Dead Sea Discovery
Skeptics, troubled by Jesus’ fulfillment of Isaiah 53, accused Christians of altering the text after his death. Their argument was based on the fact that the text of Isaiah we read in the Bible—from the Masoretic Aleppo Codex dated to a.d. 935—is a copy dated nine hundred years after Christ.(81)
However, in 1947, a copy of Isaiah was discovered near the Dead Sea, carbon dated 125 years before the birth of Christ. And Isaiah’s words in the Dead Sea Scroll are virtually identical with the words of Isaiah from the Masoretic Codex in our Bibles.(82) In other words, this prophecy of the Messiah was in existence at least 150 years before Jesus suffered on the cross.
Since the Jews were looking expectantly for their Messiah, one would think they would interpret Isaiah 53 as messianic. Although most Jews rejected Jesus, many commentators believed Isaiah was writing of the Messiah.
“For example, Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel…who lived early in the second century C.E., begins with the simple and worthy words: ‘Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high, and increase, and be exceeding strong: as the house of Israel looked to him through many days….(Targum Jonathan on Isaiah 53, ad Iocum)”’(83)
The Babylonian Talmud, The Midrash Ruth Rabbah, and the Zohar also refer to Isaiah’s prophecy as messianic. So too did the great rabbi, Maimonides. But the influential 11th century Rabbi Rashi argued that Isaiah’s passage refers to the nation of Israel, not the Messiah. Rashi’s view is held by most Jews today.(84)
However, Rashi’s interpretation has serious flaws. For example, in verse 12, Isaiah says the suffering servant dies for Israel’s sins. How could Israel die for Israel? Also, the prophet Zechariah makes it clear that when the Messiah descends on Jerusalem in the last days, the Jews will recognize him by the marks he suffered on Earth.
They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.(85)
Can you imagine the scene! Jesus was pierced on the cross, and his scars will be visible to everyone. It will cause great mourning to the Jews for their former rejection of him.
So, why did most Jews reject Jesus? Actually, his Jewish followers did accept him as their Messiah. So did thousands of other Jews. However, the religious leaders rejected him, because they were expecting the Messiah to destroy the enemies of God, bring worldwide peace, and set up his kingdom in Jerusalem.
However, the main reason they condemned Jesus to death is because he made claims about himself that only God could make.(86)
Although Jesus fulfilled nearly 200 prophecies, others still remain to be fulfilled when he returns (see below). So, what are the odds that Jesus could have fulfilled so many prophecies? Professor of mathematics Peter Stoner illustrates the incredible odds against any one person fulfilling just eight prophecies:
- First, blanket an area the size of Texas with silver dollars two feet high.
- Second, specially mark one of those dollars and randomly bury it.
- Third, ask a blindfolded person to select that exact dollar on one try.
Stoner calculates the odds against the blindfolded person picking that one dollar to be comparable to Jesus fulfilling just eight prophecies. In mathematical terms, that would be 1017 (one in 100 quadrillion).(87)
the Return of the Messiah (Christ)
Jesus said that in the last days he would return in power and judgment.(88) Later, when Jesus left Earth, two angels reminded his disciples of that promise.
Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go.(89)
Several prophecies reveal that the Messiah will one day judge God’s enemies and set up his Kingdom in Jerusalem. Although Henrietta Mears died years before Jerusalem was restored to Israel’s sovereignty after the six-day war, her understanding of biblical prophecy led her to write these words:
The Jew, today scattered over the face of the word, is being gathered back to her land of promise. Jerusalem shall be the capital of a mighty kingdom. Converted Israel shall be God’s witnesses.(90)
Ancient prophecies about Jerusalem are being fulfilled before our very eyes. However, prior to the Messiah destroying Israel’s enemies, Jerusalem will be under siege in a war of all wars. In Zechariah, we read,
“The Lord says,
“I will bring all the nations together to fight Jerusalem. They will capture the city and rob the houses and attack the women.”…
Then the Lord will go to war against those nations; he will fight as in a day of battle. On that day he will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.…
Then the Lord will be king over the whole world. At that time there will be only one Lord, and his name will be the only name.”(91)
How could the prophet Zechariah—twenty-five hundred years ago— predict events happening today unless his words had been divinely inspired? And Zechariah is only one of the several prophets who wrote of these end-time events.
What’s more amazing is that these prophecies about Jerusalem were written at different times. Most of the writers didn’t even know one another. A little known fact is that the Bible is actually 66 different books, written by 40 different men over a 1,600 years period.
Many Bible scholars believe we are nearing that time when Jesus Christ will return to Earth in power and glory. (Read more about Jesus’ return at https://jesusonline.com/discover-evidence/jesus/more/jesus-coming-back/.)
On the following page is the amazing story of what happened shortly thereafter.