THE JEW AND ISAIAH FIFTY-THREE*
[* At the Wailing Wall: Picture supplied by Christian Witness To Israel.]
This is very moving; it is no mere form; they mean every word of their lament. But is not their present homeless position in the world a direct consequence of their fathers rejection of our Lord?
1. Who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2. For he [Messiah] grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty - [or, that we should look upon him; nor beauty etc.] - that we should desire him. 3. He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, - [or, - he hid as it were his face from us] 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, yet he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that was led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth. 8. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living? for the transgression of my people [ or, to whom the stroke was due.]. 9. And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death [Heb. deaths]; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief [Heb. made him sick.] when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin [or, when his soul shall make an offering for sin.] he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: and he shall bear their iniquities. 12. Therefor will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made [or maketh] intercession for the transgressors. Revised Version (10th. July 1884.)
In the very heart of the Jews Book is set a golden
and exact picture of our Lord. In the
words of Delitzsch:‑ Isaiah Fifty-three is the most central, the deepest, and the
loftiest thing that Old Testament prophecy, outstripping itself, ever achieved:
it is the Holy of Holies of the Old Testament, the sacred chamber in which,
seven centuries before Christ, His entire earthly life, and supremely Calvary,
is enshrined. The Jew has no home on
earth, and alas, he has no home in heaven; and yet he carries in his bosom -
though not in his heart - the whole Gospel of God. Nevertheless, in spite of this fact,
Now this for ever challenging chapter in the Old Testament - quite apart from the identity of the Person in the picture portrays the most wonderful portrait of a Jew ever drawn. Ponder the significance of this portrait. (1) There is no dispute about the document. These twelve verses have been preserved by the Jews themselves - Jews, who, so far as Christian truth is concerned, have been hostile librarians: what we read in it to day is what Isaiah wrote twenty five centuries ago. (2) It is agreed on all hands that these twelve verses were written at least centuries before Christ: therefore the life of Christ could not have influenced the writing of the verses: in the exact identity between the two, our Lords life could not have suggested the verses, but the verses must have foretold the life. (3) If these verses, picturing a Jew, are not a portrait of Christ, it is certain that no man has yet lived of whom they are a portrait; for it contains highly peculiar doctrines, and most extraordinary historical statements, which, if they do not meet in Christ, have certainly never yet met in a human life. And this is a portrait which the Jews have carried, in their knapsacks, scattered for twenty-six centuries to every quarter of the globe.
Now the startling problem is the attitude of the Jew to this central fact in his own literature. How amazing that they do not recognize the Messiah which their own prophet depicts! The Messianic interpretation of the chapter was universally acknowledged by the Jews until the time of Aken Ezra (about A.D. 1150). Their liturgy for the Day of Atonement contains a prayer which simply, and confessedly, embodies the chapter:- Messiah our Righteousness has departed from us: horror has seized upon us, and there is none to justify us. He bears our transgressions and the yoke of our iniquities, and is pierced because of our transgressions. He bears our sins on His shoulders that He may find pardon for our iniquities. Nevertheless, the conception of a Suffering Messiah was so intensely unpopular that the acceptance of the Messianic nature of Isaiahs words was most reluctant, and was accompanied by artful escapes and distortions.* And the fact of immense importance is that the Christ of fact exactly filling the portrait of the prophecy is, to the Jew, actually an object of hate. One quotation is sufficient. Bernard Lazare, a Jewish author, says:‑ The Jew is not satisfied with de-Christianizing - he Judaizes. He works at his age-old task of the annihilation of the religion of Christ.
[* Christians who believe in a suffering Messiah, but refuse to accept hundreds of plain prophetic statements of a RULING Messiah - a King of Righteousness to rule the earth - de-Judaize and work at the annihilation of the true interpretation of these prophecies of God! ]
What then does the Jew make of this production of his own which enshrines, in twelve verses, the whole of the Christian Faith? While excluding it throughout the year from the selections from the Prophets read in the Synagogue every week, the modern Jew contends that the Servant of Jehovah is not the Messiah, but the Jewish Nation. But one crucial fact in the picture the Jew ignores. The essence of the sufferings, as Isaiah stresses so strongly, is their vicarious nature :‑ that is, they were sufferings incurred solely on behalf of others, and in their place ; and in only twelve verses it is so stated twelve times. He hath borne our griefs; He was wounded for our transgressions; the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all; for the transgression of my people was he stricken; He shall bear their iniquities; He bare the sin of many; thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. It has never been claimed for any man but Christ that he bore the sins of the whole world. Now if this Mysterious Being, whose entire sufferings were for others, an atonement for sin, is the Jewish Nation, as many Jews now claim, who are the my people for whom the Nation suffers? The Jew has never claimed that his sufferings are vicarious for our sins, their liturgy confesses every year, we have been exiled from our land. The Jew simply has no explanation of this, his own, Scripture, a vivid photograph of Christ.
