Christianity, the worlds greatest religion. Not only is the Christian faith more widespread then all other religious beliefs that have existed throughout history, but it is also the one true religion as well. Much confirmation has come to Christianity, especially from history and archaeology. Indeed, I’ve done a number of posts on the archaeological and historical confirmation of the Bible (see here and here for some examples). But one of the more well-known forms of complete confirmation of the proposition of Christianity and the Lord Jesus are biblical prophecies.
Biblical prophecies are what God foretells in the books of the Bible. And indeed, God declares to us that He tells the end from the beginning.
[Isaiah 46:10] Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.
I believe the greatest prophecy in the entire Old Testament is a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah. This prophecy is the prophecy of Isaiah 53, the suffering servant prophecy. Contrary to popular thought, scholars agree the prophecy actually starts in Isaiah 52:13, not Isaiah 53:1 (but I will refer to the entire thing as Isaiah 53 later on). Considering that, we shall now quote the passage and behold one of God’s ultimate confirmations of Christianity through Jesus. A long prophecy, just to warn you.
[Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53:12] See, My Servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were appalled at You—His appearance was so disfigured that He did not look like a man, and His form did not resemble a human being—
so He will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him, For they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard. Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion. They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely. When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities. Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.
Indeed, a miraculous prophecy written more than half a millennium before Jesus was born. The Book of Isaiah foretells many things about Jesus.
- This prophecy predicts Jesus will be rejected by man, Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.”
- This prophecy predicts the crucifixion of Jesus, Isaiah 53:5 says “But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities;” (another prophecy that speak of Jesus’ crucifixion is Psalm 22:16)
- This prophecy predicts that Jesus will be oppressed and detained, Isaiah 53:7 says “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.”
- This prophecy predicts Jesus will be buried by a rich man (whom we know as Joseph of Arimathea), Isaiah 53:9 says “They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death,”
- This prophecy predicts Jesus will be sinless in His life, Isaiah 53:9 also says “although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.”
- This prophecy predicts Jesus will be considered a criminal, Isaiah 53:12 says “because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels;”
- This prophecy predicts Jesus will die for our sins, Isaiah 53:12 also says “yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.”
There is absolutely not a figment of doubt that the Isaiah 53 prophecy miraculously references to Jesus hundreds of years before Jesus was born. The false prophecies of Nostradamus are inconceivable vague, but the words of Isaiah are so unimaginably specific and clear that they speak of Jesus, that no other man in the history of humanity fulfilled such prophecy.
And in fact, to prove this refers to Jesus by anyone’s conception, there is a popular video I found by PuritanPictures where a Christian finds a random Atheist, reads the Isaiah 53 prophecy without telling him that it predates the life of Jesus, asks him who it is talking about, and he answers that it speaks of Jesus! I will post this video on the bottom of this post.
Indeed, and here is a video of random Jews in Israel even being convinced that this speaks of Jesus!
This removes any doubt about the miraculous nature of this prophecy. Some of the disbelievers wish to challenge this, however, and luckily for me there are no logical responses to this prophecy. So, I will now rebuke and rebut all the weak claims against it and its nature. If you go around, these are the objections you will hear.
- Isaiah 53 was actually written after Jesus
- Isaiah 53 was never meant as a Messianic prophecy until after Jesus came
- Isaiah 53 is actually talking about Israel, not Jesus (???)
- Isaiah 53 can’t be talking about Jesus because it contradicts Jesus
- Isaiah 53 is written in past-tense, and so couldn’t have been a prediction of Jesus
Let’s address all of them now.
Some people, believe it or not, actually conceive that the Book of Isaiah was not written until after Jesus lived. This is false, though. The Book of Isaiah was actually composed in the late 8th century BC, perhaps between 730 – 701 BC. There are numerous historical synchronisms in the Book of Isaiah to this period of time, which removes all doubt as to when it was written. For example, in Isaiah 7:1, the Book of Isaiah speaks that it is recording events contemporaneously to the reign of King Ahaz. King Ahaz is an ancient king whom we now know existed, and died at about 715 BC. We have found the personal seal of King Ahaz. It dates to the 8th century BC.
Furthermore, Tiglath-Pileser III, an Assyrian king, also mentions King Ahaz in his annals, and Tiglath-Pileser III reigned between 745-727 BC. So we have a very good reconstruction of when King Ahaz lived, and therefore when the events of Isaiah were first written. Furthermore, in 2015, the Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered the royal bulla of King Hezekiah, the son of King Ahaz, which reads “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah”, and dates to between 727 – 698 BC. Finally, the oldest full manuscript of the entire Book of Isaiah is known as the Great Isaiah Scroll, which dates to about 150 BC, more then a century before the birth of Jesus. And it contains Isaiah 53. We have an actual manuscript of this prophecy that was penned more then a century before Jesus was even born. So in other words, we know with certainty that this prophecy does in fact predate Jesus. What about the next objection?
As explained earlier, there are some people who posit that Isaiah 53 was never actually believed to be a Messianic Prophecy before Jesus came, and was just twisted by later Christians into such a thing in order to figment a prophecy of Jesus as being the Messiah. This of course, is historically inaccurate. The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) have established that Isaiah 53 was believed to be about the Messiah before Jesus was born. We have already spoken of the Great Isaiah Scroll, which is part of the DSS and dates to about 150 BC (before Jesus was born). Here is an image of the text of Isaiah 53 found in the Great Isaiah Scroll.
