By Arthur E. Glass
IN DEALING WITH MY JEWISH BRETHREN for the past many years in Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Uruguay, I had one great difficulty, and it was this: My Jewish people would always fling at me this challenging question, “If Jesus is our Messiah, and the whole Old Testament is about Him, how come His name is never mentioned in it even once?”
I could never answer it satisfactorily to their way of thinking, and I admit I often wondered why His name was not actually written in the Old Bible. Oh, yes, I could show them His divine titles in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5, 6, etc., and even the word Messiah (Christ) in several places; but the Hebrew name that would be equal to Jesus, that I could not show. Then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and I just shouted. There was the very name, Jesus, found in the Old Testament about 100 times all the way from Genesis to Habakkuk! Yes, the very word-the very name-that the angel Gabriel used in Luke 1:31 when he told Mary about the Son she was to have.
“Where do we find that name?“ you ask. Here it is, beloved: Every time the Old Testament uses the word SALVATION (especially with the Hebrew suffix meaning “my,” “thy,” or “his”), with very few exceptions (when the word is impersonal), it is the very same word, Yeshua (Jesus), used in Matthew 1:21. Let us remember that the angel who spoke to Mary and the angel who spoke to Joseph in his dream did not speak in English, Latin, or Greek, but in Hebrew; and neither were Mary or Joseph slow to grasp the meaning and significance of the name of this divine Son and its relation to His character and His work of salvation. For in the Old Testament all great characters were given names with a specific and significant meaning.
For example, in Genesis 5:29, Lamech called his son “Noah [Comfort], saying, This shame shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands.” In Genesis 10:25, Eber calls his firstborn son “Peleg [Division]; for in his days was the earth divided.” The same is true of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob (changed to Israel-God’s Prince), and all of Jacob’s sons (see Genesis, chapters 29-32). In Exodus 2:10, Pharaoh’s daughter called the baby rescued from the Nile “Moses [Drawn-Forth]; and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.” And so we can go on and on to show the deep significance of Hebrew names.
Now then, when the angel spoke to Joseph, husband of Mary, the mother of our Lord, this is what he really said and what Joseph actually understood: “And she shall bring forth a son, and though shall call his name Jesus [Yeshua (Salvation)]; for he shall save [or salvage] his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). This text was so forcibly brought home to my soul soon after I was converted over 24 years ago, that I saw the whole plan of the Old Testament in that one ineffable and blessed name.
So let us proceed to show clearly the Hebrew name Yeshua (Greek, Iesus; English, Jesus) in the Old Testament.
When the great Patriarch Jacob was ready to depart from this world, he by the Holy Spirit was blessing his sons and prophetically foretelling their future experiences in those blessings. In verse 18 of Genesis 49 he exclaims, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord!” What he really did say and mean was, “To thy Yeshua (Jesus) I am looking, O Lord”; or, “In thy Yeshua (Jesus) I am hoping (trusting), Lord!” That make much better sense.
Of course Yeshua (Jesus) was the One in Whom Jacob was trusting to carry him safely of the chilly waters of the river of death. Jacob was a saved man, and did not wait until his dying moments to start trusting in the Lord. He just reminded God that he was at the same time comforting his own soul.
In Psalm 9:14, David bursts forth, “I will rejoice in thy salvation!” What he actually did say and mean was, “I will rejoice in (with) thy Yeshua(Jesus).”
In psalm 91:14-16 God Says, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high [raise him above circumstances], because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life [eternal life] will I satisfy him, and show him my [Yeshua (Jesus)] salvation.” Of course. That promise is realized in Revelation 22:3, 4: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it: and his servants shall serve him: And the shall see His face.”
In Isaiah 12:2, 3 we have something wonderful. Here Salvation is mentioned three times. the reader will be much blessed by reading these glorious verses in his Bible, but let me give them as they actually read in the original Hebrew with Jesus as the embodiment and personification of the word Salvation: “Behold, mighty (or, God the mighty One) is my Yeshua (Jesus-in His pre-incarnation and eternal existence); I will trust and not be afraid; for Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also has become my Yeshua (Jesus).” “And theWord [Jesus incarnate] became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells ofYeshua [Jesus crucified-waters of salvation flowing forth from Calvary].”
Something very interesting occurred one spring in St. Louis. I was visiting in the home of our friends, Brother and Mrs. Charles Siegelman, and another Jew was present there. He claimed Jewish orthodoxy for his creed. Of course the conversation centered around Him Who is the Center of all things-Jesus. This good Jewish brother opposed the claims of Christ in the Old Testament verbally, and in a friendly fashion, most violently. His best offensive weapon, he thought, was to fling at me and at all of us there the well-known challenge: “You can’t find the name ‘Jesus’ in the Old Testament”; and this he did.
I did not answer him directly, but asked him to translate for us from my Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 62:11. Being a Hebrew scholar, he did so with utmost ease, rapidity, and correctness; and here is what and how he translated that text verbatim: “Behold, Jehovah has proclaimed unto the end of the world. Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy Yeshua [Jesus] cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.”
Just then he crimsoned as he realized what he had done and how he had played into my hands, and he just fairly screamed out, “No! no! You made me read it ‘thy Yeshua’ [Jesus], Mr. Glass! You tricked me!” I said, “No, I did not trick you. I just had you read the Word of God for yourself. Can’t you see that here Salvation is a Person and not a thing or an event? He comes, ‘His reward is with Him, and His work before him.'”
Then he rushed at his own Old Testament, talking away frantically, saying, “I’m sure mine is different from yours.” And when he found the passage, he just dropped like a deflated balloon. His Old Testament was, of course, identical. All he could use as an escape from admitting defeat was to deny the divine inspiration of the book of Isaiah.
Then skipping on to Habakkuk, we have the greatest demonstration of the Name “Jesus” in the Old Testament; for here we have both the name as well as the title of the Savior. In 3:13 we read literally from the original Hebrew: “Thou wentest forth with the Yesha [variant of Yeshua-Jesus] of [or for] thy people; with Yeshua thy Messiah [thine Anointed One: i.e., with Jesus thy Christ]; though woundest the head of the house of the wicked one [Satan].” Here you have it! The very Name given to our Lord in the New Testament-Jesus Christ! So don’t let anyone-Jew or Gentile-tell you that the Name Jesus is not found in the Old Testament.