BookDon't worry, the quiz won't be difficult, so please play along until the end, I think you'll be glad you did! :) First, as you read the following paragraph, consider Question #1: Who is this paragraph talking about? (You may not even have to read the whole thing to figure it out!)

Many were amazed when they saw him – beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about … There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins – that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave. But it was the LORD's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.

So, who is this paragraph talking about? If you said Jesus, you'd be correct.

Question #2: When was this paragraph written?

It would be natural to say that it was written after Jesus died; after all, it describes Jesus' life & death (the "passion" narrative) so perfectly. But actually, this passage is from the book of Isaiah which is part of the Old Testament (Isaiah 52:14-53:12) which was written in approximately 700BC … over 700 years before Jesus was born.

Louis S. Lapides came from a strong Jewish family. He attended a conservative Jewish synagogue for seven years. Nevertheless, he (after many misadventures into many different faiths) came to accept Jesus as His messiah when he actually read the Old Testament. He "was stopped cold by Isaiah 53 … So breathtaking was this discovery that Lapides could only come to one conclusion: It was a fraud! He believed that Christians had rewritten the Old Testament and twisted Isaiah's words" (Strobel, Case for Christ, 177-179). But there was no fraud; the passage is the same in the Jewish (Hebrew) Bible.

The majority of the prophecy (writings by the prophets) is not predictive prophecy, meaning that it does not try to predict what will happen in the future. Yet for those portions that do, what should we make of passages like this that predict Jesus' life and work hundreds of years before He lived?

Further reading:

Saw this today on Engadget and just had to post it here:

Jews for Jesus tract featuring Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs Tract

(click to enlarge & read the whole thing)

Pure awesome. Though a bit skimpy on the actual gospel message, this is definitely an innovative and witty way to reach people who are, I assume, often forgotten by evangelistic efforts.

(Update: The official page for this tract is here on the Jews for Jesus website.)