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Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Atonement. This holiday is outlined in Leviticus 16 although the modern day Jewish observance bears little resemblance to that. Leviticus 17:11 sums it up in brief: “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have therefore given it to you [to be placed] upon the altar, to atone for your souls. For it is the blood that atones for the soul.”
The ending of animal sacrifices occurred after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in year 70 by the Romans as there was no longer a temple altar designated by God in which to offer the sacrifice.
Thus began the religion we would call Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbis replaced the priests as the religious leaders of Judaism. (Priests inherited their position from their father’s side of the family. Rabbis were chosen.) Prayers replaced animal and grain sacrifices. The Jewish holidays remained the same in the transition from Biblical Judaism to Rabbinic Judaism, but their ritual content changed. The concept of atonement also was changed.
Atonement could no longer be accomplished by slaughtering animals or by the death of any surrogate, according to the Rabbis. Now, the way to atone for sins committed against another became to ask forgiveness from the person you had hurt (always a good idea regardless!) For sins against God, atonement could be achieved by confessional prayers to God and doing good works/giving charity. Rabbis stand on Hosea 6:6 to state that a blood sacrifice was no longer necessary after the Temple was destroyed. “For I desire loving-kindness, and not sacrifices, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Knowledge of God.
In the Tanach (Old Testament), there are many specific blood sacrifices listed and each one was a covering over the particular sin or sins, an atonement. This is why the sacrifices had to be repeated, and this is why there is the annual Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.
The shadow of the Tanach/Old Testament sacrifices point to the New Testament.
God made it clear that He would be forming a new covenant with a new heart and His spirit placed within us (Jeremiah 31:30-33 Tanakh [Jeremiah 31:31-34 OT], Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 36:26-29, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8.) The location to perform animal sacrifices being destroyed and no longer existing did not take God by surprise. It was part of His plan.
Isaiah 53. “Despised and rejected by men, pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wound we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, He committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. He poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
The saving death of the Messiah is the final atonement, for it is the propitiation, the quenching of God’s wrath for us when He completely removed our sins and took them upon Himself (expiation.) Our entire body of sin was imputed onto Him and His righteousness was imputed onto us.
Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanakh (Tanach, Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus.
Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10.)
By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
THIS IS SUCH GOOD NEWS!!!
May this bring a deepening meaning and preciousness to you and your life as it has for me.
~ As early as Genesis 3:15 it is seen that someone must die in order to ultimately defeat sin. “And I shall place hatred between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed. He will crush your head, and you will bite his heel.”
~ The theme of sacrifice is continued in Genesis 3:21 for in order for God to cover Adam and Eve with animal skins, obviously animals had been killed to now provide this covering. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife shirts of skin, and He dressed them.”
~ Genesis 4:3-5, Abel’s blood sacrifice was acceptable to God, while Cain’s offering was not. It seems that Cain demonstrated disbelief in not bringing a blood sacrifice. “Now it came to pass at the end of days, that Cain brought of the fruit of the soil an offering to the Lord. And Abel he too brought of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest, and the Lord turned to Abel and to his offering. But to Cain and to his offering He did not turn…”
~ During the time of Noah, sacrifices were still important. Genesis 8:20 “And Noah built an altar to the Lord, and he took of all the clean animals and of all the clean fowl and brought up burnt offerings on the altar.”
~ In subjecting Abraham to the ultimate test of his faith, God requested him to sacrifice his son Isaac, a passage that prefigures the sacrifice of Jesus. Genesis 22.
~ God required animal sacrifices to provide temporary forgiveness of sins. God even set up certain procedures, almost all involving shed blood from the animal to “cover” the sin, remove the sin in God’s eyes.(Leviticus 4, Leviticus 16, Numbers 15:1-31). Thus when one broke a law but then offered the proper sacrifice he was keeping the overall Law.
~ There were certain sins one could commit that could not be forgiven. There was no sacrifice given to atone for them and no recourse for the offender except to die and enter hell. Some of these were homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13), murder (Numbers 35:30), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), cursing or smiting one’s parents (Exodus 21:15), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), breaking the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14), blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16). Basically all crimes punishable by death were unforgivable.
~ However, these animal sacrifices evolved from being offered anywhere to being tied into a particular temple and altar in which to offer the sacrifice ( Deuteronomy 12). When the temple altar was destroyed, these animal sacrifices ceased.
~ God promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed by Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Since all people on earth are sinners, all people deserve God’s curse, not God’s blessing. And why are all people on earth sinners? You may read the detailed explanation here on this blog post.
~ So, only those who have been saved from their sins can be blessed of God. Thus the promise of blessing for the families of the earth must include salvation for the families of the earth and this salvation would come through the seed of Abraham. The Messiah must be of the line of Abraham.
