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Is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 the Messiah or the nation of Israel? Hello,
I’m Christy with Witnesses for Jesus Ministry. Today we’re going to be talking about the subject “Is Christianity the Mormonism of Judaism?” For my topic today, we’re going to be covering the ancient Messianic prophecies as found in the Old Testament. We are going to look at the Jewish translation of these Old Testament prophecies that we, as Christians, apply to the Messiah Jesus Christ. The Jewish tradition right now is that these prophecies have no relation whatsoever to Jesus as the Messiah, but rather they have different interpretations that range anywhere from teaching that Israel fulfilled these prophecies, to teaching that they were fulfilled in the time that the prophecy was written and they’ve already been fulfilled, so therefore, we cannot apply them to a
future Messiah. We’re going to examine those claims today, in this video. The first prophecy we’re going to look at is probably the most popular prophecy used in reference to the Messiah, and that is Isaiah 53. I want to start by reading the Jewish Publication Society’s version, a translation of Isaiah 53 and then we’re going to break this down.
Now, before we get into Isaiah 53 in detail, I want to take a few moments and discuss the context in which Isaiah 53 appears. It appears within four what we call Servant Psalms or Servant Poems that talk about the suffering servant, and the attributes of what this suffering servant will do and who he is. Now, the interesting thing is, if we look at the Suffering Servant Psalms, beginning at Isaiah 42:1-4 and 49:1-6 and then the third Psalm, Isaiah 50:4-7, and then we come to the fourth Psalm, which is Isaiah 52, beginning at verse 13, through the entire chapter of 53. We have an interesting reference to Israel being called God’s servant in Isaiah 49:3. So the Jewish rabbis bring up this
passage and they say the Christians are taking this passage of Isaiah 53 out of context, to say that it is referring to an individual Messiah, and not to the nation of Israel as a whole. That is their argument, but as we’re going to examine this fourth Servant Psalm, beginning at 52:13, I’m gonna suggest to you that their explanation of this passage, being the nation of Israel, does not fit the context of this particular Servant Psalm, because it seems as if, although some of the other passages of the Servant Psalm can be applied to Israel as a whole, it seems that this specific Servant Psalm is individual, as it has attributes that can only be applied to an individual person,
a Messiah. Let’s take a look! Let’s start by looking at verse 13 of the previous chapter, chapter 52, where we will read the last three verses of chapter 52 and then continue into Isaiah 53:1. Let’s look at this context. It says at verse 13: “Behold My servant shall prosper, He shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high.”
Now, I want you to think about this for a moment. “A servant that is exalted and lifted very high.” Does that remind you of another passage we read in Isaiah chapter 6? In Isaiah chapter 6, we read of the Lord God Himself being exalted and lifted very high. So here we see the same phraseology that is used for God Himself being applied to this servant. Now, how could this be applied to the nation of Israel? When is the nation of Israel ever lifted up to the level of God? We don’t see that with the nation of Israel, but we do see this with Yeshua Jesus being called the Son of God, as we read about Him in the New Testament. So here we have an allusion to this servant
being on the level of God or at least receiving worship as God. Because He is exalted and lifted up, very highly exalted, as it says, “Shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high.” So that’s the allusion to the servant being a deity. Then we also have an indication that this servant cannot be the nation of Israel when we read on in verse 14 of chapter 52, where it says, “According as many were appalled at thee – so marred with his visage, unlike that of a man.”
Does that sound like the nation of Israel? A visage, another word for visage is appearance. We see that in other translations of this passage, “So marred was his appearance, his visage, unlike that of a man.” This seems to indicate this is talking about an individual person, not the nation of Israel, and then it goes on and says, “And his form unlike that of the sons of men.” In case you missed it, we’re talking about humankind, his form. That doesn’t sound like a nation. Let’s read verse 15,
the last verse of chapter 52 of Isaiah. “So shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall they see, and that which they had not heard, shall they perceive.” So kings are going to shut their mouths because of him. Had the kings or the nations of the earth ever shut their mouths because of Israel? Even with all of Israel’s sufferings with the Nazi persecution, or even the Crusades? Nations didn’t shut their mouths because of Israel, rather, they spoke out because of Israel. They fought over Israel in World War Two. They all got involved in order to try to stop the Nazi invasion and free the Jews from the persecution they were experiencing.
