"On a Donkey and on a Cloud"
- Two Comings of Messiah from Zechariah and Daniel
©June 30, 2010 by Tal Robin, Sahar S. and Asher Intrater
One of the most common and reasonable questions that Jewish people have concerning the gospel is: If Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah, where is the kingdom of peace and prosperity that was promised to Israel?
The answer of course is that the kingdom of God comes in stages (Matthew 13:24-33, Mark 4:26-32); it first must come in the hearts of men, and then will be manifested outwardly (Luke 17:20-25). The idea that the kingdom comes in stages can be seen before the New Covenant in the history of Israel from Abraham's family to the kingdom of David and Solomon.
Three major stages of the kingdom are:
1. Death and resurrection of Messiah
2. Message of the kingdom shared with all nations,
3. Establishment of the Messianic kingdom on earth.
These three stages are described in Luke 22: 26, 46-47, Acts 1:6-8, Acts 26:22-23.
Why are these three needed?
Without Messiah's atoning death, there would be no forgiveness of sins.
Without Messiah's resurrection, there would be no eternal life.
Without a message of peace offered to the nations, there would be no one to make peace with.
In order for these stages to occur, the Messiah must come twice: first for grace and salvation and secondly to establish a kingdom of justice and peace.
Unfortunately, most Jews have the impression that the idea of two comings is a foreign Gentile invention and not part of the original Jewish faith. That impression is not true. The two comings of the Messiah are described in 1) Zechariah (in humility) and 2) Daniel (in glory).
The first time the Messiah is to come riding a donkey for the purpose of salvation.
Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey…
In the second coming, the Messiah appears on a cloud of glory and power.
Behold with the clouds of heaven comes One like the son of man. He came unto the Ancient of days and was brought before Him. There was given to Him dominion, glory and a kingdom; and all the peoples, nations and tongues worshiped Him.
One might argue: "That is just your Messianic interpretation. No Rabbi would agree with you." However, the Talmud also recognizes that these passages in Zechariah and Daniel describe two comings of the Messiah.
Sanhedrin 98, leaf A –
R. Joshua set in opposition two verses: it is written: "And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven," while elsewhere it is written, "Behold, thy king comes unto you lowly and riding upon a donkey." If they are meritorious, he will come with the clouds of heaven. If they are not meritorious, then he will come lowly and riding upon a donkey.
Rabbi Joshua said that the two passages of Daniel and Zechariah both speak of the coming of the Messiah. He said there is a possible contradiction between the two. He resolved it by saying that if the people of Israel were righteous and worthy, then the Messiah would come in glory as described in Daniel. If on the other hand, they were not worthy, then the Messiah would come in humility, as described in Zechariah.
It is obvious that the generation right before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD was NOT righteous. Therefore (continuing on with Rabbi Joshua's logic), the Messiah in that generation would have had to come as written in Zechariah.
While most rabbis today would say they do not believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, and that these passages do not speak of two comings, but of two different options for one coming of the Messiah, the fact remains that the Talmud agrees that the passages in Zechariah and Daniel both describe the coming of Messiah; that the two passages are different from one another; and that the two must be reconciled in some way.
The "new" revelation of the New Covenant is that the passages in Daniel and Zechariah speak of two separate appearances of one messiah, not as two alternatives for one coming. There are not two options, nor two messiahs. There is one Messiah. His name is Yeshua. He comes twice, just as prophesied by the Hebrew prophets.