The Suffering Servant of Isaiah - Part 1.

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The Suffering Servant of Isaiah

 

Written by Abdullah Smith

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III]

 




Christians ignore the historical background of Isaiah 53 to claim that Jesus’ death and resurrection was prophesied, yet Ezekiel and Jeremiah link Isaiah 53 to Israel, the Prophetic books of Hosea and Nahum also link Isaiah 53 to Israel using descriptive parallels. God promises to return the Israelites to Jerusalem and restore the Temple after the Babylon Captivity (536 B.C.E). Hence, the context of Isaiah 53 refers to the suffering and restoration of Israel, absolutely nothing to do with Jesus.

 

Here is the prophecy:

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness— so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. Who has believed our message  and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52:13-15, 53)

The Gentiles are speaking in Isaiah 53:

 

52:15 - 53:1 "So shall he (the servant) startle many nations, the kings will stand speechless; For that which had not been told them they shall see and that which they had not heard shall they ponder. Who would believe what we have heard?" Quite clearly, the nations and their kings will be amazed at what happens to the "servant of the L-rd," and they will say "who would believe what we have heard?". 52:15 tells us explicitly that it is the nations of the world, the gentiles, who are doing the talking in Isaiah 53. (Jews for Judaism)

 

The actual prophecy begins at Isaiah 52:13:

 

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. (Isaiah 52:13)

 

Who is the Servant spoken here? The Bible identifies Israel:

 

"But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, (Isaiah 41:8)

 

"But now listen, O Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. (Isaiah 44:1)

 

For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. (Isaiah 45:4)

 

Jesus was not “raised and lifted up”; he was rejected and stoned, by his own people:

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:10-11)

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. (John 6:66-67)

Jesus rejected praise:

 

And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. (Luke 4:41)

 

"I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. (John 4:41)

 

'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. (John 15:8-9)

 

Therefore, the description cannot apply to him, but applies to Israel.

 

Let us continue:

 

Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness— (Isaiah 52:14)

 

This description speaks of Israel’s disfigured face, by affliction and bondage, as the following passages indicate:

 

All the splendor has departed from the Daughter of Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer. (Lamentations 1:6)

 

Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. (Hosea 8:8)

 

How the Lord has covered the Daughter of Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of the Daughter of Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor. In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire  that consumes everything around it. (Lamentations 2:1-3)

 

The splendor of Israel was extinguished; their form was “marred beyond human likeness”, God promised to save the Messiah (Psalms 20:6), so Isaiah 52:14 cannot apply to Jesus, born 600 years later.

 

The next verse says:

 

so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. (Isaiah 52:15)

 

The description refers to Israel:

 

And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. (Isaiah 62:2)

 

According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things. The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. (Micah 7:15-16)

 

And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 16:14)

 

Jesus was only sent to Israel, he did not “sprinkle” any nation except his own:

But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15:23-24)

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-6)

The Greek text of Isaiah 52:15 reads:

 

Hebrew; Septuagint so will many nations marvel at him [1]

 

The Gospels record the exact opposite, Jesus was attacked and beaten:

 

They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him. (Mark 14:64-65)

 

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" (Luke 22:63-64)

 

Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Matthew 27:26)

 

Jesus was not very popular; many Greek and Roman historians do not record his miracles. After the departure of Jesus, his teachings spread to North Africa and Egypt, but he was not popular or widely known.

 

Philo-Judaeus (Alexandria)

 

Seneca (Rome)

 

Plutarch (Greece)

Apollonius (Alexandria)

 

Epictetus (Turkey)

Silius Italicus (Spain)

Ptolemy (Egypt)

 

The scholar Muhammad Ataur-Raheem says:

The more people have tried to discover who Jesus really was the more it has been found how little is known about him. There are limited records of his teachings and some of his actions, but very little is known about how he actually lived his life from moment to moment and how he conducted his everyday transactions with other people.

Certainly, the pictures many people have given of Jesus - of who he was and what he did - are distorted ones. Although there is some truth in them, it has been established that the four accepted Gospels have not only been altered and censored through the ages but also are not eyewitness accounts. (Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 5)

The next verse says:

 

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1)

 

The “arm of the Lord” is the redemption of Israel, and has nothing to do with Jesus.

With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah (Psalms 77:15)

Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:9-10)

Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people— where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, (Isaiah 63:11-12)

You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. (Deuteronomy 7:19)

The next verse says:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2)

Israel grew up like a plant:

No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. " 'Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!" I made you grow like a plant of the field. (Ezekiel 16:5-7)

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. (Hosea 14:5)

Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water. Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler's scepter. It towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches. But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground. The east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit; its strong branches withered and fire consumed them. Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land. (Ezekiel 19:10-13)

Israel grew up like a tender shoot:

Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. (Isaiah 60:21)

"Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up. (Isaiah 37:26-27)

Jesus is never called a “tender shoot” in the New Testament.

