Prophet Isaiah’s Vision of the Coming Messiah

    Welcome back to Defender’s Voice. I hope you are all doing well in the midst of this Pandemic. It has been a year since this Pandemic hit us. Millions of people were infected, millions of people lost their livelihood, hundreds of thousands of people died, with no end in sight. There is some good news. A couple of vaccines are available now. I got my first dose of Covid vaccine and am looking forward to getting the next dose. I recommend all of you get this vaccine. Unfortunately, there are many myths and conspiracies about Covid vaccine. One chief concern is using aborted fetal tissues in the development of these vaccines. We all care about unborn babies and it is unconscionable to use their tiny body parts in medical research. But according to great scientist Francis Collins, no such fetal tissues were used in the development of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Also, these vaccines do not alter your genes, they do not cause infertility, they are not ‘mark of the beast’. There is no truth in those claims. So, I strongly advise you to get this vaccine. 

     The United States got a new President, Joseph R Biden. Let us pray for him, his family, and his administration. There is so much chaos in America today. In the Bible, Prophet Amos reminded people that the social disorder in Israel was due to their waywardness from the paths of God. Our world is no different.  When we leave God, sooner or later, we get a confused society. When we leave God, sooner or later, we beget a chaotic society. When we leave God, sooner or later, we beget a violent society. We should never forget the warnings of the Biblical prophets. Let us pray that more people return to the Word of God and restore peace in America. 

   Today, I would like to share some thoughts from Isaiah chapter 53. 

1. Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

2. For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

3. He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

4. Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.

6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

7. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.

8. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of My people was He stricken.

   In this chapter, we read about the sufferings of the Servant of the Lord. In these profound words the prophet describes his agony and afflictions. First, let me give you a historical backdrop of this prophecy. 

   Isaiah lived between the years 739 BC and 680 BC. The Israelites were living in two nations: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Both nations came to an end in the military campaigns of two great world empires. Assyrians brought Israel to its end in 722 BC. Babylonians brought Judah to its end in 586 BC. Isaiah lived between these two catastrophic events in the history of God’s people. It was a time when people left the Word of God. It was a time when people forgot the God of Abraham, Moses, and David. It was a time when people were neck deep in idolatry, pagan worship and sexual immorality. Yet, God sent Isaiah to speak to His people. Isaiah had a long ministry of over 60 years from 740 – 680 BC. It extended under four different kings. 

Uzziah (791 – 740 BC) 

Jotham (750 – 736 BC) 

Ahaz (736 – 716 BC) 

Hezekiah (716 – 687 BC) 

 In the years between 745 – 727 BC, Judah was facing a lot of turmoil from Assyrian empire. As Assyrian campaigns became more and more aggressive, the kings and people of Judah lost all their hope of survival. Isaiah told them, ‘it’s not over yet’. They will survive the Assyrians and meet their doom in the hands of Babylonians. Then Isaiah gave them some good news. God will raise a king named Cyrus to give freedom to the Jews. In 539 BC, Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and in the following year the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland.

     One hundred and fifty years before the events, God told Isaiah the name of Cyrus and his acts for His people (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). That was a great miracle in Bible prophecies. God foretold the name of Cyrus long before he was born. God foretold the crowning of Cyrus long before the rise of Persian empire. God foretold the deeds of Cyrus long before he was born. God of the Bible is a great God of our universe and of our human history. Nothing is hidden from his view. Noone is hidden from his dominion. 

Can the Real Isaiah, please stand up? 

     Needless to say, atheists hate the Book of Isaiah more than any other book in the Bible. Their thinking goes like this: Because God does not exist, there should be no prophecies in the Bible, there should be no prophecies in the Book of Isaiah. There cannot be one Isaiah. There must be two or three or more Isaiahs. Someone who lived under Cyrus imagined a prophecy and wrote it under the name of Isaiah. All fulfilled prophecies in the Bible were post-written after the events they predicted. 

    The atheists reached these conclusions because of their prior commitment to naturalism. They have no evidence to show that prophecies of the Bible were post-written after the events they predicted. They have no evidence to show that there are two or three or more Isaiahs.  They often point out linguistic differences between different portions of Isaiah. But please note,  when you write and compile a book over a 60 year ministry, you will definitely see linguistic differences. Your vocabulary will evolve over such a long time. Yet, there are some words which appear all through this book. For example, ‘The Holy One of Israel’ is found scattered all over the book over 25 times. 

