7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:7–8, ESV)
The Ethiopian read this stunning prophecy of Christ in his chariot during his return home from Jerusalem, where he had worshiped (Acts 8:27-33). Perplexed about its meaning, he asked Philip to join him and explain it. So, beginning with this Scripture, Philip preached Jesus to him, leading to his salvation (Acts 8:34-39). Approximately 700 years before His crucifixion, Isaiah described God’s suffering and sin-bearing servant (Isa. 53). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. What marvelous humility and complete willingness to endure injustice, agony, and death without defiantly opening His mouth (Matt. 26:59-68). Depicted as a docile sheep being led to slaughter, in death, Jesus “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). He bore the pains of death for us, an offering for sin accepted by God (Isa. 53:10-12). When people revile you for the name of Christ, do not “revile in return.” Instead, bear the reproach of Christ and commit yourself to God who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2:23; Heb. 13:13-14). Like Jesus, may we surrender ourselves to doing God’s will, knowing He is faithful safely secure our souls in Christ (Heb. 13:5-6).
44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,” (Luke 24:44–46, NKJV)
The Old Testament prophecies concerning the Christ were fulfilled in Jesus. The Lord Himself explained those prophecies to His apostles, opening their minds (understanding) to comprehend their meaning. Here is a key to understanding the OT prophecy: The New Testament explains the OT prophecies about Christ. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostles and prophets of Jesus to tell us what the OT prophecies meant (see examples in Acts 2:25-31; 13:32-41; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). We cannot lay a pre-conceived template over the inspired Scriptures and demand they conform to what we have already decided. Such an approach twists the Scriptures and destroys souls (2 Pet. 3:16). We must come with open hearts to comprehend the Scriptures (Acts 17:11-12).
8 I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images. 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:8–9, NKJV)
The true and living God inhabits eternity; He is not confined by time, since He created it (Gen. 1:1, 5). This distinguishes Him from the lifeless, powerless images carved by men’s hands and praised as if they have any power at all. The fulfillment of God’s prophetic utterances declares His glory and demand that we praise Him. When one prophesies in the name of God and it does not come to pass, that person has spoken presumptuously, and is not a true prophet of God (Deut. 18:22). Jesus said, “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He” (Jno. 13:19). Fulfilled prophecy testifies to the accuracy and the reliability of God’s inspired word, the holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17). The words of God’s prophets always came true. By and by, when they fail, the words of the false prophets are shown to be false. We can trust the truthfulness of the Bible, because its prophecies are fulfilled by the very God who gave them.