The words “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him…” also refer to Israel.

All the splendor has departed from the Daughter of Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer. (Lamentations 1:6)

The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines. (Nahum 2:2)

The next verse says:

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3)

Israel was despised and rejected by the Gentile nations:

All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many. (Jeremiah 30:14)

On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. (Ezekiel 16:4-5)

 Jesus was glorified and praised by all:

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:14-15)

The next verse says:

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4)

The Bible rejects atonement:

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20)

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)

The Bible rejects “sin offering”

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. (Psalms 40:6)

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. (Psalms 51:16)

All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:2-3)

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:7-8)

God will save the Messiah:

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. (Psalms 20:6)

"Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." (1 Chronicles 16:22)

LORD God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant." (2 Chronicles 6:42)

He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever. (Psalms 18:50)

Jesus was not stricken by God, or else he wouldn’t be the Messiah.

The next verse says:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

 

Israel will atone for the Gentiles, and carry their transgressions as a “sin offering”. Jesus fails the test because the Bible rejects human sacrifice. Another explanation is that Christian translators distorted the Hebrew text to substantiate their “atonement” doctrine. (Ps. 40:6, Deu. 24:16).

 

Let us continue:

 

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

 

The verse entails how Israel will guide the Gentiles (pagans) after going astray:

 

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3)

 

Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)

 

The next verse says:

 

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

 

The Bible refers to Israel as “sheep” to be “slaughtered”.

 

Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. (Psalms 44:22)

You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations. You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale. (Psalms 44:11-12)

Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. (Jeremiah 50:17)

 

Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. (Zechariah 11:4-5)

 

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. (Zechariah 11:7)

 

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, (Ezekiel 36:37)

 

"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1)

The Bible refers to Israel as “lamb”

Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth. For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. (Hosea 4:15-16)

 

Israel did not open his mouth:

They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. (Psalms 135:16-17)

Jesus opened his mouth

 

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You have said so." But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. (Mk. 15:1-2, Matt. 27:11-12)

 

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23:26-28)

 

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

 

Jesus made the prophecy fail by opening his mouth.

 

The next verse says:

 

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. (Isaiah 53:8)

 

Israel was politically oppressed by Babylon king Nebuchadrezzar, who conquered Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. and destroyed the Temple. The Israelites were “taken away” into captivity, but Jesus was never taken away, he was rather “taken away” to Heaven! (Psalms 20:6).

Jesus never had children or descendants.

 

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9)

 

Needless to say, Jesus was buried alone, he hated rich people (Matt. 19:24), so obviously he wasn’t buried beside them.

 

The “grave” refers to Babylon, and Israel was “buried” inside this grave for seventy years (597-537 BCE), not “three days”.

 

Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. (Psalms 49:14)

 

The Gentiles slaughtered the “lamb” that was “assigned a grave” with them. (Babylon)

 

Also, the following verse matches Israel with Isaiah 53:9

But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid." (Zephaniah 3:12-13)

The next verse says:

 

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul 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. (Isaiah 53:10)

 

The Hebrew word for “seed” is zerah, and it always refers to physical descendants:

 

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed (zerah) instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. (Genesis 4:25)

 

And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed (zerah) will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. (Genesis 12:7)

 

And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed (zerah) to thy brother. (Genesis 38:8)

 

God answered the prayer of Jesus:

 

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7)

 

Jesus did not “prolong his days”; his ministry lasted only three years, he departed at the age of 33.

 

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life [d] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)

 

The verse signifies the restoration of Israel, or the “resurrection”.

I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.'  "This is what the LORD says: " 'I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. Their children will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all who oppress them. (Jeremiah 30:17-20)

The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected," says your God. "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. (Isaiah 54:6-7)

I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." (Jeremiah 29:14)

I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. (Jeremiah 33:7)


Christianity falls apart without Isaiah 53, the New Testament writers misinterpreted the prophecy as a reference to Jesus, ripping the context and giving it new meaning. Unfortunately, the Evangelicals continue to preach the falsehood that Isaiah 53 prophesies Jesus’ crucifixion. We have debunked the Christian lie that Jesus was crucified for sins of mankind.

Here is the reality:

 

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;- (Al-Quran 4:157)

 
Continuing one with Part II.

 

 

 

 

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