When I was first born again (on the back of a bus travelling from Mullingar to Galway, Ireland – May 7th, 1980) one of the things that helped establish my faith at the time was the amazing prophecies and writings of the Book of Isaiah.
The Book of Isaiah has 66 chapters and these are divided in a way that reflects the structure of the 66 books of the bible. Chapter 40 of Isaiah starts with “Comfort, comfort My people” and ushers in 27 chapters with a tone as much reflective of the New Testament (27 books) as the previous 39 chapters are of the old.
Isaiah 53 is one of the great prophetic passages about Christ’s crucifixion and the reason behind it. Psalm 22 is another one. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls is a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah. This is significant for a number of reasons:
1. The latest date of the Isaiah Scroll is 100 B.C. So the Book of Isaiah predates Christ’s crucifixion (@33 AD) and the canon of the bible (@100 AD).
2. There have been many efforts to discredit the bible by liberal theologians in the 20th Century. So called “Higher Criticism” has tried to lower the authenticity and authority of the bible. One of the arguments was that there were several Isaiah’s including one for the last 27 chapters who was different from the Isaiah of the first 39. However all the Book of Isaiah was discovered on one scroll with no divisions into chapters or parts and no indication of another author.
The whole book is worth reading of course as is all of the bible. But here are some especially moving and pertinent verses from Isaiah 53:
“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken 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 on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
Thank God He has! This is the Gospel – Good News that everyone needs to hear.