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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - The Forbidden Chapter

Jonathan Bernis - The Forbidden Chapter

Jonathan Bernis - The Forbidden Chapter
TOPICS: Isaiah 53

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. I'm Jonathan Bernis, and I'm joined once again by my co-host, Ezra Benjamin. Today, we're gonna discuss what some refer to as the forbidden chapter of the Bible. Now, Ezra, I know that many at home are asking themselves, "What is the forbidden chapter that Jonathan is referring to"? Well, unfortunately, a secular society wants to forbid believers from talking about any chapters in the scriptures. But specifically, there's a chapter in the Jewish scriptures that is come to be known as "The forbidden chapter". And I'm referring to Isaiah 53. We're gonna talk about the context of this chapter and why it was, really, all but forbidden, Ezra.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: It's pretty much ignored now.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. And in some cases, it's gone so far as to be excluded from some printings of the Old Testament or what the Jewish community would call, "The Tanakh" in Hebrew or the Jewish scriptures, the Jewish Bible. For the Jewish community, there is no New Testament, except for those of us who believe that Jesus, Yeshua is the Messiah. And so, you can be flipping through, and of course, the Bible is the Word of God, the Old Testament is God's word and then you get to Isaiah 51, 52, 54 in extreme cases and you say, "What happened to Isaiah 53"? And we're gonna unpack a little bit, why is it that this chapter in the Old Testament is so particularly problematic for a Jewish audience?

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, well frankly, it's hard to believe that it's in the Old Testament.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's actually in both, it's in the old and the new, but it's so clear about the identity of the Messiah and so clearly points to the fulfilled work of Jesus according to the gospel accounts that there's been a reaction.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: Especially over the last 500/600 years.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: To the chapter, and so, many yeshiva students, I'm talking about ultra orthodox students of the scriptures, aren't allowed to read it. Certainly, without the supervision of another rabbi that can help steer them away from what we clearly see.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. And again, religious Jewish communities, it's very important for you to understand, believe that the Old Testament it's not just a storybook about the Jewish people, it's the Word of God, the words of a holy God spoken through, written down through Moses, and then through the prophets, and Ezra and Nehemiah, and the other writers. So, the word is a holy thing, it's not to be taken lightly. And yet, again, as you said, there is this particular chapter that's so problematic that it, in cases, can't even be read. Certainly, can't be printed.

Jonathan Bernis: I think it's important to point out that the disciples, when they expounded on the scriptures, they expounded daily, we're told, scriptures revealing that Jesus was the Messiah, that Yeshua was the Messiah. They didn't have the gospels: they didn't have the epistles. They were using the Tanakh. They were using the Torah and the prophets. Scriptures that had been written hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born. And they expounded from the Jewish scriptures, from the Old Testament that proved the Messiahship of Yeshua.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and Isaiah 53 is one of those according to the scriptures passages that multiple New Testament writers, Paul and others referenced time and time again as biblical proof. Proof from hundreds of years before Jesus walked and ministered on earth, that he was the one, he is the one that the Jewish people and all people have waited for, that he was the Messiah.

Jonathan Bernis: And I would say the clearest out of over 300 Messianic prophecies.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And some of them are absolutely amazing. I would say that Isaiah 53 is the clearest, most powerful of all of the Messianic prophecies.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure. And if you read it alone, you might think you're reading the New Testament. And often, I can think of, we can say it a little bit, you know, jokingly, but times we've both heard of where Jewish people have, you know, been handed a scripture, this scripture, Isaiah 53, and told to read it out loud. And they start reading and go, "Why did you hand me the New Testament? I don't read the Christian Bible". They were reading the New Testament, they were reading Isaiah 53.

