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Hi, my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast, I want to talk about two Old Testament prophecies that seem to specifically point to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.
Because of the controversy surrounding one particular passage, Jewish Synagogues no longer recite it during synagogue services and the other passage actually gives the time when the Jews could expect the arrival of the Messiah.
In a recent article, Joel Rosenberg with All Israel News estimated that there are one million Messianic Jews in the world today, who believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Though not a small number, considering there are about 15 million Jews in the world today, perhaps even more, for the most part, they have rejected Christ.
This rejection was demonstrated in a story that emerged out of a Florida public school in November 2022, when a Jewish woman complained to the school board about a New Testament bible verse that a teacher at Wiregrass Ranch High School had painted on the pavement of her parking stall.
The verse from Philippians 4:13 reads:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Pasco County School District allows employees to decorate their rented parking stall as long as they pay for it at their own personal expense.
In an interview with WFLA-TV, the Jewish woman said she felt that the verse was attacking her as she tied it to the Holocaust when Jews were murdered and Christians were not.
However, the school board’s legal teams said that the verse wasn’t a violation and allowed it to remain.
It’s unfortunate, considering evangelical Christians are probably Israel’s and the Jew’s closest allies today.
There are dozens of prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of a coming Jewish Messiah, but there are a couple in particular that seem to specifically point to Christ.
The forbidden chapter
For centuries, Isaiah 53 was included as part of the rotational scripture readings during synagogue services, which included readings from the first five books of the Old Testament and the prophets.
Christians are familiar with this chapter in Isaiah as it describes the ministry and crucifixion of Christ.
Part of it includes:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not…. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; (Isaiah 53:3 and 5)
Curiously, Jewish Rabbis considered Isaiah 53 to be prophetic and speaking about the coming Jewish Messiah, whom they understand would be a suffering servant.
In fact, referring to Isaiah 53, the Babylon Talmud an ancient Jewish commentary on the Old Testament described him as the leper messiah, writing:
The Messiah, what is his name. The Rabbis say the ‘leper scholar’, as it is said, ‘surely he has born our griefs and carried away our sorrow; yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted. Sanhedrin 98b
And as the New Testament writers watched Jesus’ ministry unfold, they quickly realized that Christ was fulfilling the Isaiah 53 prophecy.
For example, in John 12:37-38, the apostle John actually quoted Isaiah 53:1 which spoke of no one believing the message of the Messiah to show that Jesus’ rejection by the Jewish priests and Pharisees and others was actually prophesied centuries earlier.
In chapter 8:16-17, Matthew quoted Isaiah 53:4, which spoke of the Messiah healing people’s infirmities, as the apostle witnessed Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons.
Then in Mark 15:27-28, Mark quoted Isaiah 53:12, which reads that the Messiah would be numbered with the transgressors, which he saw fulfilled as Christ was crucified between two known thieves.
Despite this chapter in Isaiah prophetically speaking of Jesus, for the next few hundred years following Christ’s death and resurrection, the Jewish synagogues kept Isaiah 53 as part of their Scripture readings.
But things changed as Christianity grew in popularity and along with it increased awareness of Christian’s claims that Isaiah 53 was connected to Christ.
The passage eventually became so problematic for synagogue leaders, it was decided that Isaiah 53 would no longer be read during services.
It became known in certain circles as the forbidden chapter as they would read to Isaiah 52, then skip over to Isaiah 54 during the readings.
Dr. Eitan Bar, an Israeli-born, Messianic Jew who is a regular contributor to One for Israel, wrote:
“The 17th-century Jewish historian, Raphael Levi, admitted that long ago the rabbis used to read Isaiah 53 in synagogues, but after the chapter caused “arguments and great confusion” the rabbis decided that the simplest thing would be to just take that prophecy out of the Haftarah readings in synagogues. That’s why today when we read Isaiah 52, we stop in the middle of the chapter, and the week after, we jump straight to Isaiah 54.”
Along a similar vein, in a YouTube video entitled, “The most compelling Messianic prophecy in the Bible,” Dr. Michael Brown, who is also a Messianic Jew, told the story of what happened to a friend, a fellow Jew, who became a believer in Jesus as well.
He told his dad that there was an Old Testament prophecy which revealed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. His dad agreed to read the prophecy. but specifically said it had to come from a Jewish Bible, not a Christian one.
When he showed his dad Isaiah 53, he said I told you not to use a Christian Bible, and then the son revealed that they were reading from the Jewish Bible that the son had received at his Barmitzvah.
Dating the arrival of Christ
While it is simple to avoid the controversy surrounding Isaiah 53 by simply ignoring it, the next Old Testament passage offers a different problem.
What if there was an Old Testament prophecy which predicted when the Messiah would arrive and said it would happen in the first century AD?
Well according to California’s Shasta Bible school professor, Tom Meyer, there actually is and he points to a passage in the book of Daniel as evidence.
