A Little Bit of a Rant

Isaiah 53:6.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

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We went to watch a sheep shearing last spring. It was interesting to watch the sheep that were being rounded up.  If one of them managed to break away and run in a different direction, a few more would follow.  They didn’t know where they were going. They just followed someone else’s lead, blindly, and with no purpose but to do what they wanted.

That’s what the first sentence in this verse pictures.  We’re given the guidelines for life in God’s Word, but we want to go our own way. We stray from the path the Shepherd has given us. We get out from under His leadership, guidance, and protection. We go astray.

Every single one of us has turned to a way we think is better.  Our own way.  I have clients whose children or spouses tell them, “I don’t care what God wants or says. I want to do what I want to do.  Besides, He has to forgive me so it really doesn’t matter.”

He has to forgive me?  That’s completely conditional.  I John 1:9. “IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God is not required to forgive me.  Has has promised to do so IF and WHEN I confess, repent, and turn away from my sin and back to Him.  It is foolish to assume that God HAS to forgive me when I rebel and go my own way.

The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  And that’s because all of us, every single one of us, has sinned against Him.  The word iniquity is one we don’t hear much these days.  I think that’s partly because in our present spiritual state in America, there really is no iniquity, is there?  Everything is acceptable, everything is to be tolerated. Nothing is wrong except calling sin what it is.

I read a post this morning about a young man who brutally assaulted (raped) a girl. The judge, because it’s “only his first rape”  is inclined to let him off the hook if the boy pleads “no contest,” and give him an unadjudicated probation and a fine for one count  of unlawful restraint.

That, my friends, is iniquity! The young man’s behavior was iniquitous, the judge’s leniency is iniquitous.  They don’t seem in the least concerned for the girl who was chosen to be his first rape victim,  which in my mind means it is clearly expected that there will be more.

Jesus Christ died for that young man’s iniquity.  That doesn’t mean, though, that he is automatically forgiven. Forgiven and salvation are available to him, but they come only with confession and repentance.

Smitten of God and Afflicted

Isaiah 53:4-5.

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

I probably should have stayed with my plan to treat each verse separately, but these two are so bound together that it seemed wrong to separate them.  It is also difficult for me to be analytical and academic about these verses, because they always bring tears to my eyes   However, for the sake of understanding the incredible depth of His sorrow and suffering in our behalf, a little word study is helpful.

V. 4:  Surely  (with no doubt, truly, in fact) He hath borne (to lift, bear, carry away, cast away, ease, erase, take away). The picture is of one person taking the burden of another and placing it on himself, as carrying an infant ; or, as the flood lifted up the ark (Psalm 103:12). Our griefs (sicknesses) and carried (to bear; the idea is that the full load is borne by the one carrying it so that all others might be free of it) our sorrows (grief and pain); yet we (those who were there as well as all of mankind since His crucifixion) did esteem Him stricken (to touch, lay the hand upon, strike violently, bring down, smite with a plague) smitten (to strike, beat, kill, punish; slaughter; slay; smite; wound; stripe as in flogging)  of God, and afflicted (browbeat, depress, abase, afflict). 

And I think I was right in the first place to treat each verse separately. We’ll go into verse 5 tomorrow.

The takeaway today, for me, is to never take for granted or underestimate what Jesus suffered on His way to the cross and on the cross.  Even those who witnessed it, many of them, turned away and could not bear to watch.  And there were also those, of course, who delighted in what they believed was the end of this Man from Galilee.

 

 

 

 

 

Man of Sorrows

Isaiah 53:3.  “ He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

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He was a Man of Sorrows because He carried our sorrows! He personally had no sin, sickness, pain, or suffering on account of His own self and sins; but we have these in abundance, and since He came into the world to carry them for us, He had to become identified with us in our suffering by taking them upon Himself and bearing them unto death so that we might be free from them. Therefore, sorrow became a characteristic of His life during His sufferings in particular. He no doubt had sorrows from the time His sensitive, pure, sinless, and untainted life began to contact the sins, depravities, corruptions, sicknesses, diseases, and pains of others.

As often as I’ve read, heard preached, and studied the crucifixion of Jesus, I still don’t think I really grasp the horror it was for the pure, sinless, holy Son of God to take ALL the sin and sorrow of ALL mankind on Himself.  In fact, the reaction of the people was to hide their faces from Him as He suffered!

And today, we continue to despise Him.  We continue to refuse Him the esteem He so richly deserves.

A Tender Plant

Isaiah 53:2.

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

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Setting the scene, Verse 2 talks about the childhood of Jesus.  No myths or fairy tales here. He was,  however, like a small sprout, a tender shoot, growing out of a decayed stock or stump of a tree that was apparently dead. This refers to His infancy, a sucking child, already predicted by the prophet ( v.2; 7:14; 9:6-7;11:1-2) and fulfilled in Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-55.

