76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 67 - Many Christians regard these sermons as prophetic.
July 21st, 1963
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
To continue with Chapter 53: 4 - 6:
“Surely he [Israel, or the prophet] Has borne our sicknesses, and carried our sufferings, While we esteemed him stricken, Smitten of God and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And Jehovah laid upon him the punishment of us all.”
Here the Second Isaiah, as he has told me, had in mind the sins, cruelty, oppressions and barbarisms, not only of his own days, but the savagery and abominations that attended the slow course of history, and he felt that, although Israel had surely sinned and transgressed, as the plain Scriptures made clear, yet the throat-cutting, ritual slaughter of children and captives, and the incredible inhuman behavior among the heathens, which had called forth so many invectives of fierce anger among the prophets, was a record of positive fact of which Jehovah was intensely aware and which had to be punished, and who should be punished but he who knew God and had therefore less excuse for iniquity - Israel? (Or, if I interpret the victim as the prophet, one who knew God more so than the people?)
Thus in his verses the Second Isaiah here makes the Babylonians have a sense of their own sins and moral failings, and realize that Israel received the punishment of God for the sins which they and other pagan nations had committed. Hence the Second Isaiah elevated to a moral plane the agricultural rites conceived with the god Tammuz, and makes the innocent suffer for the guilty in a sort of vicarious atonement quite at home with the pagan concept of the dying god, and at the same time evoking an emotional response in Hebrews familiar with Ezekiel’s writings and Jeremiah’s sufferings.
The prophet, once having combined these elements, now stresses the humiliation and death of the nation-prophet along traditional Babylonian lines, as contained in Second Isaiah, 53: 7 - 9:
“He was oppressed, yet he humbled himself, and opened not his mouth, As a Lamb is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb. By oppressive judgment he was taken away. And who took note of his fate that he was cut off out of the land of the living, for our transgressions smitten to death? And they made his grave with the wicked, and with evildoers his mound, although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
These words are extremely interesting, first from the literary aspect, in that they form inspired religious poetry, depicting the punishment of the scapegoat nation-prophet preceding redemption and containing a high emotional appeal, and second because many Christians regard these verses as prophetic, seeming to point to the Christ to come. But I am interested in explaining the source or composition of these verses to show they did not refer to me in any way, but followed a line of thought determined by Israel’s sorrowful situation as exiles in the land of the Babylonian overlords.
Given the nation-prophet as scapegoat, to take upon himself the sins of others, which is, as I have already shown, purely Hebrew in concept, the Second Isaiah sought the locale and circumstances in the actual Babylonian religious experience. In the early pagan spring festival or Sacaea the god Marduk and Ishtar, the fertility goddess, triumphed over the forms of death represented by the autumn - winter seasons. The same view characterized the cult of Tammuz. In very ancient times the triumph was brought about through the death of the king; and his offspring, his son, would reign in his stead revitalizing youth. But this spectacle was gradually replaced in the festival play, first in which the son died instead, and finally, wherein a criminal, condemned to death, was taken from prison to enact the role of the king, and was actually mocked, scourged and then put to death in this bloody pagan sacrifice. This spectacle was repeated yearly in the spring and the Hebrew prophet, as well as the Hebrew community in Babylon, was intensely aware of this barbarous practice. Thus the verses just cited refer to this festival of Sacaea. The sacrificed criminal, who died in place of the king’s son to bring life again to the fields and food for the people, is blended with the image of the Hebrew nation- prophet dying to bring life again to the nation and to all peoples through the redemptive action, as the pagans thought, of their deity.
I repeat that Christians traditionally thought this to refer to me, and they have eagerly seized upon such details as the “lamb” led to the slaughter, and others which have been “explained” ad nauseam in their books of theology. But let me disabuse them once again that I am not a “dying god” either of the Babylonian, Christian, or any other sect, come to take away the sins of mankind with my dried up blood, but Jesus, the Messiah, come to make available to mankind the eternal life of the soul, through prayer to the Father for His Love.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens