The Torah commands Israel to set a king over them from among their countrymen—in other words, a fellow Jew. To be a true king of Israel, the king must be Jewish. In the days of the apostles, men like Herod the Great and Herod Antipas took the title “king of the Jews” for themselves, but their pedigree was not Jewish. They were not legitimate kings of Israel.
You shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. (Deuteronomy 17:15)
Yeshua possessed a long, impressive genealogy that reached all the way back to King David. Ironically, some Gentile Christians try to suppress His Jewish identity or dismiss it as irrelevant. Some people even claim, “Jesus was a Jew until His resurrection.” They refuse to admit that He is Jewish now and will still be Jewish when He returns. When we diminish the Jewishness of Yeshua, we diminish the legitimacy of His claim to the throne of Israel.
The Torah gives laws that pertain specifically to the king of Israel. The king of Israel must not multiply wealth, horses, or wives. He must write a copy of the Torah for himself and keep it with him, studying it all the days of his life. He must carefully observe “all the words of this Torah and these statutes … that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left” (Deuteronomy 17:19-20).
These laws ensured that the king himself submitted to the Torah and did not become a despot without accountability or boundary. Specifically, the passage says that he shall write a copy of the Torah so “that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen” (Deuteronomy 17:20). The king of Israel is subject to the laws of Torah just like everybody else. The obligation of writing a copy of the Torah for himself reminded the king that he is not above God’s law—even if He is the Messiah. Since the Messiah is the King of Israel, the laws that pertain to the king of Israel are incumbent upon the Messiah:
If a king will arise from the house of David who delves deeply into the study of the Torah and, like David his forefather, observes its commandments as prescribed by the written Torah and the oral Torah, and if he will prevail upon Israel to walk in the way of Torah, and repair its breaches, and if he fights the wars of God, we may with assurance consider him the Messiah. (Mishneh Torah, Shoftim, Hilchot Melachim 11:4)
Does Yeshua of Nazareth meet these qualifications? If we had to judge merely by the conventional theological presentation of Jesus, we would have to conclude that He is not the Messiah. The conventional interpretation of Jesus presents a Messiah who sets men free from the commandments of the Torah, breaks them Himself, and overrides Moses.
Ordinarily, when Jewish people become believers, they are encouraged to abandon Judaism and the laws of the Torah. Since they are “set free from the law,” they are encouraged to live like Gentiles in every respect. Rather than a Messiah who “prevails upon Israel to walk in the way of Torah,” Jewish people commonly encounter a Messiah who prevails upon them to abandon the ways of Torah. The conventional Jesus of traditional church teaching simply does not qualify as the Messiah.