Is Isaiah 53 a prophesy about Jesus, the Suffering Servant?

I agree that Isaiah 53 certainly sounds like Jesus. But if you were to walk into a library, grab a book, open it up to the middle of the book, and start reading about a “he” and a “him” would it be correct for you to just guess which “he” the author is speaking of, based on descriptions of the “he” and the actions of the “he” described on the pages, or, should you investigate first to see if the author tells you somewhere in the book who this “he” actually is? Isn’t it very possible that an author could give numerous details about someone that is in fact NOT the person you believe that the author is referring to?

So let’s look at Isaiah 53. Is there anywhere in Isaiah 53 where the author of Isaiah tells us who the “suffering servant” is? Answer: no. So what should we do, just guess who the suffering servant is, or, should we go back into the previous chapter, and if necessary, the previous CHAPTERS, to see exactly about whom the author is speaking, specifically, who is the author calling the “suffering servant” and about whom the author is using the pronouns “he” and “him”.

So if you go back to Isaiah chapter 52, does the author give us the identity of the suffering servant; the identity of the “he” whom he describes in chapter 53? No. In fact, neither does the author identify the suffering servant in chapter 51, or 50, or 49, or 48, or 47, or 46!!

To find out who the suffering servant is, one must go back all the way to Isaiah chapter 45! That’s right! You have to go back at least eight chapters to see the context of the alleged “suffering messiah” passages in chapter 53. And as you start reading in chapter 45, what do you notice? You will notice that this is not a typical narrative story. All these chapters are written in the form of a song or poem. And there is a very interesting aspect to this very long song or poem: You must pay very careful attention to who is doing the speaking in each verse! Sometimes it is God speaking, then suddenly it is the author of Isaiah speaking, then sometimes it is the “Servant of the Lord” speaking. So who is this “servant of the Lord”? You will not find the answer in chapter 53…but you will find it in the preceding chapters.

So who is he?

An anonymous author of the Book of Isaiah?

Here is the answer, straight from the mouth of “God”:
“The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!” —Isaiah 48:20

And he (the Lord) said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” —Isaiah 49:3

These passages are talking about the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of the Babylonians and their promised “redemption” by God and return to the Promised Land. God, in these passages refers to the Jewish people by a singular term: Jacob/Israel! When God refers to “he” or “him” in these chapters, he is speaking about the nation of Israel! These passages have nothing to do with the Messiah. These are not messianic prophecies! In fact, if you go back to Isaiah chapter 45 you will see exactly who it is who is described as the “redeemer” of God’s servant, Israel: Cyrus, King of Persia; the great king who allowed the Jewish people to return to Canaan from their captivity in Babylon!

Isaiah 45:1-4

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
that gates may not be closed:

2 “I will go before you
and level the exalted places,[a]
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

4 For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me.

Cyrus, King of Persia: the redeemer of the suffering servant, Jacob—the nation of Israel.

Now, this is not just my opinion. This is why Jews do not believe that Isaiah 53 speaks of Jesus or of ANY messiah, in fact! Jews do not consider Isaiah chapter 53 to be a messianic passage for exactly the reasons I listed above. In the preceding chapters, the author of Isaiah clearly spells out who the suffering servant is and he is not the future messiah; he is Israel/Jacob, the nation of Israel, languishing in captivity in Babylon.


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