The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Program 5

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr.; ©1989
Examining the rich information given to us in Isaiah 52-53 about the Messiah.


The Mission, Nature and Conclusion of Messiah’s Life

Program 5

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. Is there proof, evidence, that God exists? Are there remarkable statements made in history, for example, in the Hebrew texts, the Hebrew Scriptures, that point to a special person called the Messiah hundreds, even thousands of years in advance? Is it solid evidence? How can anybody tell? That’s what we’re talking about. And tonight, our guest is Dr. Walter Kaiser, who is the Professor of Semitic Languages and Dean of Trinity Seminary, and a man who can debate with the most brilliant theologians around the world but also can talk and communicate to the layperson. And what I’m interested in this program is for him to set forth the case, the evidence, that very few people know, either inside the Church or outside the Church, this fantastic evidence concerning the Messiah that we find in the Hebrew Scriptures. We’re calling it the case for Jesus being the Messiah. And Dr. Kaiser, we’ve already had a few weeks on this. Where are we going this week in terms of the evidence?
Kaiser: I think we should go, John, right to one of the most fantastic statements in all of the Hebrew Scriptures, which is Isaiah 53.
Ankerberg: That’s right.
Kaiser: I think that’s one of the greatest statements ever produced on the mission, the nature, and the conclusion to Messiah’s life.
Ankerberg: Alright.
Kaiser: So I’d like to take you there if I could. Isaiah 52:13: “Behold, my servant will have success.” Now, it’s translated differently. Some say, “My servant will act wisely.” But it’s the same expression found in Joshua 1:8. He’s going to win. Don’t bite your fingernails. He will succeed. I’ve got to tell you some things that look sort of poorly for the moment. Don’t forget, even the Jewish writers in the New Testament,… Peter is writing to the church in 1 Peter. In chapter 1, he says in verse 8, he’s been describing “so great a salvation,” [e.g., Heb. 2:3], and he said, “It won’t rust; it won’t bust, it won’t sag in the middle.” I think that must the “Living Kaiser.” But there is some sort of statement there: “You can trust this salvation.” Then he goes on to say in verse 10, “Concerning which salvation the prophets searched and inquired diligently.” So you have the prophets scratching their heads, and they’re saying, “There’s something we don’t know.” What was it that they didn’t know? He says, “They searched and inquired diligently concerning what, or what manner of time was in them,” that is, in the Scriptures when they spoke of Messiah. When they spoke not only of Messiah but of his suffering, and of his glory and in the order: “the glory that was to follow. To whom it was revealed, not only unto themselves, but unto us.” [1 Pet. 1:10-12] Says Peter, he [the prophet] was prophesying these things.
Five things the prophets knew then. They knew they were talking about Mashiach, Messiah; about Jesus, how he was the Messiah; about the fact that he would suffer, but also the fact that he would come in a blaze of glory; and then, fourthly, the order: it was suffering first, and the glory that should follow. And then, fifthly, that it had pertinence, relevance, to those who lived in the common era, or in the New Testament times. So, he says here in Isaiah 52:13, look, I’ve got a mystery to tell you. Here’s my mystery. The servant is going to win. Put that as a banner over the whole thing. Behold, my servant is going to win. But, “he will be raised, lifted up, and highly exalted.” So don’t worry about this.”
And then he goes on to say in verse 14 and 15, “Look, just as “ka asher [just as]…ken [so].” He’s going to make a comparison here between verse 14 and verse 15. Just as many as were appalled at him when they saw him in his first coming; “His appearance was so disfigured beyond any man. His form marred beyond any human likeness.” Everyone said, ‘Oh, no! Look at him! That doesn’t look like the Messiah. That doesn’t look like God’s answer to the world. He’s suffering. I don’t want to suffer, as a model, as a hero.” “So,” he says in verse 15, “So he will startle many nations.” The Greek translation here, thamadzo; he’ll just startle, shock, the nations, and “kings will shut their mouths.” Our current expression is, “Well, shut my mouth!” That’s what the kings will say when they see it. That can’t believe the whole thing! “For what had not been told them they will see; what they’ve not heard they will understand.” [Isa 52:14-15]
That’s the mystery. You say, “How do you put these two things together?” We’re still trying to understand that. But, listen, in the Messiah of Jesus, Y’Shua, just as many that were really so dismayed at his first coming, that would be verse 14, “So kings of all the nations will be startled when they see him” in his second coming. That’s the mystery of the Servant. We’ve got suffering, and we also have glory. He will come forth, he will be resurrected from the grave by the power of God. He will be King. He will be King of Israel. He’ll be King on the throne of David. He’ll be King over every nation and over all the wealth of the world! What a fantastic statement, John.
