Leading up to Christmas, we’ve been looking at God’s revealed character, “The God You Need,” in our Sunday services (listen at www.Gatewaychurch.com/podcast ). Isaiah “proves” God exists by giving many threads of historical evidence pre-written (see past 3 blogs). Let’s continue looking at what Isaiah foretold 680 years before Jesus—that the coming Messiah would…
Be announced by a voice in the wilderness (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:1-9)
“A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God…. say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power” (Isaiah 40:3, 9). Both Isaiah and Malachi said God’s coming to earth would be heralded by an Elijah-like prophet: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple…See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes” (Malachi 3:1, 4:5). That’s why the Religious leaders saw so many people flocking to John the Baptist out in the wilderness, and they heard John saying “Make way for the Lord,” so they asked him “Are you Elijah?” Now, this next part gets a little confusing, because John the Baptist says “No.” But Jesus says, “Yes.”
Jesus later explained after John was beheaded, “And if you are willing to accept it, [John] is the Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:14). So apparently John knew Jesus was the Messiah, but he did not realize he was the “Elijah in the wilderness preparing the way.” That John the Baptist drew large crowds and prepared the way for Jesus is validated by the eyewitnesses and extra-biblical history: “Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed…Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate” (Wikipedia).
Bring salvation to all the earth (Isaiah 49:5-6)
If you really stop and think about it, this prophetic claim alone would be impossible to fake—that the Messiah’s salvation would spread to the whole earth? “And now the Lord says—he who formed me [Messiah] in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself…says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:5-6). Just consider, Isaiah said Messiah would be a light to non-Jewish people and His salvation would reach the ends of the earth. It would be 680 years before Jesus came that first Christmas, yet this Christmas, people’s from nations around the globe proclaim Him their Lord and Savior. How do you explain that if this is not of God? You could explain it if people became Christians by force, like Jihad, where you convert or die; but how can you explain it by free choice? What invisible force or power could foretell of conquering the world with love—except the God of love?
Another fascinating sidenote. People ask me, if all this is in the Jewish scriptures, why don’t more Jews believe. I’ve seen many Jews believe once they learned this, but most don’t learn it. Rabbis will respond that all the “Servant of the Lord” or Messianic passages were about Israel, not Jesus. They quote Isaiah 49:3-4: “He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.’ But I said, ‘I have labored in vain” (Isaiah 49:3-4). Israel was the Servant that turned from God and failed. Yet in Isaiah 49, you see a shift, where God says this Servant he formed in the womb will save Israel…and the gentiles. How can Israel save Israel?
Be beaten, mocked, spit on (Isaiah 50:6)
Be disfigured beyond human recognition (Isaiah 52:13-14)
Be rejected and pierced and die to pay for our wrongs (Isaiah 53:1-5)
Isaiah 52-53 alone paint a picture of what would happen to the Messiah that makes Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion, seem pretty darn accurate. Go read it. Then read the gospel accounts of the eyewitnesses, you see the vision Isaiah foresaw played out. The fact that Jesus was crucified at the instigation of the Jewish leaders is recorded in the Jewish Leader’s books, The Talmud, as I showed last blog. Extra-biblical sources make if next to impossible to even doubt that Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. It happened—just as Isaiah foretold.
Stop and think of the probability of just Isaiah’s prophecies happening by chance—then consider about 60+ prophecies of Jesus from prophets writing over a 1500 year period. If Jesus were being tried in a court of law for being this messiah, the evidence of Isaiah alone points to guilty as charged—He is the Messiah. Isaiah told us why Jesus would suffer—to pay for our sins, so that all willing people who want His forgiveness and leadership can be forgiven and set right with God forever. Through Jesus, God removed every barrier between you and your Creator, except one—your free will. He won’t violate your free will because what He wants are children who freely choose to love and follow Him. Have you told Him that’s what you want? It’s as simple as a prayer, “God, I want what Jesus did to count for me—forgive me and come lead me.” It’s the greatest Christmas gift you could ever receive!