When you first come to this faith walk, this “Torah Keeping worldview,” you undoubtedly gain a new appreciation for the Tanakh (“Old Testament”). For most Christians, the OT is there to conveniently be used from time to time to prove Jesus is the Messiah, and beyond that, it gets shelved. But when a believer has their eyes opened to the continuing validity of Torah, the OT seems to get a whole new light shed on it.
One of the difficulties, however, for any student of Scripture, can be finding Yeshua Messiah specifically in the OT. Now don’t get me wrong, I agree He’s everywhere in the OT; but it’s subtle. References aren’t overt most of the time. And this can be difficult, especially when dealing with anti-missionaries. If you quote Isaiah 53 to them, they often say, “Nowhere in Isaiah 53 does it say that’s about the Messiah. It’s about Israel.” While I won’t be addressing that here, I will say that it’s a faulty interpretation for several reasons. (Not the least of which is that it fails to answer the question of how "Israel" can be punished for "our" [Israel's, from Isaiah's point of view] sin).
Many such Scriptures that we commonly take for granted as proof of Yeshua’s pre-existence and Messiahship are actually kind of…cryptic. So how wo do we deal with such issues, when the OT never explicitly says the Divine Messiah, Who would be called Yeshua, would die via crucifixion, for the sins of the world?
Personally, I believe this is intentional. That is, when the Ruach Ha’Qodesh (Holy Spirit) inspired the prophets to write Scripture, it was intentionally vague. There is an implied level of interpretive work required to make sense of some passages, and to connect Yeshua with OT prophecy. So I’m writing this, not to explain all the mysterious, hidden, obscure, vague passages of the Tanakh. That would take a lot more than a brief blog post. Rather, I am writing this to encourage you to believe the Apostles when they quote the Tanakh. Believe the Apostles when they say Isaiah 53 is actually about Yeshua. Let Scripture (of the NT) interpret Scripture (of the OT).
Why? Because of this Scripture:
1When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God. 2For I decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah—and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power— 5so that your faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-10 (TLV)
Did you catch that?
8None of the rulers of this age understood it—for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
If the Tanakh just plainly said, “The Divine Messiah will be born as a human child to Joseph and Mary of Bethlehem; He will grow up and begin His ministry around the age of 30; He will appoint 12 disciples; He will perform miracles, will be crucified by the Roman government at the request of His own people, and will be raised from the dead…” then would the people still have given Him up to be crucified? Would the Romans have done the deed? According to Paul the “rulers of this age” would not have killed Him.
The prophecies about Him had to be hidden in a way. Paul even quotes Isaiah 64:3 here as his reference to this. Which is fascinating, because Isaiah 64 covers:
And this is not something exclusive to the Tanakh, mind you. Yeshua also used this same “hidden meaning” methodology when He taught in parables.
10Then the disciples came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
Matthew 13:10-13 (TLV)
For those to whom understanding is given, whose eyes and ears have been opened, they will hear and see and understand. But without that, there is a partial blindness, or hardening, that remains (see Romans 11:25).
The NT itself interprets much of the OT for us. The Apostles were the ones, appointed by Yeshua, to teach and lead. They received the revelation of the Ruach, and were thereby empowered and had their eyes and ears opened to teach. So when we see one of the Apostles, in his writings, quote the Tanakh in what seems an odd way (“hey, that passage is about Israel not the Messiah”, for example) it’s a safe bet that its because they were granted the proper understanding of the verse. Just as Isaiah prophesied would happen, just as Yeshua intended.
So again, I encourage you, to let the Apostles be your first teachers when it comes to understanding the ways Messiah fulfilled prophecies in the Tanakh; and don’t be swayed by the anti-missionaries who tell you it’s out of context. After all, it was the Apostles that Yeshua spent years with, teaching; and it was to the Apostles that He explained how the Torah spoke of Him, and the prophets (Luke 24:44-49).
I hope this makes sense, and pray it blesses you.