Isaiah 53, the "suffering servant of the Lord"
By Jerry and Norma Reynolds
Replacement theology is the cornerstone of the structure which is known as Christianity. During its construction, a new facade was put on an existing building so that a new establishment could be brought forth, having new leaders with new rules, a new book, as well as a new god. The original building (Hebrew scriptures) could not be destroyed lest the new structure collapse, but had to be changed and covered-over over so that what lay beneath would no longer be recognizable.
Many passages from the Tanach (the Bible, not including Christianity's "New Testament") were used as keystones for this new construction, and Isaiah 53 is one of the better known. Since it is supposed to be a description of a key event in the "new book" regarding the new god, we need to look at it again in its original form to see what is actually there.
Isaiah 53 is one of several consecutive chapters which gives a description of the “suffering servant” of the Lord. Of particular note is that from chapter 41 on, it is well-established that this servant is the nation of Israel:
Isaiah 41:8-9, “But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend. Whom I grasped from the ends of the earth, and from its nobles I called you, and I said to you, ‘You are My servant‘; I chose you...”
Isaiah 44:1-2; “Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant and Israel whom I have chosen.”
Isaiah 44:21; Remember these, O Jacob and Israel, for thou art My servant, O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me.
Isaiah 45:4; “For the sake of My servant Jacob, and Israel My chosen ones….”
Isaiah 48:20; “….The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob”.
Isaiah 49:3; “And said to me, thou art My servant, O Israel in whom I will be glorified”.
Notice that the four servant songs are speaking of Israel/Jacob in the singular form. This is also shown in Hosea 11:1-2 and 5; “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” Clearly, Isaiah 54 also speaks of Israel in the singular.
When Isaiah 52, 53, and 54 are read consecutively, one can see more clearly that chapter 53 is not suddenly talking in abstract terms about a person who will suffer in a future time. The subject matter remains the same as does the tone and the form of the writing across these three chapters.
Isaiah 49 sets the groundwork for Isaiah 53 as the nation of Israel cries out to G-d with feelings of being abandoned, afflicted, and forsaken by Him, and these pleas are the same descriptions given of the tormented servant in Isaiah 53. Therefore, chapter 53 is an integral part of this entire prophecy of the servant who suffers in exile among the nations.
Isaiah 53 begins with the prophet describing the reaction of the gentile kings who have despised and oppressed the nation of Israel during their long and arduous exile. History has proven over and over that the Jewish people have had to struggle “as a young tree growing in a parched land” as described in Isaiah 53:2 and also in Hosea 14:6-8.
One has to look no further back than, for instance, the Holocaust in Europe to vividly understand this. However, the time of Israel’s vindication will come. These kings will then know what they have not heard and what they have not understood, and that it was due to the sins of the nations that Israel has suffered. It had erroneously been assumed that Israel’s suffering had been due to their own stubborn refusal to embrace the ways of the nations, but now it will be clear that it was actually due to the arrogance and destructiveness of those nations. These kings will stand with their mouths shut as they gaze upon the new status of Israel among the nations and see how G-d is now making Israel an “everlasting pride, the joy of every generation”, and that “kings will come to her light“ (Isaiah 60).
Isaiah 54 assures Israel; “For your maker is your husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name; and your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel shall be called the G-d of all the earth”. The nation will be regathered in great mercy and consoled; established with righteousness and be far from oppression and fear.
Now, try reading Isaiah 53 with the word “Israel” in the place of the word “he”, when speaking of the “servant”, as a replacement is definitely not indicated.
Jerry and Norma Reynolds
First Covenant, dedicated to the greater glory of God and the fulfillment of the Divine Plan.