~ The same promise was renewed to Isaac (Genesis 21:12) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14) and thus the Messiah must also be a descendant of Isaac and Jacob. Since the Jews may be defined as those who have descended from Jacob, we can say that the Savior must be a Jew. He must be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
~ In Genesis 49:10 we learn that the kingly line (the line possessing “the scepter”) must come out of the tribe of Judah. Since the Messiah will be God’s anointed King (Psalm 2), the Messiah must come from the line of Judah.
~ In Isaiah 11:1 we learn that the Messiah, God’s great King, must come from Jesse, hence from the line of David (Jesse was David’s father). The covenant God made with David (ll Samuel chapter 7) confirms that this great King must come from the line of King David.
~ His birth: Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14 (The Hebrew term “young woman” [almah] is used in the Torah of women who were virgins [Genesis 24:43 and Exodus 2:8]. The Jewish translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek Septuagint used “parthenos” to translate the word “almah”, and the Greek term “parthenos” clearly denoted virginity.).
~ The context of Isaiah 7:14 involves the LORD speaking to Ahaz about a great sign or miracle. For a virgin to become pregnant and give birth to a son is a great miracle.
~ The Messiah had to be sinless. Isaiah 53. Despised and rejected by men, pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wound we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, He committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. He poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
~ The Messiah had to die: Genesis 3:15, Daniel 9:24-27, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 13:6, Isaiah 53 (One interpretation of this passage is that the suffering servant describes the nation Israel. Yes Israel as a nation has suffered greatly, however notice the repetition of the personal pronoun “he” which lends weight to the One spoken of is an individual, not a nation. More information on that can be found in this Isaiah 53 post here).
~ Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanakh (Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus. Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10). Crucified, died, resurrected, alive seated at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1), fully God, fully man (Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 52:6-7, Isaiah 9:5 Tanakh [9:6 OT]). By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” What the New Testament brings is nothing new, it is all in the Tanakh.
~ Isaiah 53:1 “Who would have believed our report, and to whom was the arm of the Lord revealed?”
~ Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
~ Jesus died a terrible death on a cross to pay the price for our sin, a death that was foretold in detail in the Tanakh, one that was part of God’s plan from before time began, and one that God allowed for a very specific purpose.
~ Jesus took our place when we deserved spiritual death. However this was Jesus in His human form. Part of the prophecy regarding Him was that He would come to earth as a man however ascend to Heaven (eternal life with God) after physical death here on earth. That is where He is. (After His death, Jesus was raised from the dead Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 53:9-10, After His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God Psalm 16:11, Psalm 68:18, Psalm 110:1).
~ Because the physical death, the shedding of blood here on earth, was the final atonement set up by God, the propitiation, the quenching of His wrath, there is no other way to reconnect with God in life here on earth, and in eternity. Believing in Jesus (putting your trust in Him) as your Lord and Savior, is the only hope of salvation.
~ John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
~ You will become a child of God by receiving Jesus. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
~ John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me .”
~ Colossians 1:14 “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Current day, most Rabbis will say that this passage speaks of Israel.
If one studies the ancient Rabbinical literature (Midrash) one will find a wealth of fascinating Messianic Rabbinic Commentary that discusses Isaiah 53 speaking of Messiah. I wish there would be a full volume of this literature in English online; unfortunately there does not appear to be. Here are some excerpts.
Babylonian Talmud: “The Messiah –what is his name?…The Rabbis say, The Leper Scholar, as it is said, `surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted…'” (Sanhedrin 98b)
Midrash Ruth Rabbah:“Another explanation (of Ruth ii.14): — He is speaking of king Messiah; `Come hither,’ draw near to the throne; `and eat of the bread,’ that is, the bread of the kingdom; `and dip thy morsel in the vinegar,’ this refers to his chastisements, as it is said, `But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities'”
Targum Jonathan: “Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high and increase and be exceedingly strong…”
Zohar: “`He was wounded for our transgressions,’ etc….There is in the Garden of Eden a palace called the Palace of the Sons of Sickness; this palace the Messiah then enters, and summons every sickness, every pain, and every chastisement of Israel; they all come and rest upon him. And were it not that he had thus lightened them off Israel and taken them upon himself, there had been no man able to bear Israel’s chastisements for the transgression of the law: and this is that which is written, `Surely our sicknesses he hath carried.'”
Rabbi Moses Maimonides:“What is the manner of Messiah’s advent….there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin; for the Almighty, where he declares to us his mind upon this matter, says, `Behold a man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch forth out of his place’ (Zech. 6:12). And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he shall appear, without father or mother or family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of dry earth, etc….in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which kings will harken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived.” (From the Letter to the South (Yemen), quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 374-5)
Rabbi Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin:This rabbi described those who interpret Isaiah 53 as referring to Israel as those: “having forsaken the knowledge of our Teachers, and inclined after the `stubbornness of their own hearts,’ and of their own opinion, I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah….This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is to come and deliver Israel, and his life from the day when he arrives at discretion until his advent as a redeemer, in order that if anyone should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits described here; if there is any such resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness; but if not, we cannot do so.” (From his commentary on Isaiah, quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 99-114.)
