Isaiah 53 Explained: Israel or the Messiah? Part I
When it comes to Messianic Prophecy, Isaiah 53 is king, and there is no queen.
Isaiah’s prophecy is the clearest description that the Hebrew Scriptures offer concerning the identity of the Messiah. The rabbis, since the middle of the 11th century, have claimed this passage is referring to the Jewish people as a whole, but the dominant rabbinical position for centuries was that it spoke of the Messiah. Why the shift? Because the man Isaiah describes fits Yeshua completely.
I have counted nearly 40 predictions in Isaiah 53, and Yeshua fulfilled them all!
The Messiah is a King, not a Suffering Servant, right
This is what I was told as a new believer. When it came to Isaiah 53 that was the party line amongst orthodox leaders I quizzed. “Messiah will come reign, not to be crucified!” I say party line because an honest reading of the passage could not lead to any other conclusion except that he speaks of the Messiah.
Finally, an orthodox sect admitted this—although they got the person wrong. Some of the followers of the deceased former Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, believe he is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53; that he is the suffering servant and Messiah. And some of his most ardent disciples still expect him to rise from the dead, as Isaiah 53:11 proclaims. This is the first time a Chasidic Jewish stream has been willing to admit the obvious—Isaiah 53 describes the Jewish Messiah.
"Stop Reading from the New Testament!"
When I read Isaiah 53 to a Jewish colleague nearly two decades ago, he yelled at me, “Stop reading from the New Testament!” He was stunned to find out that Isaiah spoke these words about a Jewish man over 700 years before Yeshua was born.
Years ago, back in the days of dial-up internet and CompuServe, I was in an e-mail bulletin board debate with a Jewish man. He claimed Isaiah 53 was not referring to the Messiah, but to the Jewish people, as mentioned above. Part 2 and 3 is my response to him. I never got a reply.
*Originally published Aug. 24, 2012