Wisdom and Poetical Books
Are there predictions about Jesus in the book of Isaiah?
There are several takes on this. The New Testament cites passages in Isaiah as being predictions of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death. For many Christians, this belief carries on to this day. However, some modern-day Christians believe that Isaiah’s prophecies dealt with Isaiah’s time only. Then there is the possibility that one theory does not negate the validity of the other. One prediction can apply to more than one event.
For instance, Isaiah 7:14 (NRSV) reads, “Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” The identity of the young woman could be Mary, the mother of Jesus. If this was the case, Isaiah was speaking of something that will happen some seven hundred years in the future. Or the woman could be Hezekiah’s mother or Isaiah’s wife. That interpretation means Isaiah was speaking to the people about the impending Assyrian captivity of Israel, and the impending Babylonian Captivity of Judah.
Perhaps the most striking example of how one prophecy can be read more than one way is found in Chapter 53. In this chapter, Isaiah describes the suffering servant: “Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.” (NRSV, Isaiah 53:4–5) Many scholars say this is a plain and unveiled prediction of Jesus and his death on the cross, while others say this is a reference to Israel.