Christians have always believed that Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus as the ‘Servant of the Lord’. Before we identify who Chapter 53 is really speaking about [It’s not Jesus] let’s look at the different prophecies Christianity says Isaiah 53 contains about the Jewish Messiah. a. He would be rejected b. He would be silent to accusations c. Oppressed and afflicted d. Bore illnesses e. Wounded for transgressions f. Bore the sins of many g. Grow up poor h. Appearance was marred, ugly i. Mankind would hide from association j. Thought to be cursed by God k. Would eventually prosper l. Ultimately exalted by God Based on what Christianity knows about Jesus, it certainly appears that these things must be speaking of him. However, what if there was someone else who fulfilled all of these prophecies and was even named by Isaiah and the Bible itself? What if these things were not speaking of an individual person, but an entire nation? What nation would fulfill all of these “prophecies”? Let us look at Isaiah so that we can learn who the real “Suffering Servant” of the Lord really is. Isaiah 41:8 - But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen. I took you from the ends of the earth; from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. Isaiah 44:1 - Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant and Israel whom I have chosen. Isaiah 44:2 - Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun [righteous ones] whom I have chosen. Isaiah 44:21 - Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant, I have formed you, you are my servant. Isaiah 45:4 - for Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect. Isaiah 48:20 - The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob. Isaiah 49:3 - You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Israel is even referred to as God's servant in the New Testament Luke 1:54 - He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy. Not only was Israel identified as the Servant [singular] in the Book of Isaiah, but the identity of Israel as the Servant of the Lord is a recurring theme throughout the entire Jewish scriptures. Psalms 136:22 - A heritage to Israel his servant, for his mercy endures forever. Jeremiah 46:27 - But do not fear, O my servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Israel! Jeremiah 76:28 - Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, says the Lord, for I am with you for I will make a complete end of all the nations. Jeremiah 30:10 - Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob, says the Lord, nor be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from afar. Now, that we understand who the servant really is, let us re-read Isaiah Chapter 53 in context with the previous chapter Isaiah 52, so that we can understand exactly what is taking place. Isaiah is prophesying what will happen to the Jewish nation [Israel] in the end of days. Isaiah 52:13 - Behold My servant [Israel] shall prosper; he [Israel] shall be exalted and lifted up, and he [Israel] shall be made very high. As many wondered about you [Israel], "How marred his appearance is from that of a man [Israel is demonized and dehumanized], and his features from that of other people!" So shall he [Israel] cast down many nations; [The Gentile] kings shall shut their mouths [In amazement at the final salvation of [Israel] because of him, for, what they had not been told [That Israel was still in covenant with God] they saw [The Messianic redemption of Israel], and what they had not heard [that Israel would be restored] they witnessed. This is exactly what those who believe in replacement theology will see when the Messiah finally comes to redeem the people of Israel. Throughout the entire Hebrew scripture, the Bible refers to Israel in the singular even though it refers to an entire nation which is plural. The Bible itself testifies to this, when the Israelites received the Torah on Mount Sinai they all proclaimed with one voice “We will do everything the Lord has said and we will obey”. The Hebrew words used to convey this message are “Na’aseh V’nishmah” which is written in the singular form and not the plural. The Torah itself recognizes that the Jewish nation is ‘one heart’ as God himself calls Israel his ‘firstborn son’ in addition to his ‘Servant’. Exodus 4:22 states; you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘So said the Lord, My firstborn son is Israel. So I say to you, send out my son that he may serve me, but you have refused to send him out: behold, I shall kill your firstborn son. Israel is referred to as God’s “son” and “he” in the collective. Hosea 11:1 - When Israel was a lad I loved him, and since Egypt I have been calling out to my son. With this knowledge and clear proof from the scriptures themselves, it is clear that the Nation of Israel is both the metaphorical “Son” of God and the “Servant” of God. This is a theme that is evident throughout the entire Jewish scriptures, in dozens of places and not in just one or two vague sentences. The idea that Isaiah would openly name Israel as the Servant from Chapters 41 through 49 and then inexplicably change the name of the servant to Jesus and not even mention his name once is completely illogical. Isaiah himself proves that our interpretation is correct by switching back from the singular [he] to the plural form [them] when referring to the Jewish People in verse 53:8. Isaiah says: “Now that he [Israel] has been released from captivity and judgment, who could have imagined such a generation? For he [Israel] had been removed from the land of the living, an affliction upon them that was my people’s sin”. The "man" of pains and illness was not Jesus that Isaiah was referring to, but the entire nation of Israel. We continue to be persecuted, dehumanized and vilified at the hands of the gentile nations who believe we are cursed, rejected and afflicted by God. This is the image that Isaiah is trying to portray and one that Jews have accepted for thousands of years long before this was applied by Christianity to refer to Jesus. Let us now re-examine in context the prophecy of Isaiah 53 and see if it applies to the nation of Israel? a. Israel is [still] rejected by the world b. We have been silent as a nation to those that have accused us throughout history for fear of persecution c. Israel has been oppressed and afflicted because of the sins of other nations (Racism, Anti-Semitism, etc.) d. We were accused of being a sickly and weak people, portrayed as diseased throughout history e. We were wounded for our transgressions against God and severely punished through exile f. Israel bore the punishment of the sins of the nations because we did not live up to God’s standard and properly instruct them as we were commanded to do. In essence we bear some responsibility for the nations’ failure to heed the word of God. g. We grew up destitute and poor, being chased from nation to nation h. The Gentile nations portray us as ugly, we are constantly vilified i. Mankind has not wanted to be associated with Israel or Jews as a nation, even today j. Christians say the Jews are cursed by God for rejecting his “Son” k. Eventually we will prosper and in the final redemption the entire world will witness that they have been wrong about Israel and that we are still the “Firstborn Son” of God l. Once the exile is complete, Israel will be exalted among the nations and will be glorified in front of the eyes of all nations. Isaiah 53 points to Israel as being the true identity of the servant by referencing a prophecy from Hosea through his use of similar expressions about Israel. Isaiah 53:2 says “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” Who is the “He” that Isaiah is talking about? If we look at Hosea 14:5 it says “I will be like the dew to Israel; he [Israel] will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he [Israel] will send down his roots; his [Israel's] young shoots [roots] will grow.” The young shoot out of dry ground is the nation of Israel which Isaiah is clearly talking about. Hosea says in 14:9 “Who is wise? One who will realize these things. Who is discerning? One who will understand them.” In other words, a wise and discerning person will recognize that the blessings bestowed upon Israel will ultimately come true. The despised and marred servant who has been persecuted throughout the ages, will once again blossom like a root out of dry desert ground just like the current nation of Israel.