Jonathan Bernis: I have a story I've told many times of a dear friend who many of you are familiar with. He is very well-known Christian television, but when his mother died, he went to synagogue with his father every morning for a period of time after his mother passed, and he decides to get a Bible, a Jewish scripture from the synagogue, and actually has the rabbi sign it. And then, takes it to his father or mentions it top his father, "Can I read something to you"? Reads Isaiah 53 and his father says, "I told you never to bring a New Testament in my house". And he says, "Dad, this is from our own scriptures. It's in Isaiah". His father looks at the Bible, looks at the scriptures, and then my friend says, "Look, even the rabbi signed it". You know what his father said? "I never trusted that rabbi". So, that's a funny story, but I think it typifies the reality that Jewish people are blinded to scriptures concerning the Messiah that are in their own text.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and we're gonna talk about that in a couple of minutes. But I think, Jonathan, just looking right at the scriptures to begin, I mean, you start to read it, "Who's believed our message to whom is the arm of the Lord has been revealed"? And it talks about this one who is despised and rejected by mankind, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, familiar with pain. And right away, right, we can so clearly see, this must be talking about Jesus.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and not only is it talking about Jesus, but it's a very clear prophecy of his rejection. So, we see very clearly that from the beginning he's not gonna be accepted by his own people.

Ezra Benjamin: And before we continue with the remaining verses, and there's so many in this chapter, Jonathan, give us a little bit of the context. What's going on here in Isaiah?

Jonathan Bernis: Sure. So, Isaiah, first of all, Isaiah's ministry is a picture of rejection. His prophecies are rejected by his own people. They're not gonna have ears to hear. He's warned about this. He said, "You're gonna through your entire ministry, proclaim my word as a prophet, but you're not going to be heard, they're not gonna understand what you're saying, you're gonna be rejected". And he's asking, "How long will it be like this"? And there's an answer that I think is a picture of the last days, the end of the age that and only then will they see. So, Isaiah is warned of this, that they're gonna be blind and deaf to his word. So, it's really a picture of Messiah's rejection and Isaiah is writing beginning in chapter 48, actually, through 54, a series of poems. What scholars call "The poems of the suffering servant".

Ezra Benjamin: Interesting.

Jonathan Bernis: And so, we see snapshots of this servant who, by the way, the predecessors of the rabbis understood was the Messiah.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And this was a dilemma because the Messiah is a ruling and reigning king.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: The Messiah comes in glory and power.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: The Messiah like king David establishes God's righteousness and judgment. "And the rulers of the earth," Psalm 2, "Take counselor together, but they must embrace the son," right?

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: Because God is laughing from heaven. So, this is the ruling, reigning Messiah, and then you have these suffering servant poems that clearly are Messianic. Listen to this one, Ezra, before Isaiah 53, Isaiah 52. Listen to the clarity of this, the suffering servant, okay. "See my servant will act wisely. He will be raised and lifted up, and highly exalted". But then, look what it says, "Just as they were many who are appalled at him, his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness, so we will sprinkle many nations, the gentiles. And kings will shut their mouths because of him, for what they are told they will see, and what they have not heard they will understand". So, he's going to be exalted, but first he's going to be rejected. He's going to be disfigured. And it actually talks about plucking out his beard. This is before Isaiah 53. So, you have these passages of the servant of God, who will eventually be exalted, but first he'll be rejected. Well, we've only started this conversation, but we need to step away for a minute. I wanna ask you to consider partnering with us at Jewish Voice to share Yeshua, Jesus, to Jewish people and their neighbors around the world. We need your involvement. Watch now to see how you can do that.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back. I wanna take a moment before we go on to say thank you on behalf of Ezra and the staff at Jewish Voice and the thousands, the tens of thousands of people that we minister to and say thank you for your partnership with Jewish Voice. Our purpose is to see lives transform in the salvation of Israel, that's our purpose. And topics like this that we've been discussing are great insights for you to pray for and share with Jewish neighbors, and friends, and co-workers about Jesus and how he fulfills the prophecy of their own scriptures. Ezra, Isaiah 53 is probably the clearest, most important single prophecy about the Messiah and Jesus fulfills every last statement, prophetic statement.

Ezra Benjamin: He certainly does. I've been thinking of Jesus' own words, right, "I haven't come to abolish the law, I haven't come to abolish what God said in the Old Testament scriptures. I've come to fulfill". And we see how Jesus fulfilled so much of Isaiah 35. Jonathan, I think we should look at some specific, some specific verse here.

