Isaiah 53 - Did Isaiah predict Jesus specifically?

Some sectarian teachers have proposed that Isaiah specifically predicted the arrival of Jesus. The verse that is often quoted out of context is Isaiah 54:5 -
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. (Isaiah 54:5)

Was Isaiah 53 specifically talking about Jesus?

Let's review all of the verses in Isaiah in order to determine whether this is describing only Jesus in particular:
1. Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
The word translated to "arm" (zĕrowa) is more appropriately translated to "power." Translated that way, this would read:

Who has believed our message and to whom has the power of the LORD been revealed?

This indicates that the subject of this discussion is the "power of the LORD." In Isaiah's context, this relates to the knowledge that has been handed down through the teachings of the Prophets (that have been handed down) and that wisdom itself, along with those who deliver that wisdom.

Note "our message." Our message relates to the message that the Prophets have handed down, i.e., love of God:
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:6)
Then we find Isaiah's subject being described:
2. 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.
How is this describing Jesus: that Jesus had no beauty? No majesty? Nothing in his appearance was attractive? Jesus was followed by thousands of people, who honored and respected him. Throngs of people followed him and were attracted to him.
3. 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.
How is this describing Jesus: That all of "mankind" rejected him? Jesus is by far the most famous and respected human in the history of humankind. How was Jesus "a man of suffering"? Did people hide their faces from Jesus, that he was so despised? And how did society hold Jesus in low esteem? As mentioned, he was famous - and held in the highest honor - among the people of his region after his baptism and during his teachings. He had many followers who were amazed at his miracles and his teachings. He was accepted in temples as a rabbi and his teachings were written about over and over, and now the most widely printed teachings in the history of humanity.
4. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
Note that this is written in the past tense. This indicates something that has already happened. Otherwise, it would say - "Surely he will take up our pain and bear our suffering." And who considered him punished of God? It says "we" here. Who is the "we"? Was it people in Isaiah's society? If so, how would they consider this if Jesus was to be born 800 years later?

Besides, this is the past tense. If this were Jesus is would say, "we will consider him punished by God." If that is true, when will "we" consider him that way? If "we" includes Isaiah, Isaiah would not be alive on the earth at that time (centuries later).
5. 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.
Here is the key quote that is often used, out of context. Note also here the use of the past tense. This indicates that this already occurred. "the punishment that brought us peace" indicates something that already happened. How could this peace have (already) been brought to "us" (which includes Isaiah) if Jesus won't be born some eight centuries later? (Yes, Isaiah was alive in the 8th Century BC).

So 800 years later, Jesus will walk the earth and be persecuted for his teachings. How is Isaiah and his tribe/lineage already "healed" by "his wounds" already - at the time of this writing? (800 BC)
6. 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.
Now Isaiah is speaking again about "us" - but this time "we all". But here he indicates that the Supreme Being (LORD) has already (that is, by 800 BC) "laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Who could this be? Who, by 800 BC, had suffered for everyone's iniquity?
7. 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.
If this were Jesus, how was he oppressed? Yes, he was captured, tried and persecuted - which took place over a period of a couple of days. But when was he oppressed? The word translated to oppressed (nagas) relates to being enslaved. It means to be ruled over and driven hard. Jesus walked free most of his life. He was never enslaved or oppressed, with the exception of his arrest and trial.

Furthermore, how did Jesus not open his mouth? He taught throughout his adult life - speaking to thousands of people at a time sometimes. He also spoke when he got arrested. And he spoke when he was tried. He also spoke when he was on the cross. He was not silent. When the HIgh Priest asked him questions, he answered. When Pilate asked him questions, he answered. Jesus was not a "sheep before his shearers" and he did not "so he did not open his mouth." Jesus spoke the truth throughout.
8. 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.
Again the past tense is used. "My people" indicate people Isaiah considered himself a part. How was Jesus "cut off from the land of the living"? We know from Jesus' reappearance that crucifixion did not kill him - it only killed his body. And Jesus was not "cut off" because as he himself told his disciples, he would continue to guide them.

Such an interpretation also avoids the reality that by the time of Isaiah, many Prophets had been persecuted, including Elijah, Zechariah, Hanani, Uriah, Amos, Micaiah and others.
9. 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.
Jesus was not "assigned a grave" at all. The tomb was supplied by one of his disciples, Joseph. And it was not a "grave with the wicked." And how was Jesus "with the rich in his death"? Jesus' persecution on the cross was between two criminals - neither of whom were rich.
10. 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.
This would suggest - if this were about Jesus - that it was God's will to "crush him"? And "cause him to suffer"? Is this what God does to His beloved "Son"?

