The Prophecies of the Old Testament, Respecting Messiah,
Considered; and Proved to be Literally Fulfilled in Jesus, Containing An Answer to the Objections of the Author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy.
by John Gill
Summary of Prophecies of the Old Testament
This is a 13 chapter work on the Messiah.
Chapter Content of Prophecies of the Old Testament
Chapter 1: The Introduction; with a Particular Consideration of that First Prophecy, Respecting the Messiah, Recorded in Genesis 3:15.
Chapter 2: Shewing that the Messiah was Promised to Abraham, and what Advantages the Nations of the World were to Receive by Him.
Chapter 3: Concerning the Time of the Messiah’s Coming.
Chapter 4: Concerning the Messiah’s Lineage and Descent.
Chapter 5: Concerning the Miraculous Conception and Birth of the Messiah.
Chapter 6: Concerning the Place of the Messiah’s Birth.
Chapter 7: Shewing the Several Circumstances Which Attend the Messiah’s Birth.
Chapter 8: Concerning the Prophetic Office of the Messiah.
Chapter 9: Concerning the Messiah’s Entrance into Jerusalem.
Chapter 10: Concerning the Sufferings of the Messiah.
Chapter 11: Concerning the Resurrection of the Messiah.
Chapter 12: Concerning the Ascension of the Messiah to Heaven.
Chapter 13: Concerning the Magnificent and August Names and Titles of the Messiah in the Old Testament.
Excerpt 1 – Shewing that the Messiah was promised to Abraham, and what advantages the nations of the world were to receive by him.
The next prophecy, respecting the Messiah, or discovery that was made of him to the sons of men, was made to Abraham, (Gen. 22:18). And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Now, in the former prophecy, it was left undiscovered and undetermined, out of what people or nation the Messiah should arise, and only, in general declared, that he should be the seed of the woman; but in this it is expressed in plain terms, that he should be of the seed and posterity of Abraham; as Jesus, the true Messiah was, who (Heb. 2:16) took not upon him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, and is therefore justly called (Matt. 1:1) Abraham’s son. But, for the better understanding of this prophecy, two things should be inquired into, 1. Who is meant by the seed of Abraham, in whom all nations should be blessed? 2. What advantages the nations of the world should receive by this promised seed?
First, It will be proper to inquire, who is meant by the seed of Abraham, in whom all nations of the earth were to be blessed? Now this seed cannot intend Isaac, the immediate seed of Abraham, because this blessing in the extensiveness of it, was never verified in him: Besides, it is carried down to his posterity (Gen. 26:4), as not terminating in him, it not being intended of him; and for the very same reasons, it cannot design Jacob, the immediate seed of Isaac, (see Gen. 28:14), nor has it ever received its completion in the whole body of the Israelitish nation, the posterity of Jacob; for what advantages have the nations of the world ever received from them? or when, and how have they been blessed in them, or the Jews ever been the occasion of any blessing to them? Whilst they continued in their own land, they dwelt alone, and were not reckoned among the nations; they kept themselves at the utmost distance from other people; their religion, laws, and customs being different from them; they would have no communion with them, either on a civil or sacred account; nor any conversation; they would not perform any civilities to them, no, not even the common offices of humanity; nay, there was a real enmity in the Jews against the Gentiles; The former thought it no crime to do any hurt or mischief to the latter, either in person or estate; nay, their hatred has ran so high as even to do all they could to hinder their everlasting salvation, and all arising from a mistaken sense of Deuteronomy 23:6. And since the destruction of their civil polity, and their dispersion, the nations have received no advantage from them; they have not been in a capacity to give them any assistance so that as the nations of the world never have been, they never are likely to he blessed in those people, who have always been so far from being accounted a blessing to them, that their name has been used by way of reproach, and as a proverb, a taunt, and a curse, wherever they have been driven. From whence it appears that the nations of the world never took up this, as a form of blessing among them, God bless you, as he did the Israelites or seed of Abraham; which a late author (SLP, pp. 132, 133) thinks to be the sense of the phrase here, from its use in all other places; in which sense it is true, he has the concurrence of the greatest part of the modern Jews; authorities which he at other times treats with the utmost contempt: But no one instance can be produced, when the nations of the world ever used such a form of blessing as this; nor does the use of the phrase, in all other places, determine this to be the sense of it here: (see Deut. 29:19; Ps. 72:17; Isa. 65:16; Jer. 4:2); where there is not the least foundation for such an interpretation. Besides, in parallel texts, the word is used in Niphal, in a passive form, as in Genesis 12:3 and chapter 18:18 and 28:14, which directs us to the plain sense of the words in this. And as to Genesis 48:20, the only place produced in favour of this sense, the word is purely active, and so no proof of the use of it in a different form; and though that text informs us what would be a usual form of blessing among the Jews; yet neither that, nor any other text, nor any history either sacred or profane, acquaints us, that that, or any other Jewish form of blessing, would be used among the Gentiles. Now, as it appears that this prophecy never had its completion, either in the more near posterity of Abraham, as Isaac or Jacob, or in his more remote, even the whole body of the Jewish nation, in any age, or period of time, it remains, that some other person or persons must he fixed upon, which can be no other than the Messiah, even our Jesus, to whom the apostles have applied it (Acts 3:25, 26; Gal. 3:8). The import of which is, that the Messiah should be of Abraham’s seed, and that the Gentiles should be blessed in him; and though Modern Jews have coined other interpretations of this prophecy, yet the ancient ones understood it in the sense now given. Two things are principally objected by modern Jews against the application of it to the Messiah, and in favour of its intending the whole body of the Israelites: 1. They say the word seed cannot be understood of a single person, but is used collectively of a large number; but instances have been given, in the preceding chapter, where the word seed is used of a single person; so that St. Paul is to be justified, when he says (Gal. 3:16), Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.