Jonathan Bernis: And we'll put 'em up on the screen as we look at it.

Ezra Benjamin: Isaiah 53:3 says, jumping right in here, "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain," or well acquainted with grief. And yet, it says, "Like one from whom people hid their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not".

Jonathan Bernis: That's such a clear picture of Yeshua in the gospels.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: He has a group of followers, right, and the growing crowd, but then they end up rejecting him when he says hard things that they don't understand.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: And then, you have the pharisees, the Sadducees. It's not the Jewish people against Jewish. He split the Jewish community. But in general, he's despised and rejected, and that's true of history. You know, he's been a despised figure. He's been beloved, he's transformed lives, but he's also been a despised figure.

Ezra Benjamin: Of course. And I think, you know, unfortunately in a lot of Christian teaching even, there's a tendency to vilify the Jewish people at large. And what I mean by that is to say, "Uh, it's so clear, it's Jesus. How could they reject him as the Messiah"? But, Jonathan, as we talk about the Jewish people were expecting a Messiah who would come to right the wrongs done to Israel, to bring justice to the Jewish people, and to rule and reign as a conquering king. And what we couldn't by enlarge as a people see is that he also had to come, in fact, he first had to come as a suffering servant because of the sin problem.

Jonathan Bernis: It's a real conflict. Imagine trying to figure out, how is the king Messiah who's going to come in powering victory also a despised figure that's rejected?

Ezra Benjamin: Right. And I think the answer, actually, we just read verse 3, "This man of sorrows and we hid our faces from him. He was despised and rejected". And we're going, "Wait a minute, this is, this is God in the form of a man. This is the Messiah, the conquering king, how can he be despised and rejected"? But look at verse 4, why is he despised and rejected? Why is he familiar with grief? It says, "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering". So, he's actually carrying something for us. His pain and his suffering, and his rejection actually is ours, but he's carrying it.

Jonathan Bernis: Right. And he becomes the bearer of not only the sins of Israel, but the sins of the world. Ezra, I just wanted to add that the reason that I think the name "Jesus" is so despised. First of all, there's a misconception that he's the God of Christianity. But not only do you have the expectation of a ruling king, but then you have a Christian church that becomes predominantly gentile with teaches against the Jewish people blaming them for killing their Christ, who is really the Messiah of Israel. And then, you have a 2,000 year history of hatred, of animosity, of pain and suffering, and ultimately genocide in the name of Christ and Christianity. Now, we can say they weren't true Christians, but they were representatives of Christianity and therefore, of Christ. And for the Jewish people, that's a...Jesus becomes the one responsible for that horrible history.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: When he in fact, like Joseph is their brother.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And even we have to bring that truth.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. His name, even, you said Jesus. In English we say Jesus, and of course, he answers to Jesus. That's how we call him in English, but his name in Hebrew is Yeshua, which comes from the word Yeshua, salvation. And it says, "You shall call his name salvation," Yeshua, in English, Jesus, "Because he'll save his people from their sins". And that's exactly what we see here. And in verse 5, "He was pierced", the suffering Savior, the Messiah was pierced, "For our transgression, and he was crushed for our sins, for our iniquities. And that punishment that brought us peace with God was laid on him and by his wounds we are healed".

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, now, look at it in its context. It's Isaiah writing to the Jewish people, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it's declaring Yeshua as the one who would bear their sins, who would take upon himself their sufferings and bring them healing. This despised and rejected figure actually becomes the sin bearer. And the agency of healing and peace with God for the people of Israel, and by extension to the nations, to the world. "We all, like sheep", verse 6, "Have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way," and look at this, "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all".

Ezra Benjamin: Of us all.

Jonathan Bernis: And then, you have the passion laid out so clearly. "He was oppressed and afflicted," verse 7, "He didn't open his mouth, he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth". By oppression and judgment, he was taken away. This is the sacrifice lamb, the Lamb of God that John saw and said, "The one that would take away the sins of the world".

Ezra Benjamin: You took the words right out of my mouth. Right John, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". Was that just his own poetic language? John saw Jesus, Yeshua and said, "This is the one upon whom the iniquity of us all has been laid. This is the lamb led to the slaughter. He's coming for our salvation".

