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The Prophecies of Isaiah


As we mentioned earlier, the Old Testament prophets had the immense task of keeping the Hebrew nation believing in One God, and to prepare the foundation for faith in the coming Messiah as a Being who had, besides the human, also a Godly nature. The prophets had to speak about the Godliness of Christ in such a way that it would not be understood by the Jews in heathen terms, that is, as polytheism. For this reason the Old Testament prophets revealed the secret of the Godliness of the Messiah gradually, in keeping with the measure of belief in One God instilled in the Hebrew nation.

     King David was the first to prophesy about the Godliness of Christ. After him there began a 250 year lull in prophecies, and the prophet Isaiah, living over seven centuries before the birth of Christ, began a new series of prophecies about Christ, in which His Godly nature is greatly manifested.

     Isaiah is the most outstanding prophet in the Old Testament. The book written by him, includes such a great number of prophecies about Christ and about occurrences in the New Testament, that many call Isaiah the Old Testament Evangelist. Isaiah prophesied within the bounds of Jerusalem during the reign of the Judean king Ozziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh. The defeat of the Israeli army occurred during Isaiah’s lifetime in 722 BC, when the Assyrian king Sargon took the Hebrew nation occupying Israel into captivity. The Judean empire existed another 135 years after this tragedy. The prophet Isaiah suffered martyrdom during the reign of Manasseh, being sawed in half with a wooden saw. The book of the prophet Isaiah is noted for elegant Hebrew and possesses high literary merits, which is carried over even in translations of his book into different languages.

     The prophet Isaiah wrote about the human nature of Christ, and from him we learn that Christ was to be born in a miraculous fashion from a Virgin: “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” which means: God is with us (Isaiah 7:14). This prophecy is told to King Ahaz with the aim of convincing the king that he and his house will not be destroyed by the Syrian and Israeli kings. Just the opposite, the design of the enemies will not come to pass, and one of the descendants of Ahaz will be the promised Messiah, Who will be born miraculously from a Virgin. As Ahaz was a descendant of King David, the present prophecy confirms the previous prophecies that the Messiah will arise from the line of King David.

     In his following prophecies Isaiah reveals new details about the miraculous Child, who will be born from a Virgin. Thus, in his eighth chapter, Isaiah writes that the people of God should not fear the intrigues of their enemies, because their plans will not be realized: “Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us (Immanuel)” (Isaiah 8:10). In the next chapter Isaiah speaks of the characteristics of the Child Immanuel: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6). The name Immanuel, as well as the other names given here to the Child, do not appear as proper names, of course, but indicate the characteristics of His Godly nature.

     Isaiah predicted that the Messiah will teach in the northern sections of the Holy Land, in the boundaries of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, which was called Galilee:

 

“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the Land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Is. 9:1-2).

 

This prophecy was mentioned by the Evangelist Matthew, when he described the sermon of Jesus Christ in this part of the Holy Land, which was particularly ignorant religiously (Mt. 4:16). In the Holy Writings light is the symbol of religious knowledge, truth.

     In later prophecies Isaiah often calls the Messiah by yet another name — Branch. This symbolic name confirms earlier prophecies about the miraculous and unusual birth of the Messiah, specifically, that it will occur without the participation of a man, similar to how a branch, without a seed, is born directly from the root of the plant. “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (so was called the father of David) and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Is. 11:1). Here Isaiah predicts the anointment of Christ with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, that is, with the full grace of the Spirit, which came about in the day of His baptism in the river Jordan.

     In other prophecies, Isaiah speaks of the deeds of Christ and His qualities, in particular, of His mercy and meekness. The prophecy presented here gives the words of God the Father: “Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street... A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench” (Is 42:1-3). These last words speak of the great patience and condescension to human weakness, with which Christ will treat repentant and destitute people. A similar prophecy Isaiah pronounced somewhat later, saying from the name of the Messiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek;’ he hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Is. 61:1-2) These words precisely determine the goal of the coming of the Messiah: to heal the spiritual ailments of people.

     Besides spiritual ills, the Messiah had as His task the healing of physical infirmities, as Isaiah predicted: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Is. 35:5-6). This prophecy was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ, teaching the Gospel, healed thousands of people of myriad illnesses, those born blind, and those possessed. With His miracles He certified the truth of His teachings and His Oneness with God the Father.

     By God’s plan, the salvation of people should have been realized in the Kingdom of the Messiah. This blessed Kingdom of the faithful was sometimes compared by the prophets to a harmonious building (see the appendix for prophecies about the Kingdom of the Messiah). The Messiah, being, on the one hand, the founder of the Kingdom of God, and, on the other hand, the foundation of the true faith, is called the Stone by the Prophets, that is, the foundation, on which the Kingdom of God is based. This symbolic nomenclature of the Messiah is found in the following prophecy: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not act hastily” (Is. 28:16). Zion was called the mountain (hill), on which stood the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.

     It is remarkable that, in this prophecy the importance of FAITH in the Messiah is emphasized for the first time: “He that believeth shall not act hastily!” In the 118th psalm, written after Isaiah, this Stone is mentioned: “The stone which the builders (masons) refused is become the head stone of the corner (cornerstone). This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:22-23, see also Mt. 21:42). That is, notwithstanding thatbuilders” — people, standing at the helm of power, rejected This Stone, God still placed Him as the foundation of the blessed structure — the Church.

     The next prophecy supplements previous prophecies, in which it speaks of the Messiah as a Conciliator and a source of blessing not only for Jews, but also for all nations: “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth” (Is. 49:6).

     But no matter how great the spiritual light emanating from the Messiah, Isaiah foresaw that not all Jews will see this light by reason of their spiritual callousness. Here is what the prophet writes concerning this: “Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Is. 6:9-10) By reason of their focus solely on earthly well-being not all Jews recognized their Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ, promised by the prophets. As if foreseeing the lack of faith of the Judeans, King David, having lived before Isaiah, in one of his psalms called to them with these words: “To day if ye will hear his(the Messiah’s) voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Ps. 95:7-8). That is: when you hear the sermon of the Messiah, believe in His word. Do not persist, as did your ancestors under Moses in the desert, who tempted God and grumbled against Him (see Exodus 17:1-7),provocation” meansreproach.”

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