2. They object that no blessing comes to the nations of the world, but through the Jews to which I answer; it is true that salvation is of the Jews; that to them belong (Rom. 9:4, 5) the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the glory of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever; from whom the nations of the world receive all their blessings; but then we deny that the Gentiles receive any blessings from them, but only as through the Messiah, Jesus, one of their nation, who was made a curse, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles. But,
Secondly, Let us now consider the advantages which the nations of the world were to receive from the Messiah, this promised seed. And it is to he observed, that by all the nations of the world, every individual person therein is not intended, but only some in all nations, who, with Abraham, believe in the same promised seed, as the apostle has taught us to explain this prophecy; So then, says he (Gal. 3:9), they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham. The Jews look upon it to be a sufficient verification of this prophecy, that some of the Gentiles, by means of their patriarchs, have been brought to the knowledge of the being, unity, providence, and omnipotence of God, which knowledge is the cause of all true blessedness: but the plain meaning of the prophecy is, that though the Messiah was to be of Abraham’s seed, yet his posterity alone were not to receive the advantage thereof; but his divine blessings were to extend to the several nations of the world.
The calling of the Gentiles, by the Messiah, was the great mystery, which in other ages was not made known so clearly, as it is now under the Gospel dispensation; there were indeed frequent intimations of it in the Old Testament, and the Jews could not be altogether strangers to it, though nothing was more displeasing and provoking to them: This temper of theirs, God long ago foretold by Moses, saying (Deut. 32:21), I will move them to jealousy, with those which are not a people, I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation; that is, by calling and blessing them. Isaiah, of all the prophets, spoke most largely concerning the blessings designed for the Gentiles by the Messiah; but the apostle says (Rom. 10:20), that he was very bold on that account; for he was sure to incur the displeasure of the Jews; nay, run the risk of his life for being so. Near the time of the Messiah’s coming, this controversy was much agitated in the schools of Hillell and Shammai, namely, Whether or no, when the, Messiah came, the nations of the world would have any advantage by him? A vast majority were on the negative side of the question; though some few, such as old Simeon, and others, knew, that he was to be a light to the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel: but the greater part were so far from thinking that the Gentiles would be redeemed by the Messiah, that they firmly believed they would be all destroyed at his coming, and have no favour or mercy shewn them. This notion Jesus and his apostles much opposed, and is the true reason of the grace and redemption of Christ being expressed in those universal terms, they so often are in the New Testament. The controversy was not then, as it is now, between the Arminians and Calvinists, Whether all and every individual of human nature were to be redeemed by Christ; but, Whether any of the Gentiles should be redeemed by him, or no? which, as I said before, was determined in the negative: But Jesus and his apostles declared against it: Our Lord, in a discourse of his with one of their learned Rabbis, says (John 3:16), God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. By the world here, Christ means the Gentiles, as distinct from the Jews, as manifestly appears from the words of the apostle John, who lay in the bosom of Jesus, and must be allowed to be the best interpreter of his words. Now he tells us, that Jesus was (1 John 2:2) the propitiation for our sins, meaning the sins of the Jews; for John was a Jew; and, says he, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; wherein he explains the words of Jesus, and, at the same time, struck at the darling notion of the Jews. The apostle Paul uses the word in the same sense (Rom. 11:12, 15), for there was much the same distinction then as now; there were Israel, and the nations of the world, as now the church and the world, the former of which the Jews claimed to themselves, and the other they gave to the Gentiles, whom they looked upon as rejected of God; but Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, for Gentiles as well as Jews, and the grace of God hath appeared unto all men; the doctrine thereof, after the resurrection of Jesus, was no more confined to Judea, but carried into the Gentile world, by the first preachers thereof, who had a commission from Christ to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; whereby the blessings of the Messiah were conveyed to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; which brings us to consider the several advantages which the nations of the earth were to receive from the Messiah, the promised seed, which are as follow:
Excerpt 2 – Concerning the miraculous Conception and Birth of the Messiah.
