Rabbi Schneider - Facing Persecution
One of the things that has shifted in our culture is that there is no longer an agreed-upon set of values or of truth. What is happening today is that anybody can get online and propagate anything at all. And if it's said long enough, people will, unfortunately, oftentimes begin to believe that it's truth. You've heard the saying before: if a lie is repeated enough, eventually people lose sight of the fact it's a lie and they begin to accept it as truth. We're living in a society which makes it very difficult to understand what is truth? Of course, this question, "what is truth"? it's a question that has been a millennial years in the asking. As Yeshua stood before Pilate, and Yeshua stood before him, saying, "I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth," Pilate said, "What is truth"?
Well, today that question is even more contested. And the reason that I'm bringing it up, beloved, on today's show, is because when we study messianic prophecy, what we're doing is we're going back hundreds and thousands of years ago to see what the prophets of God proclaimed, and then are seeing visibly how the prophet's words predicting the future came to pass. And we're focusing, of course, today on how Yeshua HaMashiach brought the words of the prophets to pass in His own life and ministry. The point is, is that when we see a prophecy that was given thousands of years ago, and then we see Yeshua specifically fulfill it in a detailed way, we see this as truth. It's not simply subjective, which most proof today is subjective. It changes with the culture. The concept of what's right and wrong it's no longer objective. It's subjective. It changes as the world modernizes.
I remember, for example, that I'm 62 years old, and my mom, unfortunately, didn't breastfeed me. And I remember of my wife, Cynthia, who breastfed all our children, I remember Cynthia talking to my mother and saying, "You know, why didn't you breastfeed Kirt"? And my mom said, "Well, it just wasn't really in vogue at the time". She didn't use the word "in vogue," but it just wasn't what was culturally happening in her circle. So because in her circle, which was, you know, a liberal Jewish community in Cleveland, Ohio, which most Jewish people, as you know, in the United States are more liberal, that culture was just not breastfeeding during those days. So my mom felt feeding with the bottle was right. But God's Word does not change with the times. God's Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. One of the most cutting edge ways that we see this is in the area of Messianic prophecy.
Once again, we look at the words of the prophets that prophesied thousands of years ago, and then we see how Yeshua have fulfilled those words that were spoken way before His lifetime in a scientific, measurable way. So we are in our series on messianic prophecy. And I left off last time, I was talking about the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the 53rd chapter. Now, let me say that Isaiah is one of the books most frequently quoted in the Brit Chadasha, in the New Testament. In fact, one of my favorite prophecies from the book of Isaiah that's quoted in the book of Matthew is in Matthew 8. Yeshua had just got done preaching His longest recorded sermon recorded in the gospels. It was on the sermon of what we call the mount the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was preaching from the mountaintop. After He preached again, this longest sermon that's recorded in the New Testament, He came down the mountain. And as He was coming down the mountain, He started running into all these people that needed a physical healing, one after another after another.
One person came to him that needed to be delivered from a demon. And finally, after many episodes have taken place, different episodes along the pathway where Jesus had physically healed or delivered somebody, we finally get to the climax of this. And it begins here in Matthew 8:16. Hear the Word of God. "When evening came, they brought to Him many who are demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and", listen, "healed all who were ill". So now He's already delivered many people, healed many people, time is moving on, and now it's the evening. And everybody was coming to Him. They brought to Him many people that were demon-possessed and physically ill. And the Bible says, "Jesus healed all who are ill and He cast out the demons with the Word". Now listen to the next verse that Matthew records here. "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.'" This is an exact quote from the book of Isaiah 53:4.
I love the book of Isaiah because what Isaiah shows us, particularly at the end of chapter 52 and all through chapter 53, is that Jesus who knew no sin became sin on our behalf. That Jesus took our sin in His own body on the tree, and He gave us, instead, His righteousness and His health. By His stripes we are healed. It's the principle of substitutionary sacrificial atonement. Jesus the innocent one who knew no sin, and had no illness in His body died in the cross in our place, taking our sin and our sickness in His body and giving us back His righteousness and His health instead. So Isaiah 53 is one of the most transactional chapters in the Word of God. It shows how we went from darkness to light. It all is summed up in the atonement of Jesus.
