He Was Oppressed and Afflicted,

Yet He Did Not Open His Mouth

53: 7-9

   DIG: If all you knew about the suffering Servant’s adult life were summed up in these verses, what would you assume must have happened to Him? How does this relate to the picture of the suffering Servant in 53:6? Why were these verses needed? Why did He go silently like a meek little lamb? What will He be like when He returns (see Revelation 5:5)? Why?

   REFLECT: When was the last time you gave yourself sacrificially to others? What was the result? How did it affect you? Can you “hold your tongue” if you feel like you are suffering an injustice? How would your situation be different than the one we see here? How is it the same? When you read these Scriptures, how does it affect you personally?

    In 53:1-9 we finish up with Isra'el’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). The actual words of this prayer are found in four key passages of Scripture, first, in Psalm 79, secondly in Psalm 80, thirdly here, and lastly in Isaiah 63:7 to 64:12. All tenses are prophetic perfects, or future events looked upon as already taken place. This is the fourth of five messages.

    Jesus was determined to fulfill His ministry on earth. As a child, God the Father had raised God the Son morning by morning and instructed Him concerning His purpose in coming to this earth (50:4). As Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52) He became more and more determined. Yeshua was confident that He would not be disgraced because God the Father would come to His aid. He was so sure of this, He set His face like a flint to the cross to die. He knew that He would not be put to shame. The reason He offered His back to those who beat Him, the reason He offered His cheeks to those who pulled out His beard, the reason He did not hide His face from mocking and spitting was because He recognized that the Father was with Him (50:7-8).

    Isaiah takes up the sheep metaphor from 53:4-6, and uses it to underline the point being made throughout this national confession: the contrast between a sinful people and an innocent Servant. When we are compared to sheep their ability to get lost is emphasized: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way (53:6). But when the Messiah is compared to sheep, their non-defensive, submissive nature is emphasized. Both He and we may be compared to sheep, but two very different pictures emerge. The negative characteristics are seen in us, while the positive ones are seen in Him. Being human, He shares our nature, but in Him it is transformed.

    But He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth (53:7a). The construction of the sentence gives a sense of simultaneous action, He was oppressed as He humbled Himself. The word oppressed carries with it the idea of brutal physical punishment at the hand of others. ADONAI said: I have seen how My people are being oppressed in Egypt and heard their cry for release from their slavemasters, because I know their pain (Exodus 3:7; also see Isaiah 3:5 and 12, 58:3).

    Yet, He did not open His mouth. Led like a Lamb, Seh Ha’Elohim, God’s Lamb (John 1:19, 29, 35 CJB) He went willingly to the slaughter (53:7b CJB). Philip explained to an Ethiopian eunuch that the Lamb of Isaiah was not the prophet Isaiah, but was Messiah (Acts 8:26-35). It was no accident that Isaiah used this metaphor because sheep were the primary animals of sacrifice. Seeing many sheep sheared for their wool or killed as sacrifices, the Jews were well aware of the submissive nature of sheep. Jesus did not try to stop those who opposed Him, but remained silent rather than defend Himself. Therefore, He was not a victim caught up in the circumstances of life; but rather, a person of supreme dignity in even the most degrading of circumstances. One thinks of Jesus setting His face to go to the city of Jerusalem where He understood the death on the cross that awaited Him there(see Ir – Because the Sovereign LORD Helps Me, I Will Set My Face Like a Flint).

    It is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is not accidental that sheep, the primary animals of sacrifice, are mentioned here. The lambs used for offerings in the Tabernacle and the Temple were without spot or blemish. They provided atonement for the sins of the people. Thank You, God, for sending Yeshua the Lamb, who took our sins on Himself so we could be forgiven (His Names Are Wonderful, by Elizabeth Vander Meulen and Barbara Malda, Messianic Jewish Pub, 2005, page 46).

    And as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth (53:7c). All four Gospels point out that at both His religious and civil trials He suffered injustice in silence (Matthew 26:62-62 and 27:12-14; Mark 14:60-61 and 15:3-5; Luke 23:8-9 and John 19:10). In addition to the fact that Jesus was sinless and had done nothing wrong, twenty-one laws of the Great Sanhedrin regarding trials were all broken when He was tried. They were so desperate to kill Him (Matthew 26:1-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2; John 13:1) that they would stop at nothing, not even their own rules (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Lh – The Laws of the Great Sanhedrin Regarding Trials).

    After two unjust trials, Jesus was sentenced to die (John 19:16). After forcible arrest and sentencing, He was taken away (53:8a CJB). While being scourged, He was temporarily in Pilate’s prison. After being scourged He went through the process of a trial. It was a judicial trial. After that He was taken away to be executed. And who can speak of His descendants (53:8b)? Christ’s generation had failed to recognize Him for who He was. But the faithful remnant, the righteous of the TaNaKh, at the end of the Tribulation is seen here as correcting that error.

    For He was cut off from the land of the living (53:8c). Above, the word speak, declare, or consider means thoughtful consideration to the fact that He was cut off from the land of the living. This means death. This term cut off is used extensively in the Torah. Over and over again violation of the Torah meant that you were cut off, or killed. It is the same expression used here to mean that Yeshua was to face the death sentence.

    For the crimes of My people, who deserved the punishment themselves (53:8d CJB). Not that He was guilty of breaking the Torah, but He suffered for the crimes (or violation of specific command) of God's people. Now the wages of sin being death (Rom 6:23) is bad news, but there is good news.

    But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We were spiritually dead and unable to make the first move toward the LORD because we inherited Adam’s sin nature that rebelled and separated us from Him. So ADONAI made the first move toward us by sending His one and only Son (John 3:16) to die in our place for the payment for our sin. We stand before the Son of God, guilty of sin, and facing a death penalty. But Jesus, as judge (John 5:27), comes down from behind the seat of judgment, takes off His judicial robe and stands beside us. It is there that He says to us, “I will take your place. I will die for you.” And if you were the only person in the world, Yeshua still would have died for you. The penalty for sin is death, but Christ died and paid for sin so we do not have to go to hell.

    Then the burial of the suffering Servant is pictured. He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death (53:9a). The first two lines would be contradictory if we did not have New Covenant revelation. A person who died as a criminal by Jewish law could not be buried in the family plot. He had to be buried in a special criminal’s grave. In Dodge City it was known as Boot Hill. Jesus died as a criminal and crucifixion was a criminal’s death. And since He died a criminal’s death, He was assigned a criminal’s grave. Although He was assigned a grave with the wicked, He ended up being buried in a rich man’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54; and John 19:38-42). All these passages tell us that a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea requested His body and got it. So Jesus ended up being buried with the rich in His death, and not in a criminal’s grave to which He was assigned by the Jewish and Roman leaders of that day.

    Though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth (53:9b). But even though He had been treated as a common criminal He had done no violence. That means He was not guilty of any outward sin. In addition, nor was any deceit in His mouth. That means He had no inward sin. Isaiah says that the LORD is going to twist history. The suffering Servant was assigned a criminal’s grave, but He will end up being exalted by the Father.

    Therefore, Israel’s national confession that Jesus was indeed the Messiah is seen in the first nine verses of Chapter 53. They will finally realize that Yeshua is the Messiah and that He had died a substitutionary death on their behalf. There is only one thing that God will ask of them, the same thing He asks of us – faith. Because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:1).


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