Having considered the lineage and descent of the Messiah, I shall proceed to inquire into the manner of his conception and birth, which were to be very extraordinary and unheard of; for it appears from several prophecies, that he was to be born of a virgin, which truth I shall endeavor to establish from the consideration of the following ones; and shall begin,
First, With Isaiah 7:14; Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. This is the grand and principle prophecy which concerns this affair; for though it might be hinted before, yet it does not seem to be so clearly revealed till now. The Messiah, in his person and office, was gradually revealed unto the sons of men; what some ages had but a very faint and glimmering view, others enjoyed a more perfect knowledge of: the first prophecy may indeed be well thought to contain this truth, when it speaks of the Messiah as the seed of the woman; but yet it does not so clearly express it as this, for Eve does not seem to be apprehensive of it, who, upon the birth of her first child, says (Gen. 4:1), I have gotten a man את־יהוה the Lord; which Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases thus, “I have gotten a man, the angel of the Lord;” supposing that she had got the promised seed, the angel of God’s presence, and messenger of the covenant; now had she clearly known that he was to be born of a virgin, she could not have imagined that she had brought him forth and perhaps this may be the reason, why many of the good women of Israel, as Rachael, and Hannah, were so desirous of children, every one hoping that the Messiah would come of them, not being so well acquainted with the extraordinary manner of his birth; but this prophecy of Isaiah puts it beyond all doubt that he was to be born of a virgin; nor could the Jews ever after expect him to be born of any other, as will manifestly appear from the following considerations.
1st, The Hebrew word צלמה signifies a virgin, and no other, and is justly rendered by parqenoV, by the evangelist Matthew, as it had been some hundreds of years before by the Septuagint interpreters, and appears to be the constant and universal sense of the word in all places of the Old Testament where it is used, which are these following, Genesis 23:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalm 68: 21, Canticles 1:3 and 6:8, and Proverbs 30:19 the latter of which the Jews have pitched upon, and chiefly insist on, as militating against this sense of the word צלמה used by Solomon for a maid, or virgin, where they say it cannot be meant of a pure and uncorrupted virgin; because, it is added, such is the way of an adulterous woman, she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness to which I answer, that it does not appear, that the maid and the adulterous woman, are one and the same person; but supposing they were, she might, though vitiated be called a maid, or virgin, according to her own profession of herself, or as she appeared to others who knew her not; or as she was antecedent to her defilement, which is no unusual thing in scripture (see Deut. 22:28); though the genuine sense of the words seems to he this, that Solomon was not acquainted with, much less approved of the secret contrivances, artful ways, and hidden methods, which wicked men take to seduce and decoy innocent virgins, and compass their lust upon them; for had it been intended of the way of natural generation, he could not be ignorant of it; so that this instance makes nothing for them, nor anything against us; besides, the Hebrew word is derived from the root צלמ which signifies to hide, or cover, which well agrees with the pure and incorrupt state of virgins; as also with a common custom used in the eastern nations, where virgins were kept recluse, and shut up from the public company and conversation of men.