So they weren’t shutting their mouths because of Israel, they weren’t in shock because of Israel being highly lifted up; Israel was persecuted and was treated so poorly. They were standing up for Israel or, I should say, the United States and and the Allies were, but I don’t think you can apply this passage, I mean you could try, maybe, to say symbolically the nations were shutting their mouths because of Israel, being in shock over Israel’s distress. Perhaps you could try to stretch it to indicate that, but I’m just reading this passage, and it seems to me to be a clear reference to an individual person who was marred beyond that of a man, beyond any appearance that looked like a man, not a nation but a human. Yet He’s exalted and lifted high, He’s exalted and lifted
so high that He’s on the level of God, and so the nations are in shock that this person, who was persecuted and marred beyond any appearance of human form, is now lifted highly and exalted. That’s why they’re shutting their mouths: they’re in shock that this person, who could be persecuted, could be lifted to that level. Now, with that as a backdrop, we come into reading Isaiah 53:1, where it says, “Who would have believed our report?”
Again, the context: the nations are in shock because of this individual who was marred beyond the appearance of a man, yet exalted to the level of God so, “Who would have believed our report?” verse 1, Isaiah 53, says, “And to whom has the arm of HaShem been revealed?” Hashem – another word for lord. To whom is the arm of the Lord Almighty, Almighty God, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Now, if His arm has been revealed – again that’s a reference to deity, or at least favored from God, because his arm has been revealed. If you sit on the right hand of a king, you are considered on the level of authority of that king, so in the case of this servant, who’s going to have the arm of the Lord revealed, this is a servant who’s on the level of authority of God, Himself, Hashem. And then it says in verse 2, “For he shot up right forth as a sapling as a root out of a dry ground.” Now there’s
two things that are being alluded to here. Shooting forth as a sapling: is this shooting forth out of the arm of God, perhaps? Could this be another reference to this servant being God, coming out of the arm of God, he’s shooting forth as a sapling, perhaps? The arm of the Lord has been revealed to Him, He’s on the authority and level of God, now shoot forth as a sapling out of the arm of God or out from the arm of God. There’s some ambiguity here as to how to correctly dissect this passage, but I do see allusions to deity here in verse 2.
When it says that he shoots forth as a sapling, but then it says “as a root out of dry ground,” that’s an allusion to His virgin birth, because He comes out as a root out of dry ground. If it’s a dry ground, a dry ground cannot yield any kind of fruit or any kind of sapling or any kind of sprout. So that He comes out of the dry ground in this passage is an allusion to Christ’s virgin birth, a barren womb, Mary being a virgin. And then it says, “He had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him.” In other words, again, it’s a reference to the fact that He looked like a regular, ordinary man. We shouldn’t have just been in shock over how He looked other than when He was persecuted in Chapter 52 and then exalted. But just when He is born, He comes out as a root out of dry ground, and then this says, “But his form is that of appearance of like any ordinary man.”
That’s how I read that in verse 2. Let me get to verse 3. “He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely our diseases he did bear, our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Now, I want to stop here. Verses 3 and 4, where it says that He was a man of pains and acquainted with disease.
When was the Messiah, Jesus, acquainted with disease? We’ve got to ask that question. To understand how the Messiah could be diseased, we need to look at this word that’s translated “disease” here in verse 3 of Isaiah 53 in the Jewish Bible, and also in verse 4. That word disease can also be translated, “grieved or sickness of heart.” Let’s look at the actual Hebrew word here in this passage. I’m looking at the New American Standard where, in verse 3, it’s translated “grief” or sickness is a footnote on that word; and then, if we get into the lexicon tools that we can look at here
at blueletterbible.org, we get down to that word, grief, to 483 in the Strong’s Concordance, and we see that it means not just sickness or disease, but it can also be translated “grief or sick, malady, anxiety, calamity, disease, grief,” and then here in the Hebrew-Chaldee lexicon, we can see that it can mean “affliction, sadness, or an evil or calamity,” so we understand there are many different ways to translate that word that do not necessarily mean that the Messiah Himself had a disease, but rather that He had a sickness or a heart, if you will, an emotional anxiety or calamity or sadness, because He was afflicted. So these are all alternative meanings of the word that is translated “disease” in the Jewish Bible in verse 3 and verse 4. “Surely He has borne our diseases”? We could substitute any one of these other meanings or translations for that and get “Surely He has borne our calamity, or evil, or affliction, or sadness,” or “our grief” as it’s translated in the New American Standard Bible. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the Messiah Himself was sick with a physical illness.