So Pilate and Caiphus did not convict and send Jesus to be crucified? It was God behind it all? That God would choose to make Jesus suffer? And by Jesus' suffering makes "his life an offering for sin"?

Such an awful perspective. That God would be so cruel that he would send "His only Son" (according to sectarian teachings) to the earth to suffer for everyone's sins - as though no one else now has to suffer the consequences for sinful activity (self-centered activity that harms others)? That God makes one person who loves Him (Jesus) suffer, and the rest of us get away scot-free - even if we continue to sin we can just wipe it all off on Jesus?

Does this make sense?

That God would be so weak that He could not forgive people's sins without making someone else suffer for them? That God would have to follow some archaic rules of sacrifice - to kill someone else - in order to relieve our sins?

Certainly if God is the Supreme Being, He can forgive each and every person that ever lived on the earth with a simple thought. God does not need people to sacrifice in order to forgive. Such a notion is contradictory to the very nature of the Supreme Being.
11. 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.
12. 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.
So what is Isaiah talking about? This discussion is a metaphor. The "he" being referred to is an amalgamation of our inner spirit - our ability to love and serve the Supreme Being - and those who present this inner spirit and its connection to God into our lives. It also includes the growth from being in "sin" (self-centered activity that harms others) to loving God and loving others.

Each of us has this inner spirit and ability to love God. But this has been forsaken by humanity. We have ignored it and we have abandoned our inner spirit and its connection with the Supreme Being. And we have also ignored those who have truly taught us to embrace our inner spirit and reconnect with the Supreme Being.

As mentioned, many Prophets - and countless others who were not well known - have been persecuted over the Centuries in and around Judea and around the world. As mentioned above, Elijah, Zechariah, Hanani, Uriah, Amos and Micaiah were persecuted prior to Isaiah. More followed, including Jesus. Some of the text discusses how in general they were abandoned and vilified, but also how their teachings were abandoned and vilified.

God has allowed our inner spirit and our connection to Him to be hidden, because He wants to give us the freedom to love Him or not. Isaiah effectively portrays His will to have allowed this Truth and those who carry it to be crushed - also allowing human society to ignore and persecute those who try to deliver this Truth about our connection with God.

We, as a society, have punished and persecuted those who have brought this message, and have oppressed this Truth (enslaved it) by our self-centeredness, hatred, greed and envy. And we have essentially silenced this inner spirit and its connection with God as a society - and punished those who have tried to teach it.

Such enslavement is also illustrated in the story of how the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians. There is a lot of metaphor within this history too, about the ability of society to enslave and oppress the Truth and those who represent it.

Yes, human society as a whole has ignored much of the Scripture's real Truth. Even the very teachings related to Truth in the Bible are vastly ignored by those who interpret the whole point to being about self-centered salvation. For this reason, we find that the translations of Isaiah and other books of the Bible are bent just enough to justify our position that we are saved by the crucifixion of Jesus.

Yes, they have interpreted the Bible to be about me, myself and mine. It is all about me being saved. It is about me being cleansed. It is about me being healed. Me, me, me.

Is there a metaphorical meaning?

Metaphorically speaking, this self-centered society has oppressed and afflicted the Truth and those who have taught it - including Jesus (Yes, Jesus included himself as being described by Isaiah - but not as though it was about him exclusively).

And this Truth about our inner spirit and its connection to God - and those who bring us this Truth - essentially "bears the sin of many" because it is love that enlightens us and purifies our being. The "wounds heal us" because awakening our concealed connection to God allows our love to grow like a "shoot."

It is this very Truth and those who bring it to us - which can cleanse us of our self-centeredness. It is the "life" of this knowledge that can awaken us to the spirit within - which allows us "transgressors" to rise and "see the light of life and be satisfied by His knowledge." And this will "bear" - cleanse - "their iniquities."

This is the beauty of using metaphors. Metaphors allow a discussion to be applied to abstract topics. In the case of Isaiah, he wrote of past Prophets and predicted future Prophets, as a true visionary. He also spoke of the Truth as something that is manifest yet invisible in physical terms. For this reason, his writings were beautiful and insightful prose.

Isaiah's writings are a testament to our common thread that each of us is a spiritual child of the Supreme Being, who can reunite ourselves with God should we open our hearts to Him and see His presence all around us and within us - giving each of us a unique ability to rise and grow spiritually.