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  • Writer's pictureBeverly Nickles

Christ’s birth foretold in detail 700 years before

Entering this season of remembering Christ’s birth, it’s a good time to reflect on Isaiah 53, “The Suffering Servant”. An amazingly detailed and accurate prophecy of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension foretold 700 years before His birth. Authored by God, the only one who knows the future and, in fact, determines it.

This immensely important Old Testament passage appears in Isaiah 52:13 – 53: 12. Referred to as “the fifth gospel”, together with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is the deepest and most sublime Messianic prophetic Scripture. It’s the most powerful and complete Old Testament revelation of the Messiah.

Isaiah’s prophecy divides into two sections: chapters 1-39 discuss judgement on Israel, sinners and the final judgement; chapters 40-66 discuss deliverance for Israel, sinners and the final deliverance into the Messianic Kingdom. This portion of prophecy provides a majestic revelation of grace and salvation through the coming Messiah.

The second half of Isaiah (chapters 40-66), called the “gospel section”, begins as the New Testament gospel begins. The book turns from judgement to comfort because of grace and salvation. And ends as the New Testament ends, with the new heaven and earth. Isaiah 40:3 prophecies John the Baptist as forerunner of Messiah. Likewise, the New Testament begins with John the Baptist (Mt. 3:3).

The Servant of the Lord will provide this grace, salvation and deliverance. He will bring comfort and forgiveness. The Servant of the Lord becomes the theme of Isaiah’s final section.

At a time when Israel was most corrupt, vile, wicked, and hopeless, God gave the nation a dramatic new revelation about a coming righteous king. He would be a suffering slave whose glory would come only after he suffered for other’s evil. The righteous king would suffer and die for the people’s sins, as a substitute, paying their penalty before God.

His appearance, treatment and response are detailed. His death and burial portrayed. Minute details of his death, burial, resurrection and ascension prove that the author is God. A Christian can readily see that Jesus fulfilled every detail.

This Isaiah 52:13 – 53: 12 passage is referred to by Jesus, the apostles and New Testament writers more than any Old Testament scriptures. References to Isaiah 53 appear in 15 New Testament books.

Each person must settle that most important question: How can a sinner get right with God to escape hell and enter heaven? Both Romans and Isaiah (“the Old Testament Romans”) give the same answer. A sinner can get right with God because the Servant of Jehovah became the substitute. In the sinner’s place, he suffered the judgement of God. That is the heart of the second half of Isaiah’s prophesy. The promise of salvation from sin; and a warning for those who reject.

This passage clearly and unmistakably points to the Lord Jesus Christ.

--- Beverly Nickles

(Gleaned from “The Astonishing Servant of Jehovah” by John MacArthur.)

He Was Pierced for Our Transgressions

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 (ESV)

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14 As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— 15 so shall he sprinkle[c] many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.

53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?[d] And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected[e] by men, a man of sorrows[f] and acquainted with[g] grief;[h] and as one from whom men hide their faces[i] he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;[j] when his soul makes[k] an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[l] and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,[m] and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,[n] because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

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