The second part of our verse speaks of His suffering. He had no beautiful form, because sin had marred His perfect face. Comeliness in the Hebrew word meant magnificence; splendor; glory; honor, excellency; majesty. He had none of this during His sufferings, but now He has it more than anyone else, except the Father and the Holy Spirit ( Eph. 1:20 -23;Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-18; I Pet. 3:22).

His lack of physical beauty was only during His suffering.  It is clear from the throngs who followed Him that He was indeed good to look upon; that He had an appeal about Him that made it possible for Him to enter a synagogue and teach as a known Rabbi. I hesitate to use words like aura or charisma, because they are so over-used and misused in today’s superlative-driven language.  I do believe it is true, though that He was most handsome.  I believe He was full of dignity, authority, and confidence.  I’ve just read an unattributed description of Him, and it was full of flowery language.  I don’t think Jesus was a flowery man.  He worked in Joseph’s carpentry shop; His hands were very likely calloused, rough, and very strong.  He did not live a soft and elegant life, but grew up among the poor.  But in spite of His being a mere Nazarene,  He attracted people wherever He went because He was full of grace and truth.

Luke 2:42 tells us that Jesus, as a child, increased in wisdom (intellect), stature (physical maturity), favor with God (spiritual growth) and favor with man (social growth).

It was this fine and unusually beautiful Man that was tortured to a point of not even looking human before He was placed on the cross.

 

Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:1. “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

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This incredible chapter has been preached, memorized, memorialized in beautiful music—and often misunderstood. I want to take my time going through this chapter, so it will be a short post today.

We have to put the question (53:1) into proper perspective with all that has been said in the previous chapter.  Isaiah, under God’s guidance, has described the suffering of Messiah, and His ultimate victory.  Now, he is saying, “Who would believe that the Messiah would suffer and be exalted? Who would understand and accept such a message?”

Remember, the Jews ended up rejecting Jesus one week after they had hailed Him as King during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. They rejected Him because He was not the conquering King they wanted.  They didn’t see that He was the fulfillment of so much Old Testament scripture and that the suffering had to come before the victory.

On Monday, we will dig into the rest of this chapter.  Read it ahead of time if you can. We’ll probably be there for at least a week, maybe longer.

 

Jesus, God’s Servant

Isaiah 52: 13-15.

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

14 As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men:

15 So shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

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Jesus would be prudent; that is, circumspect, intelligent, considerate, expert, prosperous,skillful; have good success, have wisdom, behave wisely and with understanding. 

All these traits are indicated in the Hebrew word for prudent. No wonder the crowds followed Him, wanting to hear every word from the lips of the Master.  He was everything  mankind could ever want or need.

He would be exalted (highly praised); extolled (praised above all others); and be very high (Jesus will be high and lifted up above all others).

And yet!  His suffering  was beyond understanding.  Rome was a cruel executioner, making sure that the victim suffered as much as possible.  It wasn’t unusual for a man to die before he ever made it to the cross.

Verse 14 tells  us that people were astonished His appearance. He face was unrecognizable because of the beatings,  having His beard ripped out, the crown of thorns shoved down on His brow.  He was a mangled mess, barely looking human by the time they nailed Him to the cross. He looked worse than any other man.

There was nothing, absolutely nothing, glamorous or beautiful about His death;  there is nothing, absolutely nothing, glamorous or beautiful about sin once you look under the surface. Jesus became sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:21).

In v. 15, sprinkling many nations is a reference to the custom of sprinkling guests with perfumed water for their refreshing and cleansing. The words actually means to spurt, sprinkle. It has nothing to do with baptism done by sprinkling. In reference to the nations, His blood is figuratively sprinkled on all mankind for cleansing from sin. In the Millennium, many nations will accept Him, finally, as Savior and Lord.  Kings and rulers will be amazed at Who He is, and will worship Him.  They will finally hear, see, and understand what Jesus had done for them.

The Whole Earth shall see God’s Salvation

Isaiah 52:10-12.

10 The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

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Verse 10:  Baring His holy arm is an expression of showing His power to all nations.  It is a term meaning  preparation for active work, especially for war. Oriental custom  permitted the arm to be made bare in an instant; the sleeve was so free that one hand passing up the arm would lay it bare immediately.

All the ends of the earth: Only a small part of mankind has seen the reality of God’s salvation.  Many millions on earth have yet to hear of the gospel. In the Millennium, the earth for the first time, will be filled with the knowledge of God.

Verse 11:  This verse speaks of the Israelites’ return from the Babylonian captivity as well as the return of all Jews to Israel in the Millenium. It was an admonishment that they were to leave all idols and anything else that spoke of idolatry. They were not to touch any unclean thing.  Those who bore the vessels of God were to be ceremonially clean before they touched those vessels.  It was a holy mission to take these items back to Jerusalem

Verse 12:  They were not going to be running away from Babylon.  They would be leaving with the King’s blessing, so there was no need for haste. God would go before them and behind them, both leading and protecting.  Rereward is  the obsolete spelling of rearward (in the archaic and historical military sense of rearguard). God was their leader and their protector.