The Forbidden Chapter

Thursday, August 31                

After Jesus’ resurrection there was a lot of soul searching among the Jews.  Thousands of them had followed their Jewish leaders and opposed Jesus, but had to revise their thinking.  There must have been a re-focus on prophecies about the suffering savior.  Jesus’ life and message now made perfect sense.  But all this left the Sanhedrin  in shock.  They tried to stop the Apostles from preaching the good news.  The Apostles fervently continued to preach the good news.  People were miraculously healed.  When the disciples were put in jail, they were released by an angel, leaving the empty jail house guarded on all sides by baffled guards.  When they were hauled in again, Gamaliel stepped in with some good advice.  Taking charge of the Sanhedrin, he told them that if this movement was not of God it would fail, and if it was of God, they wouldn’t be able to stop it.  He warned them to let “let these people go.”  They “let them go”—after flogging them.  The suffering savior passages were still a problem.  The brutal mistreatment and eventual death of Jesus fit too well into those prophecies, particularly Isaiah 53.  The Jewish leaders didn’t dare change the text, but they could re-interpret it.  They changed the “servant” from a single individual to the nation of Israel.  By doing this the nation became the subject of the cruel treatment, not the perpetrator.  By 200 A.D. this was the official interpretation of Isaiah 53.  Later, they declared Isaiah 53 to be a “forbidden chapter.”  No Jew was allowed to read it.  This disregard for truth became the core of Jewish doctrine throughout the centuries.  But God’s plan will not be thwarted.  His agenda will prevail and he will be magnified in the end.

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