Monday, December 21, 2015

Does Isaiah 53 Speak About the Nation of Israel as a Whole, a Righteous Remnant Within Israel, or the Coming Messiah?

In the above short clip, Dr. Michael Brown evaluates the hypotheses that Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12 is speaking of the Nation of Israel as a whole, a righteous remnant within Israel, and the coming Messiah. Check out, and subscribe to, Dr. Michael Brown's Real Messiah YouTube Channel for other similar videos that defend and demonstrate the Messianic credentials of Jesus.


Jason Engwer said...

Michael Brown makes a lot of good points, but I would add the following. Even if the Suffering Servant is Israel or a remnant within the nation, there would be overwhelming odds against Jesus' life aligning as closely with the passage as it does. Jesus' fulfillment could be typological, yet still be highly evidential.

When people argue that the Suffering Servant is some entity other than Jesus, our first response shouldn't be to argue for an individual Messianic interpretation of the passage. Rather, our first response should be to ask how they explain Jesus' remarkable typological fulfillment of the passage under such a scenario. Then, after explaining that Jesus' fulfillment of the passage is highly evidential either way, we can go on to argue for a non-typological interpretation.

Martin said...

Thank you for uploading this stimulating address.

Towards the end of the talk, the Scriptures dealing with the suffering remnant within Israel reminded me of the remnant which forms the Church into which the gentiles are grafted. St. Paul quotes the same Psalm read by Dr. Brown (Ps.44), and Dr. Brown helpfully points out that Psalm 44 and Isaiah 53 are incorrectly understood by the Jews today as referring to the entire nation of Israel. Dr. Brown rightly explains that this view is unsustainable, distinguishing between the Messianic passage of Isaiah 53 (which clearly refers to the One who brings healing through suffering for those who have despised him), and Psalm 44 which clearly applies to a faithful afflicted remnant within Israel.

Of course, Dr. Brown could have explained (and perhaps does in other talks) that St. Paul sees this Psalm as ultimately applicable to a remnant of Israel which comprises the Church into which the gentiles are being grafted. A Church which is now persecuted and hated for following the rejected Saviour of Isaiah 53: “Even so then, at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace”. “Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 11:5; 8:36).

Moreover, the magnitude and misguided intensity of this slaughter was prophesied by the victorious suffering Lord Jesus - the Messiah himself - who shall return in glory. To his devout disciples who would overcome all shame and walk with him into his glory, he said: “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake...But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (John 16:2; Matthew 24:9).

When cast in the glaring light of what is happening to multitudes of Christians throughout the world today, the rejected Jewish Messiah is seen as he who knew the unimaginable scale of suffering spoken of in Psalm 44. The Orthodox Church, in fact, sees this Psalm as expressing, “the daily praise and thanksgiving offered to God in the midst of sufferings and persecution;” her steadfastness in the midst of these ordeals and her “hope in the Lord to be raised from the dead at the general resurrection (v.27)” (The Orthodox Study Bible). Psalm 44 is specifically prayed during Holy Week, on Holy Saturday, the day after the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 was crucified for the sins of Israel and indeed for the sins of each and every one of us, bringing wholeness, glory, and love unknown.