Let’s read on in the passage, and this says, “[He’s] a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their faces: he was despised and we esteemed him not.” Now
the Jewish interpretation on Isaiah 53 is that this servant who’s being spoken of here, they say refers to the nation of Israel as a whole. They particularly like to apply this to situations like Nazi Germany, where the Jews were exterminated by the Nazis and were rejected by these Gentiles, the non-Jews, that were afflicting the nation of Israel at the time. They claimed that this was fulfilled in that act and in many other acts of persecution done against the Jews. So they will say that one from whom men hide their faces: “He was despised and we esteemed him not.” Now it’s easy to see how this applies to Jesus, because Jesus was despised by the Jewish nation. They did not esteem him as their King, but the Jewish rabbis today will say, “No, this is a reference to Israel suffering by the hands of the nations and the nations despising Israel.” So now you understand the two different interpretations that are given, the Jewish interpretation today of Isaiah 53, and the traditional interpretation that Christians have always applied: Isaiah 53 to the Messiah Jesus being despised by the nation of Israel. Let’s continue on in the passage.
Beginning at verse 4, it says, “Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities, the chastisement of our welfare was upon him and with His stripes we were healed.” I want to stop right now and ask some questions on this particular part of the passage, and we’re going to contrast the Jewish interpretation of this verse with the Christian interpretation. Here it says
in verse 5: “He was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities.” Now the Jewish interpretation that Israel is crushed because of the iniquities of the Gentile nations doesn’t quite fit this passage, because look at what it says. It says, “The chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.” So question number one: if this servant is the nation of Israel and not the Messiah Jesus, how do the nations receive healing from Israel being crushed, from Israel being persecuted and killed in Nazi Germany concentration camps? This is a very difficult passage to answer if you are a Jew today, because it does not fit the current interpretation of this passage, that it refers to the nation of Israel. Rather, it fits better with the Christian interpretation, which teaches that Jesus provided the healing for our sins so that we, by His stripes, are healed. It says that He bore our iniquities. Israel was punished by God because of her sins. She was not a spotless lamb. Even the rabbis agree with
that. There are so many examples where Israel rejected God’s truth, and that’s why they were kicked out of Jerusalem and they lost their land for many, many years. And yet we have a reference here that says that this servant was crushed for our iniquities and if those iniquities are therefore the Gentiles’ iniquities, you have to ask the question: why does it say our iniquities in this passage? I suggest to you that the only proper way to understand this passage is to apply it to the Messiah Jesus, because “our” is a reference to the Jewish people in the very context of Isaiah 53. He’s not talking to Gentile nations here, he is talking to the Israel people. This is a prophecy given to God’s people, Israel, and so when it says that he, the servant, was crushed because of “our” iniquities, there
is a reference implied within that, that it means that it has to refer to someone other than the Jewish nation itself that is receiving this revelation. “He was crushed because of our iniquities” has to be a reference to a servant that is not the Jewish nation. Now the rabbis correctly point out that there are many examples of God calling Israel His servant, but in the same passages of Isaiah, we see that David is called a servant of God, and we see that Isaiah himself is called a servant of God. We see Jacob being called a servant of God. There are many references to individuals within Isaiah, and within the Isaiah prophecies, that are called God’s servant. So, just because you have many examples where Israel is also called God’s servant, you can’t just automatically take that application of one reference of Israel and apply it to every single case in Isaiah. That is simply not the case, because we have several examples where individual people were called God’s servants, and so I suggest to you that the interpretation here at verse 5 of Isaiah, referring to the servant being the nation of Israel, does not fit the passage in question. Rather, it says, “He was crushed because of our iniquities.” That’s the people of Israel’s iniquities are the reason that this servant was crushed. I would suggest to you that can only apply to the Messiah Jesus, not to the nation of Israel. And also because it says, “with his stripes we were healed,” if we, God’s people, receive healing by His stripes
the person, the servant that’s receiving those stripes, cannot be the nation of Israel. Again, it does not fit the context whatsoever to make this servant the nation of Israel. Now, let’s just stop for just a minute and consider the Jewish position on this passage. I need to ask two questions.
