The Gospel Of Isaiah
Dr. Gerald L. Stover of Lansdale. Pennsylvania has served the Lord for many years as a Bible teacher and Christian education consultant. This current article is the fourth of a series of six studies on Isaiah 53.
Two great themes grip us as we read the opening verse of Isaiah 53. The message of God and the might of God are beautifully related as here even as in Romans 1:16. The message of God is, indeed, the might of God. It is this message that sets men free from sin’s dominion. The arm (power) of God is quick to liberate all who put their trust in Him (2 Cor. 5:17).
There is a plaintive note in Isaiah’s voice in this passage because men’s hearts are the same basically in all ages. Man’s problem is sin, rebellion in his life. Verses 2 and 3 introduce us to the person of Messiah.
The Person of Messiah
“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant” (53:2). The Messiah is revealed in His humanity, and as One who was destined to grow up before God. The Logos became flesh (John 1:14). His body was of Divine origin. He was ever God. But in taking into union with Himself as the Logos, a perfect human nature, He became the God-man. He was ever before the eye of the Father.
He was born of the Virgin Mary, having been conceived by the Spirit (Luke 1:26-38). His perfect humanity was of Divine origin. He is described as “a root out of a dry ground” (53:26). This is ground without moisture. Nothing can grow. In other words, Mary not having known men, could not bear children. Therefore, the Holy Spirit impregnated the virgin, and that which was born of her, is likened unto a plant that sprang out of ground which normally could not produce (not having known man).
He possessed no regal glory (53:2c). “Form” has the sense of external glory. Comeliness has reference to majesty or excellency. This has absolutely no reference to His physical appearance. This writer heard it taught once to indicate that our Lord was extremely homely, repulsive physically. Never! He simply did not appear as a King with a royal retinue, with a royal guard. He was not born in a palace. There was nothing in His birthplace, or status in life that savored of glory or royal station in life.
There was no Messianic appeal (53:3). This is to say that as they viewed Him, they saw no evidence of Messiah. He did not answer to their expectations. Had He come on the scene with an army, had He come denouncing Rome, they would have received Him. But He came with twelve followers. He was not a plumed warrior. He commanded no army. He was meek, a teacher, a humble Hebrew whose “father” (thought they) was a carpenter, He rode no stallion — no, never, He did not answer to their perverted expectations. They rejected Him and His Messianic claims.
“Form” and “comeliness” in verse two have to do with honor, glory, majesty, excellence — beauty in the sense of kingly splendor. He did not answer to their fleshly expectations and they rejected Him. After all, He wore no royal robes. No diadem rested on His brow. He had no royal retinue — He was the epitome of humility — He, they thought, did not bear the credentials of Messiah. Bear in mind that the nation was not sin conscious. The generation of that day was not troubled by smitten conscience; how then could they delight in a Savior!
Their inward attitude was to despise Him; their outward attitude was one of rejection (verse 3). It would seem that no person in all of Jewish history was so abhorred. Their deep-seated hatred (Matt 12:24; 16:21; 21:33-36; 27:1, 20, 41) was indescribable. They “esteemed Him not” or “they esteemed Him as nothing.” They are described as hiding “their faces from Him.” They treated Him as they would have treated a leper. The sight of our Lord was so offensive to their wicked hearts that they treated Him as one who was an outcast from the nation — a leper.
The Passion of Messiah
Isaiah 53:4-9 sets before us the passion, the soul-suffering of Messiah. Bear in mind that a remnant in Israel will be in the Tribulation Period (see Rev. 7:1-8). Paul taught that “all Israel” (that which is truly Israel) will be saved through faith in the Deliverer out of Zion (Rom. 11:26).
Bear in mind that this section of Isaiah 53 sets before us the text of Israel’s confession of Messiah. In that day when He comes in the fulness of His glory and power (Rev. 19:11ff; cf. Zech. 12:10; 14:1-3) they shall recognize in Him the One who was rejected by the nation. They shall mourn and repent as every eye beholds Him. Something of their repentance is recorded for us in Isaiah 53:4-9. They will confess their national transgression.
Note the change in the tense of the verbs beginning with verse 3 in part. They recite afresh what was the national attitude toward Messiah. The transition is remarkable. We are now reading something of the prerecorded text of the national repentance and expression of faith. Though He was sorely despised in history, now they know better. He had actually taken upon Himself the sins, the griefs of the nation.
“Griefs” refers to the sicknesses, the disease, the sufferings of the nation (translated “sickness” in Deut. 28:61; 2 Chron. 21:15). Translated “disease” in Eccl. 6:2; 2 Chron. 21:18. It is not rendered “sin” in the Scriptures.
Note “sorrows,” a word meaning to experience sorrow or to grieve, to experience distress of mind. Now note Matthew 8:17. “Weakness,” a word expressive of sickness, weakness. Then the word “sickness,” a word expressive of pain in the sense of sorrow. What we have is a reference to the miracle ministry of our Lord during His earthly sojourn when He presented the credentials of His Messianic claims in that He healed those who came unto Him with mental and physical burdens. He certainly ministered to Israel in terms of the miracle ministry that fulfilled Isaiah 53:4. It was one of the observable credentials of Messiah.
Since all bodily and mental pain is the result of sin, His death at Calvary, with all its spiritual implications, marks the ultimate removal of all such to believing men. There will come a day when in the experience of redemption, we shall be free from the ravages of sin and disease, physical and mental, which deliverance was secured for us at Calvary.
There is a teaching which wrongly assures one that if he is saved, he should be healed of disease. This is not Biblical in any sense of the word and leads to spiritual depression. It is Satanic in its results or effects upon some very sincere believers who are not healed. To teach that if one is saved he may expect to be healed, is totally, woefully unsound doctrine and Satanic in its results. Jesus healed in presenting Himself and His credentials as Messiah. His death provides victory over the guilt of sin and ultimate deliverance from the effects of sin, including illness.
How important it is for believers to try all things with the Word and to hold fast that which is good.