First, we need to provide some background to this book.
While in captivity in Babylon, Daniel realized that when God judged the Jews and sent them into captivity, He had also promised to restore them back to the Promised Land in 70 years.
Daniel knew that their time in captivity was just about up and entered into a time of fasting and prayer for the nation to be restored to the Promised Land .
This promised restoration took place after Persia conquered Babylon in a bloodless cue and eventually published an edict allowing all the peoples taken into captivity under the Babylonians to return to their homelands.
But as Daniel prayed for this promised restoration, God dispatched an angel to Daniel with a message, that also included additional information about the eventual arrival of the Jewish Messiah.
The angelic message reads:
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. (Daniel 9: 25 NIV)
There are three things that we can gain from this message.
First, in an interview with the British newspaper, The Express, Meyer points out that the word for Anointed One is the Hebrew, ‘Mashiach’, and literally means Messiah.
Secondly, we read that the Messiah will show up in seven sevens and sixty-two sevens after the edict goes out to restore or rebuild Jerusalem and the temple
But what are the seven sevens and 62 sevens referring to?
Some Bible versions have translated the Hebrew word ‘shabu’, which is translated as sevens in this passage, as seven weeks.
Sevens refers to the two Sabbaths that Israel practiced as part of its religious calendar. The first involved the weekly sabbath where the Jews worked six days and rested on the seventh, hence the weeks.
The second involved years, where they were told to work the land for six years, and then to let it rest on the seventh. It was called the ‘land Sabbath’, and according to Leviticus 26:32-35, when God judged Israel, the length of time they spent in captivity was tied to their violations of the land sabbath.
And for this verse in Daniel, connected to their Babylonian captivity, Meyer believes seven years is the correct interpretation.
This means ‘seven sevens’ refers to 49 years and ‘sixty-two sevens’ would equal 434 years and once these numbers are added together, it means that the Messiah would show up 483 years after the order had been given to rebuild Jerusalem.
Now if we interpret sevens as weeks, instead of years as Meyer suggests, it means that the Jewish Messiah would show up in 483 weeks or about nine years.
So, what happens if we translate shabu as years?
Well, unfortunately, there is still more math involved. Because according to Meyer, the Jewish year is actually made up of 360 days, not 365 days as we use.
So, we need to take the 483 years times it by 360 days and we end up with 173,880 days.
Of course, this leads to the final step determining the start date for this countdown. What year was the edict proclaimed allowing Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem?
In 1879, archaeologists discovered a cuneiform cylinder in the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon dating to 538 BC. It was created during the reign of the Persian ruler, King Cyrus, and decreed that people taken captive by the Babylonians would be allowed to return to their homelands.
However, according to Nehemiah 2:1, the order giving Nehemiah permission to return to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem did not take place until the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign.
Nehemiah was the King’s cupbearer, meaning he was the one who tasted Artaxerxes’ food to make sure it hadn’t been poisoned
According to Wikipedia, Artaxerxes ruled Persia from 464 BX to 424 BC and since this permission was given in the 20th year of Artaxerses’ reign, the order allowing Jerusalem to be rebuilt was given around 445 BC.
When Meyer added the 173,880 days to 445 BC, he ended up at 38 AD, around the time that Jesus was executed by the Romans.
Now there is some disagreement on the date when the Persian government issued the order allowing Jerusalem to be rebuilt, but we are only talking about a handful of years difference. And similarly, we can’t be absolutely certain about the year Christ was executed and again any discrepancy involves just a few years.
Whatever the case, this prophecy suggests that the Anointed One would show up sometime in what we know as the first century AD.
Of course, there is only one potential candidate for the Jewish Messiah in the first century and that is none other than Jesus Christ.
But Meyer goes one step further.
Because in the very next verse in Daniel 9:26, the angel goes on to say:
“The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:26)
The angel tells Daniel two more things.
First, the Messiah would be cut off, which Meyer believes is a reference to the crucifixion of Christ.
And secondly, the angel said that Jerusalem and the sanctuary, a reference to the temple, will also be destroyed.
This was fulfilled when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and obliterated the temple in 70 AD.
Though for the most part, the Jews have rejected Christ, these two prophecies provide a compelling case that Jesus is their Messiah.
But that rejection will not last forever.
In Romans 11:26, the Apostle Paul stated that a day was coming when the Jews will finally recognize that Jesus is their Messiah and states that all Israel will be saved.
READ: ‘I Feel Like It’s Attacking Me’: Teacher Painted Popular Bible Verse on Her Parking Spot and Fellow Staffer Wants It Removed AND Bible verse on Pasco teacher’s parking spot draws controversy AND Bible revelation: The ‘mathematical proof’ Jesus Christ was the Jewish Messiah revealed AND Isaiah 53 – The forbidden chapter