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Week Seven | When the Words Catch Fire

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Chapter 13
Listen to the Audio version | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Since reading Scripture through a Jewish lens, we have recognized the “Jewishness” of the song, Same God by Elevation Worship, and how it is an anthem that calls us to zakhar –to remember.

“I’m calling on the God of Jacob
Whose love endures through generations
I know that You will keep your covenant.

I’m calling on the God of Moses
The one who opened up the ocean
I need You now to do the same thing for me”

– Same God | Elevation

As Lois Tverberg explained in chapter 7 of Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus“…English speakers have a habit of reading every “you” in the Bible as if it’s addressed “me all by myself” rather than “me within God’s larger community.” (pg. 133)

In this sense, I have begun singing this song in the plural.  By taking these lyrics and giving them the community-minded treatment, changing “I” and “me” to “we” and “us,” it has only enhanced the “Jewishness” of this song.

It’s fascinating to recognize some of the Jewish roots within our modern Christian songs, and yet, we’ve been reminded again this week that there is a collective of people who are missing the Jewish roots of Judaism… and, at that right, Christianity.

The Forbidden Chapter

Did you know that Isaiah 53 has been referred to as the “Forbidden Chapter” by some due to the fact that this particular chapter is not included, for whatever reason, in the Jewish haftarah?  

Lois shares in chapter 10,

“What about the messianic prophecies about Jesus?  Where do we find them in synagogue lectionaries?  Brace yourselves, but they are nowhere to be found in the annual lectionary that is used now.  Bear in mind that the Torah is read aloud in its entirety during synagogue services, but only a subset of the Neviim is read, selected because it complements the Torah reading.”

Lois Tverberg, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, Pg. 202

According to an article by One For Israel, a wide variety of Jewish texts [click here to read the full list], including the whole Talmud, “always related the chapter to the Messiah, as did all the rabbis until about a thousand years ago.  Everyone agreed that Isaiah 53 prophecies about the Messiah.”

Today, the interpretation accepted among the rabbis comes from the Spaniard Rashi, who did not want to admit that Yeshua was the Messiah, so he began to reinterpret the prophecy of Isiah 53 so that it was no longer about the Messiah but instead about the people of Israel.

Since it’s truly not forbidden, let’s take a look at this chapter:

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces,
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely, he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds, we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment, he was taken away.
    Yet, who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people, he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore, I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53, NIV

We are His Prized Possession

“You heard your children then,
You hear your children now,
You are the same God.”

– Same God | Elevation Worship

We have been grafted in, meaning that the root of Jesse is alive and thriving.  

“…the we-focused biblical world spoke of Christ purchasing an entire kingdom through his sacrificial death, not just little old me or you.”

Lois Tverberg, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, Pg. 248

We are His prized possession.

“The Servant is not just going to be handed a prize along with other people.  The people are actually his spoils.  He’s being awarded with the people because of his suffering on their behalf… the Son of Man is exalted, he is awarded with a kingdom.  All peoples and nations will be his forever and ever.”

Lois Tverberg, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, Pg. 244-245

“You were a savior then
You are a savior now
You are the same God.”

– Same God | Elevation Worship

Just as our Jewish brothers and sisters are community-minded, I invite you to join us in this practice of changing “I” and “me” to “we” and “us” whenever you hear this song.

1. Some messianic prophecies, including Isaiah 53, are left out of synagogue lectionaries. The priestly city of the new Jerusalem will be more beautiful than we can imagine.
2. Up until about 1,000 years ago, Jews believed that the prophecy of Isaiah 53 was about the Messiah.
3. We have been grafted in, meaning that the root of Jesse is alive and thriving. 
4. The we-focused biblical world spoke of Christ purchasing an entire kingdom through his sacrificial death
5. He is the same God, yesterday, now, and forever.

What is another area in which you can intentionally practice being community-minded?

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus | Lois Tverberg

A 7-week study considering what it might be like to sit down beside Jesus as He explained the Bible and find fresh, practical insights for following our Rabbi’s teachings from a Jewish point of view.

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