Bible prophecy is what God has given us to validate the Scriptures. One of the most detailed is found in Isaiah 53, which accurately foresaw the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ 700 years in advance.
The Jewish prophet Isaiah is credited as authoring the book bearing his name in the Old Testament. His Hebrew name, as Yeshayhu, means “God is salvation” and alludes to his major doctrines and teachings. He is generally credited in the role as a prophet between the years 740-701 BC, give or take. However, some accounts state Isaiah may have prophesied for as many as 64 years.
Isaiah made many significant prophecies. Some of the most uncannily detailed and accurate are those he made of the coming Messiah – Jesus Christ. One of the most stunning found within the 66 chapters of the book of Isaiah is in chapter 53. It’s a stellar example of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Christ. This chapter is said to have been written around 680 BC. This means Isaiah made this prophecy 700 years before they came to pass in the person of Jesus Christ.
For Christians today, it is easy to picture Christ in the following words:
“He was despised and rejected* by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
– Isaiah 53:3
We know that Christ was rejected as the Messiah and despised by the Pharisees. He was mocked sarcastically as King of the Jews.
“Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.”
– Isaiah 53:4
Christ came as a servant of God and bore the sin of mankind’s transgressions. God allowed him to suffer for our sake.
“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.”
– Isaiah 53:5
(*Stripes, in some translations, referring to the wounds left by lashes from being whipped.)
In his crucifixion on the cross, Christ was suspended by having nails hammered through his hands and feet, and a sword pierced his side. It was the will of God that Christ receive punishment for the sinful actions of mankind. Christ’s death on the cross replaces the Old Testament, Jewish method of burnt offerings and blood sacrifices with one that would serve as an atonement for the sins of humans for all time – past, present and future.
Christ gave himself as a servant, standing in our place, analogous to an innocent person serving the sentence for a convicted criminal. Christ brought peace, that is, abolished the enmity between God and mankind, by receiving chastisement in our place. By his stripes, or wounds, we are healed, meaning we can receive God’s grace and forgiveness of our sins.
“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.”
– Isaiah 53:7
Appearing before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, Jesus remained silent, even though he could have easily defended himself. The Roman prefect even questioned the accusations against Jesus: “What evil has he done?” Nonetheless, the leaders of Jerusalem bullied Pilate into crucifying Jesus.
This particular section of Isaiah’s prophecy is accurate down to the smallest of details. Jesus was known as the Lamb of God.
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
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.”
– Isaiah 53:11-12
Under the law, all guilty of sin were condemned to death. The amount of sin in the world was so great that the Old Testament method of atonement could not cover the amount of sin.
However, through the anguish of Jesus Christ redemption for all mankind was now possible. “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous,” means that Christ, imparting his knowledge to mankind, can justify and save them. Without Christ, many would never find God.
Christ’s sacrifice will “make many to be accounted righteous” because of the fact that “he shall bear their iniquities.”
“He shall divide the spoil with the strong” shows the division between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdoms of the earth.
Lastly, “he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors,” refers to Christ’s blood sacrifice that brings a pardon of sins for all time for those who believe upon Christ Jesus.