Isaiah 52-54, Psalm 119: 97-128
Wow! As we read through the entirety of God’s Word, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 has to be a portion to just stop and reflect on. This portion of scripture written over 700 years before Jesus walked the earth reveals the prophecy about the Man and the mission of our Messiah with amazing clarity. So profound is Isaiah 53 that entire books and ministries have been written and formed about this passage.
Just preceding this passage, in Isaiah 52:7, it says , “How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news…”. This is quoted in Romans 10:14-17, where Paul states that we must share the good news of Jesus, for people can not believe in Him whom they have not heard about. Also, in Ephesians 6:15, Paul describes our feet prepared with the gospel of peace as part of our armor from God to uphold us against spiritual attack. When we share the truth of the gospel it is not only for the hearer, but for us as well.
Interestingly, many question, if Isaiah 53 is so strongly Messianic, why don’t all Jewish people believe in Jesus. First of all, if you read the ancient rabbinical writings from the Targums, the Talmud, and the Midrash until the 11th century, this portion of Scripture was always considered Messianic. In the Targum (The oldest known commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures (200 BC- 200AD), specifically the Targum of Isaiah, it is written that the servant mentioned was the Messiah, and it was the will of God to pardon the sins of all of us on his account, and the Messiah was ready to suffer martyrdom. This was also referenced in the Targum of Jonathan. In the Talmud (written 200-500 AD on commentary on the Jewish Oral Laws), which is what is primarily read by Ortohodox Jewish men after their Bar-Mitzvah, in the portions Sanhedrin 93b and 98b it clearly states that this passage of Scripture refers the Messiah who would suffer and bear our sorrows and pains. Many portions of the Midrashim (running commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures from 200 BC- 1600 AD) clearly state that this portion refers to the Messiah and even confirms that He would die for the sins of His people.
Just consider these three verses, Isaiah 53:5-7, and reflect on Who this describes, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” So with all of this, how can the Jewish people deny Jesus as their Messiah. Like most Christians, Most Jewish people are biblically illiterate. Next, in the Jewish calendar there is the weekly Torah and Haftorah (Isaiah is part of the Haftorah) readings for the year. Isaiah 53 is omitted from the calendar, so that even those Jewish people who read do not read Isaiah 53. Next, in the 11th century, Rabbi Rashi of the Midrashim, interpreted this portion of Scripture as referring to the nation of Israel, rather than the Messiah. This point of view was vehemently rejected by many other prominent rabbis of the Midrashim, including Rabbi Moshe Cohen Crispin who states that to remove the Messianic application from Isaiah 53 distorts the verses from their natural meaning, forsakes the knowledge of the Teachers that preceded them, and reveals the stubbornness of their hearts. Sadly, the minority view of Rabbi Rashi is the one which prevails in the hearts of the modern Jewish people. The view is illogical, if one reads Isaiah 53 slowly, it only makes sense to be applied to an individual and specifically to the Messiah. Israel is not an innocent sufferer (we are all guilty of sin); the text clearly states that an individual suffers, not a nation; to state that Israel must be cut off on behalf of Israel doesn’t even make sense.
We are commanded (Matthew 28:18-20) to make disciples of all nations, including our Jewish friends. This portion of Scripture in their Bible can not be ignored if they are to be reached. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: