Isaiah: the Messianic Prophet

Jeremiah is known as the “weeping” prophet because he wept over his suffering he endured at the hands of false prophets and evil kings. Isaiah is known as the “Messianic” prophet because of his many predictions about a future “Servant” whom God would send. He doesn’t call him the “Messiah”, which in Hebrew means “the anointed one”, but it is obvious that it is the Messiah that he is predicting to come. There is much more to Isaiah’s message than just predictions about a future Messiah to come 700 years later, but let’s focus on those predictions in this article.

  1. Isaiah 2: 2″ In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.” The phrase the “last days” refers to the last days of the Jewish Age, i.e. from 30 AD to 70 AD. This is a prediction of the establishment of the spiritual temple, the church, that Jesus would build in the 1st century AD. The nations, i.e. the Gentiles, would stream into it, which is an amazing prediction that the Jews didn’t understand.
  2. Isaiah 4: 2″ In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. ” The term “the Branch” of David or of the Lord is used several times by the prophets to refer to Jesus, a descendant of David.
  3. Isaiah 7: 14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you[o] a sign: The virgin[p] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[q] will call him Immanuel.” This was actually spoken to King Ahaz of Judah as a sign that God would deliver him from his enemies. Before that child was weaned, he would be delivered. It actually came true as Isaiah had a natural born child. Matthew 1 says that it also came true in the virgin birth of Jesus.
  4. 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 righteousnes from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Gabriel cited this prediction when he told Mary about her amazing son that would be born who would reign on David’s throne. The 4 names by which He would be called are amazing also. He would be human, but also Divine such that He would be called Mighty God. He is distinct from the Father, and yet He is so united with the Father that He would be called Everlasting Father.
  5. Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—” 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people ” Again, the “Branch” of David is Jesus. In Romans 15 Paul cites verse 10 to show that the Gentiles, i.e. the nations, would be brought into the church along with the Jewish remnant who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. This gathering of the remnant the “second time” would begin in Acts 2 as God gathered His elect throug the preaching of the gospel. The “first” gathering would have been when He brought back a remnant from Babylonian captivity.
  6. Isaiah 35: 4 “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Jesus cited this prophecy to affirm to John’s disciples that He was indeed “the One to come”, as proved by His healing miracles.
  7. Isaiah 40:3 “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord make straight in the desert a highway for our God” Of course this refers to John the Baptist who would come to prepare the way for Jesus.
  8. Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Matthew cited this verse in reference to the gentle nature of the Messiah.
  9. Isaiah 44: 3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Similar to Joel 2, this is a prediction of the pouring out of the miraculous gift of the Spirit in the last days. In Acts 2, Peter affirms that these predictions were beginning to be fulfilled on that day of Pentecost and would continue through the last days up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  10. Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 See, my servant will act wisely[c];
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[d]
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,[e]
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.

53 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
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.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

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 its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression[f] and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[g]
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[h] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life[i] and be satisfied[j];
by his knowledge[k] my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[l]
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[m]
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. ” This is the peak of Isaiah’s Messianic predictions. It predicts details about the death of Jesus: being pierced (the nails of crucifixion), silent suffering, scourging, death associated with the 2 wicked thieves, burial in a rich man’s tomb though He was a pauper. Only God could predict with such accuracy details about Jesus’ life and death 700 years before He was even born. Imagine predicting even 10 such specific things about whoever would be President of the U.S. 700 years from now, putting these predictions in a box and buring them, and then opening that box 700 years later. What are the odds of every single prediction being accurate? Other prophets add such specific predictions, such as Mich 5:2 predicting that He would be born in Bethlehem, David’s details in Psalm 22 about his death on the cross, Zechariah’s prediction that he would be sold for 30 pieces of silver and pierced, etc. We need only to turn to Acts 8 to see how convincing it was in the first century when someone compared the life and death of Jesus with these Messianic predictions in Isaiah 53. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53 but wondered whom Isaiah was talking about. Philip the evangelist then told him the facts about Jesus’ life and death, showing him that Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, thus making him the Messiah. The eunuch was convinced immediately and was baptized. We pause here to discuss the Dead Sea Scrolls. Critics of the prophets’ ability to predict the future with such accuracy claim that these predictions were added “after the fact”, i..e after they had already occurred so as to make the Bible look like it was accurately predicting the future. They also say that the Old Testament had been copied thousands of times since the originals and that we can’t trust the copies. Well the Dead Sea Scrolls proved them wrong on both counts. They were discovered in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea in 1947. Parts of almost the entire Old Testament were found. A complete scroll of Isaiah was found, later called “The Great Isaiah Scroll”. Based on several dating methods it was written no later than 100 BC; that’s 100 years before Jesus was born. Now the earliest copy of Isaiah in the Hebrew that it was originally written in was in the 10th century AD. So, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there was a gap of about 1700 years from the original to our earliest copy in Hebrew. But now we have a copy about 1000 years earlier than that, and most importantly, a copy 100 years before the birth of Jesus. So how does Isaiah 53 in the Great Isaiah Scroll compare with the 10th century AD copy? Almost identical. The specific predictions about the death of Jesus in Isaiah 53 were in the Great Isaiah Scroll 100 years before Jesus was born. They were not added “after the fact”. Isaiah’s other Messianic predictions were also in the Great Isaiah Scroll 100 years before Jesus was born. Not only that, this also shows that the copies of Isaiah over the centuries were done with great accuracy and can be trusted. There are many variants in all the copies, but they are of no great significance. Scholars had told us all along about the strict copying rules used by the copyists, but now we have proof of that. I encourage you to watch a youtube video, “The treasures of Qumran”. It is absolutely amazing how the providence of God protected these ancient scrolls for over 2,000 years until initially discovered by a little shepherd boy searching for his lost goat.

11. Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,[t] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” In Luke 4, Jesus went into the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. Often a guest rabbi would be allowed to speak. He took a copy of an Isaiah scroll and read this passage from Isaiah 61. He then told them that He was the fulfillment of that prediction. He was the one “anointed” (the Messiah, the “anointed one”) with the Spirit to do these great things. But a “prophet has no honor in his own hometown”, and they proceeded to try to kill Him.

12. Isaiah 65: 17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred will be considered accursed.” Hebrews 12 tells us that the “new Jerusalem” is the church and not a physical city like the old Jerusalem was. God sent the Romans to destroy the old Jerusalem and temple in 70 AD to show that the way of salvation was from then on to be found in a spiritual Jerusaelem and temple, i.e. the church, God’s new holy nation and chosen people. Peter had predicted that the “end of all things is at hand” in 1 Peter 4:7, and followed that up with 2 Peter 3 predicting the destruction of the old heavens and earth, i.e. the old Jewish system, and replacing it, as predicted he notes, with a new heavens and earth, i.e. the new covenant and Messianic system. Isaiah’s predictions are given in figurative language, such as no infants dying young, etc. but it is easy to see that he is referring to the eternal life that Jesus gives us in the new covenant. Other language is similar to that, such as a lion playing with a lamb or a child playing by trhe hole of a cobra. Such language refers to the peace that we have in this spiritual kingdom of God, the church.

13. Isaiah 66: 19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans[c] and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord. 22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” Isaiah had predicted God coming with a vengeance to destroy the old Jerusalem in 70 AD and punish the nation for killing the prophets. But here in ch 66 he says that God will send out survivors, i.e. the Jewish Christian remnant who escaped 70 AD because they heeded Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24, to bring converts from the nations, i.e. Gentiles, into this new Jerusalem, the church. God would even make them Levites and priests, which obviuosly is figurative language. Of course all believers in Jesus are called priests in the New Testament. They will come to worship God in this “new heavens and earth”, i.e. the new Messianic system, even though he describes that worship in the language of old covenant worship (new moons, sabbaths).

I hope this long article will reach someone who is searching. God made these Messianic predictions and recorded them to give us proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that believing in Him we might have eternal life (John 20:31). He even gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls to combat the claims of the critics of the Bible. Will you be like the Ethiopian eunuch and believe and be baptized?

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