2dly, The birth of this son is represented as something stupendous and extraordinary, as a sign, אות, a prodigy, wonder, or miracle; and for that reason has a behold prefixed unto it: Was the meaning of the prophet only this that a young married woman should be with child, where would the wonder be? What surprising thing is this which every day gives us repeated instances of? And if this was all that is intended, what need of such a pompous apparatus as this to introduce it? Near ye now, O house of David—the Lord himself shall give you a sign, behold, &c, Some of the Jewish writers would have the sign, or wonder, be, that this young woman was unfit for conception at the time of this prophecy; but no such intimation is given either in the text or context; others, that it lies in this, that it was a male child, and not a female which is predicted; but the sign or wonder does not lie in the truth of the prophet’s prediction, but in the greatness of the thing predicted; besides, the verification of this would not have given the prophet much credit, nor Ahaz, or the house of David, much consolation for this might have ascribed rather to a happy conjecture, than to a spirit of prophecy; much less can the wonder be, that this child should eat butter and honey as soon as it was born, as others, when nothing is more natural to and common with young children, than to take down any kind of liquids which are sweet and pleasant.
3dly, The scope of the prophecy is to comfort the dejected house of David, who appear to be in the utmost confusion, at the tidings of the conspiracy formed against them by the kings of Syria and Israel; upon which Isaiah is sent with a message to Ahaz, who, upon meeting with that prince, attended with his nobles, bids him ask a sign of the Lord his God, either in the height above or in the depth; but he, in a haughty, irreverent, and irreligious manner, rejected it, under a specious pretence of not tempting God; upon which the prophet turns himself from him to the distressed house of David, and comforts them with the news of the Messiah’s birth, who was to spring from them, than which nothing could be more supporting to them under their present fears; for hereby he assures them that they should never be destroyed or cut off before the Messiah came; who was to be born of a pure virgin; and consequently they need not fear anything from this formidable confederacy.
4thly, This prophecy had its literal accomplishment in Jesus, whose conception and birth were after this extraordinary manner, which cannot be said of any other person (Matthew 1:19, 22, 23); Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost—which was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, &c. which matter of fact, as it was not attempted to be disproved by the Jews in Christ’s time, who were most capable of discovering the fraud or imposture, if there had been any, so it cannot by the malice and cunning of later ones, who, though in contradiction to it, do now assert, that the Messiah was to be born as other men are, in the ordinary and common way of generation; yet it appears, that they were formerly of different sentiments, as is manifest from several of their traditional sayings, recorded both in their own writings and in the writings of the evangelists, which Bishop Chandler has collected and laid together in his excellent Defense of Christianity, and it deserves to he remarked what that learned prelate observes, that those who set up for Messiahs, as Simon Magus, and others, pretended to have God for their father, and to be born of a virgin; and no wonder they should, for how could they expect to he received, especially among the Jews, without such a pretence, when so glaring a prophecy as this respecting the manner of the Messiah’s birth, stood so openly in their sacred books? The Jews object several things to the application of this prophecy to Jesus, which are as follow:
1. They say, that the birth of this child was to be a sign to Ahaz, and to the house of David, of present deliverance, which say they, the birth of Jesus, seven or eight hundred years afterwards, could not be to which I answer, that this promise does not seem to be made to Ahaz; he having despised the prophet, and rejected his offer, but to the disconsolate house of David; who are hereby assured, that no conspiracy, now, or hereafter formed against them, should ever succeed to the extirpation or destruction of them, before Immanuel came, who was to be born of a virgin; and indeed, as Mr. Whiston well observes, “The longer that birth was future, the longer was the house of David secure by this prophecy of deliverance from destruction: because that family was by no means to fail till the birth of Immanuel, of a pure virgin, was come to pass.” Besides, what, is suggested, that a thing future cannot be a sign of what is present, or of what was done long before the sign existed, is not always true; for Moses’ serving God on mount Horeb, after he had brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, is mentioned in Exodus 3:12 as a sign or a token of his present mission to that people, which was some considerable time before this sign existed; so likewise the sign of the deliverance of the city of Jerusalem from the army of Senacherib king of Assyria, was not fully to exist until the third year after it (Isa. 37:30), moreover, the word sign is not to be taken relatively, but absolutely for a wonder or miracle; and we find that signs and wonders are frequently joined together in scripture, as explanative of each other; and it is easy to observe, that the miracles of Jesus Christ are sometimes called signs.
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Excerpt 3 – Concerning the Prophetic office of the Messiah; wherein is proved, that he is the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 8:15…
also enquiry is made, who was to be his fore-runner; what was his prophetic work; and where he was to perform his office.
Having traced the prophecies of the Messiah to the very place of his habitation, and they being entirely silent as to anything relating to him, or that should befall him, until the time of his manifestation, as the great prophet in Israel, and the evangelic history being as silent with respect to Jesus, during the same space of time, unless it be in the single instance of his going up to Jerusalem, at the feast of the passover, with his parents, and his disputing with the doctors in the temple, when at twelve years of age, I shall therefore, in this chapter, consider him in the capacity of a prophet, and as exercising that office; and the method I shall take will be as follows:
First, I shall endeavour to prove from Deuteronomy 18:15. that the Messiah was to be a prophet.
Secondly, Shall inquire who was to be his fore-runner, according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi.
Thirdly, Shall consider his work as a prophet, in the several parts and branches thereof.
Fourthly,, Point out the very place, as directed to in prophecy, where he was to perform this office. And,
Fifthly, Shew the success which was to attend his ministry.
First, I shall endeavour to prove, that the Messiah was to be a prophet, from Deuteronomy 18:15. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken. These words are applied to the Messiah, Jesus, by the apostle Peter in Acts 3:22. Christ seems to have regard to them when he says (John 5:46), Moses wrote of me. Nay, God the Father manifestly directs to them, at the transfiguration of Christ upon the mount, when, Moses and Elias being present, he enjoined the disciples, by a voice from Heaven, only to hearken to him; saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom 1 am well pleased; hear ye him which is the very injunction in the text under consideration. How just the application of these words in the New Testament, to Jesus, as the Messiah, is, I shall now consider. These words can be understood of no other but the Messiah; not of any single prophet., as Joshua, as some; Jeremiah, as others think; not, Joshua, for though he was the immediate successor of Moses, and was appointed a leader and commander of the people of Israel, to whom they hearkened; yet was he no prophet, nor was he ever accounted as such by the Jews; nor Jeremiah, for though he was a prophet, yet not like to Moses, at least he had no peculiar likeness to him, which might not be observed in other prophets; nor is a succession of prophets here intended, which is the opinion of others, for it is a single prophet that is here spoken of; so the Targums, both of Onkelos and Jonathan, and the Septuagint version, understand it; neither had the Jews ever a constant succession of prophets, being frequently without any; besides, take all the prophets, from Moses to the times of Jesus, and consider them either collectively or singly, there will appear a very great dissimilitude between them; whether we regard the very great familiarity and intimate converse he had with God, or the signs and wonders which were done by him, or the great deliverance which he was an instrument of, as it is said in Deuteronomy 34:10, 11, And there arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do, &c. Accordingly the Jews have always magnified and extolled Moses above all the prophets, and that in the case of prophecy, calling him, the prince of the prophets; and say, that “all the prophets prophesied from the fountain of his prophecy.” Maimonides assigns several differences between the nature of their prophesying and his, though he allows the Messiah to be equal with him as a prophet: and as to miracles, put all those of the prophets together, they do not come up to Moses’; his miracles in number exceed them all. Manasseh Ben-Israel has took the pains to collect and compare them together, and, according to him, the miracles done by, or on the account of the prophets, were seventy-four; but those done by Moses, or on his account, were seventy-six; but how just this account is, I do not pretend to say. Moreover, it ought to he observed, that it was a single prophet, some famous and noted one, whom the Jews expected in the times of Jesus, the foundation of which expectation must be those words of Moses, and from what they saw and heard of Jesus, they were ready to conclude he must be the person (John 6:14), then those men when they had seen the miracles that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet which should come into the world. From the whole it appears, that a succession of prophets is not intended, nor any other single prophet, but the Messiah, as may he more fully evinced,
1. From the connection of the words with the preceding verse, which should be read thus, for these nations which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, not so are they, whom the Lord thy God giveth unto thee, that is, the prophets whom the Lord will raise up among you, will not be like the jugglers and diviners among the heathens, who deceive and impose upon mankind, for these will be men sent and inspired by God, and will be true and faithful in the discharge of their office: Now that they might be encouraged to hearken to these prophets, and lest they should be discouraged because they would come far short of Moses, he informs them in this verse, that a prophet, an eminent one, one preferable to all others, and every way like to him, would God raise up unto them; so that if a succession of prophets is intended anywhere, it is in the former verse, and not in this, where speaking of the preferableness of them to the diviners and wizards of the Gentiles, he takes the opportunity to raise their expectation of, and direct their faith unto, the famous and super-excellent prophet that was to come.
2. From the occasion of the words, which, according to verses 16-18, was the request of the people of Israel, who, being terrified at what they saw and heard at mount Sinai, desired that God would not speak with them immediately, but that some person might be appointed to deliver his mind and will, and accordingly Moses was; which, for the present, was a satisfaction to them. Moreover, the Lord also assured them, that for the future, when it was his pleasure to make a new revelation, or a further discovery of his mind and will, he would not do it in this terrible manner, but would raise up a person of their own flesh and blood, like unto Moses, by whom it should be delivered, which was sufficient to prevent their fears for the future; and thus it was, for as the law was given by Moses, so grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. From hence it appears, that there is no room for the exception of a late author, namely, that the exigencies of the people required an immediate prophet, or a succession of them, to be raised up, which exigencies could not be answered by a prophet two thousand years to come, for the people were in no such exigency; they had just now received a revelation of God’s mind and will to them by Moses, and this was to suffice until the Messiah came; for the business of the prophets, who were afterwards raised up, was not to bring a new revelation, but to urge, inculcate, and explain the old one; and it was enough for the satisfaction of the people, and to answer their exigencies, that whenever it pleased God to make a new revelation of his will, whether it was one, two, three, or four thousand years afterward, that he would raise up such a person as is here described, by whom he would do it; which he has accordingly made good in the Messiah, Jesus.
3. This may be further argued, from what is threatened to those who should refuse to hearken to him (v. 19), And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken to my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him, that is, I will punish him for it; which the apostle expresses by (Acts 3:23), a being destroyed from among the people; and Maimonides says, that such a person is “guilty of death by the hands of heaven.” Now this never was so remarkably fulfilled, as in the destruction of the Jewish nation, for their rejection of Jesus, as the true Messiah and prophet of God; though the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy says, that this was “so far from being true in respect of Jesus, that himself was cut off, and not his opposers and enemies.” To which may be replied, that it is true that Jesus was cut off for the sins of his people, as was before predicted of him; but then, that those who rejected him died in their sins, that wrath came upon them to the uttermost, that their city and temple were destroyed, and they involved in utter ruin and destruction, this author surely cannot be ignorant of.
4. That the Messiah is here intended, and that Jesus is he, will appear from the description of this prophet, which exactly agrees with him; for besides that, general character of his being an Israelite, one raised up in the midst of them, of their own flesh and blood, which is common to all Jewish prophets, he is every way like unto Moses, and that even in those things in which there is a dissimilitude between Moses and other prophets; was Moses a mediator, and faithful in the discharge of his work? so was Jesus; was he a deliverer of Israel out of Egyptian bondage? Christ has delivered his people out of a far worse bondage, even that of sin; had Moses such familiar converse with God as none of the other prophets ever had? Jesus lay in the bosom of God, and has revealed him unto us; was Moses preferable to all others, for the signs and wonders which he wrought? Christ did those works which none other man did; If then Jesus is not only like to Moses in those things in which other prophets were, but also in those in which there was a dissimilitude between them, certainly he bids fairest to be the prophet in the text. The above mentioned author says, “This prophecy cannot relate to Jesus, inasmuch as the prophet here spoken of might be tried and condemned as really a false prophet.” To which I answer, that the trial and condemnation of the false prophet, in verses 20-22, can never be understood of the prophet promised in verse 15 for it can never be thought, that he who was to be raised up by God, and was to have his words put into his month, and to whom the people were to hearken, should speak in the name of other gods, or that which God commanded him not; it only supposes, that some persons might make pretensions to be this prophet who were not so, and, in order to the discovery of them, they were to be tried after the manner directed to, and upon conviction to be cut off, which no ways prejudices the application of this famous prophecy to Jesus, who appears, from all considerations, to be the person intended. I proceed,
Excerpt 4 – Concerning the sufferings of the Messiah; wherein Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53…
are particularly considered: as also the several circumstances which were to attend these sufferings.
