John Hagee, the Pentecostal “pastor” of the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, has just issued a book titled, In Defense of Israel. Doubtless it will turn out to be the most sensational volume produced by the controversial preacher whose pro-state-of-Israel political agenda is fairly well known. A video promotion of the radical book, via the internet, has Hagee making the following statements:
This book will expose the sins of the fathers and the vicious abuse of the Jewish people. In Defense of Israel will shake Christian theology. It scripturally proves that the Jewish people as a whole did not reject Jesus as Messiah. It will also prove that Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah. It will prove that there was a Calvary conspiracy between Rome, the high priest, and Herod to execute Jesus as an insurrectionist too dangerous to live. Since Jesus refused by word and deed to claim to be the Messiah, how can the Jews be blamed for rejecting what was never offered? Read this shocking expose, In Defense of Israel (emphasis added).
If this volume lives up to the promotion, namely that Jesus did not claim to be, and was not, the promised Messiah of Old Testament literature, it is heresy at its worst. If the promo is some sort of theological subterfuge designed to accelerate sales, it is duplicity in its vilest manifestation.
The term “Messiah” derives ultimately from a Hebrew verb, mashach, signifying “to anoint,” which occurs about seventy times in the Old Testament. Most commonly it was employed of an act anointing or consecrating a man for a special office—such as a prophet (1 Kings 19:16), priest (Exodus 29:7), or king (1 Samuel 16:12). Each of these three sacred offices was combined uniquely in the person of Jesus (Acts 3:22-23; Hebrews 4:14-15; Revelation 19:16). Hence the Lord most appropriately was designated as the “anointed” of God, or the Messiah. In the New Testament the term Christos (529 times), i.e., “the Anointed one,” is transliterated as “Christ,” because Jesus was God’s Christos (Messiah). Hagee’s position is so foreign to the truth that it requires little argument for refutation.
The fact is, the promotional blurb cited above contains an egregious contradiction. Mr. Hagee claims that Jesus did not come to earth “to be the Messiah,” and yet he contends that the Jewish people as a whole “did not reject Jesus as the Messiah.” The only conclusion one can draw from these premises is that the Jews mostly did accept Jesus as the one he did not come to be!
Note this brief survey of biblical evidence pertaining to the promises of the coming Messiah, and Jesus’ identification with this recognition.
(1) The prophet Daniel declared the coming of the “anointed one” (Daniel 9:24-27). He detailed the redemptive nature of the Messiah’s mission, the chronology culminating in his murder, the effect of his death (e.g., the end of animal sacrifices), and the devastation that ultimately would fall upon Jehovah’s “people” and the “holy city” as a consequence of repudiating the Anointed One.
Christ applied this prophecy to the Jewish nation’s rejection of himself, and the eventual invasion of the Roman army in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:15; cf. 22:7). See also Psalm 2:2, and the reference to Jehovah’s “anointed,” who was his “son” (v. 7). The New Testament demonstrates this psalm to be fulfilled in Christ (Acts 4:26; 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5).
(2) In her conversation with Jesus at Jacob’s well, the Samaritan woman declared: “I know that Messiah is coming (he that is called the Christ): when he arrives, he will declare unto us all things.” The Lord responded: “I who am speaking to you am he” (John 4:25-26).
(3) When Peter confessed: “You are the Christ [Christos – Messiah], the Son of God,” Jesus blessed him, and declared that this truth derived its validity from the Father in heaven (Matthew 16:16-17).
(4) On the day of Pentecost Peter proclaimed:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God has made both Lord and Christ [Messiah] this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36).
(5) John the apostle affirmed that the “signs” the Lord performed during his ministry established the reality that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30-31). These signs confirmed, both in “word” and “deed,” the Savior’s identity as Messiah.
(6) The Lord’s plaintive cry regarding the rejection of the Messiah, as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet (chapter fifty-three), was specifically applied to the Jews (cf. “his generation” and “the transgression of my people” – v. 8). Their refusal to acknowledge Jesus’ messianic role, in spite of the many signs he did, was a result of a hardening of their hearts (see John 12:37-41).
Those Jews that did accept the Messiah were designated as a “remnant” (Romans 11:5; cf. “some,” vv. 14,17; a small number comparatively speaking; see Isaiah 6:13; Ezekiel 5:3; Zechariah 13:8). Paul’s discussion of the messianic rejection of his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3) and his agony over them (chapters nine through eleven), is a devastating refutation of Hagee’s incredible theory that most of the Jews accepted him.
It is theological insanity to make the claims John Hagee has done. It hardly is necessary to pile evidence on top of evidence for the messianic role of Jesus of Nazareth. As John (the truthful John) later would write: “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]?” (1 John 2:22).
The claim of some supporters, that what “Pastor” Hagee is attempting to say is simply that Jesus was not the Messiah for the Jews alone, or that he was not a Messiah to save the Hebrews from political Rome, is a desperate maneuver to rescue the Texas preacher from the depths of heresy and humiliation. Words have meanings and Mr. Hagee’s are clear. If one cannot express his ideas honestly and lucidly, he needs to cease his journalistic endeavors until he can.