Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Suffering Servant Of Isaiah 53

  • Introduction:
          -Isaiah chapter fifty three is the most keen, vivid description of the Jewish Messiah provided in the entire Old Testament. It portrays Him as being a servant who suffers for our sins. It contains the very basic message of redemption as revealed more fully through New Testament revelation. We Christians naturally identify this suffering servant figure to be the Lord Jesus Christ. While the text of Isaiah 53 may seem pretty straightforward to us, many Jews absolutely refuse to see the emphatic implications set forth by the natural reading of the passage being discussed. They insist that the suffering servant refers to the Nation of Israel, but the evidence simply does not point in favor of that interpretation. Isaiah 53 is clearly a Messianic prophecy that has already been been long fulfilled by Christ Himself.
  • It Appears That Virtually All Jewish Rabbis Once Believed That The Suffering Servant Of Isaiah 53 Was Referring To The Coming Of A Promised Messiah. In Fact:
          -"Rashi (1040-1105 a.d.) might have been the first to deny that this incredible passage is messianic. But many Jewish sages, before and after Rashi, saw the Messiah in Isaiah 53." (Daniel Mann, Jews for Jesus, "Rabbis, Skeptics and the Suffering Messiah")
  • Following Are Some References Cited In The Article From Which The Excerpt Above Was Taken:
          -"The highly regarded first-century Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai stated: “The meaning of the words ‘bruised for our iniquities’ [Isaiah 53:5] is, that since the Messiah bears our iniquities, which produce the effect of his being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer them for them himself."
          -"The mystical Zohar records: “The children of the world are members one of another. When the Holy One desires to give healing to the world, he smites one just man amongst them, and for his sake heals all the rest. Whence do we learn this? From the saying, “‘He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities“‘ (Isaiah 53:5)” (Numbers, Pinchus, 218a)"
          -"Many different rabbis – Gaon Rabbi Saadia, Rabbi Naphtali ben Asher, and Rabbi Moshe Alshich adamantly opposed Rashi’s new interpretation, and demanded that the Sages of Israel should ignore him and return to the original interpretation, the most famous of among them was Mamonides, who categorically declared that Rashi was completely mistaken."
  • Additionally, Isaiah 53 Has Been Called The Forbidden Chapter In Jewish Communities. As This Source Notes:
          -"The 17th century Jewish historian, Raphael Levi, admitted that long ago the rabbis used to read Isaiah 53 in synagogues, but after the chapter caused “arguments and great confusion” the rabbis decided that the simplest thing would be to just take that prophecy out of the Haftarah readings in synagogues. That’s why today when we read Isaiah 52, we stop in the middle of the chapter and the week after we jump straight to Isaiah 54." (Eitan Bar, One For Israel, "Isaiah 53-The Forbidden Chapter")
  • Other Quotes From The Linked Article Above:
          -"In Midrash Tanhuma it says, “Rabbi Nachman says, it speaks of no one but the Messiah, the Son of David of whom it is said, here a man called “the plant”, and Jonathan translated it to mean the Messiah and it is rightly said, “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”."
          -"Midrash Shumel says this about Isaiah 53: “The suffering was divided into three parts: One for the generation of the Patriarchs, one for the generation of Shmad, and one for the King Messiah”."
  • The Suffering Servant Of Isaiah 53 Cannot Simply Be A Reference To Israel, But To A Person:
          -"At the end of Isaiah, the individual servant takes on the role that Israel as a nation failed to achieve. Nonetheless, the Servant in Isaiah 53 cannot be the people or the remnant, because he is said to be cut off from the people (Isa 53:8) and is said to die for our sins and iniquities (Isa 53:5, 11). This cannot be the nation, because how can the Servant be cut off from himself? In addition, he is a righteous sufferer. That cannot be the nation, as Isaiah has portrayed the nation as being in sin (just look at Isaiah 58)." (Matt Smethurst, The Gospel Coalition, "The Suffering Servant and Isaiah 53: A Conversation with Darrell Bock")

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