SPEARS AND SHIELDS – Gadara
Cornelius was relieved that he was finally alone. He hoped that there will be no distractions for the rest of the day. He sat on his chair and opened up the big book. The night before, he completed translating a prophetical discourse of the Messiah’s message of encouragement to Israel. Whether it is to the Israel of today or the next generation is still up in question. The next passages he was reading had the beginnings of a new chapter designation. This chapter piqued his interest for it had a different ring to it than any of the preceding chapters. The Prophet Isaiah seems to be describing on what is to happen to the Messiah and it describes him suffering greatly even unto death.
On a separate parchment sheet, he translated the fifteen Hebrew verses into Greek. After reading it three times, he had to wonder if Isaiah was describing a literal happening or something that was figurative. He hoped it was the latter.
When Jacob returned, he beckoned that he sits next to him. “Jacob, look at these passages!” He slid the big book to him and pointed at the desired passages. “Let me read out loud my translation to you and you follow by reading the Hebrew. Tell me if I have gotten it right.”
“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 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 had not heard they will understand. [Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB]
“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,
And 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.
“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 we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
“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 we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
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;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
“His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
“But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
“As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.” [Isaiah 53 NASB]
“Cornelius, this is going to be strange to hear,” Jacob quietly said as he lifted his eyes. “But you have come upon a passage that I am strangely unfamiliar with. Though I have read this prophet many times, I do not honestly recall these particular words. Of course, I do tend to mostly focus on prophetic promises. I am ashamed to admit that this selfishness had blinded me to miss out on what should be a profound revelation to my God’s character.”
Jacob went silent. Cornelius could see that he was lost in his thoughts and did not want to intrude. He reached for another sheet of parchment which had his notes of the preceding chapters including many chapters that he jumped ahead right after this one. On his notes, he reviewed the list of the works of the Messiah. It is quite clear that the Messiah will fulfill everything that God had promise to not only to Israel but to the world. But this chapter which describes what happens to the Messiah stands out from the rest. He could not make it fit.
“This chapter is an enigma!” Cornelius said, breaking the silence.
“This indicated that Messiah is to be killed and that God allowed it. How is this futuristic kingdom to be ushered in if the Messiah is killed?”
“There lies the mystery. As a young scribe, I tried to make sense of much of prophecy. The problem is that we are reading of things that are yet to happen. Understanding comes when they are finally fulfilled. Look at what we uncovered so far that convinced us that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. When I first came upon the prophecy of the sign of the virgin birth, I did not think it was literal. Then we hear Mariam’s account of Jesus’ birth. Then there are those things that he had done which again fit. But his story is not yet over. There is only one absolute truth that we can count on. If God says that it is going to happen, then IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!”
“But why such suffering and then death?”
Before Jacob could answer, multiple whistle sounds can be heard through out the fort. Then the trumpets were sounded.
The story continues on in my next post.
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