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you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Therefore, you kings, be wise;

be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear

and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry

and you be destroyed in your way,

for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

-- Psalm 2 NIV

Chapter 9 Promised Messiah

I am tempted to leave the pages of this chapter blank, except for a single sentence urging readers to close the book now, turn on their stereo, and insert a CD presenting a complete performance of Handel's Messiah. George Frederick Handel accompanied the story of Christ with the musical power, majesty, and tender emotion that it deserves. But he also let Scripture speak throughout the performance; Handel's lyrics were taken directly from the Bible, word for word. His classic masterpiece begins with Isaiah's prophecy of a gospel message, or message of good news, coming to Jerusalem:

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. ... O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, and be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" (Isaiah 40:1-2, 9 KJV)

And Handel concluded the Messiah with words from the Apostle John's Apocalypse depicting Christ as a sacrificial lamb raised from the dead to glory in heaven:

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. ... Blessing, and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. ... Amen." (Revelation 5:12-14 KJV)

There is some overlapping between the story of the Messiah and the story of the Promised Seed, because they both end up being fulfilled by the same person, Jesus Christ. As noted in the chapter of this book titled "Promised Seed," the New Testament documents the genealogy of Jesus' lineage back to the house of David, both through his mother Mary and through his adoptive father Joseph. (Matt. 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38). This is a critical factor in identifying him as the fulfillment of the promise.

That is because our English word Messiah comes from a Hebrew word of like pronunciation which means "anointed one." The word Christ comes, similarly, from a Greek word for "anointed one." Both terms originally referred to a king chosen by God, because the first Israelite kings were designated as rulers when God's prophet anointed them by ceremonially pouring oil over their heads. The promised Messiah would, himself, be a future king, one descended from the ancient kings of Israel.

For a few hundred years after their exodus from Egypt, right up until around 1000 B.C., the Jews lived in the Promised Land under a loose, decentralized form of tribal government. They had no king. Each tribe had its elders, and these handled any judicial cases that could not be cared for by local village elders and heads of families. Whenever the twelve tribes needed to be take action on some matter that transcended tribal lines—such as national defense in the face of invading armies—God raised up a "judge" as an ad hoc ruler.

The Bible book titled "Judges" contains the record of Jewish history during this period. Moses' commander general and eventual successor Joshua was the first judge. Gideon, Deborah and Samson are

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