The writers of the New Testament, as they give an account of the sufferings of Jesus, so they appeal to the books of the Old Testament, as containing prophecies which speak of the Messiah’s sufferings; from whence they reasoned with the Jews (Acts 17:2, 3), opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; and that that Jesus whom they preached was Christ. They aver, that the divine Spirit in the prophets (1 Pet. 1:11) testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ unto them, as well as the glory that should follow; and that when they spoke of the sufferings of Jesus, they said (Acts 26:22, 23), none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say, should come to pass; and that, in what the Jews did to Jesus, was fulfilled, what (Acts 3:18) God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets. Nay, Jesus himself, in reproving some of his disciples for their dullness and unbelief, said unto them (Luke 24:25-27), O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? therefore beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself; that is, those things which chiefly concerned his sufferings. Now, seeing there are such manifest appeals to the hooks of the Old Testament, as containing prophecies of a
suffering Messiah, which had their fulfillment in Jesus, my business in this chapter will be,
First, To consider those prophecies which speak of him as such, and attempt to approve that they belong to him, and him only.
Secondly, To point out the several parts of his sufferings according to these prophecies. And,
Thirdly, Take a view of the several circumstances which were to attend those sufferings.
First, I shall consider those prophecies which speak of the Messiah as suffering, and attempt to prove that they belong to him, and him only. Now the principal prophecies which speak of this affair, and are generally understood to belong thereunto, are contained in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 which I shall particularly consider.
1st, The Twenty Second Psalm is commonly understood by Christian interpreters to be a prophecy of the Messiah as suffering; and indeed it cannot with any tolerable color or pretense be applied to any other. That one single individual person is spoken of, throughout the Psalm, the whole series and connection thereof manifestly shew, and therefore the whole body of the Jewish nation,  or the congregation of Israel, cannot be intended. Besides, this person is not only distinguished from the viler sort of the people, by whom he was reproached and reviled, verse 6-8 but also from those who are called the brethren, the congregation of Israel, and those who fear the Lord, verse 22, 23 before whom he was to praise the Lord. And as a single person, so a suffering person is certainly intended, as is manifest from his being represented as one forsaken of God, despised by men, encompassed by his enemies, by whom he is cruelly racked and tortured, his bones dislocated, his hands and feet pierced, and he even brought to the dust of death. Now this single and suffering person can be no other than the Messiah; some of the Jewish writers,  indeed, would have Esther to be the subject of this prophecy, to whom not one sentence, nor single word in the whole Psalm, can with any tolerable shew of reason be applied. Others, and with much more appearance of truth, would have David intended; but yet there are some things in this Psalm, which, in their plain, obvious and literal sense, cannot be applied to him, as the shooting out of the lip, and shaking the head at him, by wicked persons, using at the same time that very form of words mentioned in verse 8 the dislocation of his joints, verse 14 the piercing of his hands and feet, verse 16 the parting of his garments and casting lots upon his vesture, verse 18 neither of which were true of David, but were to be accomplished in the Messiah, and had their full and literal completion in Jesus, as will be more particularly observed hereafter. And that the Messiah is intended in this Psalm, may be collected from the title; upon, or concerning Aijeleta Shahar, which respects the subject thereof, and may be rendered, the hind of the morning, which well agrees with the Messiah, and is expressive of his swiftness and readiness in appearing for the salvation of his people, and with our Jesus, who in the very morning of his infancy, was hunted after by Herod, and his agents, to take away his life; Others render it the morning star,  which is one of the titles of Jesus (Rev. 22:16). The Targum expresses it by the daily morning sacrifice, which was typical of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and is very justly taken notice of here, where the sufferings of the Messiah are so particularly set forth, which were to be a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of men. Besides, the person treated of in this Psalm, is one in whom the happiness of God’s people was much concerned; by whom the meek were to be satisfied, and enjoy eternal life, as the consequence of his sufferings, and therefore are called upon to praise the Lord on that account, verse 23-26 Moreover, the conversion of the Gentiles through the preaching of the gospel, which was peculiar to the days of the Messiah, was to follow upon the sufferings of this person. Nay, even some Jewish writers  have been obliged to apply some parts of this Psalm to the Messiah, which they evidently saw could not in any tolerable sense be referred to any other.