    Our blessed Savior, Lord Jesus Christ mentioned the prophecies of Isaiah throughout his ministry. He never said, ‘according to the first Isaiah’, ‘according to second Isaiah’, ‘according to third Isaiah’. He spoke as if the book of Isaiah had only one author. 

    We should also consider Septuagint. What is Septuagint? It is the earliest Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible, 250 years before Christ. In the Septuagint, there were no divisions between first, second and third Isaiahs. It was all attributed to one author. That was 250 years before Christ. 

   We should also look at the Dead Sea Scrolls. One of the greatest archaeological wonders of our time, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the Qumran Caves on the northern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank. They are now housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum. These manuscripts date from as old as 300 years before Christ. The entire Book of Isaiah was preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In fact, it was the most preserved book of these manuscripts. The copyists of these manuscripts did not make any divisions between different portions of this book. They attributed the whole book to one Isaiah, not three or more Isaiahs. All 66 chapters of this book were arranged in 54 columns. So, this idea that the Book of Isaiah has many authors came from the minds of individuals who are committed to atheism. They do not have the courage to face the conclusion of this book: God of the Bible is a God of human history. 

   The most important theme of this book is the Coming Messiah of Israel. Both Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris put their hands over the Bible to take their oaths as the President and Vice President of the United States of America. They now rank among the most powerful leaders of our world. Yet, they do not have power to solve the problems of America or the world. The Coming Messiah is going to exercise power over the entire human race. He will heal this planet, he will establish peace among the nations, he will solve the problems of the human race. 

    Prophet Isaiah, if you scan through his book, gives us many details about this great Messiah: his birth, his kingdom, his accomplishments, and as we read here in chapter 53, his sufferings. 

Who is this Messiah? He is our Lord Jesus Christ. 

   Throughout the Book of Isaiah, we see a beautiful portrait of our Lord. In Isaiah 1:8, Israel was likened to a vineyard. In the Gospels, Lord Jesus compared Israel to a vineyard. ‘I am the true vine’ Jesus said in John chapter 15. 

   ‘I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne’:    In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah says, ‘I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne’. ‘I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne’. Isaiah had a marvelous vision of God. There is God in all his glorious splendor surrounded by mighty angels. There is an altar with a furnace. One of the angels took a burning coal from the altar and put it in the mouth of Isaiah and said, ‘Now, your sins are forgiven’. A holy God and an altar:  You cannot enter the presence of God without an altar. He is a holy God, a consuming fire. There are only two options. The holy fire of God will either consume you or your substitute. Isaiah was able to survive the presence of God because the holy fires of God burnt the Substitute on the altar. That altar points us to the Messiah. What happened on the Cross? The Messiah was consumed by the holy fires of God. On the Cross, the burning coals of God’s judgment were put in the mouth of our blessed Savior. Today, when we enter the holy presence of God, we hear the same words Isaiah heard:  ‘Now, your sins are forgiven’. What a great blessing that is! Our sins are forgiven! 

    Isaiah gives us many wonderful prophecies concerning the Messiah. 

Isaiah 7:14 – Messiah shall be born through a virgin 

Isaiah 9:6 – Messiah will be God in human flesh 

Isaiah 11:1 – Messiah will be a Son of David 

Isaiah 40:3-5 – Messiah will have a forerunner 

Isaiah 52,53 – Messiah will be a Suffering Servant 

Isaiah 60:2-3 – Messiah will make Israel a light unto the nations 

Isaiah 61:1 – Messiah will bring liberty 

Isaiah 66 – Messiah will establish a peaceful kingdom 

     Isaiah gives us more Messianic prophecies than any other book of the Old Testament. We will be immensely blessed by studying these prophecies. 

     Throughout his book, Isaiah calls God, the Holy One of Israel. He saw God sitting on His throne. He saw the angels singing praises –  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) 

  At the center of Christianity, we find a Holy God. 

Why does God punish sinners? Because he is holy. 