Now, messianic prophecy I believe finds its climax in Isaiah 53. So I want to take just a few minutes today, beloved one, and I want to read the last few verses of Isaiah 52. And then I'm going to read all through Isaiah 53. I just want you to absorb it. We're studying messianic prophecy. And to me, this is the most complete, profound messianic portion in the entire Tanakh and the entire Hebrew Bible, even though there are many prophetic messianic portions in the Hebrew Bible. But I believe messianic prophecy finds its climax at the end of Isaiah 52 in through Isaiah 53. Now keep in mind this is just a tidbit of information. When the scroll of Isaiah was first written, there was no chapter divisions. In other words, when Isaiah recorded his prophecy, he didn't write 52, Isaiah 52. It was just all one scroll. But later, the scribes added chapters and verses so that people could easily find their place in reference and be on the same track with one another. In other words, you can go to your Bible today and you can go to Isaiah 52:13 and you can find precisely where I'm going to begin.
I remember a funny story that I witnessed one time where the person that was standing in the synagogue, he was reading the Torah portion for the day, and he was reading through the Torah, and he lost his place. And he said, "I lost my place because there's no markings in the Torah". So he's reading through the Torah and he lost his place, and he said, "Oh, I lost my place". And the person a little bit off to the side said, "Well, it's the place where it says, 'The Lord said to Moses.'" And the joke is when you read through the Torah, you see that phrase over and over and over and over again. "The Lord said to Moses". So you couldn't really find your place by finding the spot on the Torah where it said, "The Lord said to Moses". But if you said a specific chapter and verse, Deuteronomy chapter 31, verse 2, then you could easily get to that place.
So again, just a little explanation to the fact that there were originally not chapters and verses, but these were added by the translators so that we could all be on the same page and find our place together. Let's open our hearts now to hear the Word of God. "Behold, My servant will prosper". Now remember this is all about Jesus. Behold. And how do we know it's all about Jesus? Because I just read from the book of Matthew 8 and he was quoting from this portion that I'm about to read. And he was saying this was all about Jesus. So we interpret the Hebrew Bible or the Tanakh through the lens of the Brit Chadasha or the New Testament because we know that prophecy finds its climax in the New Testament through whom all of the Hebrew Bible aim towards.
Let's start again. "Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form was more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they have not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message"?
Let me simply say here that Isaiah is delivering this tremendous secret that's about to be revealed. And he's talking about this one emerging, who people wouldn't recognize, that His face would be marred, but this was the one that held that key to the nations and was the secret to victory. But now Isaiah is going to continue in Isaiah 53:1 and he's going to say, "Even though this one that I'm declaring and describing is the key, He's the mystery of mysteries". He's the one that unlocks everything. All the treasures of mystery are found in Him. Isaiah said, "The problem was that people didn't recognize Him". So Isaiah continues in Isaiah 53. "Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot"...
Notice here, it's He, speaking of Yeshua growing up before Him, the Father. "For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground". In other words, He was a human being in His flesh. He was just like every other man. There was nothing special about His flesh. You know, as an infant, He still looked helpless. "So He grew up like a tender shoot, like a root out of parched ground. He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him".
There was nothing special in Yeshua's physical appearance because His power and His genius was not in His physical appearance. It was what was inside. He was clothed with humanity, but inside there was divinity. "He was despised and forsaken of men". You know, when truth confronts power, truth is despised. That's why we live in such a politically correct society today, because people are oftentimes afraid to speak the truth. What happens to people that speak the truth to power? They're rejected. They're despised. They're ganged up on. So Jesus too was a man that spoke truth to power. And as a result of that, He was hated. The Bible says that darkness hates the light.
