rom the first time I became acquainted with Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his thought, The Divine Principle, a new dimension of divine revelation opened before me. Rev. Moon’s vision relates to the Jewish concept of tikun olam, or "restoring the world into the Kingdom of God."
The concept of the Messiah is central to universal salvation. The different commentaries regarding his essence and his identity lead to conflicts whose need for settlement is more vital today than ever before. In order to understand the significance of the Messiah, we will relate how it is perceived in Judaism.
The term "Messiah" originates from the Hebrew root MSH, which refers to being anointed or an ointment. Mish'ha refers to a man sanctified for his role by pouring on his head anointing oil, which was prepared in a special way revealed to Moses by God. (Ex 30:22-25)
Priests, kings and prophets were anointed with oil. Aaron was the first to be anointed, and later his sons were anointed as priests. In the Hebrew text of Lev. 3 and 4, the cohen (priest) is called the messiah.
The first anointing of a king is found in Judges 9:7-20. The Hebrew text says that when David was chased by King Saul, he called the king "the Lord's Messiah." Saul, David, Absalom, Solomon, Hazael (the king of Aram), Yehu, Yoash (the king of Judea) and Yehoahaz were all anointed with anointing oil. Cyrus, the king of Persia, was also called "Messiah." (Isaiah 45:1)
Since the royal dynasty was given to the house of David forever, the Messiah who is to save the people of Israel in the last days will be from his offspring. Daniel prophesied about the coming of the Messiah (9:24-26) and used coded numbers that have become a fertile ground for end-of-days speculators, especially Christians, who tried to see in his prophecy the first coming of the lord.
According to Jewish tradition, the personality of the Messiah is not as important as the expected salvation. The Messiah is a human being, born to human parents. He is an exemplary and exceptional person, but not the only son of God; neither is he a heavenly creature or a supernatural being. A potential Messiah is hidden in every generation, but he will become substantial only when God concludes that the generation deserves it. In Jewish prayers the word, "Messiah" does not appear; however, terms like "the shoot of David" are common.
Jesus himself didn’t use the term "Messiah"; he referred to himself as the "Son of Man," which recalls a term in Daniel 7 and The Book of Enoch in the Pseudepigrapha. The "Son of Man" (a term meaning "human being" in Aramaic or "son of Adam" in Hebrew) was described as a wonderful figure, a judge who sits at the right hand of the throne in the last days and distinguishes between the saints who will inherit eternal life and the wicked who will go to eternal hell.
The link between the Messiah and the First Adam is also found in the Talmud. Reish Lakish, one of the sages of the Talmud, thought that the spirit of the First Adam, the spirit that God breathed into his nostrils, is identical to the Spirit of God that hovered on the waters (Genesis 1:2) and will descend on the offshoots of Jesse (Isaiah 11:2). This same idea can be found in the writings of Paul.
The Sages of Israel spoke of two Messiahs: the son of Josef, son of Rachel, who establishes a national framework and gathers the nation; and the son of David, from Judah’s tribe, the son of Leah. In one of the Qumran Scrolls even three Messiahs are mentioned simultaneously: Messiah from Aaron (priesthood), Messiah from David’s house (kingship) and Messiah from Israel.
The sages saw a hint of the days of the Messiah in excerpts from the Torah heralding Israel’s return from exile: "That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee" (Deuteronomy 30:3).
Many of the prophets give hints regarding the days of the Messiah. Isaiah who talked about world peace: "And it shall come to pass in the last days… And 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 any more…" (2:2-4).
The Talmud sages discussed the difference between the days of the present world and the days of the Messiah, especially whether the changes that would take place in the world in the days of the Messiah would be accompanied by changes in the natural order.
Rabbi Hiya Bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: "all the prophets have prophesied only regarding the days of the Messiah, however regarding the essence of the next world: ‘no eye has seen it but yours almighty God.’" Rabbi Samuel said: "there is no difference between this world and the days of the Messiah but the enslavement of kingdoms" (Sanhedrin 99, Berahot 34). Rabbi Yohanan thought that all prophecies related to the future, such as: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares…" or "and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" as well as: "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun…" (Isaiah 30:26), relate to the days of the Messiah.