Why did God cast out Satan and his demons from heaven? Because he is holy

Why did God evict Adam and Eve from Eden? because he is holy

Why did God judge King David for adultery? because he is holy 

Why did God send the Jews into Babylonian captivity? because he is holy 

Why did God send Jesus to the cross? because he is holy 

Why does God send sinners to hell? because he is holy 

     Everything God does is inextricably interwoven with his holiness. After seeing God in his holiness, Isaiah realized his own sinfulness and cried out, ‘Woe unto me, I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah realized his uncleanness. He could see through the uncleanness of his people. When the great theologian Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, people could not contain themselves. They saw their uncleanness in the presence of a holy God. They were standing in the pews, shouting for God’s mercy, begging for God’s  forgiveness. You are in the presence of a Holy God. 

   Sin is a serious matter. But praise God, there was an altar before Isaiah. That altar provided a way of salvation. The altar followed wherever the people of Israel went. The millions and millions of animals they brought to the Tabernacle, the millions and millions of altars they built throughout their history, the millions and millions of sacrifices they made…they all point to the truth that God demands a sacrifice for our sins. In chapter 53, Isaiah prophesied the ultimate sacrifice for our sins: Messiah himself.  Messiah himself will become our sacrifice. 

   Recently we are troubled by the accusations against late evangelist Ravi Zacharias. Chuck Colson used to call him, ‘modern prophet’. So influential was Ravi Zacharias that he was often invited to the White House to pray with the Presidents of the United States. We all cried when Ravi passed away on May 19, 2020. Recently, a few women came forward with the allegations that Ravi inappropriately touched and sexually harassed them. For a while, I could not believe their allegations. It is defying to logic that a preacher of his calibre would invest his time and money in building massage centers. Now, RZIM confirms the accusations of these women and asks for prayers for these victims. 

   You see, sin always creates victims. When we sin, we create victims. Here is Isaiah 53, we see the Divine Victim. He suffered for our sins. Isaiah says, 

5. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.

6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

7. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.

  (Isaiah 53:5-8) 

    Isaiah wrote these words about 600 years before Chirst. Fast forward to the first century after Christ, to Acts chapter 8. A eunuch from Ethiopia has been visiting Jerusalem. He is the secretary of the treasury under the Queen of Ethiopia. He is sitting in his chariot and reading the book of Isaiah. The scripture he is reading was from Isaiah chapter 53. He is perplexed.  Philip, the evangelist approaches the chariot and asks him, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’. The secretary responds, ‘How can I understand unless someone guides me? Who is the prophet speaking about? Is it about himself or someone else?’ 

Who is this despised man? 

Who is this man of sorrows?

Who is this man who borne our griefs? 

Who is this man who was wounded for our transgressions? 

Who is this man who was bruised for our iniquities? 

Why was he oppressed? 

Why was he afflicted? 

Why was he stricken? 

Why was he slaughtered? 

   The evangelist embarks on the chariot, sits besides the secretary, looks into his face, ‘Mr.Secretary, that is Jesus’.  Prophet Isaiah was speaking about Jesus of Nazareth. The Suffering Servant of Isaiah is none other than Jesus Christ, our Lord. He suffered for our sins. The millions and millions of sacrifices the people of Israel offered for thousands and thousands of years…they all point to this ultimate sacrifice the Son of God made for our sins. 

     Isaiah made prophecies concerning the Messiah but they are meaningless without this prophecy, the Messiah on the cross. The Cross is the most essential part of God’s plan of redemption. Everything in the Bible should be examined from the perspective of the cross. 

    Ireland is known for its beautiful landscape. It is also home to many great cathedrals. In central Ireland, there is a monastery called Clonmacnoise. Here we find high crosses. One of the crosses is called Cross of the Scriptures. Many events of the Bible were sculpted over this cross. 

    The Cross of the Scriptures…..I liked that name. There are many crosses in this world with many different messages. But we should look at the cross of the scriptures. Every event in the Bible should be placed on the cross. The cross gives meaning to those stories. 

   Defender’s Point: Today we’ve seen Prophet Isaiah focusing on the suffering servant of God. Who is this suffering servant? He is Lord Jesus Christ. Today, I ask you to come to Christ, to put your faith in him and get saved. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, today we’ve seen your portrait in Isaiah chapter 53. What a great sacrifice! What a great sacrifice! We thank you that you loved us and gave your very life to save us from our sins. In your precious name we pray, Amen’. 

Paul Kattupalli MD