Isaiah 53 and the Sacrificial System

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Isaiah’s prophecy about the Suffering Servant is part of the sacrificial system that began with the construction of the Tabernacle. In today’s YouTube video on the Bob Spradling channel, Rudy Ross will outline important points about the sacrificial system that will increase your appreciation of Isaiah 53.

Today’s blog article will focus on an interpretation of verses 4-6.

Our Substitute

Jesus, who is the Suffering Servant, suffers for people, so we do not have to experience the results of our sins. The sacrificial system makes it clear that there is no forgiveness for human guilt apart from the shedding of blood.

The book of Leviticus states, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17.11).

Hebrews teaches the need for blood explicitly, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9.22).

When John the Baptist saw Jesus he declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1.29). John equated Jesus to the lamb that was used in the sacrificial system.

The opening words Isaiah 53 reveal that Jesus suffered, but it was for our sins.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
(Isaiah 53.4)

The weakness and ugliness of the Servant caused many to turn away from him. Surprise! It was our infirmities and diseases that caused him to be stricken and afflicted.

Our pride causes us to believe that we are self-sufficient. The life and death of Jesus reveals that we are in desperate need of a Savior.

We have a problem. What happened to the Suffering Servant is the solution to our problem.

The Servant of God did not suffer because of his sin. In fact, he completely pure. He suffered because he took our punishment into his own life.

Transgressions and Iniquities

An understanding of the Hebrew language is necessary to fully appreciate verse 5.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
(Isaiah 53.5)

Rudy Ross has done an extensive study of “transgression” and “iniquity” in the Hebrew language. His work yields some important insights.

Both transgression and iniquity is first located in the human heart, the location of our mind, will and emotions.

The heart is also the place where heaven and earth meet in a human’s life. God meets us and interacts in our heart.

Transgression, iniquity and guilt, as “heart condition” offenses, break our relationship with God and cause us to be alienated from him.

Jesus was wounded, crushed, punished, and bruised so that our “heart condition” may be forgiven and restored to its proper place in relation to God.

Having a spiritually diseased heart, the holy place in our lives cannot relate to God. Jesus’ sacrifice for humans on the cross made it possible for wholeness and healing to take place. We can experience the privilege of an intimate relationship with God.

Mistaken Identity

To look at the Suffering Servant is to wonder what he did to suffer under God’s punishment. The truth is that he suffered as a result of our rebellion.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53.6)

We have “gone astray” and “turned to our own way” by insisting on producing our own moral codes that enhance pride and self-sufficiency. We are blind to our harmful choices, especially the eternal ones.

To bring us back home, God “laid on him the iniquity of us all.” As Rudy teaches, iniquity is an inside condition that is determined to live separate from God.

All that Jesus suffered for humans is for the purpose of healing and saving our inside condition. His ultimate purpose is to make whole our relationship with God.

May I encourage you to spend some time thinking of Jesus’ death in the light of the first six verses of Isaiah 53. We can praise God for his love and renew our devotion to our Lord and Savior.

About This Blog

I hope you will join Rudy Ross and me on YouTube with an interview with Rudy. He will connect the sacrificial system with Isaiah 53 and the ministry of Jesus.

I am indebted to John Oswalt for his insights. His two-volume commentary on Isaiah is very insightful.

Please email your prayer request to bspra49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.

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