I do not know how to paint but I love to watch painters make an empty canvas come alive. Using different brush strokes and color combinations, I am often captivated as the mind of the painter comes alive through the painting process.
Just like a master painter, the prophet Isaiah gave a vivid picture of the Messiah in his book of 66 chapters. With Spirit-inspired and colorful words, his prophecies about Jesus has given hope to those who placed their full confidence and faith to the true and only Messiah. Here are important verses that vividly describes and validates Jesus as the Messiah.
Isaiah 11:1 talks of a shoot that will grow from the root of Jesse, David’s father. Chapter 9:7, although not explicitly said, suggests that the Messiah is an heir to David’s throne and that He will be ruling it forever. Taking these verses together with the Gospel of Matthew’s genealogy (Matthew 1) proves the kingly lineage of Jesus as the Messiah, whose rule will last forever.
One of the most popular passages that the Christian world hints about the birth of the Messiah is in Isaiah 7:14. Many Biblical versions talks of a “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”. Isolating chapter 7 and probably 8 from the rest of the book, the translation may be incomplete although it is not exactly wrong. The NET Bible would translate it as “this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.”, with which the word Immanuel is just the transliteration of the Hebrew word that means God with us. The Hebrew word “Almah” means “young lady” but can also mean “virgin” because in the context of Hebrew culture a young lady is assumed to be an unmarried virgin. Scholars say the person in chapter 8 named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, is most likely the immediate fulfillment of this Immanuel.
However, putting in chapter 9 in the scene of its interpretation, it is observed that the prophecy is far more complicated that what it seemed to say. Verse 6-7 in chapter 9 adds numerous claim that will give full light to the identity of the Immanuel which will be discussed further in this article. Taking all of those in consideration, it is then safe to say that this Messiah will be born of either a virgin or a young woman. He will be a son that is given to the Jewish people as the context suggests. Isaiah 40:3 declares of the kind of welcoming that this Messiah will have that the Judean wilderness will have to be reconstructed and leveled as He arrives.
His Character and Ministry
From the prophecies that Isaiah wrote, none can compare with the majestic character that this Messiah embodies – not even the Patriarchs whom Israel revered. First off, Chapter 7 describes as one who rejects evil and chooses what is right (v. 15-16). Chapter 9:6-9 further cements this idea of righteousness and declares that He is a King who upholds righteousness and justice. Not just a king but verse 6 pushes it further saying that He is actually called Mighty God, Extraordinary Strategist, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (NET Bible). Furthermore, his reign would spell out prosperity in all His people and His devotion to them is intense. In a way, the Messiah can be pictured out here as a strong, wise leader that would deliver Israel from oppression. It may seem that Israel would get all the benefits of the blessings from the Messiah but then Isaiah 49:6 declared that the light and deliverance will flow on through the remotest part of the world.
Chapter 52:13 started off by stating that “He will be elevated, lifted high and greatly exalted” yet the reason for this elevation is that prior to it, He will actually suffer physically (v.14-15). He will be brutally beaten to the point that He cannot be identified. Yet as He will be exalted, kings and nations will be in shock and left mesmerized. These descriptions come to its fullest color in chapter 53. It started off by describing the Messiah as having no special form or majesty that would attract people to Him. This can mean physically or can mean that He has a lifestyle of an ordinary person.
The People’s Response
The Messiah will suffer physically to the point that he seemed not to be human anymore (52:15). A chapter later, Isaiah further described how this physical suffering will play out. First, He will be despised and rejected by men with which they would hid their face from him (53:3). His physical punishment is done by God not for something wrong that He had done but He was wounded and crushed by men because of the sins of men, as a sin offering according to the purposes of God (4-5,10). He will be treated harshly like a lamb to be slain yet through it all He will not speak a word nor even resist as it was His own choice to suffer like a lamb in front of the shearer (7,11,12).
His Death and Resurrection
As a result of the brutal beatings he received it will actually bring about His death and will be buried in a rich man’s tomb (53:9). Though God allowed these horrible things to happen to Him, the Messiah will actually see His descendants, enjoy a long life and God’s purpose will be fulfilled through him (53:10). His suffering and death will also be the cause that many will be justified for their sins because the Messiah had carried them all.
Going back to chapter 52:15, it would seem to suggest that after the beatings that resulted to the Messiah’s death, there will be a kind of exaltation that would shock kings and peoples. Chapter 9:6-7 will furthermore describe this shock because it is described that He will be called an Everlasting Father and will rule in David’s throne forever. This would either mean that He did not die despite of the beatings or that he died and His exaltation means that He was resurrected by God. Both may come as a surprise to the kings but the latter is a more consistent, thus truthful, interpretation of the whole book.
The collection of prophetic messages about the Messiah in the book of Isaiah is both comprehensive and specific. Indeed, they are not just general prophecies that can be fulfilled by anyone. In fact, for a person to have fulfilled them all in his lifetime is impossible. Isaiah 46:9 made it clear that we are to, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me”. God becoming man through the person of Jesus the Messiah is an event that must be proclaimed to every person. Believers of Jesus must have the urgency to be the witnesses that God wants us to be bringing hope and eternal life to those who believes.