Sermon:

Isaiah 53
The great prophet Isaiah prophesied many things before they happened. As an example he prophesied that the people of Judah would be carried into captivity by Babylon many years before it happened, and at the time of the prophecy, Babylon wasn’t even a viable political power.

He proved to be a very reliable prophet indeed. In chapters 40-55 Isaiah describes Jerusalem as lying in ruins, Israel in exile in Babylonia and the Exile has lasted a long time. The people of Israel are in great distress. God’s anger lies heavily upon them because of their sins. They think that God has forgotten them. Some of them have come to regard the place of their exile as their homeland. But Isaiah prophesies that God is about to liberate his people, and he urges them to put their trust in God’s promise. Isaiah prophesied all this 100 years before it happened. Amazing.

Not only that, but Isaiah prophesied that a king named Cyrus would allow the Jewish exiles to return home. Isaiah prophesied this 170 years before it happened. King Cyrus, a relatively unknown Persian warlord, overthrew the Babylonian kingdom in 539 BC and established himself as king over all Babylonia. Isa 44:28 declares it – “God says of Cyrus, `He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid.”

Yes, time proved that Isaiah was a reliable prophet. Would everyone agree that Isaiah has an impressive record of accuracy in prophesying future events? (Pause)

Now I want us to focus on a prophesy that Isaiah made 700 years before it happened. Wow, imagine making a prophecy that came true 700 years later.

OK, let’s read it – turn to Isaiah, chapter 53

53:1Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned