Yet We Considered Him Punished,

 Stricken and Afflicted by God

53: 4-6

   DIG: Who is saying these words? When are they saying them? Why? What was the purpose of the Servant’s suffering? What was the nature of His suffering? What are the three specific requirements of the bread to qualify for the Passover? How does each point to the Messiah? Why was His suffering and death necessary? How could a loving God send people to hell? What are the wages of sin?

   REFLECT: When was the last time someone paid the price for something that you did? After reflecting on it, how did it make you feel? Did it change you in any way? When reflecting on Christ’s paying the price for your sins, how does it make you feel? What do you think? Did it really happen? Was it really necessary? Did it change you in any way? Can you ever “repay” Messiah for what He has done for you? What, then, is the appropriate response?

    In 53:1-9 we see Israel’s national prayer and confession at the end of the Great Tribulation (see my commentary on Revelation Ev – The Basis for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ). At that time every Jew still alive will declare that although they didn’t realize it beforehand, they now recognized that Jesus bore the consequences of their sin. This is the third of five messages.

    The Cone of Isaiah (see Hl – The Cone of Isaiah) has now come to the point: In fact, it was our diseases He bore, our pains from which He suffered (53:4a CJB). As they make this confession Israel recognizes that Jesus really was the Messiah and His suffering was on their behalf. In other words, His suffering was substitutionary. He bore upon Himself their diseases and their pains. The word bore is the Hebrew word na-sah that, in the book of Leviticus, always has the sense of offering a sacrifice. So the Jews finally started to understand that when He was bearing their suffering, it was done in the sense of offering up a sacrifice.

    Even though this is Israel’s national confession of their sin of rejecting the Messiah, He died for us all. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). What had Yeshua done to deserve such treatment? Look for a moment at the cross. God made Him an offering for sin. If you want to know how much the LORD hates sin, look to the cross. If you want to know if ADONAI will punish sin, look to Messiah, who bore the tortures of its penalty. How could we ever think that we could escape if we ignore such a great salvation (Hebrews 2:3a)? That cross became an altar where we see the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was dying for somebody else - you and me.

    Yet, we considered Him punished, stricken and afflicted by God (53:4b CJB). Stricken (nagua) is sometimes associated with the disease of leprosy (Leviticus 13:3, 9, 20; Second Kings 15:5), and is probably the basis that the Babylonian Talmud describes the Messiah as a leper (Sanhedrin 98a). But this is not always the case; in other places this term can illustrate any illness or disaster that takes place (Genesis 12:17; First Samuel 6:9). So at the end of the Great Tribulation, the Jews still alive had always believed that Jesus had been accursed for what He had done. But then, they will realize that it was they who deserved that fearful consequence.

    To this very day Israel’s attitude has been yet we considered Him punished by God. When Jesus was suffering on the cross, as far as Israel was concerned, he deserved it. He was suffering for His own sins and received just punishment from ADONAI Himself. Another reference to Jesus in the Talmud is to call Him po-shea, the transgressor. As far as the Talmud is concerned, Jesus died because He was a transgressor. The word stricken is used for the most loathsome diseases (Genesis 12:17; Leviticus 13:3, 9, 20; First Samuel 6:9; Second Kings 15:5). It always emphasizes being struck with the most shocking disease and is quoted in Matthew 8:17.

    But, emphasizes the contrast between Jesus and us. He, and no other, was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins (53:5a). The pronoun He is emphatic, so as to bring the Servant sharply before us. The word pierced here means to be pierced through with a knife, sword, or spear. He was also crushed (especially through the scourging) for our sins. The fact that Jesus was pierced was foreshadowed in the Feasts of Israel. At the Passover (Luke 22:14-20) the body of Christ is related to the unleavened bread. So when Jesus said: This is My body, He did not say it of wafers or other types of bread. He specifically said it of the Jewish unleavened bread.

    There were three specific requirements of the bread to qualify for the Passover. The first requirement is that the bread had to be unleavened and leaven was the symbol for sin. Jesus had an unleavened body that was sinless. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (Second Corinthians 5:21). If Jesus had committed only one sin, that would have disqualified Him from being the Passover sacrifice. But Jesus was the only Jew who ever lived that kept the Torah perfectly and by His perfect keeping of the Torah He did have an unleavened body.

