Who Has Believed Our Message?

53: 1-3

   DIG: If you had grown up next door to the Servant, how would you describe His childhood to a newspaper reporter who interviewed you about Him? How does that contrast with the LORD’s perspective of Him?

   REFLECT: Is there someone that you have witnessed to that does not believe the message of Christ? How does that make you feel? How do you think it makes God feel? Have you ever had a time when your family in some regard rejected you? How did that make you feel? How do you think it makes Jesus feel? What can you do about it? Why?

    One of the three purposes of the Great Tribulation is to break the stubbornness of the Jewish nation (Dani'el 11-12; Ezeki'el 20:34-38). It is through the crucible that Isra'el will be brought to repentance. In 53:1-9 we see Isra'el’s prayer and national confession at the end of the Great Tribulation (see my commentary on Revelation Ev – The Basis for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ). The actual words of this prayer are found in four key passages of Scripture, first, in Psalm 79, secondly in Psalm 80, thirdly here, and lastly in Isaiah 63:7 to 64:12. All tenses here are prophetic perfects, or future events looked upon as already taken place. This is the second of five messages.

    Who has believed our message (Isaiah 53:1; John 12:37-38; Romans 10:16a)? Here we see Isra'el’s unbelief. The word message merely means hearing. Or, who among us has believed what we have heard? Isra'el has heard the message of the suffering Servant for centuries and centuries. Every time Jews are witnessed to, they hear the message. But for most of them, they do not believe. That is the question that the faithful remnant at the end of the Great Tribulation is asking. The point is that the Jews had heard the message of the suffering Servant, but had not believed it.

    To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed (53:1b)? Now Isaiah is going to go into great detail about who this arm of the LORD is going to be. Four times earlier Isaiah had talked about this arm resulting in salvation for those who trust in the arm. What is this arm all about? Now Isaiah tells us that arm of the LORD is not God the Father, but God the Son. The suffering Servant, who by means of His humiliation and suffering, will bring about salvation for Israel. This is the sixth of nine references to the arm of the LORD (30:30 and 32, 40:10, 50:2, 51:5 and 9, 52:10, 59:1 and 16, 62:8, 63:5). It was as if Isaiah was saying, “Who could have believed that this arm was the LORD Himself, come to save” (52:10).

    He grew up before Him like a tender shoot (53:2a). The Hebrew word for tender shoot really means a suckling, which sucks nourishment and life from the plant and eventually kills it. The plant would not be able to produce its fruit. In your garden you would pull off these sucklings so that your plants could live. That is how Israel considered the suffering Servant, simply as a suckling to be broken off and thrown away.

    And like a root out of dry ground (53:2b). Looking back to 11:1 we read: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. This emphasized the humanity of Christ because although He would be a descendant of David, in all His kingly splendor, the emphasis here is not on David but on the lowly shepherd Jesse. In Chapter 11 we are told that when the Messiah comes, the House of David will be reduced to nothing but a stump. That is also the point here; He had humble beginnings.

    In addition, He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him (53:2c). He was not characterized by outward physical beauty, or attractiveness. There was nothing about His outward appearance that would draw men and women to Him. The human eye is greatly influenced by superficial splendor. He looked nothing like a great world leader should look like. As a result, eyes would flicker across a crowd and would not even see Him. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him because His splendor is not on the surface (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Gb – The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Hermon), and those who have no inclination to look beyond the surface will never see Him, much less pay any attention to Him.217

    We learn that He was despised and rejected by men (53:3a). This is a part of the humiliation of the suffering Servant. Of the different Hebrew words for men, the word used here is men of rank, or leaders. Although large crowds did initially follow Jesus, the leaders of Israel despised Him. That becomes very evident in the Gospels. It was the Great Sanhedrin, the equivalent of the religious Jewish Supreme Court (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Lg – The Great Sanhedrin) that led the nation to the rejection of His Messiahship and ultimate crucifixion. Before the Second Coming, the Jewish leaders will need to admit their sin and the sin of the nation in rejecting Christ for Him to come back (see my commentary on Revelation Ev - The Basis for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ).