The complete confirmation of both photograph and fact lies in the latter half of the chapter - in the triumph of the suffering Servant of Jehovah, the efficacy of His work, when he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied and the extraordinary thing is that the chief and world-wide witness will yet be the Jew himself. When our Lord returns, every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him (Rev. 1: 7) - and in an instant every Jew recognizes the picture in the Person;* and a later prophet describes the hugest mass repentance ever recorded, in words - to the Jew - of startling identification. THEY SHALL LOOK ON ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son (Zech. 12: 10). Thomas, in the Upper Room, exquisitely sums up the Jew of the closing age. He says, I will never believe that Jesus is proved the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, except I see in his hands the print of the nails, so as to prove that the risen hands are the buried hands. Jesus in the Upper Room, and the Lamb descending as it had been slain, shows the Jew Isaiah Fifty-Three in His hands and side; and Israel, like Thomas, at once exclaims, My Lord and my God!
Isaiah says that He was cut off, and
later made his grave, having been smitten OF GOD. But there was one way, and one only - short
of direct lightning from heaven - by which
But all this brings into relief one unutterably
appalling fact. The whole generation
between the picture and the Person, and also the whole intervening masses of
mankind subsequent to the picture and the Person that reject both, are devoted
to destruction, both Jew and Gentile; and the present agony of the Jew proves
up to the hilt the coming Lake of Fire.
So therefore salvation, as our Lord said (John 4: 22), is from the Jews, and the only Saviour that there will be for all eternity is a Jew. The Christian world, says the Religious Digest (Dec., 1938), is waking to the fact that the fate of Christendom is indissolubly united to the fate of the Jews, and that synagogue and church will either disappear or survive-together. Sir Algernon Coote relates the following incident. A German Jew, a doctor, who was with the Army at the time of the American war, was called to attend a drummer boy who had to have his arm and leg amputated. He wanted the boy to take some brandy, but the boy refused, saying that he was a total abstainer and a Christian. The boy asked the doctor to pray with him. Oh, said the doctor, I am a Jew! My Saviour was a Jew, said the boy. Some time afterwards the doctor went into a hairdressers shop, and he saw over that shop the words, Please do not swear. The doctor got into conversation with the man who was cutting his hair, and the hairdresser began to talk with him about the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a Jew, said the doctor. My Saviour, answered the hairdresser, was a Jew. The doctor was very much struck. There was a mission service being held, and he went to it and heard the preacher, but it did not make much impression upon him. As he was coming out, a lady handed him a book. Oh, madam, I am a Jew. My Saviour was a Jew, she said. He allowed that lady to pray with him, himself standing, in the Jewish custom, as they prayed. He was eventually converted to God, and he, too, could say, My Saviour was a Jew. There is no other.
- D. M. PANTON.
They are the tribes of sorrow
And for ages have been fed
On brackish desert-wells of hate
And exiles bitter bread.
They builded up fair cities
With no threshold of their own.
They gave their sigh to
And have they not had tears enough,
This people shrunk with chains?
Must there be no Assyrias,
Must there be other
- Edwin Markham.
A CHRIST-HATER SAVED
By DANIEL ROSE
Having been born of German Jewish parents, who were strictly orthodox and very religious, I was continually hearing from my school mates such accusations and names as Christ Killer and Sheeney. My father had a deep hatred for Jesus Christ, and, naturally, the name conjured up in my mind all the persecutions of my people for centuries past, and I, too, hated Him.* I was tempted to place my finger over His name whenever I saw it in print, so as to avoid reading the hated name. Because my father was religious orthodox, I, too, had great desire to know more about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But it was always knowledge about Him that I sought; I was not learning to know Him. With religious zeal I always observed the fast days and holy days. I would even refrain from cleaning my teeth at those times for fear of accidentally getting a drop of water down my throat.
My sister Carrie and I married a brother and sister - Charles Menard and his sister Selina. None of us knew the Lord, although each in his own way was striving to know about Him. We were very worldly - drinking, attending theatres, and continually using profanity. It was my habit to go to a questionable theatre on Sunday evenings. En route to the theatre, I always passed a certain church, from which strains of music floated forth to touch my sinful heart. As time went on, I had a longing to step in to hear more of the hymns that reached my ears as I passed by. Somehow they seemed to still the tumult within me, and they created within me a longing for something undefined.
Finally, I tossed all objections to the winds, entered the church, and soon found myself joining in the songs. But always when I came to the name Jesus Christ, I tried to cover it, and would pause while the others sang it, and would then rejoin them. Going to the church soon replaced attendance at the theatre, and worldly things began to be distasteful to me, although they were not given up at once. I found myself disliking profanity, although I could not have explained the cause.
The rebellion will be foolish as well as wicked,
and God, because of it, will smite them with wrath. In vain will they say: We will not have this Man to reign over us. Christ will, by God, be set upon
A summons is issued to all kings and rulers of earth to confess Jesus as King of kings. Else, if they are found in arms against Him, the Descending Stone will grind them to powder. Now He will not break the bruised reed; but then He will break in pieces opponents, as potters vessels struck by rods of iron. This our Lord reasserts in His message to the Churches; for His faithful ones, and sufferers for Him, shall reign with Him (Rev. 2: 26, 27).
While then the angels, as a body, are called Sons of God, no one of them is ever singled out as being begotten of God, or promoted because of his merits.
To-day have I begotten Thee.
To what time does to-day refer? Many have spoken of it, as signifying our Lords eternal sonship. But that is evidently a mistake. It is a generation at a definate instant of time.
showed himself in resurrection to be the Son of God, as Paul tells us (
- R. Govett on Hebrews.