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, every time I read this, it's just mind blowing that this is written hundreds of years before Jesus is ever born, before Yeshua is ever born. And it's so clear now, now it's so clear because the blindness has been removed from my eyes and your eyes as Jewish believers.

Ezra Benjamin: I think, maybe, you know, on the one hand we say, "Ah, Jesus isn't doing something new, he's fulfilling something old". That Isaiah and the rest of the prophets, even Moses saw what happened hundreds of thousand, two thousand years before Jesus walked on earth. But the second point, maybe even more important, Jonathan, is maybe you're asking, "It so clear to me, how can the Jewish people not see this"? And that's the spiritual principle Paul talks about, that blinders remain. Understand this, blinders remain over the hearts of the majority of Jewish people in the world, they will... We can read this, we can behold these scriptures and still not see it. "We're spiritually blind," the scriptures say, "Until the blinders are removed".

Jonathan Bernis: And the good news is, is that God promises to remove the blinders.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And you're connected to that.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: The blinders come off of their eyes when believers, when followers of the Messiah of Israel, when Christians, followers of Christ, Christos, the Messiah, the Jewish Messiah are able to share with them, pray for them, and God answers prayer.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: And the day will come when the blinders will be removed for the majority. In fact, it says, "All Israel," in Romans 11, "Shall be saved and specifically in the day that fullness comes to the gentiles". And your job is to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: And you can't do that without sharing and demonstrating the love of God to them and proclaiming the good news. That's absolutely credible. You know, I just wanna go back and say there's a dual meaning worth pointing out here. When he's led as a lamb to the slaughter and John recognizes that he's the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, I think he's referring to Isaiah 53, but also going back to the Passover story where the lamb is sacrificed at Passover to cover the doorpost of the house of the Israelites, so that the angel of death will pass over them.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Right? Well, Yeshua, Jesus provides his own blood as the eternal lamb and the angel of eternal death now passes over. I think that there's a dual meaning here and that Isaiah understands that when he talks about the lamb being led to the slaughter. It's the Passover lamb.

Ezra Benjamin: So important.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. This is an incredible chapter of scripture. There's so much more we can talk about, we just don't have the time. Ezra and I are go, we have to take a break, but Ezra and I are gonna come back and pray for your needs in just a minute. First, our announcer is going to share with you an incredible opportunity to support Jewish Voice medical outreaches and ministries all over the world. So, listen to this short message, and Ezra and I will be right back to join with you in prayer.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, we just have a minute or so left to pray for people.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: I wanna do, I really feel led to do this. Many of you, parents, grandparents are praying for the salvation of a loved one, a family member, a friend. We're praying for the salvation of the Jewish people. I'm praying for the salvation of my own family members. We have a God who desires that all should come to repentance, and I just wanna take a moment to specifically pray for that family member, or loved one, or friend to find their salvation in Yeshua, in Jesus, and for the salvation of Israel, so let's join together. And the Bible say, "Where we agree together, God hears and answers". I believe that. His ear is not too dull that he doesn't hear. So, Lord... Just join with me now. "Lord, I pray, we pray right now specifically for the salvation of loved ones, of family members, of co-workers, of friends, and we declare their salvation".

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: "We say they shall be saved. We agree together that we and our household shall be saved. We thank you for your promise to bring salvation to all Israel, and we declare it in the name of our salvation, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, amen".

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: And amen. Well, this show was just a little taste of the ministry of Jewish Voice and our commitment to reach Jewish communities, and to help you understand the Jewish roots of your faith and your calling to share the gospel with Jewish people. For more information, you can go to We have lots of resources available and we have a team here at Jewish Voice committed to reading your prayer requests and praying for you by name. We believe in the power of prayer, and we care about you, and more importantly, God cares about you. He cares about your family, and you can trust him. We close our program today, I wanna remind you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. On a daily basis we're called to pray for the Jewish people and God says they will prosper who love thee. So, I really encourage you, join with us in prayer for the salvation of the Jewish people. Until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis along with Ezra Benjamin saying, shalom and God bless you.
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