I mentioned a few weeks ago how my ladies’ Bible study of Isaiah has really impressed on me how well God’s Word holds up to close scrutiny and how it authenticates itself. This morning, we finally reached the chapter of Isaiah that we’d all been waiting for. Chapter 53 (and the couple of verses before it) is one of the “Servant Songs” written to foretell Christ’s life and death. Go ahead. You go read it. I’ll wait here.
Just wow, huh?
A tiny bit of background for anyone reading this who is not very familiar with the Bible. Isaiah was an Old testament prophet who spoke and wrote down his prophecies hundreds of years before Christ was born. I mentioned in my last post how he called king Cyrus by name before he was even born, but this chapter about Christ is where the real meat is, for me at least.
What must have been going through Isaiah’s mind, I wonder, as he was speaking and writing down these words from the mouth of God? The people of Israel believed that their Messiah would come in great majesty and take up the throne of David. What would Isaiah have made of these words (53:2): “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” ?
They believed their Messiah would be for *them* only. What must he have thought about these words, then? “so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. ” (52:15, emphasis mine). (This great mystery is referred to quite a bit in the New Testament, particularly in Ephesians 3.)
And what about His purpose? The Israelites thought he would bring political success to Israel. Yet these words describe His excruciating mission on earth: “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (53:11)
Not a king who would come in power and strength, but a servant who would willingly give his own life to bear the sins of mankind away. What a beautiful, bittersweet picture Isaiah painted of our Lord. I just wonder how much he understood.
Another verse appealed to the more analytical part of my brain, as another ‘proof’, if you will, of how perfectly Christ fulfilled the many prophecies about himself written in the Old Testament. Isaiah 53:9 says this: “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” The New Testament tells us in Matthew 27:37 that Jesus was crucified between two robbers, fulfilling the first part of the prophecy. Then a few verses later, starting in 27:57, we are told that Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man. Some Bible scholars believe there are over a hundred such specific prophecies of Christ in Isaiah alone, and each one has found its fulfillment in what we know of Christ from New Testament eye-witness accounts.
This verse that Pippa memorized for her AWANA Cubbies club this week, sums it up very nicely:
(PS I don’t think all the red marker is supposed to look so gruesome. She just loves red. And purple.)