Friday, October 15, 2010

Isaiah's Messianic Prophecy

In 1013 BC, David began his reign over the United Kingdom, the core of which was the land of Palestine.  He was a member of the royal tribe of Judah.  The United Kingdom was divided in 933 BC following the reign of David’s son, Solomon.  The northern kingdom took the name Israel and the southern kingdom, the name Judah.

Almost two centuries later, Ahaz became king of Judah.  In 735 BC, the king of Israel and the king of neighbouring Syria were waging war against Ahaz.

Isaiah was instructed by the Lord to meet with Ahaz and to quell his fears and uncertainty.  Isaiah prophesied the collapse of Israel and Syria and urged Ahaz to ask the Lord for a sign confirming his prophecy.  Ahaz refused but Isaiah gave him a sign despite his objections. 

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

In the Holy Scriptures, prophecies slated for fulfilment in Old Testament times often slide into prophecies destined for fulfillment in New Testament times.

In 732 BC, the king of Israel was murdered by his successor to the throne.  Shortly thereafter, Assyria captured the Syrian capital of Damascus and slew its king.  Then in 722 BC, Assyria conquered the kingdom of Israel by capturing its capital city of Samaria.  Isaiah’s first prophecy to Ahaz was fulfilled.  His second prophecy, the Christmas prophecy, was fulfilled some seven centuries later.  Indeed, from the royal tribe of Judah (called Judea by the Romans), sprang forth the child Immanuel a.k.a. Jesus Christ.

Isaiah described the child Immanuel as follows:

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

This passage leaves no doubt as to the identity of Jesus.  He is Mighty God and He is co-eternal and co-equal with God the Father. 

But Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy didn’t stop there.  In chapter 53, Isaiah described Christ’s crucifixion.  What surprises me most about Isaiah’s prophecy was the attention he paid to detail.

“His grave was assigned to be with wicked men,
Yet with a rich man in His death.”

Jesus was crucified with two thieves, one on His right and one on His left.  The Romans usually forbade burial and left the bodies on the crosses for the vultures to mutilate.  But along came Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and a member of the prestigious Sanhedrin.  He asked Pontius Pilate for Christ’s body and laid it in his own tomb which was hewn out of rock, stopping the entrance with a huge boulder.  The tomb played a vital role in the Gospel for without a burial place there would have been no conclusive evidence of Christ's resurrection. 

The twentieth century science of archaeology offers further proof of the validity of Isaiah’s prophecies.  Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls between 1947 & 1956, the oldest Hebrew copy of the Book of Isaiah was completed about 900 AD and the oldest Greek copy about 350 AD.  Some thought Jews and Christians had edited Isaiah’s prophecies.  But the discovery of the Great Isaiah Scroll, which was dated to 100 BC, proved there was no significant interpolation by either party.  In fact, the copy of Isaiah that we have in our Bibles today is virtually the same as the copy made over 2,000 years ago.


  1. Some are confused by the two verses following Isaiah 7:14. “He” in verse 15 refers to the child Immanuel. “The boy” referred to in verse 16 was Isaiah’s son. Isaiah was told to bring his son when he met with Ahaz. The youngster’s name was Shear-jashub and he was probably about two years old (Isaiah 7:3). God’s purpose in sending the boy with Isaiah was based on the meaning of his name. Shear-jashub means “a remnant shall return”. During that time, Israel captured 200,000 Judeans whom they carried off to Israel. Subsequently, the captives were freed and transported back to Judah (2 Chronicles 28:8-15). Hence, there was a third prophecy for Ahaz in the very name of Isaiah’s son.

  2. Scriptural references: Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 53:9; Matthew 1:18-25

  3. Because Jewish genealogies are reckoned through their males, Christ’s ancestral connection to David was through Joseph, even though Joseph was not Christ’s biological father. However, the Virgin Mary also belonged to the tribe of Judah and the house of David. Read "The Jesus of Genesis," parts one through three.

  4. Etymology: Judea was the Greek & Roman variation of Judah, the name of the southern kingdom after the United Kingdom was divided in 933 BC. Formerly Judah was the name of the territory occupied by the tribe of Judah, the descendants of Jacob’s fourth son.

  5. Jesus the Christ was born about 5 BC. His genealogy can be found in Matthew 1:1-17.