, through natural means.
How will we recognize the Moshiach? The Rambam in his Hilchot Melachim (11:4) writes:
If a king will arise from the House of David, who, like David his ancestor, delves deeply into the study of the Torah and engages in the mitzvos as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law; if he will compel all of Israel to walk in [the way of the Torah] and repair the breaches [in its observance]; and if he will fight the wars of G‑d; - we may, with assurance, consider him Moshiach.
If he succeeds in the above, defeats all the nations around him, builds the [Beis Ha]Mikdash on its site, and gathers in the dispersed remnant of Israel, he is definitely the Moshiach.
He will perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to serve G‑d together, as it is written (Zephaniah 3:9), "For I shall then make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G‑d and serve Him with one purpose."
What will life be like? Again, we turn to the Rambam's Hilchot Melachim (12:4-5)
The Sages and prophets did not yearn for the Messianic Era in order that [the Jewish people] rule over the entire world, nor in order that they have dominion over the gentiles, nor that they be exalted by them, nor in order that they eat, drink and celebrate. Rather, their aspiration was that [the Jewish people] be free [to involve themselves] in the Torah and its wisdom, without anyone to oppress or disturb them, and thus be found worthy of life in the World to Come, as we explained in Laws of Repentance (9:2).
In that Era there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor competition, for good things will flow in abundance and all the delicacies will be as freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d. The Jews will therefore be great sages and know the hidden matters, and will attain an understanding of their Creator to the [full] extent of mortal potential; as it is written (Isaiah 11:9), "For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the ocean bed."
May HaShem send His righteous Moshiach speedily in our days. Amen, ken yehi ratzon.