From yesterday’s blog one could understand from the context of Isaiah 53 that it was expected that the Messiah would atone for sin. Yet, modern Judaism repudiates the idea of human sacrifice. Certainly there is some truth in this, but is the doctrine itself wrong or has history abused the idea of human sacrifice, by taking one’s own children or an innocent virgin from the community to sacrifice to a supposed god of whom favor was sought? This type of human sacrifice is, indeed, wrong, but is the teaching wrong? Didn’t the death of the High Priest atone for sin? Didn’t his death permit all who were exiled to the cities of refuge for such sins as manslaughter go free? Let’s take another look at Isaiah 53 to see what the prophet says:
Isaiah 53:4-8 JPS Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed. (6) All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed, though he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth. (8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.
Isaiah 53:11 NET. Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.
The prophecy claims that he would bear our diseases and pains. He was wounded for our iniquities, and we have peace and prosperity because he paid the price (verse-5)! All have sinned, but the punishment that we deserve was laid upon him (verse-6). He was the Lamb sacrificed for our iniquities (verse-7 & 8), that is, the punishment due my people (God’s people) was borne by my Servant (verse-11). This is especially true of the Jews and by extension the Gentiles as well.
The Jewish Targum on Isaiah 52, concerning “my Servant” interprets the term to mean the Messiah:
“Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high and increase and be exceedingly strong…” – Targum Jonathan: Isaiah 52:13 (emphasis mine).
The context of Isaiah 52 would spill into Isaiah 53, making the term “my Servant” apply for the same person. There is absolutely no reason to believe this term would mean one thing in this chapter and quite another in Isaiah 53:11.
Moreover, Daniel also ascribes atonement to the time of the Messiah. This is brought out in the 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9. Notice:
Daniel 9:24 Septuagint (24) Seventy weeks have been determined upon your people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, to seal up transgressions, to blot out iniquities, to make atonement for iniquities, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
I like the way the Septuagint translates or paraphrases this Scripture, and remember that the Septuagint is a Jewish translation or paraphrase. Most Bibles will add the word “place” after “Most Holy”, but in doing so the translators offer their opinion as to what the term “Most Holy” refers. The Septuagint, though often very interpretive in itself, adds nothing to the Hebrew in translating into Greek at this verse.
Daniel speaks of a time when God’s will concerning our iniquity, personal sins, the punishment due us for the evil committed and the ushering in of everlasting righteousness. This period of time would coincide with the anointing of the Most Holy (One) – that is the Messiah – of whom the 70 Weeks Prophecy speaks. The whole purpose of counting the 70 sabbatical years was to point to his arrival! He brought with him God’s answer for our iniquity, personal sins, guilt and punishment and God’s plan for the way to transform us into his righteous sons and daughters. As an aside, if one wished to see how the 70 Weeks Prophecy undeniably points to Jesus, go to the “Study Themes” heading on my blog and click on Daniel’s “End Time” Prophecy.” There are 8 studies there that, in my opinion, offer compelling evidence that Jesus is the one and only Messiah this world will ever see, and if you decide to go there, don’t forget to click on the graphs provided that show how the days of Daniel count out in the Jewish calendar.
Daniel, just as Isaiah, speaks of the Messiah’s death in order to accomplish the plan of God. Notice:
Daniel 9:24-27 Septuagint (24) Seventy weeks have been determined upon your people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, to seal up transgressions, to blot out iniquities, to make atonement for iniquities, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. (25) And you shall know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem, until Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then the time shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. (26) And after the sixty-two weeks, the Anointed One shall be killed, and there is no judgment in Him. And He shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince that is to come: they shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed He shall appoint the city to desolations. (27) And one week shall establish the covenant with many. And in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of the time an end shall be put to the desolation.
The Septuagint does, indeed, interpret some of the Hebrew, just as the Jewish Targums do. However, as I said above, we must keep in mind that this represents a Jewish interpretation whenever such is done in this translation. This is not a Gentile translation or paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is wholly Jewish.
Notice verse-25 is saying that the whole purpose of counting the sabbatical years was to point out the time of the coming of the Messiah (Christ). Verse-26 says that the Anointed One (the Messiah) would be killed some time after the conclusion of the 69th sabbatical year. Verse-27 shows that this does not occur until somewhere in the middle of the 70th sabbatical year. Notice the wording the Septuagint translators used. “One week shall establish the covenant with many.” That is, the 70th week of years will usher in the “new covenant” spoken of by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-33). The phrase “my sacrifice and drink offering shall be taken away…” refers to the slaying of the Anointed One or the Messiah. This is done in the midst or middle of the 70th week of years, counting toward the completion of the 70th sabbatical year.
Jesus began his public ministry just as the 69th week of years came to a close and the 70th sabbatical year began. It was the 1st year of his public ministry. Three and one-half years later he was crucified. This would mean that the 70th week of years and conclusion of the 490 years of the 70 Weeks Prophecy represented the conclusion of the matter. Would God’s people, the Jews, rest from their labors, as the sabbatical year commands, and receive their Messiah? Would they believe sin was ended, transgressions were sealed up, that iniquities were blotted out, atonement for all was made, everlasting righteousness was brought in, that Daniel’s prophecy was true and complete, and the Most Holy (One) was anointed as their Messiah?
With the 1290 days (the second half of the 70the week of years – wee Daniel 12:11) ending in the death of Stephen, the 70 Weeks Prophecy ended with the persecution of those Jews who did receive Jesus as their Messiah. Those who believed Daniel was vindicated as a prophet and all those things he said would be done were complete in Jesus – these Jews were persecuted (particularly the Hellenistic Messianic believers who taught Jesus’ atonement made the Temple sacrifices obsolete). They were hunted down by those Jews who would not believe. So, Messiah was indeed expected to atone for sin, but that atonement was rejected by the Sadducean priesthood in particular and by the nation as a whole.