Here is a very fine explanation I found to explain the highlighted part of this text.
52:14 includes an obscure hapax legomena מִשְׁחַת that appears in 1QIsaa as משׁחתי which pointed would be מְשַׁחְתִּי məšaḥtî, “I anointed”. This, in conjunction with the added definite article on ʾadam, results in a text which Hengel translates: “I have anointed his appearance beyond that of any (other) man, and his form beyond that of the sons of humanity [the human]”. This has other textual overtones bringing the passage into an explicit connection with “anointing”.
The word Messiah is Hebrew for “the anointed one”, and so the concept of the Messiah was an anointed figure by God, and this view of the Messiah has been implemented into the Great Isaiah Scroll manuscript of Isaiah 53. In other words, manuscripts of Isaiah 53 that exist before Jesus was born contain Messianic overtones, therefore abundantly establishing that Isaiah 53 was regarded as Messianic prophecy before the lifetime of Jesus. This in fact helps further establish Jesus as the fulfiller of this prophecy.
Therefore, we shall now address the third, and perhaps strangest objection of them all. Indeed, some proclaim that this prophecy speaks not of Jesus, but is actually a text about Israel!
This is how the modern rabbi’s and modern Jewish teachers will explain away the Old Testaments references to Jesus. This explanation was also only invented for the sole purpose of combating the claims of Christians, and has no legitimacy. For example, Isaiah 52:14 literally says the servant is a human being, and that this human was beaten so badly (Roman whipping of Jesus?) that his face was disfigured and he no longer even resembled a human being afterwards. In other words, because the prophecy speaks of a human being, it couldn’t possibly be about Israel, which is a country. Isaiah 53:9 says “He had done no violence”, which could not possibly apply to Israel, because Israel’s history is filled with violence and war with the Canaanite’s and Philistine’s. Indeed, Isaiah 53:12 says “because He submitted Himself to death” — someone is going to need to explain how the geographical region of Israel exactly died if they want this to apply to Israel! This should establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Isaiah 53 has nothing to do with Israel. For a compilation of several more reasons as to why Isaiah 53 has nothing to do with Israel (such as the use of pronouns in Isaiah 53), read this very concisely written article listing ten full reasons. Indeed, we should take a look at the simpler explanation, and conclude it can only be talking about the Jesus. An important thing for modern Jews to consider is that all the ancient Jews and rabbi’s believed that Isaiah 53 was talking about the Messiah as well, which is very important to consider. The concept of this applying to Israel is a modern day invention that is incompatible with the text.
For the next objection, we have people who don’t think Isaiah 53 lines up with Jesus. They go to painful lengths to try to find discrepancies between Isaiah 53 and Jesus. Here are just a few of them, with rebuttals included.
- Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” — but Jesus was not rejected, he had so many followers! Although he did have followers, he was obviously rejected. He had an entire crowd of Jews at his trial with Pontius Pilate demanding he be put to death, not to mention the very fact that he was put to death which seriously proves he was rejected.
- Isaiah 53:7 says “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth.” — but Jesus spoke during the trial with Pontius Pilate (John 18:34-19:11)! This is a strange objection considering Isaiah 53:7 is talking about the actual whipping, beating and crucifixion of Jesus, not the trial that had occurred beforehand.
- Isaiah 53:10 says “He will see His seed, He will prolong His days,” — this verse says Jesus would have descendants and children, but He didn’t! This verse actually does not say Jesus would have any actual children of His own, this is clearly speaking of His spiritual progeny. Galatians 3:26 tells us in Christ we are all children of God.
Isaiah 53 is so clearly talking about Jesus that it is slightly funny to see people trying to find discrepancies between the accounts.
Lastly, there are those people who claim Isaiah 53 is written in past tense, and therefore is not referring to events in the future, such as the acts of Jesus. Actually, it contains both past-tense and future-tense elements, showing that all uses of past/present/future tense are obviously literary. Some cases of future tense in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 includes the following phrases;
- He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted (Is. 52:14)
- so He will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him, For they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard (Is. 52:15)
Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels (Is. 53:12)
There is only one logical conclusion, and that is the Isaiah 53 miraculously foretells of our Lord Jesus Christ. It speaks of a man who will be crushed for our iniquities, of a man who will die for our sins and bear our transgressions. It speaks of a man who will be considered a criminal and submit to death for us and to save us, and by His wounds we are healed and forgiven of our sins. It tells us this man will be pierced, clearly speaking of the coming crucifixion of Jesus, the cross Jesus was nailed and pierced into. This prophecy predated Jesus by centuries and was considered a Messianic prophecy from the start, and that it speaks of Jesus is undeniable. This prophecy proves Christianity is true. God gives us no excuse not to believe once we have seen and been given the evidence, and when Jesus knocks on our door, He awaits our answer. We must repent, and accept salvation which is the gift of God, something we are given and do not earn. And evidence did God give for our faith.
[Isaiah 53:5] But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.