I continue from where I left off previously https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/how-were-the-believers-that-lived-before-the-crucifixion-saved-pt-2/. In this part I am going to be focusing specifically on Isaiah 53 in order to provide further confirmation that God had already made known his plan of salvation to his OT saints.
Here is the chapter in question:
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before Him as a tender plant and as A ROOT (shoresh) out of a dry ground. He has no form or majesty that we should look upon him nor appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him. Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was struck. His grave was assigned with the wicked, yet with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; He has put him to grief. If he made himself as an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the anguish of his soul and be satisfied. By HIS KNOWLEDGE My righteous servant (tsaddiq abdi) SHALL JUSTIFY THE MANY, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, thus he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:1-12
Note what the prophet says concerning the salvation that Yahweh’s Servant, who is also described as the Arm of Yahweh, shall bring.
God’s Servant will take upon himself the punishment for sins and offer his own soul unto death as a sacrifice for guilt (asham), as well as make intercession for sinners. All of this results in procuring the justification and forgiveness that is needed for the nations to be restored and reconciled to God.
There’s more. By referring to him as a Root from dry ground, Isaiah clearly intends to identify the Servant with the Root of Jesse, king David’s father, the One who will establish perfect justice and peace throughout the earth and to whom all the nations shall be gathered:
“And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and A BRANCH (netser) shall grow out of his ROOTS. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. He shall delight in the fear of the Lord, and he shall not judge by what his eyes see, nor reprove by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and reprove with fairness for the meek of the earth. He shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his loins, and faithfulness the belt about his waist. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. In that day there shall be a ROOT (shoresh) of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the peoples. For him shall the nations seek. And his rest shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1-10
The language of this passage echoes the following prophecy where Yahweh speaks of placing his Spirit on his Servant as he sends him forth to bring justice and salvation to the nations:
“Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth justice to the nations. He shall not cry out, nor lift up his voice, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax he shall not quench; he shall bring forth justice faithfully. He shall not be disheartened nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for his law. Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes out of it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it: I the Lord have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand, and will keep You and appoint You for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Isaiah 42:1-7
This in turn connects the Servant with the Child that Isaiah said would be born to rule over David’s throne as the Mighty God in the flesh:
“Nevertheless there shall be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time He contemptuously treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them the light has shined… 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, Mighty God (El Gibbor), Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with justice and with righteousness, from now until forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7
Isaiah wasn’t the only inspired emissary to speak of the Deity of the coming Davidic King:
“The days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise up for David a righteous Branch (tsemach tsaddiq), and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. And this is the name by which he will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (YHWH Tsidkenu).” Jeremiah 23:5-6
Here we have the prophet Jeremiah identifying the Branch from David as Yahweh God our righteousness, an explicit witness to the essential Deity and humanity of the coming Ruler of Israel!
Now let’s see how the rabbis interpreted this specific prophecy:
Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The righteous will in time to come be called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He; for it is said: Every one that is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory. I have formed him, yea, I have made him.4
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Three were called by the name of the Holy One; blessed be He, and they are the following: The righteous, the Messiah and Jerusalem. [This may be inferred as regards] the righteous [from] what has just been said. [As regards] the Messiah — it is written: And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness.5 [As regards] Jerusalem — it is written: It6 shall be eighteen thousand reeds round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be ‘the Lord is there.’7 Do not read, ‘there’ but ‘its name’.8
(4) Ibid. XLIII, 7.
(5) Jer. XXIII, 6.
(7) Ezek. XLVIII, 35.