Ankerberg: And I can remember the Jewish rabbi that we had here that was talking with you and saying, “Dr. Kaiser, you’ve got such a vivid imagination. Only you could find that there. And really, this is talking in figurative language about either the nation of Israel, or about the prophet Isaiah himself,” and gave the illustration, “Well, you know, just like Jeremiah said he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, we know he wasn’t a sheep and he wasn’t led to the slaughter. So the fact is, this is figurative language.” Tell us why that’s wrong.
Kaiser: Yeah, but you know what I said back to him at that time. I said, “My good friend, look at Isaiah 53:9. It says of this Servant of the Lord, “He has done no violence, neither was there deceit in his mouth.” I said, “That doesn’t sound like Israel. I mean, with all due respect. This is Isaiah who is saying, ‘My people, they don’t usually do this.’ They have problems, like all of us do. I mean, let’s not make a special case out of it. But the point is that they, too, needed the effect of this.
That’s why there is the rejection of the Messiah. I mean, that’s exactly what we continue to do, even to this day. Some of you who are listening, you’re probably rejecting. You reject his message. That’s why the prophet said, Isaiah 53, “Who has believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he will grow up like a tender shoot,” just like that shoot that comes out the side of a stalk of corn. And you say, “Oh, it’s just a shoot. That’s not the main stalk. This isn’t the main thing. You’re not dealing with the majors.” “And he’ll be like a root out of the dry ground.” [Isa. 53:1-2]
We said, “Ah, Nazareth. Nazareth! What good can ever come out of Nazareth?” You know? “Nothing can come out of Nazareth.” And “He has no beauty, no majesty to attract us to him. Nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” [Isa 53:2] So we not only reject his message, we rejected him. And then the text says, emphatically, that “He was despised and rejected of 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.” [Isa 53:3] We said, “Him!? The Servant of the Lord? No way! We just are not going….” We rejected him.
But then he moves on from the mystery of the Servant. Did you get it? There’s the mystery of the first coming and second coming. But don’t forget, he’s going to win. He’s going to have success. The rejection of his message, [the] rejection of his person, and then, finally, there comes the atonement: the next three verses, 4, 5 and 6 of Isaiah 53. He says, “Surely he took our infirmities; and he bore our griefs: yet we considered him stricken by God…” We said, “Uh-oh! I wonder what he did! People don’t get on a cross for nothing. He must have done something wrong.” We were like Job’s comforters. “You must have blown it somewhere!” So we said, “Aha! He sinned!” People suffer, “you suffer because you sin,” which is not right! That’s only one of the eight major reasons for suffering in the Old Testament. And so we went on and “we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: and the punishment that brought our peace” – the electric chair that brought our peace, the hanging that brought our peace.” Whatever state you’re in and the punishment that they use, that punishment that should have come to the criminal went to this Servant, this Messiah! It was on him, and he brought peace to the world. He provided the possibility of peace for all of us.
So here’s our confession: “All we like sheep have gone astray” [Isa 53:6]. There’s our herd instinct. “We have all gone astray.” But there is also personal responsibility, too. There is not only depravity, but there is individual guilt: “Each one of us has turned to his own way,” says the prophet, each one. So you’ve got “herd” guilt and you also have “personal” guilt here. “And the Lord laid on him [the suffering Servant] the iniquity of us all.” The iniquity of us all. So there’s the theme, it seems to me, of the rejection of his person, the rejection of his message, and then the atonement that he provided for us. John, I think this fits only one person.
Ankerberg: That’s right. And also, as you pointed out in that debate with the rabbi, that verse 8 tells us, “For the transgression of my people he was stricken.” Who are the “my people”?
Kaiser: It has to be Israel here. Otherwise, if the Servant is Israel, then they are their own grandpa. How can you have the people suffering for the people?
