“The OT is a messianic document, written from a messianic perspective, to sustain a messianic hope.” J. Hamilton, “The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15,” SBJT 10 (2006): 30.
Messianic prophecy is “the infallible guide leading in a straight line from Moses and the Prophets to Jesus and the Apostles.” Without it, “The Messiahship of Jesus becomes a purely subjective conviction without anchorage in historical revelation.” 1. J. Jocz, The Jewish People and Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1979), 208–9.
In fact, for books to be accepted into the Old Testament canon, they all required an essential characteristic—they had to reveal the Messiah.
“Jesus opened their mind to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45), demonstrating that divine enlightenment was essential to an accurate understanding of messianic prophecy. In addition to the diligent study of messianic texts, the disciples could not understand messianic prophecy without divine enablement.
Jesus’ hermeneutical perspective (that all the Old Testament pointed to the Messiah) is evident in Peter’s preaching. In his sermon at the portico of Solomon, recorded in Acts 3:11–26, he asserted that “all” the prophets pointed to the Messiah. Moreover, he maintained that the central message of the prophets was indeed eschatological and messianic. He stated
” And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.” Acts 3:24
As shown in John 5:45–47, Jesus told the Jewish leaders who had rejected Him that He was not the one accusing them before the Father but that Moses was. The rationale for this statement is that if they had believed Moses, they would also believe in Jesus, “because he wrote about Me” (John 5:46). It was their failure to believe Moses’ writings that caused these leaders to not believe Jesus’ words. Jesus indicated that Moses knew that he was writing about the Messiah. If Moses had not known of whom he was speaking, how could he accuse those who did not believe him?
The apostles both believed in Jesus as Messiah and effectively proclaimed His Messiahship to ancient Jewish audiences because of their confidence in His fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
Significantly, Peter’s perspective, that David was directly speaking of the Messiah, is in harmony with David’s own understanding of his writings (2 Samuel 23:3-5).
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being, therefore, a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Acts 2:29-35
In the book of Acts, the central message of the apostles to the Jewish people was that Jesus was both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36). According to F. F. Bruce, the apostles substantiated their claim with two arguments, one from prophecy and the other from miracles. They proclaimed that “the prophetic scriptures which foretold Messiah’s coming have been fulfilled by the ministry, suffering and triumph of Jesus, and the mighty works which he performed were so many ‘signs’ that in Him the messianic age had arrived.” F. F. Bruce The Defence of the Gospel in the New Testament (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1959).
Peter was the first to use messianic prophecy in Jewish evangelism. At Pentecost, in his first sermon, Peter proved his central message with a messianic prophecy (Acts 2:22–36). He declared that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead in fulfillment of Ps 16:8–11 and that he had ascended into heaven in fulfillment of Ps 110:1. Psalm 110 does indeed picture the divine Priest-King, now seated at the right hand of God but who will descend from heaven at the end of days to save Israel and extend His rule over all the earth. This is none other than the Messiah.
In Peter’s second sermon at Solomon’s Colonnade, after the healing of the lame man (Acts 3:11–26), he argued,
“But what God predicted through the mouth of all the prophets—that His Messiah would suffer—He has fulfilled in this way” Acts 3:18
Peter further claimed that “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also announced these days” Acts 3:24
Philip also used messianic prophecy in evangelism. When the Ethiopian official (Acts 8:26–40), who apparently was a proselyte to Judaism, asked of whom the prophet spoke in Isaiah 53, Philip answered that it was Jesus (Acts 8:34–35).
Jesus’ millennial reign on earth does not rest on an isolated passage of the Apocalypse, but all Old Testament prophecy presents the same view (Isaiah 4:3; 11:9; 35:8).
“They (Resurrected Saints) came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6