    Secondly, the bread had to be striped. The body of Jesus was striped by means of the scourge (John 19:1). Isaiah 53:5 prophesied: by His stripes we are healed.

    The third requirement is that it also had to be pierced. The body of Jesus was pierced at the crucifixion on two occasions, initially by the nails of His crucifixion (John 19:17-18) and then by the spear of a Roman soldier (John 19: 34 and 37). At the time of Israel’s national confession, Zechariah 12:10 prophesied that Jesus would say to the nation at the end of the Tribulation: They will look upon Me, the One they have pierced. Today if you go to the grocery store around the time of the Passover and you buy some unleavened bread, it will literally have stripes on it. And if you hold it up to a light, you can see through it because it is pierced. Therefore, His death was substitutionary.218

    The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him (53:5b). This kind of suffering was necessary to bring about spiritual peace for those who will believe. So the punishment that leads to peace was placed upon the Servant. Peace is defined as a condition of salvation brought about by healing. We were sick to death because of our sins; but He, the sinless one, took upon Himself a suffering unto death, which was, as it were, the concentration and essence of the woes that we deserved. This voluntary endurance, this substitution to the justice of the Holy One, in accordance with the counsels of divine love, became the source of our healing.219

    And by His wounds we are healed of our sins (53:5c). Messiah died for our spiritual healing, not our physical healing. Jesus did not bear our diseases by contracting them, but by exposing their root cause. When He saw the pain and suffering of sickness and death He understood that the root cause was sin. It was sin that He dealt with on the cross. He bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might not die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed (First Peter 2:24). Those who claim that believers should never be sick because there is healing in the atonement should also claim that believers should never die, because Yeshua also conquered death in the atonement. The central message of the Gospel is deliverance from sin. It is the good news about forgiveness, not health. Christ was made sin, not disease, and He died on the cross for our sin, not our sickness.220 In 53:4 we see His substitutionary suffering; in 55:5 we see His substitutionary death.

    We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way. And this was no accident, the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (53:6). The believing remnant will suddenly realize that they were guilty and that ADONAI made Yeshua Messiah the object of His wrath in order to take away their guilt. Isaiah reinforces his point with a sheep metaphor that will be carried over into the next segment. Sheep are notoriously single-minded and at the same time unaware of their circumstances. Their minds are on the next clump of grass and not much else. Not only that, when frightened, they have a tendency to bolt off in any direction. As a result, they tend to get lost.221 So as far as Israel at the end of the Tribulation was concerned, they were the ones who had gone astray. Isaiah is speaking here through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and says we all, meaning we Jews, have all turned to our own way. The essence of sin turning your back on God and going one’s own way.

    Their problem then is the same as our problem today. We have gone our own way, neglecting God’s Way (Acts 24:14). The Bible teaches us that there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). Although our Lord Yeshua said: I Am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6), each of us has turned to our own way.

    How could a loving God send people to hell? That’s a commonly asked question. But the question itself reveals a couple of misconceptions. First, the LORD does not send people to hell. He merely honors their choice (Romans 1:21-25). Hell is the ultimate expression of ADONAI’s high regard for the dignity of mankind. He has never forced us to choose Him, even when it means that we would choose hell. Secondly, He doesn’t send people to hell. The word people is neutral, implying innocence. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that innocent people are condemned to hell. Sinners are. The rebellious are. The self-centered are. So how could a loving God send people to hell? He doesn’t. He simply honors the choice of sinners (When Christ Comes, Max Lucado).

    Therefore, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment and pain that we deserve to pay for our sins. These are our infirmities and our pains that He bore. But why was Christ’s death necessary? It was necessary because of our sin nature inherited from Adam (Genesis 3). Because ADONAI is a holy God, He cannot tolerate sin in His presence. Therefore, we are the LORD’s enemy because anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (James 4:4b). And His only response can be wrath that brings death. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). The wages of work is money, but the wages of sin is death. In other words, what I earn – the penalty, the punishment of sin – is death. Death is separation. The Bible speaks of two kinds of death, that is two kinds of separation. The first death is separation of the body and the soul. If I were to die right now my body would fall to the floor, but my soul, the real me, would go somewhere else. But the Bible speaks of another death, one it calls the second death. This second death is separation of the soul from God. Now, the penalty of sin is death, spiritual death, and separation from the LORD. To put it simply – hell. All this is really bad news. But there is good news, as we shall see next.


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