Ankerberg: Right. And there are some other things that we’re going to give in the next portion here. We’re going to take a break and we’re going to come right back and we’re going to give some more reasons why this can’t be Isaiah the prophet, can’t be the nation, and it must be this special one called the Messiah. And also, we’re going to talk about this thing of suffering; because the Jewish people at Jesus’ time didn’t like that aspect of the Messianic doctrine. And we’re going to talk about why and where it’s plainly in the text. So please stick with us and we’ll be right back.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. And Walter, in terms of this Isaiah 53, I think there’s a couple of things we need to bring up. Number one, how many years before Christ was this thing written?
Kaiser: This is written, John, in the eighth century BC, which is 700, almost 730-740 years before Messiah came.
Ankerberg: Alright. There’s other things that you need to explain to us about this text, and you’ve gotten about halfway through Isaiah 53. Tell us what the prophet is saying and then apply this to Christ and why it could only be to Christ.
Kaiser: Oh, well it even gets better. Now we have moved beyond the principles. Now it’s going to get even more dramatic, because we’re going to go from the atonement and the rejection and the mystery of the Servant; we’re now going to come down to his submission. Look what he does. He submits in suffering. “He was oppressed, and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he did not open his mouth.” [Isa 53:7]
And therefore we have his submission in his suffering. But there also is a submission in his death, too. It says, “By oppression and judgment he was snatched away.” The word there is he was “yanked away.” We would say he was “ripped off,” just yanked out there. “And who can speak of his descendants?” Who’s going to speak up for him? “He was cut off from the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” [Isa. 53:8]
And then he submits in his burial, too. “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” [Isa. 53:9] You say, “Make up your mind! Which is it: wicked or rich?” But it comes out “right on the dime.” It’s exactly what happened to Y’Shua, Jesus the Messiah. He hung between two thieves. And therefore, he was assigned, in his death he was assigned with the wicked. And yet he was also with the rich, for Joseph of Arimathea came along and Joseph of Arimathea said, “I’ll take the body.” So, you have both that were true.
Now, how could you have predicted this 700 years before the fact? You say, “Well, it was a lucky shot!” Well, lucky indeed! It’s a very lucky shot, especially when you’ve got 400 other shots that all are “lucky,” as you would say in good pre-ordination form. So, at any rate, he goes on here to speak of his exaltation. Yet he said it was the Lord’s will to crush him. It was the Lord’s will. [Isa. 53:10] Who put Jesus on the cross? Some people would say, “Oh, I know!” And they want to immediately assign it to only one people. Oh, no! It was the Romans, along with the Jewish people, the whole contemporaries. But this text says, “All we like sheep.” [Isa. 53:6] All of us put him there. And yet it was in God’s plan, too. It wasn’t as if the Lord said, “Oh no! Look what’s happening. Plan B. Now I’ve got to go to a whole new plan.” “It was the Lord’s will to bruise him.” And the text goes on to say, “and to put him to grief.” And “though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,” a sin offering. His life was offered up like one of those offerings spoken of in the Old Testament. The most intense of all of them, the sin offering, the guilt offering. [Isa 53:10]
Ankerberg: That’s another good reason, Walter, why it can’t be Israel, and why it can’t be the prophet because we’ve got him on record…Isaiah saying, “I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips” in Isaiah 6:5.
Kaiser: Yes, exactly so.
Ankerberg: Or at Isaiah 59:12, “Our offenses are many in your sight and our sins testify against us.” And this one says it’s got to be a perfect offering.
Kaiser: Exactly so. And as he goes on, he makes the point, too, as well of the resurrection. For he says here that the Lord, in verse 12, “I will give him a portion among the great ones, and he will divide the spoils with the strong; because he poured out his life unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” [Isa. 53:12] The point here is that… I skipped a verse there, too, I think in verse 11 that “the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied: and by his knowledge,” or some translate that by his sweat, by his work on the cross, “my righteous servant shall justify many; and he will bear the iniquity. Therefore, I’ve given him this portion with the great ones.” [Isa. 53:11-12]
The point is simply this: the Lord who suffered, the Messiah who suffers here, suffers on behalf of his people Israel, so that they may receive the remission and release and deliverance from their sins, as he has done for all the people of the world. But he didn’t stay dead. The text says God brought him back. And while he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death, yet indeed, God has brought him forth. And on the cross he could see the suffering of his soul.
