Thursday, December 7, 2017

Isaiah Post 32 - The Fifth Gospel, part 1 (chapter 52B)

The roller coaster has reached the top. Lift your hands, people, and shout for joy!


Chapter 52, Verse 13 opens a section of scripture that is so radical, so amazing, and so prophetically pointing to the Messiah, that it has been called “the fifth gospel” of the Bible.  In reality, chapter 53 should have begun at this spot. The chapters and verses that we use today were added to the scriptures in the 16th century, and they weren't always divided up in a clear fashion.

The first believers, all Jewish, had no written New Testament yet. Therefore, it was the Hebrew scriptures - the Tanakh - that the believers would search.  The noble Berean Jews of Acts 17:11 faithfully searched these scriptures daily in order to solidify their faith.  How stunning this section must have been to them!


Now let's jump into verse 13:
Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.


Who is being spoken of here? Who is My (God’s) servant?

Jewish sages have debated this through the ages.  In the 11th century, the Jewish sage Rashi put forth the notion that the servant spoken of in this section is Israel.  Most of his contemporaries disagreed with him (for example, Maimonides, also known as Rambam), but most ancient Jewish writings claimed this section as messianic.

Rashi's views were eventually widely adopted; and today, Orthodox Jews are taught that the servant is Israel.  However, this passage is not included in the annual cycle of scripture readings in the synagogues.  This begs the question:  "Why?  Because it so clearly describes Yeshua?"   

Many Jews have never even heard this passage.  But so many Jews have been saved when they do come across it and read it.  If you would like a quick rabbit trail, click here for a testimony from a Jewish man to whom this happened.

When a Jewish person comes to faith in Yeshua as the Messiah, they are often sent by family members to a rabbi who has been trained to "deprogram" them by explaining that the servant is Israel.

Anyway, back to the verse.  It begins by calling attention to His second coming, when He shall be highly exalted and extolled.  He will not be a baby in a manger anymore, and He will no longer be the servant who suffers.  He will be worshipped!

The Hewbrew scriptures put forth two very different pictures of the Messiah.  In fact, ancient rabbis taught that there were two messiahs, and eventually some taught that possibly there was one messiah that came twice. Of course, neither idea is not taught anymore in the Jewish world.

The two clear pictures of the Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures are this:
  •  Messiah, Son of Joseph – the Suffering Servant
  •  Messiah, Son of Daviid – the Reigning King
  


After the Servant is introduced as One who is exalted, the very next verse goes on to show just the opposite.  In one verse, we go from highly exalted to disfigurement. 

Just as many were astonished at you,
So His visage was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men

If you have followed this series, or studied the book of Isaiah in depth on your own, you know that Isaiah frequently uses contrast, and this is a crystal clear example.

The next verse tells us what this Servant will do:

So shall He sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider.

The Hebrew word for sprinkle, nazah, is actually a legal term dealing with the sprinkling of blood or oil for cleansing.  It is used 24 times in the Hebrew scriptures, and 22 of those times (13 times in Leviticus alone), it is in the context of being sprinkled with blood for purification and holiness.

Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.   In this chapter, nazah is used three times.  Aaron had to first cleanse himself by sprinkling blood on the mercy seat, before he could cleanse the nation. 

The one doing the sprinkling had to be clean. The Servant had to be clean so He could be our substitute.

In regard to the importance of blood for cleansing, Leviticus 17:11 tells us, 
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’'  

This scripture is quoted in Hebrews 9:22.

The gospel can be given in two words:  sin and blood.  There are many ways to share the good news of salvation, but these two vital concepts should not be left out. 



To summarize, this three-verse introduction to this section tells us that: 
  • He will be exalted
  • He will be severely suffer
  • He will sprinkle the whole world.

How exciting is this?  This is a prophecy of salvation being poured out to the nations; and the nations, who didn’t know anything but idols, will stand in awe of Him.  This prophecy was written over 500 years before this actually began to happen.

Stay tuned as we continue to walk through this very exciting portion of scripture!

The next post is ready!  Click here to read it.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

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