Why Isaiah 53 Most Definitely Speaks of The Messiah and Not Israel
1) The consistent use of pronouns in the passage makes it clear that the suffering servant is an individual separate from the Jewish people as a whole to whom Isaiah was speaking. The suffering servant is always referred to in the singular (he, him, himself, and his) while the people of Israel are referred to in the plural (we, us, and our or my people).
2) Israel observed the suffering of the righteous servant.
3) The suffering servant died for the transgressions, or sins, of the “my” people. Clearly, “my people” is Isaiah’s people, the people of Israel. The passage would make no sense if the suffering servant were Israel. In that case, Israel would die for Israel’s sins. In other words, Israel would have gotten what she deserved, which makes no sense. The entire passage speaks of the suffering servant suffering and dying for, on behalf of, or in place of Israel.
4) In verse 10, the suffering servant is offered as an “asham,” or guilt offering. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the guilt offering was never Israel, nor could it ever have been Israel. The guilt offering, or “asham,” was always offered on behalf of or in place of the one who had committed the trespass or sin. It was never offered for or on behalf of the asham itself. (No one could ever be an “asham” for his or her own sins.) An asham offering was always offered by an individual and never by the nation of Israel. In addition, the offering had to be without blemish, or sinless. Because the offering was without blemish, it was always offered for the sins of someone other than the asham itself. For all of these reasons, Israel cannot be the suffering servant who offers himself as an asham offering.
5) The “asham” always had to die. The suffering servant clearly died. He was “cut off out of the land of the living,” he had a grave; he was with the rich “in his death;” and he “poured out his soul unto death.” However, Israel never died. In fact, it is impossible for Israel to ever die, because God promised Israel that she would live forever.
6) The suffering servant suffered a vicarious and substitutionary death. He suffers for the sins of others, so they need not suffer for their own sins. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible nor in Jewish history do we ever see Israel suffering for, on behalf of, or in place of the Gentiles, so that the Gentiles do not have to suffer. The suffering servant bore the sins of the people, so they would not have to bear their own sins or be judged for them. If the servant is Israel and the people are the Gentiles, then the Gentiles would not need to be punished for their sins, as they would have been vicariously borne by Israel. This has never been the case. The Gentiles were never deemed innocent after Jews suffered at their hands. Instead, they were judged for mistreating Jewish people.
7) The suffering servant has qualities that were never true of Israel: The suffering servant is depicted as being innocent. He did no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Israel is never told she would suffer for being innocent. And, Israel is never depicted as being innocent. That was why so many sacrifices were needed. Israel was never righteous, or even close to being righteous. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is pictured as continually rejecting God and being repeatedly judged for her sins. This is in sharp contrast to the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, who is portrayed as an innocent sufferer. The suffering servant is the most righteous person described in Scripture. In Isaiah 53:11, he is called “Tsadeek ahvdee”, or “My righteous servant.” This is the only place in the entire Hebrew Bible where this phrase is used. It certainly is never used of Israel. In addition, neither Abraham, Moses, David, nor any other prophet or ruler was ever called “Tsadeek ahvdee”, or “My righteous servant” in the Hebrew Bible, except for the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Only one righteous or without any blemish could die as a sacrifice for sin. However, no normal human was ever considered righteous on his or her own. (See Psalm 14:2-3 and Psalm 53:2-3.) This suffering servant must, therefore, be someone greater than Abraham, Moses, or David.
8) The suffering servant is depicted as being a silent sufferer, in that, like a lamb, he did not protest his execution nor did he defend himself. He, instead, suffered willingly and voluntarily. While Israel has suffered immeasurable persecution, she has never done so willingly or voluntarily. Israel has always cried out against the inhumanity of people against her.
9) Israel was promised that if they obeyed God, they would be greatly blessed. Only if they were disobedient would they be cursed. If Israel were the righteous servant of Isaiah 53, it would have been impossible for her to have suffered and died under the conditions and in the manner described in this passage.
10) Isaiah 53:1 refers to the suffering servant as “the Arm of the Lord.” There are thirty seven references to the Arm of the Lord in the Tanakh. Never does that phrase refer to Israel. The Arm of the Lord acts on behalf of Israel, but is never Israel. Among other things, the Arm of the Lord redeems and delivers Israel when Israel is not able to deliver herself. (See, Exodus 6:6, Exodus 15:16, Deuteronomy 4:34, 5:14, 9:29, 26:8, II Kings 17:36, Psalm 44:4, and Ezekiel 20:33-34.) Therefore the suffering servant, the Arm of the Lord, cannot be Israel.
Please, examine and analyze this block of scripture for yourself Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53, not based on what is written here or what others may have written or told you. It is truly an incredible journey of discovery!