Isaiah 53 refers to the nation of Israel, not the Messiah

We see, contrary to the servant Israel, which is suffering for its own sin, Isaiah 56: You were so because of your sins and iniquities. The whole testimony of the prophets is that Israel is in exile because of its sins. The whole Torah law of blessing and cursing tells us that if our people were obedient, they would be established in the land. If we were just hoping they would be scattered in exile. And contrast with the servant who would suffer for his own sins, the Messiah, the servant within Israel, the one who seems to fail in his mission to Israel becomes a light to the nation. He is not suffering for his sins but the sins of his own people. When we get to Isaiah chapter 52 beginning in verse 13, what does it say according to the Taurat, in the ancient Jewish paraphrase? It recognizes that this speaks of the Messiah. And there’s an ancient Jewish Midrash, a homiletical  interpretation that was widely regarded in the ancient Jewish world and to this day, the Messiah will be high and lifted up and lofty exceedingly. What does it mean? He will be higher than Abraham, he will be more exalted than Moses and who will be the loftier than the angels. That’s verse 13 but 52:14 says he’s going to suffer terrible disfigurement. I mean we’re just painting a picture. I’m just looking at what the testimony of scripture says. So this one who will be highly exalted, this one who will be rejected by his people yet welcomed by the nations, before he is highly exalted, he will suffer terrible disfigurements and pain.

And then as we get into Isaiah the 53rd chapter, an amazing picture unfold. If we the Jewish people thought he was suffering for his sins, what does it say? Surely he has borne our grief, carried our sorrows. But what happens? We thought he was being smitten and suffering for his own sins. And then what is revelation that the nation gets? He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brings us peace was upon him. The cost of his wounds there was healing for us. Again, who is the prophet speaking of? And as we go on in Isaiah 53 we see that this one servant will die. He’ll be cut off from the land of the living. It speaks of his burial, his death. He will die and yet he will live on? Who is the prophet describing? 

Now we’re often told that this passage speaks of the nation of Israel. Of course it cannot be because Israel in exile was suffering for its own sins. Again, the universal testimony of the Hebrew scriptures to this effect, which we can demonstrate very easily with quote after quote including right in the surrounding section in Isaiah as well. But not only so. We are told that Isaiah 52:13, here’s what’s going to happen. That the nations of the world will see Israel exalted at the end of the age and will be astonished because he’ll think “Israel was suffering for its sins. Now we realize Israel was suffering for our sins.” No, that’s not the revelation. Ezekiel 39: this is it and the nation shall know that the house of Israel were exiled only for their iniquity. This is what our prophets say. It is because they trespassed against me so that I hit my face. The nations are not going to suddenly realize that the prophets were all wrong. The words of the prophets will prove true. And when Israel was in exile and the nations of the world will overdo their punishment, what did the prophets say in their numerous verses that attested this? The prophets of Jeremiah 50, Jeremiah 30, that God would judge the nation where Israel scattered, he would discipline Israel but then he would destroy those nations. Israel’s suffering in the nation’s didn’t bring healing to ancient Babylon or healing to ancient Assyria. No, it brought the end to all those empires. God judged them. Whereas the Messiah’s suffering brings healing to those that smote him, something radically and totally different. There’s only one possible candidate, this one who seemed to fail in his mission to his own people, who was accepted as a light to the nation, who died for the sins of the nation when a nation thought he was dying for his own sin, and through his suffering has brought healing to multitudes. This one who died and yet lives on it can only speak of one. What is it saying in Psalm 1:18? The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. That’s the story of Yeshua, our Messiah.