Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Willing Sacrifice

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Oppressed doesn’t sound so bad; the Hebrew gives a clearer picture—He was driven like an animal and tyrannized. He was afflicted; the Hebrew included humbling oneself and submitting. No matter how unjust or cruel His treatment, He endured it without complaint or fighting back. He is pictured as a lamb being taken to slaughter and as a sheep being taken to have its wool shaved off—completely submissive.

Isaiah 53:8 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: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

I really liked the reading of the Complete Jewish Bible for this verse: After forcible arrest and sentencing, he was taken away; and none of his generation protested his being cut off from the land of the living for the crimes of my people, who deserved the punishment themselves.

The Hebrew for declare includes speaking out in complaint. That is a very sad statement and fits in with the gospel accounts. They are clear that Peter made a point to deny Him several times. We know that His mother, John and some other faithful women followers were at the cross and grieving; but nowhere do we hear anyone speaking out on His behalf except Pilate.

The most important point being made in this verse is that Jesus was beaten and killed for our willful sins. Isaiah is specifically referencing the Jews but it applies to all of us

Isaiah 53:9 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 wasn’t really happy with any of the nine translations I read for this verse. Its wording is a bit confusing. The word grave is a reference to the tomb and the word death references Hades, the place of the dead. I think I got tripped up by equating “the rich” with Joseph of Arimathea (the rich man in whose grave Jesus was buried). The key seems to be that He was put to death with those who were wicked and deserving of death. When He went to Hades, He would have gone to the section we know as Abraham’s Bosom.

Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Note that Hades is translated “hell” in Luke 16. Paul speaks of the Lord going to Hades in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:9-10 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Knowing that Abraham’s Bosom was the section designated to people of faith, then we understand that Jesus indeed fellowshipped with those who were truly “rich” in Hades. These are they who would experience the joy of eternity with the Savior.

The last half of the verse emphasizes that Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God as John the Baptist had declared.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

He had not done anything violent (or wrong or unjust) and had never spoken deceitfully (or falsely or fraudulently or treacherously).

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