The first thing is, suppose this is talking about Israel being the servant of God, bearing the sins of the Gentile nations around her, those nations that are persecuting Israel. And then the passage says that this servant’s wounding causes the recipient to receive healing, that is a recipient of whoever the servant is bearing the wounds for, so in this case, if we say that this servant is Israel, then in this sense, the nations of the earth, if we’re reading the passage correctly, would be receiving healing through the wounding of this servant, Israel. This is the Jewish interpretation that Israel is the servant. So let’s think about this. The first question is: has there ever been a time when Israel was persecuted by the nations and those nations received healing, received a blessing from God? Can you think of a single example in Scripture? I can think of a lot of examples where nations were cursed, as in fact, God says in the Old
Testament, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” So we see those that cursed Israel received severe punishment from God. In the case of Babylon, God said, “I will punish the king of Babylon,” and what did we see? The King was killed at the end of the 70-year period in Jeremiah 25. And then we also see other examples. In fact, let’s think. Is there any indication in future prophecy that the nations would be blessed by Israel’s wounds?
Let’s look at Ezekiel chapter 28. I’d like to read this to you in the Jewish Bible. Ezekiel chapter 28, beginning at verse 23 says, “For I will send” (speaking of the nations that God is going to judge). He says, “For I will send into her pestilence and blood in her streets; and the wounded shall fall in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am HaShem.” They shall know that I am the Lord. Verse 24: “And there shall be no more a prickling brier unto the house of Israel, nor a piercing thorn of any that are round about them; that did have them in disdain.” In other words, God’s gonna do away with these nations that held Israel in disdain. God is going to do away with them and it says, “And they shall know that I am the Lord God. Thus saith the Lord God, when I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then shall they dwell in their own land which I gave to my servant Jacob.” Verse 26,
“And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell safely; when I have executed judgments upon all those that have them in disdain round about them; and they shall know that I am Hashem their God.” Does that sound like these nations that held Israel in disdain are going to be blessed by God, or is He gonna cause severe punishment on them and bloodshed – a cursing, if you will – upon these nations that held Israel in disdain?
This is a prophecy, here in Ezekiel 28, that clearly shows the nations are not going to be saying to Israel, “Oh, your wounds have caused us to have this healing and this blessing.” No, it doesn’t fit. That interpretation of this passage in Isaiah 53 does not fit, neither the historical accounts of nations who persecuted Israel, nor does it fit the prophetic
accounts. We read here in Ezekiel about the nations that have held Israel in disdain being punished by God’s severely, bloodshed in their streets and and people are going to be dying. That doesn’t sound like healing to me.
Then we’ve got to ask a second question. When we consider the examples of sin offering, in guilt offerings in the Old Testament, those offerings, those goats, those sheep, those bulls that had to be offered for sin had to be blameless. Has there ever been a time when Israel was punished because of her righteousness? Can you point me to a single example in Scripture? Well, Israel was punished because she was following God and his statutes. That’s quite the opposite. We do not see this in Scripture; we do not see Israel being punished on account of her good behavior. Rather it’s the opposite, not only historically and every single time when Israel was carted off by the nations and removed from her land into the other lands of these nations. It was because of Israel’s sin, not because of Israel’s righteousness. She has never been persecuted because Israel was following God’s laws; in fact, God said that if you don’t follow My laws, you’re going to be experiencing punishment and suffering for your sin. You’re not going to be experiencing My blessing. So when Israel follows the laws, though, God says he would bless Israel and her land would be prosperous. So we see blessings or maledictions, blessings or curses, are clearly given in the Old Testament in regards to Israel. But what we find,
when we look at Isaiah 53, is that this servant is not being wounded because of sins that this servant had committed, but rather because of righteousness and is bearing these wounds of whoever the servant is interceding for, in order to bring healing to the people that had the sin. In other words, this servant is functioning as a guilt offering, as you see in verse 10, and a guilt offering essentially has to be blameless, and that guilt offering, when it would be offered to God, would take on essentially the sins of the person who was making that offering. That’s the picture we get here in verse 10 of Isaiah 53. I know I’m getting ahead of myself here. We’ll read that in a minute. But I want to point this out, that Israel has never been blameless when she has experienced persecution from the nations. And indeed, not only do we see that there’s never been a time in history when Israel experienced punishment for being righteous, but in Ezekiel, we see a prophecy in Ezekiel 39, and it says here, Ezekiel, chapter 39, beginning at verse 21, God says, “And I will set My glory among the nations, and
all the nations shall see My judgment that I have executed, and My hand that I have laid upon them.” (Upon Israel is the context.) Verse 22: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am HaShem their God, from that day and forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they broke faith with Me, and I hid My face from them; so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they fell all of them by the sword.” So why is Israel going into captivity according to Ezekiel chapter 39? Is it because of her righteousness or is it because of her wickedness?