2dly, The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is another prophecy, which is generally understood by Christian interpreters of the Messiah and his sufferings. The modern Jews, indeed, not being able to make it suit with their now generally received notions of the Messiah, have endeavored to substitute some other person as the subject thereof. It would be both tedious and needless to reckon up the several different persons to whom they endeavor to apply this prophecy; all disagreeing with each other; which shews the wretched uncertainty they are under, since they have left the true, plain, obvious, and anciently received sense thereof; some referring it to Abraham, others to Moses, others to Ezra, others to Zerobabel, others to any righteous person in general; all which senses are weak, ridiculous and impertinent, there being no manner of foundation in the whole prophecy for an application of it to any of those persons, and therefore deserve not our consideration. The principal opinions, and which seem mostly to prevail among them, are, that this prophecy is to be understood either of the body of the people of Israel in general, or of Josiah or Jeremiah, in particular; though in each of them they go contrary to their own Targum,  Talmud,  and other ancient writings of theirs;  there are some  who strenuously contend for the former, namely, that the whole body of the people of Israel, in captivity, is intended, which can never be the true sense of the prophecy; for one single individual person is spoken of from the beginning to the end thereof, who is manifestly distinguished in verses 4-8 from the people of Israel, whose sins and sorrows he was to bear, and for whose transgressions he was to be stricken and wounded. Abarbinel would have king Josiah here intended, who was slain by Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo, and supposes that it is the report of his death which is complained of in verse 1. as what none would believe, by reason of his celebrated piety; he farther supposes that he is said in verse 2 to grow up as a tender plant, because of his early devotion, and the great progress he made therein; that he is said to be despised, verse 3 because he was killed by Necho, a contemptible man; that he was a man of sorrow, because often sick and troubled with the gout;  that it appears he bore the griefs of the people, verse 4 since the sins of the nation caused his death, verse 5 that it is a mistake that the people were much addicted to the law in his time, for he says, verse 6 all we, like sheep, have gone astray, and that God would revenge his death upon many nations. But Abarbinel here contradicts himself, for he at other times, with other Jews, would have the prophecy understood of the people of Israel, and therefore not of Josiah; besides, here are several things said relating to Josiah, of which some are true, others notoriously false, and destitute of all manner of proof; it is true indeed that he was a very pious prince, and devoted himself very early to religion, but then it is notoriously false that the people were not much addicted to the law in his time; for it was in his time that the book of the law was found, the covenant between God and the people renewed, a general reformation obtained, and such a passover kept as never had been since the times of the judges: it is also false, that the sins of the people were the occasion of Josiah’s death, but rather his own rashness, vanity, and ambition, in meddling in an affair to which he did not seem to have any real call; and it is equally as false, that God revenged his death upon many nations; nor was Pharaoh Necho, by whom he was slain, a contemptible person, but a very potent and considerable prince; his saying that none would believe the report of Josiah’s death, wants proof, as well as his representing him as a sickly person, and subject to the gout. But to let pass these things, as not worthy of consideration, it may easily be observed, that there are many things in this prophecy which can by no means agree with him; as that he did no violence, the contrary is evident in the case of Pharaoh-Necho; that he bore the sins of others, and died for them, and made his soul an offering for sin; that his days were prolonged, that the pleasure of the Lord prospered in his hand; much less could it be said of him, Who shall declare his generation? Others  would have Jeremiah intended, in which they are followed by Grotius, and this the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy seems to incline to: But the characters given of the person, who is the subject of this prophecy, by no means agree without Jeremiah, for this person is represented as one without guilt, entirely free from sin, and who had never gone astray, like other men; as one that was to suffer for the sins of others, which sufferings he was to bear with the utmost patience; nay, even to intercede for those transgressors who were the cause of them; and though he was to be cut off, or die, yet he was to live again, have a large number of disciples and followers, and be very much exalted and dignified; which cannot be said of Jeremiah, who was subject to the same sinful infirmities as other men are, was not wounded nor bruised, nor did he die for the sins of his people; and as for the sufferings which he underwent for them, he was far from bearing them with patience; for he even cursed the day wherein he was born,  on the account thereof; he prayed that he might see the vengeance of God upon them; that God would pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter; neither had he a large number of disciples, nor was he exalted and extolled, as this person is represented to be. But all and every part of this prophecy exactly agrees with the Messiah Jesus, whose first appearance was mean and abject, on the account of which he was despised by men, by whom he suffered many things, which he bore with inexpressible patience, and at last death itself, which was an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of all his people, which being laid on him, he bore in his own body on the tree, and being raised from the dead, is now exalted, extolled, and made very high, at his Father’s right hand, where he ever lives to intercede for transgressors; and has ever since had a large number of disciples, who have embraced his doctrines, and espoused his cause; a seed which have served him, and will continue to do so, till time shall be no more.