(8) ‘There’, Heb… shemo ‘its name’, Heb. shammah. The consonants shin mem hey are the same. The relevant text is accordingly to be rendered: And as to the name of the city, from that day, ‘The Lord’ shall ‘be its name.’ (Talmud, Baba Bathra 75b http://halakhah.com/pdf/nezikin/Baba_Bathra.pdf; bold emphasis ours)
The Talmud is not alone since the Targum of Jonathan notes:
… Behold the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, and he shall reign as king, and prosper, and shall enact a righteous and Meritorious law in the land. In his days they of the house of Judah shall be delivered, and Israel shall live in security. And this is the name which they call him: “May vindication be accomplished for us by the Lord in his day.”’ (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 68-69; bold emphasis ours)
Say unto him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts saying: ‘Behold the man whose name is “The Messiah.” He is destined to be revealed and to be anointed, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord. He shall build the Temple of the Lord, and he will bear the radiance, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and there shall be a high priest on his throne, and there be a counsel of peace between the two of them.’ (Ibid., p. 99; bold emphasis ours)
And this is what the Midrash Rabbah on Lamentations says:
BECAUSE THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME, EVEN HE THAT SHOULD REFRESH MY SOUL. What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6). For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, And the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there (Ezek. XLVIII, 35). ‘And the name of its king is identical with that of its God’ as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness: R. Joshua b. Levi said: His name is ‘Shoot’, as it is stated, Behold, a man whose name is Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord (Zech. VI, 12). R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: His name is ‘Comforter’, as it is said, THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME. R. Hanina said: They do not really differ, because the numerical value of the names is the same, so that ‘Comforter’ is identical with ‘Shoot’ (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 135-136; bold emphasis ours)
The Midrash on Psalm 2 records something similar:
God will call the king Messiah after His own name, for it is said of the king Messiah This is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2.2; bold emphasis ours)
What makes these depictions of the Messiah so remarkable is that these very same descriptions and functions are elsewhere applied to Yahweh God Almighty.
For instance, it is Yahweh who is described as being Righteous and the Savior who justifies mankind and summons the ends of the earth to turn to him in order to be saved, since salvation is found in none other but him:
“Declare and set forth your case; let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient times? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no God besides Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no other besides Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. Surely, one shall say, ‘ONLY IN the Lord are RIGHTEOUSNESS and strength.’ Men shall come to him, and all who are incensed at Him shall be ashamed. IN the Lord shall all the seed of Israel BE JUSTIFIED and shall glory.” Isaiah 45:21-25
“…Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was NO MAN and was astonished that there was NO INTERCESSOR; therefore, His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay: fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the islands He will make recompense.” Isaiah 59:15b-18
“‘Who is this who comes from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah? This one who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?’ ‘It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save. ‘Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like him who treads in the wine vat?’ ‘I have trodden the winepress ALONE; and from the peoples there was NO ONE with Me. For I will tread them in My anger, and trample them in My fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. I looked and there was NO ONE to help, and I was astonished, and there was NO ONE to uphold; therefore, My own arm brought salvation to Me; and My fury upheld Me. I will tread down the peoples in My anger and make them drunk in My fury, and I will pour out their lifeblood on the earth.’” Isaiah 63:1-6
Hence, the only way that the Messiah could be called the Mighty God and Yahweh our Righteousness who is able to save and justify all mankind is if he fully shares in the unique divine identity of Yahweh God Almighty.
In other words, the Messiah must be both identical with and distinct from the one true God of Israel, which is why he is able to do what only Yahweh is capable of doing.
As we saw in the previous sections, the NT testifies that this Servant of Yahweh, this Root of Jesse, this branch from David who comes to save and make men righteous, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ:
“But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great crowds followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them that they should not make Him known, to fulfill what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘Here is My Servant, whom I have chosen, My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will render judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not struggle nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench, until He renders judgment unto victory; and in His name will the Gentiles trust.’” Matthew 12:15-21
“But because of Him you are IN Christ Jesus, whom God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30
“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God IN HIM.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
“But what things were gain to me, I have counted these things to be loss for the sake of Christ. Yes, certainly, I count everything as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have forfeited the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God on the basis of faith, to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if somehow I might make it to the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:8-11
“Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the ROOT of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’” Revelation 5:5
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the ROOT and the OFFSPRING of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16
There are lot more prophecies and verses from the OT that we could have cited here, but this should be sufficient enough to prove that even the Hebrew Bible testifies that salvation comes from God graciously sending forth the Messiah to offer his life as a vicarious sacrifice for sins so as to justify all those who would trust in him for their salvation.
We have one final section left before concluding our response to this Muslim greenhorn.