“The Great Servant Oracle,” is found in Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, and is a passage of scripture where the prophet Isaiah predicted over 2700 years ago the sufferings of Jesus Christ, according to Dr. Bruce Waltke, a Hebrew Old Testament scholar, who received his PhD from Harvard. Isaiah wrote his prophecies between 739-636 BC, during the reigns of King Ahab and Hezekiah. This prophecy speaks so precisely to what Jesus experienced that liberal scholars and skeptics try to claim it was written after the fact, stating the book must have had multiple authors. Yet there remains a lack of historical evidence for their claims, let alone any compelling evidence at all. One Jewish scholar, Claude Montefiore, explained that even the Jews try to dismiss this passage of scripture: “Because of the Christological interpretation given to the chapter by Christians it is omitted from the series of prophetical lessons for the Deuteronomy Sabbaths…the omission is deliberate and striking.”2
Yahweh speaks of his servant (Jesus) acting wisely in Isaiah 52:13, and that he would rise (referring to resurrection), be lifted up (inferring ascension), and finally be highly exalted, as Christ sits today on his heavenly throne. The passage goes on in verse 14 to describe his appearance being marred significantly, which happened during the beatings and crucifixion. This was all a part of God’s ultimate goal as the suffering servant to provide worldwide salvation through his blood sacrifice.“He who would achieve the greatest high would first have to sink to the lowest low,” said Waltke. Click To Tweet
His own people rejected Christ because in Isaiah 53:2, the Jewish people seemed to think Jesus held no promise—that he didn’t appear to be anything special or have any notoriety (John 1:46). Waltke said he was probably typical-looking; having no distinguishing features, and was a way Christ related to the “plain, common folk,” which is the majority of humanity.
Isaiah 53:5 prophesied that this servant was pierced for our transgressions. To ensure that Christ was really dead after being crucified, the Roman soldiers ‘pierced’ his side with a sword (John 19:34). Jesus had committed no crime, yet he did not speak up for himself (Mark 15:3-5), just as Isaiah foretold in verse 7. One other important prophecy fulfilled in these passages was in Isaiah 53:9 when this servant was given a rich man’s grave (Mark 15:43-46).
Waltke explained that there is external evidence confirming that these passages were truly about Christ. In Acts 8:26-40, the witness of the Apostles provide validity to the prophecy since they cite Isaiah 53:7-8 as being about Jesus. The New Testament writers reference the Book of Isaiah more than every other prophetic book of the Old Testament combined!
“Even though the great ocean of humanity has not believed, there is an ocean current, or a remnant, that does believe,” Waltke noted. Waltke said that only one person satisfies all these statements, kind of like a Cinderella’s slipper being the perfect fit, and that person is Christ Jesus. Are you in the ocean current of believers?
1. Matthew P. Miller, “The Book of Isaiah: Authorship Analysis,” Scribd, Inc. © 2016. https://www.scribd.com/document/69523690/The-Book-of-Isaiah-Authorship-Analysis. Accessed 12-2-16.
2. Ephraim Goldstein, “Who’s the Subject of Isaiah 53? You Decide!” www.JewsforJesus.org, © 2016. https://jewsforjesus.org/issues-v13-n06/who-s-the-subject-of-isaiah-53-you-decide. Accessed 12-1-16. [Referenced from the Rabbinic Anthology, C.G. Montefiore & H. Loewe, (New York: Schocken Books, 1974) p. 544.]