Verse 23 clearly says, “The nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity,” not for the nations’ iniquity but for Israel’s own sin. And then we get over to verse 24. “According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions did I unto them; and I hid My face from them.” And we can continue reading, but I’m gonna to skip over to verse 28: “And they shall know that I am HaShem their God, in that I caused them to go into captivity among the nations, and have gathered them unto their own land; and I will leave none of them any more there.” So this is now showing the regathering of Israel that takes place at the end times. I think we’re starting to see this right now, with Israel returning to her land. This fulfillment of this prophecy – I do believe is starting to occur. And then
verse 29 says, “Neither will I hide My face anymore from them; for I have poured out My spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” So this prophecy clearly explains what the nations are going to be saying regarding Israel. They’re going to be seeing that God was the one that drove them into captivity and hid His face from them because of Israel’s sins, not because of the Gentiles’ sins, not because of the nations’ sins, but rather because of Israel’s sin and Israel suffers the consequences of her actions.
So here we see the Israeli current interpretation of Isaiah 53 does not fit the context of this passage. But rather the Christian view of this passage being a reference to the servant being Jesus Christ, Yeshua our Messiah, paying the sins on behalf of Israel, so that Israel can receive the healing, not the nations but Israel.
Let’s read on in the passage. We get to verse 6: “All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and HaShem hath made to light on him [on this servant] the iniquity of us all.” Again, we see the references of “We all like sheep, we all have gone our own way, Hashem made to light on him” – on this servant – “The iniquity of us all.” You cannot say this is the nation of Israel,
receiving the iniquity on behalf of Israel. It does not fit the context. Let’s go on to verse 7. “By oppression and judgment He was taken away, and he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth.” It’s easy to see how this applied to the individual, Messiah Yeshua Jesus, because He was not trying to defend Himself when He went before Pilate. This is an easy application to the Messiah Yeshua, but a difficult application to the people of Israel who fought as hard as they could against the Nazi persecution. They tried to hide. They tried to get away from it. Unfortunately, many did die in that persecution, but here this particular Servant went as a lamb to the slaughter and didn’t even try to defend Himself.
Let’s go on to verse 8: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation, who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living,” cut off out of the land of living, “for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.” This Servant died. He was cut out of the land of the living. He did not continue on. He was cut off from the land of the living. We know that, even though there were 6 million Jews who died in the Nazi persecution camps, there were Jews that survived. How can this prophesy here in verse 8 apply to the nation of Israel?
I suggest that it cannot because, there were Jews that survived that persecution, therefore they were not fully cut out of the land, cut off out of the land of the living, but there’s another question here that we need to ask at verse 8 of Isaiah 53. It says, “By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.”
Now ask yourself the question: who are the “my people” that this passage is referencing? “For the transgression of my people, for whom the stroke was due”? Has God in the Old Testament ever said that His people are the Gentile Nations? Or have they always been a reference to the nation of Israel? I do believe there are Old Testament prophecies that indicate that God would eventually graft in believers of the nations of the Gentiles into the vine of the Jewish people, who have always been God’s people. But we have to keep everything in context and look here at Isaiah 53:8, where it says that the reason this servant was cut off out of the land of the living
was for the transgressions of My people, to whom the stroke was due. This is a strong indication that the people of Israel that this passage is talking about, are not the servant that is suffering here, because you cannot have the servant being cut off on account of God’s people, to whom the stroke was due. That indicates that the nation of Israel is not receiving the stroke here, but rather the Servant that God has anointed to take the place of God’s people, Israel. Again, we have to keep everything in context and examine the Jewish interpretation, the current Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53, which says that, in verse 8, this servant is God’s people, Israel, but then you have a problem because it says, “For the transgression of my people. This servant is being cut off in the land of the living to whom the stroke was due.” So therefore, My people, Israel, are not receiving the stroke because the Servant is taking the stroke for them. So again, I believe this is a strong indication that verse 8 can only apply to the Messiah Yeshua Jesus, and not have that servant be anyone other than Him because it does not fit the context. Ok, let’s go ahead
and look at verse 9 now. “And they made his grave with the wicked,” Let’s read that again. “And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich his tomb.” Now ask yourself the question: when did the nation of Israel ever suffer in such a way that they were not only buried or persecuted with the wicked, but they were buried with the rich in his tomb. Again, we have a Messianic prophecy, I believe, that refers specifically to Jesus and his death, Yeshua as he died. He died with the wicked, but it says, “And with the rich in his tomb.” Therefore, when we read in the New Testament about how Jesus’s body was put in the tomb of a rich man, it fits verse 9 here in Isaiah 53 perfectly, and not the Jewish current interpretation of this passage that teaches that this servant was the nation of Israel who died with the wicked in Nazi camps, but cannot explain how this part of the verse, “with the rich in his tomb,” was fulfilled.
