Jessica walked us through some of the prophesies about Christ’s birth in the last post. If you remember, the Jews were well schooled in them and were actively looking for a Savior. Even throughout the seriously long break between the Old and New Testaments people had not lost hope that the Savior would come. (Bonus points if you stop right now and find out how long the “intertestamental period” lasted!) I’m humbled by how trusting Israel was, even when God was silent for so long.
But, even though they were looking intently for a Messiah to be born based on Old Testament prophesy, many people missed that He also had to die, even though this was prophesied as well. Scholars feel that the people were expecting a different kind of Messiah than who Jesus turned out to be. Some were looking for an economic leader who would take care of His people. Others were looking for a priestly messiah who would again lead His people like the prophets of old. And still others were looking for a King who would restore Israel to its former glory.
Using commentaries (here is one if you don’t have your own) or even a quick Google search (just be mindful of what/who your source is), what can you discover about the political atmosphere in Israel around the time of Jesus’ birth?
Who was in power?
How did this affect the Jews?
There were so many thoughts on who the Messiah would be and what He would do, prophecies about his suffering were often overlooked.
Read Isaiah 53 about the Suffering Servant. What words do you find that describe this suffering?
Look up one of those words that stands out to you the most. Write out the definition.
Does it mean what you thought it meant? If not, what’s changed?
The symbolism of a lamb is used throughout the Bible.
Read Exodus 29:38-42. How many lambs were sacrificed every day on behalf of the people of Israel? Why?
Now read John 1:19-34. Remember, John was Jesus’ cousin, the son of his mother Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. (to dig a little deeper, read John’s birth story in Luke 1)
John refers to Jesus as the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Put yourself in the story for a moment. What do you think the people who heard this thought? Confused? Amused? Excited? The imagery would not be lost on any person there. They all knew that daily sacrifices were required to take away sin. What did God do to validate John’s words?
Use your Bible dictionary to learn more about the Day of Atonement.
Reading Leviticus 16, specifically verses 20-22, what is the purpose of the scapegoat?
What verses in Isaiah 53 leads us to view the Messiah as the scapegoat for mankind, as well as the lamb of sacrifice?
As we finish up today, take a moment to reflect on this segment of verse 5: “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him”. Journal whatever thoughts and feelings rise during this time.
For deeper study:
Isaiah 53 is the 4th Servant Song describing the Messiah and it’s confirmations are found in the next two chapters. Isaiah 54 shows how the Jews will rejoice in time. Isaiah 55 describes how the world is invited to come and join in, even though they are Gentiles.
Read chapter 55 slowly and out loud. Soak in the encouragement found there. Write here or journal your observations.
Memorize verses 10 & 11.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
We can trust in the prophesies found in the Bible because God promises “will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
God promised the world a Messiah. And He has fulfilled that promise.
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