Table of Contents
DEFINITION OF TERMS
MESSIAH IN JUDAISM
MESSIAH IN ISLAM
MESSIAH IN CHRISTIANITY
SHARED MESSIANIC EXPECTATIONS BETWEEN THE ABRAHAMIC FAITHS
The terminology “Abrahamic faiths” refers to the three biggest religions in the world; Christianity, Islam and Judaism that claim a common origin from the figure of Abraham as a prototype. There are very many common issues between these three faiths and one of them is the fact that they all believe in the coming of a Messiah. The purposes for which these Messiahs are to come may differ according to the different faiths expressions but the common goal in all three faiths is that the Messiahs are to come for a mission. These missions are embedded in the hopes and anticipations of the various faiths and these missions are yet to be fulfilled. Thus we can refer to this situation as the Messianic eschatological missions in the Abrahamic faiths.
In this work, I have tried to depend on existing documents on the Messianic figures in the three faiths. The lectures in the 2015/2016 interfaith course has helped to develop this piece of work and most importantly, my discussion with the course attendants have boosted the confidence with which this paper is presented. Casual question-answer sessions during breaks and out of class gave me the full insight I needed to attempt into this topic. But the limitation of this paper is that it a glance over the issue of Messiahship in interfaith based on the limit I had.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Before we move into the work proper, let us consider the following terms:
Summarily and according to Hastings, J. (1916) the term refers to the belief in one who will come as the savior or redeemer or liberator of a group of people in accordance with a standing prophetic utterance. In some cases, the Messiah is expected to be a divine figure or human figure with divine influence. There is also the belief that the coming of the Messiah ushers a new age or world order in which the Messiah will be in charge, (Reventlow, H.G: 1997). The contents of the Messiah in Islam and Judaism are closely related in that they talk of a man in real life but Christianity looks to a super being who is both divine and human at the same time.
Permit me say here that this is not necessarily a general term for all faiths but a Christian term and this paper is written from a Christian background. I also choose to ignore, for the moment,a conflicting word such as “apocalyptic” and to concentrate on eschatology. The Greek eschatos refers to the “what is last in time or the last things”, (Bromiley, W.G: 2001 and Kittel, G: 1964), or the ultimate end, [Online] (2016).It is generally concerned with the goal and fulfillment of creation and history in a time yet ahead (Lacostes, J-Y: vol. 1, 2005). It is the same as to say “finally” (Balz, H. and Schneider, G: 1991).It can be closely related to the Greek elpida which signals hope or expectation yet to come. For Hastings, J. (1916), there is the inclusion of judgment for the evil generation that has lived in and corrupted the world.Eschatology is traditionally a doctrine of the last days or things. In different faiths, the view on how the last days will be, differs(and may have different terminologies) and this paper does not seek to show these various views but rather to indicate that there are evidences of attempts to think of the last days in the three big faiths or the world. Each faith has a distinct answer to the question of what will happen in the last days or what is expected to happen. And like Lacoste, J-Y: vol. 1, (2005) says: “we consider here as eschatological all projections in to the future” which have been necessitated by the fact that after the shattering of the hopes of the Jews on their Temple, the disappointing disappearance of the Mahdi (for Shia Islam) and the shameful death of Christ for the Christians, the center of gravity changed from dependence on history to the hope for the future.
This is a very complex term to define. Allen, R. (1964) sees mission from the Christian perspective as the “impulse” to obey the command of Christ to the letter with full respect accorded the authority it bears. Bearing in mind the above, a working definition for this work will be that mission then is the obedience of the command of God by the figure designated for it. Figures here refer to whoever God has a command for, be it in Islam or Christianity or Judaism. By this, we will be able to see the various Messianic figures in the Abrahamic faiths as mission bearers. In this case the same person bears the mission and serve as the ‘missionary’ while it is God who serve as the mission agency, (Juergensmeyer, M: 2012).
Let us at this point examine the Messianic mission in the various Abrahamic faiths.
MESSIAH IN JUDAISM
An understanding of Kohler K, (2016) opines that the Messianic expectation in Judaism is not as it were to be the coming of a savior. They regard the intertwined nature of this term Messiah (anointed one) in its English meaning as not sufficient to describe the Jewish experience. Thus they choose to use the term Mâshîach often associated with the anointed figure of a kingly personality. The expected one will be a physical descendant of David. The Jewish Messiah is not divine even if the name is. This teaching is engulfed in the teachings of the end of age referred to as, aḥarit ha-yamim which can be found in the three main prophets , Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. This Mâshîach’s mission will be to include and attract all peoples from various cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10), preach a message of peace and unity and then rebuilt the temple. For the Jews, this task is given by God Himself to the Mâshîach to be, who has not yet come. He will only come to a generation experiencing total righteousness or total wickedness. He will punish the evil doers and restore the Jewish nation to its glory. He has a deadline, 6000 years after creation, i.e. in the seventh Millennium which corresponds to the Seventh day of the Shabbat. By the Jewish calendar, 2009/2010 was equated to 5770 years already spent so far. Thus, they hold to two era which are the ‘now’ full of chaos and the ‘then’ to come ruled by the Mâshîach. This belief is part of the Rambam’s thirteen principles of faith (Novak, D: 2007).
 The title may have other names according to different faiths. Writing from a Christian perspective, I desire to use the term to mean the same for all three Abrahamic faiths.
 Not in the common sense of the word as it applies to human missionaries going out to different places. Missionary is used here just to signal the Messiah to whom the assignment is given
 This are the minimum spiritual requirements for the devout Jews.