    Messiah was Ish Makh’ovot, a man of pains, well acquainted with illnesses (53:3b CJB). In other words, He was a man familiar with pain and disease because in His ministry, He went about healing, pain and disease. The rabbis taught that disease or birth defects were a result of sin. Therefore, if a person was born blind, for example, they believed that person sinned in the womb. They took extraordinary measures to avoid any contact with anyone whom they considered sinners. When walking in a crowd, the Pharisees and Sadducees would actually hold their flowing robes tightly around them so they wouldn’t even accidently touch a sinner passing by. When the Pharisees were investigating such a case (see Gl – The Three Messianic Miracles), even the Apostles asked Yeshua: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind (John 9:2)? And the Pharisees also concluded: You were steeped in sin at birth (John 9:34a). So the poor, the lame, and the diseased were shunned by the Jewish society in general as being sinners. But those were the very ones Jesus healed (35:5-6).

    As a result, He was like one from whom the Jewish people hid their faces (53:3c). In 53:2 we were told that people were not attracted to Him because of His appearance. Now we also learn that not only were Jewish people not drawn to Him, but also people actually hid their faces from Him. He did not fit the stereotype of one who could save Himself, let alone anyone else. They were repulsed by what He had to say when the light of His truth revealed the extent of their sin.

    Therefore, as a result of exposing the sin of the Jewish people, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not (53:3d). Yochanan wrote: He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own (the Jewish people), but His own did not receive Him (John 1:10-11). And in Jewish circles that is still true today. For the majority of Israel, they have not esteemed Him. Here are three examples.

    First, Jewish believers call Jesus Yeshua; but the Jews have a shortened form, Yeshu. And Yeshu stands for the three letters that make up a line in Hebrew which reads: May His name and memory be blotted out. In Israel, you won’t hear Yeshua; you’ll hear Yeshu. We esteemed Him not.

    Secondly, throughout the Talmud, He is referred to as ta-louie, the hanged one. He is also referred to in the Talmud as ben-ponteria. Ben means son of, and ponteira sounds like Pandora, which is where we get the phrase Pandora’s box. She opened it up and all the evils of the world came out of the box. And as far as the Jewish world is concerned in the Talmud, Jesus is ben pondera, He’s the one who released all the evils on the Jewish people. We esteemed Him not.

    Thirdly, the Greek word for the Gospel is eu-engellion. However, in Jewish writings they have a play on words with it, they say a-bon-gellion. But a-bon-gellion does not mean the Gospel; it means the roll of sin. In other words, the Gospel is not the Good News to them, it is the roll, or rolls (the Hebrew scriptures are read in the Synagogues from a roll or a scroll) of sin. We esteemed Him not. So in every respect this verse holds true to the Jewish people of today. But remember this is Israel’s prayer and national confession at the end of the Great Tribulation. They will confess that we esteemed Him not as the armies of the antichrist encircle them at Petra (or Bozra). The spiritual scales will fall from their eyes and they will see Jesus for who He really is (Zechariah 12:7 to 13:1; Revelation 1:12-16, 5:5). At that time they will confess that they esteemed Him not.

    If I asked you if you were a sinner, what would you say? Romans 3:23 says: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes you and me, doesn’t it? Most people feel that being good gets you into heaven and being bad keeps you out. That simply is not true; we all have sinned. What would you say sin is? I think we can agree that we are both sinners; now lets define sin. Some have said, “I’m not perfect,” or “I have made some mistakes.” But what do you think the Bible means by sin? Well, the Bible says that everyone who sins breaks God’s law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (First John 3:4). Have you ever disobeyed your parents? Have you ever misused the name of God? Have you ever told a lie? This is what sin is. It’s breaking God’s law. And any time you break a law there is a penalty. If you run a stop sign, the penalty is a fine. If you rob a bank, the penalty is jail. What is the penalty for breaking God’s law? We will find out in the next file.


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