Doesn’t Isaiah 53 Refer to the Jewish People as a Whole?
Dr. Michael L. Brown is founder and president of ICN Ministries, devoted to taking the message of repentance and revival to Israel, the Church, and the Nations. He has preached throughout the United States and in numerous foreign countries, emphasizing radical discipleship, holy living, and the visitation of the Spirit. His books, articles, and messages have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In 1996, he became part of the ministry of the Brownsville Revival, holding weekly sessions for leaders and heading up the revival’s intensive two-year School of Ministry. Dr. Brown is now President of the FIRE School of Ministry located in Charlotte, NC.
As a Jewish believer in Jesus, Dr. Brown is active in Jewish evangelism and has debated rabbis on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is also a published Old Testament and Semitic scholar, holding a Ph.D in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. In 1997, he was appointed Visiting Professor of Jewish Apologetics at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission and has been affiliated with Regent University Divinity School as an Adjunct Professor of Old Testament and Jewish Studies.
“Doesn’t Isaiah 53 Refer to the Jewish People as a Whole?”
The earliest Jewish interpretations of chapter 53, which really begins with Isaiah 52:13, said that it spoke of the Messiah. It is clear for many reasons that it cannot refer to the Jewish people as a who, or even to a righteous remnant within the nation. This passage also cannot refer to the “Messianic Age” because verse three would then have the people reject a utopia: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows…” (Is. 53:3). Furthermore, Israel has never been a silent sufferer: “…so he did not open his mouth” (Is. 53:7b). And, who is “my people” if “he” refers to Israel? “…For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken” (Is. 53:8b).
The prophet Hosea describes Israel as a harlot; Israel, unlike the Messiah described in the passage, is not without sin: “…nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Is. 53:9b).
Furthermore, according to the Torah, the Jewish people would only suffer if they were unrighteousness. Nowhere is it ever taught that Israel would suffer for the sins of the world. Only Jesus has ever fulfilled this prophecy.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.