And so Jesus was despised and rejected of men. "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face". And let me just take a step here for a second and just go off to the side and make an application for you and I. This is specifically speaking of Jesus. But we're His body. And I want to prepare you, beloved one, I want to prepare you church, that if you'll continue to stand for Yeshua, if you'll continue to stand for Jesus, and you'll continue to have a bold testimony in this generation moving forward, if you'll continue to declare that Yeshua is the only way to heaven as the Word of God teaches, if you'll continue to declare biblical morals, I want to tell you, you too will be rejected, you too will be despised, you too will become like one who men don't want to associate with.
Because we live in a wicked culture, we live in a godless generation, we live in an era where people are swimming in iniquity. And when you speak truth to vileness, when you speak truth to a society that is entrapped in wickedness, when you speak truth and light into the darkness, it's going to react and jump and gang up on you. People today, unfortunately, are afraid to speak the truth because the enemy tries to silence them. But let me tell you, it doesn't take up a majority to carry the day. It only takes a majority that keeps our mouths silent for a minority to sway and change the world.
We must not keep silent. We must be bold. We must stand and take our place in Messiah Yeshua, speaking the truth, naming His name is the name above all names, and speaking truth into a godless world and coming against the immorals of this world, standing on the ancient foundation even if it means we are rejected. Because Jesus said, "If they hated you, know that it hated me before it hated you". Jesus said, "Blessed are you when you're rejected and men speak all kinds of insults about you because of me, for great is your reward in heaven". But if we keep silent, if we don't be who Jesus called us to be, the light of the earth, the light of the world and the salt of the earth, if we don't be like those that are on a mountaintop shining as light so people can see, "then what good are we"? Jesus said. We need to stand for the truth down here even if it means we're rejected just like was the case with King Jesus Himself.
So let's go on. We're simply saying that Isaiah declared what would happen when Messiah came. That He'd be despised and rejected. And I just simply made the application beloved one, that you and I as His body, if we walk in His light, if we reflect His nature, if we declare His words, the same thing that He faced, we will face. We're rejected with Him. "All that desire," the Scripture says, "to live godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted". "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised," and Isaiah said, "we did not esteem Him". "But surely," he continues in verse 4, "our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted".
In other words, Isaiah was saying, "You don't get it? Yeah, He was marred, yes, His face was distorted because of what people did to Him as a result of His testimony". But Isaiah is telling us here, "It was because of your sin that this happened to Him". Verse five, "But he was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging," Isaiah says, "we are healed". "All of us like sheep have gone astray, and each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth", He stood before Pilate and He kept silent, "like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth".
And Isaiah just continues on to talk about how this was God's purpose to allow His Son to be crushed and put to death, to be scorched, whipped, pierced through in His hands and feet. Why? Beloved ones, because he was taking our sin in His own body on the tree. Jesus is the Messiah. We're not looking for some other type of Messianic figure. We're not looking for some new world leader to bring peace and harmony. It will never happen. We're not looking for someone to come and tell us that everything's okay, to include everybody.
I read yesterday about a situation in California, where there was a situation where a pedophile, a homosexual pedophile abused this child, and the judges were told by somebody in government not to be too hard on this case because we don't want to be too hard on the LGBT community for fear that we're going to get repercussion from that. Everybody is stepping back and saying, instead, "Everything's okay. Everything's okay. Let's just bless it all".
Let me tell you. The Messiah is not coming in some future political leader that blesses everything without boundaries and the absolute morals of the Word of God. No Messiah has already come. And His name is Jesus, Yeshua HaMashiach. And Yeshua said, "Straight and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it". Jesus said, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you'll surely no wise enter the kingdom of God". We don't have to do it alone. But we have to call out for mercy, call out for help, accept God's written Word of God as the standard for morality and right and wrong, and the call of righteous upon our life. "And seek," beloved, "strive," Jesus said, "to enter in". Jesus has come once and for all. And Beloved, we must receive Him now. Today is the day of salvation, not tomorrow.