Does the Midrash Preclude FFBs From Becoming Mashiah?
Bamidbar Rabba 14:2:
מי הקדימני ואשלם
מדבר באברהם, שמעצמו הכיר להקב"ה, כמה דכתיב (משלי יד): מדרכיו ישבע סוג לב וגו
מהו מדרכיו ישבע סוג לב
ר' אבא בר כהנא אומר: סוג לב וגו', שהוא מלא סיגים מדרכיו, עתיד להשתבע (משלי י"ד): ומעליו איש טוב זה היה אברהם שהכיר מעצמו להקב"ה, ולא היה אדם שלימד אותו היאך להכיר את המקום, אלא הוא מעצמו, וזהו אחד מד' בני אדם שמעצמם הכירו להקב"ה
איוב הכיר מעצמו להקב"ה
שכן הוא אומר (איוב כג): מחקי צפנתי אמרי פיו
חזקיהו מלך יהודה, אף הוא מעצמו הכיר להקב"ה
שכן כתיב עליו (ישעיה ז): חמאה ודבש יאכל לדעתו מאוס ברע ובחור בטוב
ומלך המשיח, מעצמו הכיר להקב"ה
The Midrash says that there were 4 individuals who came to the realization of their Creator on their own: Avraham Avinu, Iyov, King Hizkiya, and Mashiah.
The only commentary I found on the addition of Mashiah here was the מהרז"ו, who basically gives prooftexts to this even though none was given in the Midrash itself. The prooftexts he provides are הִנֵּה יַשְׂכִּיל, עַבְדִּי - that he gave himself the שכל of knowing his Creator and מֵעֲמַל נַפְשׁוֹ, יִרְאֶה יִשְׂבָּע--בְּדַעְתּוֹ יַצְדִּיק צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי, which implies his own Da'at.
So, is it true that FFBs could not become Mashiah?
To try to understand this, let's analyze the other 3 people mentioned. Avraham's father was an idol-worshipper, so he knew nothing of HKB"H, and at a certain age (some say 3), recognized his Creator on his own.
Iyov, according to most opinions, was not Jewish, so he too knew nothing of HKB"H, and he too came to the realization of HKB"H on his own.
Hizkiya is an interesting case. His father, Ahaz, was a Rasha. However, you would have to say that he must have known something about Judaism from living in the palace in Yerushalayim. Yet, the Midrash still considers him as having come to this realization on his own. How could this be?
The verse that is brought for Hizkiya is one that says that he will despise evil and choose good using his own knowledge, while coming from a home that chose evil. Hizkiya knew both paths, and decided to choose the good path on his own volition. Hizkiya, despite his father, would be considered an FFB and a BT at the same time.
And Mashiah? Do Mashiah's parents (or guardians) have to be Reshaim like Hizkiya's? Or do they have to be totally ignorant of HKB"H and His ways? Or, perhaps, he was born to a fine family, went off the derech, and will find his way back on his own?
This Midrash leaves a lot of questions unanswered. If anyone else has some insight on this Midrash, I'd love to hear it.