Gary: In this segment, Understanding the Scriptures, we continue our exploration of the Doctrine of Salvation. Our specific reference point this week is the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Again, along with Dave Hunt, here’s T.A. McMahon.
Tom: Dave, before I start reading the remaining verses of Isaiah for the purposes of our discussion on salvation, can you give us an overview of what the prophet Isaiah is presenting in this chapter?
Dave: It’s really a tremendous prophecy of the suffering of the Messiah, which, of course, Jews today still can’t believe. They try to explain it away: “Well, that was the suffering of Israel,” or whatever. But it’s very clear. In fact, Isaiah has been introducing to us the Servant of Jehovah. It is through the Servant of Jehovah that salvation will come to the world. For example, if you go back in chapter 52, verse 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.” It even tells us that this is for the Gentiles—for everyone.
And verse 13 of the previous chapter: “Behold, my Servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. As many were astonied at thee, his visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. So shall he sprinkle many nations.” So He’s going to bring salvation to the ends of the earth, it says. And so now, Isaiah presents to us this One who obviously could only be the Messiah. Tells us how He’s going to be rejected by His own people, but He will grow up “before God, like a tender plant.” He’ll be approved of God. He will be hated. He will be imprisoned. He will be beaten, rejected, despised, and He will suffer at the hands of man, but at the same time He’s suffering at the hands of man, He will suffer at the hands of God for our sins.
It’s a tremendous chapter! It’s all put together here in this one chapter. However, it is in absolute harmony with the rest of Isaiah and with the rest of Scripture.
Tom: Right. It’s prophetic, and we look back—we’re looking back from the New Testament, and anybody who will do that—as we said in a previous show—if you have some Jewish friends, take this passage, Isaiah 53, type it out. Give it to some of your friends, just asking the question (again, not saying where it’s from or who wrote it, at the beginning), ask them who this is a picture of. And my guess would be, they would say “Oh, this is Jesus.”
Dave: Almost without a doubt.
Tom: Right. Let’s see if we can finish this off.
Dave: And then you can tell them that this is not written by some Christian but this is your great prophet Isaiah. This is what he had to say. Now, who is he talking about? Obviously, it couldn’t be the nation Israel, because it says “he” was wounded for “our” transgressions. So the nation of Israel couldn’t have been wounded for their own transgressions. You wouldn’t distinguish between “he” and “we.” I’m sorry, Tom, go ahead.
Tom: No, that’s all right. The purposes of going through Isaiah 53 is because we’re talking about the doctrine of salvation. Here’s a clear picture of what Christ did. We talked about knowing, you know, we’re saved by faith. Our faith is in Christ—believing in Him, and believing in Him is not just the name. It’s what He did, what He accomplished.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Amen!
Tom: This spells it out as clearly…
Tom: …as any passages of the scriptures. So, picking up with verse 8: “He was taken from prison and from judgment.” Now, as we’re reading through this, those who have read the New Testament, who have gone through the gospels, if this doesn’t come to life for you, read it again! “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living, and for the transgression of my people he was stricken.”
Dave: Mm-hmm. Exactly that happened to Christ. He was taken from prison, from judgment; “Who could declare his generation?” because he’s cut off, He didn’t have any physical progeny, any physical descendants on this earth. He had no physical children. He was not married.
Tom: Contrary to what Mormons teach.
Dave: Right. But He wasn’t “cut off for himself,” as Daniel 9 says, “but for the sins of his people.” Very clear.
Tom: Yeah. Right. We just read it: “For the transgression of my people he was stricken.” Verse 9: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. Because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” I mean, this is an innocent victim, right? This is one who was put to death, and the idea was to—the form of death, crucifixion, was to embarrass Him, to mock Him, and then to put Him in the grave of the wicked, among those who die on a cross.
Dave: It’s also prophetically accurate. He was crucified between two thieves, and one of the thieves acknowledged, “This man has done no wrong.” So He was falsely accused. Also, He was buried in a rich man’s grave. So, again, you have an accurate prophecy.
Tom: Right. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” Why is that, Dave?
Dave: Well, for the same reason that it says in Hebrews 12, “For the joy that was set before Him, Christ endured the cross.” And for the joy of redeeming mankind: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” So, it’s amazing, but God was pleased to bruise His Son. To put upon Him the penalty—make Him pay the penalty for our sins because of His love for us. Because out of this would come forgiveness and eternity with Him.
Tom: “He hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.”
Dave: So it’s God that put Him to grief. And Jesus said, “No man taketh My life from Me. I lay it down of Myself. This command I received of My Father.” It is God who made His soul an offering for sin. That’s why we’re saved. Not because of the physical suffering. People make the sign of the cross. They think that they can wave a cross at demons. It will frighten them. (It doesn’t.) It’s because of what transpired on that cross—that there He became the sin sacrifice. Now, it says, “He will see his seed.” Well, in the previous verse He’s cut off out of the land of the living. He doesn’t have any physical descendants. Ah, but now He has spiritual sons and daughters that He will bring into glory, because through His death and resurrection, we can be born again of the Spirit of God into the family of God.
Again, it’s just a… Tom, it’s amazing what Isaiah is laying out here, which comes into real clear vision in the New Testament.
Tom: Right. “He shall see the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.”
Dave: Mm-hmm, there it is—bearing their iniquities again. The penalty we deserve.
Tom: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Jesus paid the full penalty, didn’t He? He did it for us.
Dave: Pretty clear. Yeah. “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong…” I think that’s a little bit difficult for us to understand. He poured out His soul unto death. He said, “No man takes My life from Me.” You couldn’t kill Him, but He could lay His life down. He was “numbered with transgressors.” He was falsely accused, and yet He didn’t open His mouth.
“He bore the sin of many.” There we have it again, that He took the penalty for our sins, and He made intercession for the transgressors. He is our Advocate, Paul writes, pleading our case. His blood pleads our case and on that basis we’re forgiven.
Tom: Now, Dave, the astounding thing about this passage, Isaiah 53, is that these verses…it ought to be clear to us that this is something only God could do, and He did, and He did it perfectly and completely, and when we begin to fall into kind of a legalistic idea, you know, “works righteousness,” we’re an offense to the very things that we’ve been reading here. Not only is it delusion and a lie, but it’s a reproach to Christ, who paid the full penalty for our sins—something that only GOD, who became a man, could do!