By Barry Rosenfeld
Isaiah 52 and 53 describe a “suffering Messiah” who is beaten and disfigured. This is recorded in Mark 15:15-19—“Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
These verses that are so descriptive of what we read in the New Testament about what Yeshua suffered are explained by the rabbis as pertaining to Israel as opposed to the person of the Messiah. For example, this is the position of the Spanish Jewish scholar Ibn Ezra. This is also the position taken by writers in the Talmud, Zohar, and other ancient rabbinic texts.
(Outreachjudaism.org) Marshall Roth writing for the Aish.com website also sees the suffering servant as being Israel. He cites earlier passages in Isaiah that refer to Israel as God’s servant such as “You are My servant, O Israel” (41:8) and “You are My servant, Israel” (49:3) He also references the Holocaust as further proof of Israel’s suffering.
Other rabbis refer to the Messiah described in Isaiah 53 as the “suffering servant.” They describe two Messiahs, one referred to as Messiah ben Yoseph (Joseph suffered in Egypt) and the other as Messiah ben David, the conquering Messiah, neither of whom have yet to appear. It is believed that Messiah ben Yosef will appear first and fight a war against Israel’s enemies, only to be killed in it. He will be followed by Messiah ben David who will be the conquering Messiah.
In this case the passages in Isaiah 53 can be applied to Messiah ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah. Messianic Jews believe that the Messiah is both the suffering Messiah described in Isaiah 53 who was “pierced for our transgressions” as well as the king Messiah, Messiah ben David who is yet to come but who will return and reign from the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 9:6-7)— “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”
Isaiah 53 describes how the Messiah is rejected by many, and this was fulfilled in John 12:37, 38-37. Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Isaiah 53:6-8 says he died in our place and this is repeated in Romans 5:6, 8 and 2 Corinthians 5:21— “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
We read in Isaiah 53:7-8 that he willingly took upon himself the punishment for our sins, (John 1:29; Romans 6:10; 2), and that he would be silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7) fulfilled in Luke 23:9—“He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.”
That He is the savior of those who believe in Him (53:7), described in (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). It also says in Isaiah 53:9 that he was buried in a rich man’s tomb, which was fulfilled when he was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60).
To be continued…Share this page with your friends
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