They can’t do that because they were never buried in any rich man’s tombs. The people of Israel who died in these persecutions, both in Nazi Germany and in the Crusades against Jerusalem, they were thrown in the streets, they were thrown into pits and buried. They were not thrown into the tombs of rich men. They were not given a rich man’s burial. But Yeshua Jesus was. I believe this prophecy can only apply to Yeshua Jesus here at verse 9. Let’s read on. And this is “Although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
Now, ask yourself the question: who has ever lived a perfect life where they have never lied? There’s not a single person, I believe, on the planet who can claim he’s never lied, except for Yeshua Jesus, who is God the Son, being by nature God, He was incapable of lying because God cannot lie, and there is no account in the New Testament or any writings where Jesus uttered a lie.
In fact, it says that He was like a lamb who was spotless, the Lamb that fulfilled the role of sacrifice. The Jewish system had to be [have] perfect lambs, they could not have any spot of sin or any spot of blemish on them. Therefore, Israel, if they’re fulfilling this servant prophecy in verse 9, could not have any sin to fulfil the Old Testament requirements of it, of a sacrifice. Yet it says, “Although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” This says that this servant died as an innocent victim. He never lied. And as far as the violence goes, yes, the Jewish rabbis point out that Jesus cleared the Jewish tables, moneychanger tables in the temple and, as he said, “Vengeance for the Lord’s house has consumed Me,” and He drove them out, but that was proper violence. That was not sinful violence. Those money changers were robbing the people, they would bring their lambs for a sacrifice and they would say, “Oh they’re not good enough, and you have to buy the temple lambs.”
They were perverting the house of God. That is why Jesus drove them out. That was a zeal of God, that was a righteous zeal. That was not sin. Again, going back to the passage, “Although he had done no violence” in the sense of any wicked violence, “Neither was deceit found in his mouth.” This servant suffered for the sins of God’s people, Israel. Now we get to verse 10 in Isaiah 53. It says, “Yet it pleased HaShem to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of HaShem might prosper by his hand.” Now, this is a very
interesting verse here at verse 10 of Isaiah 53, because it particularly talks about this servant being able to see his seed and to prolong His days. What’s the significance of this? We just read in Isaiah chapter 53:4, it says, “Surely our disease he did bear and our pains he carried. We esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted,” and then we read down in verse 8, where it says, “By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason, for he was cut off out of the land of the living.” We see a reference here to His seed and His days being prolonged.
I suggest to you that this is where we see the Messiah raising from the dead, being alluded to here in Isaiah 53. How can you have seed if you die completely and you’re cut out of the land of the living? How can you have children? Yet Messiah Jesus saw spiritual seed; metaphorically, He saw children when He rose from the dead and His followers carried the message of His salvation to the ends of the earth. We are his spiritual seed.
Now at this point, Jewish rabbis often object, because they claim that the Hebrew word zera always refers to physical children and can never refer to spiritual children or metaphorical children.