Since they do not fit with the ways of the world, it implies that during the days of the Messiah the order of nature would change. Thus, reality in the days of the Messiah would be different from that in the present life in our world.
Rabbi Samuel rejected this idea, claiming that during the days of the Messiah the world would continue as before, and there would be no changes in the order of nature. The only change would be the delivery from enslavement by foreign kingdoms.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides is considered the greatest among Jewish sages. In The Laws of the King Mashiach (chapter 12) he adopts Rabbi Samuel’s assertion and says: "One should never think that in the days of the Messiah the world would act out of the ordinary…as the sages have said there is no difference between this world and the days of the Messiah except for the … days of freedom and independence during which the world would not suffer from wars or hunger…and the world’s only business would be knowing God."
In his tractate Sanhedrin chapter 10, Maimonides says: "and the Messiah will die and his son will reign and his son’s son.…" In other words, not only will the Messiah be mortal but he will also pass on his Messianic dynasty to his sons.
Zachariah prophesied that in the days before the Messiah, Armageddon will take place. Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come before the arrival of the Messiah. Maimonides said in this regard: "in the beginning of the days of the Messiah there will be the Armageddon and prior to the Armageddon a prophet will come to prepare the hearts of Israel as was said ‘I shall send you Elijah…who is not coming to defile the pure and not to purify the defiled and not to disqualify anyone… but to place peace in the world as was said and he brought the hearts of the fathers back to their sons…’" (The Laws of the King, chapter 12).
Daniel prophesied: "The son of man came with the clouds of heaven" (7:13), while Zechariah prophesied that he would come "poor and riding a donkey" (9:9). The Talmud tried to settle this contradiction. Rabbi Alexandrei, in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi, said: "If we will be worthy, his coming will be glorious," in the clouds of Heaven. If we will not be worthy, he will come "as a beggar riding a donkey." The sages of Israel found in this prophecy another hint of the Messiah working to establish world peace. The donkey is the opposite of the war horse mentioned in verse ten.
If I had to point the one cardinal difference between Judaism and Christianity, I would quote John the Baptist’s question, "Are you the one or shall we wait for another?" Christianity asserts that the Messiah came two thousand years ago, died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead after three days. Then he revealed himself to his disciples, rose to Heaven and promised to return. Some streams in Christianity see the return of the Israelites to their homeland as a stage leading to the second coming of Jesus.
Judaism, on the other hand, believes in the future Messiah that is yet to come. Jews wait for his coming every day and thus deny that Jesus was the Messiah. Both Christians and Jews believe that the Messiah’s origins are in David’s dynasty. They both expect him to be revealed, the Christians at his second coming and the Jews at his first and absolute one.
The Divine Principle clarifies the true meaning of the original sin. Its assertions are strongly supported by the Jewish Kabalistic writings. Understanding the true meaning of the original sin clarifies how humankind failed, why we need salvation, and the role of the Messiah.
The first cosmic family failed to observe the sacred family codes and was tainted with fornication and murder, thus giving birth to torn and divided humankind. A society whose failure is rooted in the original sin and which is characterized from its very inception by blood and killings can only be rebuilt and saved by removing the sin and establishing a reformed society based on true families and true fraternal relations. World harmony can only be restored through deliverance from this bloody satanic cycle that was inflicted on mankind from its birth. Only then will the messianic salvation that is so needed come.
A true understanding of the term "Messiah" can purify us from the blemish embedded in our blood and remove the barriers to unity and understanding among the monotheistic religions. We have to first understand the mission of the Messiah and later the personality fulfilling this role. As Rev. Moon explains that the Messiah’s mission is to become a true Adam and fulfill the role of the first Adam who failed. He must establish a wholesome human family and then restore a wholesome world.
"Messiah," therefore, means "driving Satan out of our lives and becoming one world family, restored and based on harmony and peace." This forges the way for erecting the kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Rev. Moon’s teachings and activities are the fulfillment of the visions of Israel’s prophets regarding the last days. They give practical meaning to the ancient Jewish prayer: "and they all made one bundle to do your will whole heartedly." If we have the courage and wisdom to look into his deeds, we will realize that the "Last Days" are already here and that we are in their midst. Thus, we will qualify to receive the revelation of the Messiah "with the clouds of Heaven."