e. The most unbelievable Messianic prophecy
One of the Old Testament prophecies in peculiar has brought many Jews to accept Jesus as their Saviour. It is the Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 53
“1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer ,and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul ,he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. “
Here is a testimony from Dr. Louis S. Lapides, a Jewish Christian from Newark, New Jersey concerning the impact of Isaiah 53 in his life.
“As Lapides progressed through the Scriptures, he was stopped cold by Isaiah 53. With clarity and specificity, in a haunting prediction wrapped in exquisite poetry, here was the picture of a Messiah who would suffer and die for the sins of Israel and the world – all written more than seven hundred years before Jesus walked the earth…
Instantly Lapides recognized the portrait: this was Jesus of Nazareth! Now he was beginning to understand the paintings he had seen in the Catholic churches he had passed as a child: the suffering Jesus, the crucified Jesus, the Jesus who he now realized had been “pierced for our transgressions” as he “bore the sin of many.”…
So breathtaking was this discovery that Lapides could only come to one conclusion: it was a fraud! He believed that Christians had rewritten the Old Testament and twisted Isaiah’s words to make it sound as if the prophet had been foreshadowing Jesus.
Lapides set out to expose the deception. “I asked my stepmother to send me a Jewish Bible so I could check it out myself,” he told me. “She did, and guess what? I found that it said the same thing! Now I really had to deal with it.”
Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998, p. 177-179.
How else could one interpret that prophecy?
f. An understanding and compassionate Messiah
All the suffering that Jesus endured on our behalf led Him to be able to help those “who are being tempted”. Our Saviour is compassionate and helps those asking for His assistance. Victory and forgiveness is ours if only we welcome Him into our life.
Heb 2:18 “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Heb 4:15-16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
g. Possible objections
i. Isn’t it possible that Jesus deliberately tried to fulfill the Messianic prophecies?
It is quite possible that someone could try to fulfill one or two or even three prophecies, but how could one try to fulfill prophecies like:
-Place of birth (Micah 5:2)
-Manner of birth (Is 7:14)
-Lineage (Gen 49:10; 2 Sam 7:12)
-John’s heralding Him (Isa 40:3)
-His accusers reactions (Ps 118:22; Isa 53:3)
-Betrayal for 30 silver pieces (Ps 41:9; Zech 11:12-13)
-Manner of death (Ps 22:16)
-Soldiers casting lots for His clothes (Ps 22:18)
-People’s reactions (mocking, spitting…) (Ps 22:7-8)
-Piercing (Ps 22:16)
-Burial (Isa 53:9)
Also to accuse Jesus of deliberately trying to fulfill Messianic prophecies is to accuse him of dishonesty. It assumes he was the biggest fraud and deceiver who ever existed. It presupposes he was not even a good man. This picture of Jesus is quite contrary to how the original historical resources are portraying him.
ii. Isn’t it possible that these Messianic prophecies were written at or after the time of Jesus, and therefore fulfilling themselves?
If one isn’t satisfied that the Old Testament’s (and its prophecies) historical date for completion is 450 B.C., one has to wonder about the Septuagint. The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and was initiated in the reign of Ptolememy Philadelphus (285-246 BC). That initiation happened 250 years before Jesus was born! This means that the original Hebrew Scriptures are much older than this! Even if there was only a 250-year gap between the writing of these prophecies and their fulfillment, how could one explain their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ?
Only one person fulfilled all of these Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah: Jesus Christ. No one else can be found! Jesus is truly the Saviour of this world!
Question 1: How can one explain the fulfillment of all these Messianic prophecies in the person of Jesus Christ?
Question 2: How can one explain Isaiah 53?