So let’s look. Is that true? Let’s look at their claim. I want to show you an example of the word zera, seed, being used, metaphorically, of spiritual seed or spiritual followers. Right here in Genesis chapter 3, reading from the Jewish Bible at verse 15. This is in the context of God bringing judgment on Adam and Eve, because they had disobeyed His command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And so in this context, God says to Satan who was a serpent who deceived them, He says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” Did you catch that? That’s the word zera. Between thy seed, speaking of Satan, Lucifer, the serpent; between thy seed, the seed of the serpent and her seed, the seed of the woman, “and they shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise their heel.” This is the Jewish Bible translation here in Genesis 3:15. So here we see a clear example of seed, zera, referring to spiritual children, spiritual followers of Satan, and then you have the seed of the woman referring to both the physical and the spiritual followers of those who would follow God. We believe that this seed ultimately was fulfilled, this reference to this seed was fulfilled in Messiah Jesus when He suffered for our sin and, in essence, by putting an end to sin through His death. He essentially bruised the head head of the serpent, of Satan, because He took upon Himself our sins and removed sins, and so now those of us who put our
faith in Him, are [the] spiritual seed of Jesus, that were continuation of that seed of the woman, if you will, the seed of the Messiah as we see here in Isaiah 53. So here in the very context of its referring to spiritual seed, not physical offspring, because Satan doesn’t have physical seed, he doesn’t bear children, so this use of this phrase here in Isaiah 53, can definitely be referring to spiritual seed and that’s what, I believe, is alluded to both here in Genesis 3 and also in Isaiah 53, where we see a clear example of the Messiah raising [rising] from the dead because He was put to death, as we see here earlier in the passage of Isaiah.
And then we see Him raised to life in that His seed follow after Him, He raised to life – that’s an allusion to His resurrection. Let’s read Isaiah 53:10 again, “Yet it pleased Hashem to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution,” in other words, offer itself in restitution – the phrase there is asham for a guilt offering. So it’s “pleased Hashem,” pleased the Lord, “to crush him by disease.” Now, remember that phrase “disease,” as we saw earlier as a reference to the Messiah experiencing emotional pain, emotional sickness or illness. It pleased Him to crush Him emotionally and, of course, physically; experiencing calamity is another use of that phrase of the word in Hebrew for disease. “To see if his soul would offer itself in restitution.” In other words, if His soul is offered as a guilt offering, that’s
what’s being said here in verse 10. “That he might see his seed and prolong his days,” an allusion to His resurrection, right there we see that here in verse 10, which goes back to what we saw in the beginning of the chapter, where it says in verse 8: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living.” Cut off is a clear reference to death. So verse 8, “He is cut off out of the land of the living,” and then right here in verse 10: yet it says, that he might see his seed after he offers his soul as a guilt offering – a guilt offering is killed, always killed in the sacrificial system. And so, “That he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of HaShem might prosper by his hand.”
And then we get to verses 11 and 12: “Of the travail of his soul he shall see to the full, even My servant, who by his knowledge did justify the Righteous One to the many, and their iniquities he did bear.” Here again, He’s offering His soul as a guilt offering so that He can bear their iniquities, justifying many this Righteous One. He justifies. The Righteous One is taken in place of the many. And that’s what it’s saying here in verse 11, then we finish this chapter with verse 12. “Therefore, will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto
death” – there’s another reference to the Servant dying – “and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
There is another allusion to the fact that the only way that we can experience forgiveness of sins is if we have someone who intercedes for us. This is not the nation of Israel bearing their own sins, nor is it the nation of Israel bearing the sins of the Gentile nations, because it clearly shows that this person is interceding on behalf of the transgressors. If He’s interceding on behalf of the transgressors, it can’t be Israel interceding for herself. And it certainly isn’t Israel interceding for the nations around her, because Israel is not a spotless lamb. So again, we see in this passage, verse 12, this can only refer to Messiah Yeshua Jesus. It can only be fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua Jesus, because He bore His soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. Jesus died between two thieves, yet He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. So, as the New Testament says, Yeshua Jesus, He is our mediator between us and God. Now the question is: if you’re a Jew, who do you have as a mediator? Are you a mediator for yourself? Absolutely not! You can’t mediate for
yourself. You can’t offer your soul as a guilt offering (verse 10). You can’t do that, because if you offer your soul as a guilt offering, you essentially will have to die for your own sin. You can’t mediate for somebody else. Israel, because of her sin, suffered severe punishment by the hands of the nations, as we saw there in Ezekiel, it’s very clear. This is not Israel interceding for the transgressors; Israel herself has sinned, so she has to bear her own punishment. But verse 12 makes it very clear that this Servant, the Servant who fulfills these passages, bears the sins of many, the Righteous One for the many, as we saw in verse 11, in order to make intercession for the transgressors. So the question now becomes: who is your suffering servant Messiah? Who is interceding between you and God?
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