There are at least four major Psalms that sort of bring out facets of this. There’s the beautiful Psalm 2 where you have the Psalmist who is saying, “Why in the world are all the nations kicking up a fuss? Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain.” And he said, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together,” now listen to this, “They gather together against the Lord and against his Messiah.” And now look at the plural, “Let us,” say the people, here comes the rebel mob’s slogan; it’s on the sign that’s out there. They’re picketing. They say, “Let us break their chains.” They say, “Let us cast their fetters.” [Psa. 2:1-3]
Question: Why the plural? Because it’s against God and against his Messiah. God is one, but here in this text, for the purposes of understanding the two persons of the Trinity here he says, “Against the Lord and against his Anointed.”
What does God do? In heaven he laughs. [Psa. 2:4] He said, “The children are having fun.” But then the Lord rebukes them. [Psa. 2:5] And he has a speech, too. In verse 6 he says, “I have installed my King on my holy hill,” and therefore he says, “I will say to this Messiah,” here’s the Divine declaration, “‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’” And that is the sort of installation, just as we will have the installation of the President of the United States, so here is God’s “installment.” We know this from Egyptian pictures where there is the decree of office. And God said on a certain day he installed him.
Paul in Acts 13 said, “Do you know what day that was?” In Antioch of Pisidia he said the day God threw down the gauntlet was the day of the resurrection. Today! This day! The resurrection. Easter Sunday morning. There it is! “Up from the grave he arose!” And you say, “Well, if he’s God, come on, prove it! I’m from Missouri, I want to see it; I want to feel it; I want to touch it; I want to taste it.” And there it is! Here is the same one who was there before. Thomas said, “I don’t believe it.” He said, “Alright, come here Thomas. You’re from Missouri. Put your fingers here in my hands.” This is the same Lord, and yet he beat death; the greatest of all.
And of course, Psalm 16 will say the same thing: “Thou wilt not suffer my Holy one to see corruption.” Psa. 16:10] And in Acts 2 Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost and he said, “David, being a prophet, he foreseeing and foreknowing, he spoke concerning the resurrection of Christ,” says the text in Acts 2:30-31, a beautiful text. And so he said that word, “Holy one.” “Holy one” is a title like “Branch,” like “Messiah,” like “Seed,” like all of these technical terms, like “Servant of the Lord.” So he says, “My Holy one will not see corruption but he will come back again from the dead.” And Peter preached, “I believe that David knew and David foresaw the day of Messiah, even of the Lord Jesus,” and speaks of that at that particular time.
And we could add Psalm 22:1, which our Lord was on the cross and the fourth word, “My God, my God.” By the way, you say it that way: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani; “My God, my God.” Only those who have God for their personal Lord can call out to him, “My God.” And he cries, “Why have you forsaken me?” But yet his heart is assured as he goes through that suffering, for he says, “They’ve pierced my hands, they’ve pierced my feet,” in Psalm 22:14, 15, 16.
But the sixth word from the cross comes from also the last word of that Psalm, with another great cry. He cried once, “Eli, Eli…” but he cries one more time and he says, “Tetelestai!” “It is done!” “It is finished!” And that comes from the last word of Psalm 22, verse 31. So the whole Psalm must have gone through the mind of our Lord. And it goes from suffering, his being pierced in his feet, the crowd even saying, “Come on! If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” [Psa. 22:8] They quote this Psalm to him and unwittingly fulfill the Scripture itself. There must be a dozen fulfillments in Psalm 22 alone that speak both of his death and of his resurrection.
And what shall I tell you about Psalm 110, where the Lord says to David about his Lord? How can “the Lord say to me about my Lord?” [Psa. 110:1] – “A” to “B” about “C”? And he there speaks to him and says about this Messianic one, the Son of David who is going to come, he says he will be a conquering King and he also will be a priest after the order of Melchizedek forever. [Psa. 110:2, 4] Priest, and King, and Adonai; he is Lord, too, as well, and receives the ascription of worship. Some Son! Some King! Some Priest! “Wonderful Messiah.” The Jesus that we recommend to you.
Ankerberg: And all solid evidence. You’ve got to do something with that evidence. And please, think about that, and think about the one that it’s talking about. That’s why we’ve done this program. We’re going to do more next week. Please join us then.

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