Re Leslie S. Rainey’s article in your April issue, the article shows a careful study of words in Isaiah 53, but I must take exception to some parts of it, especially to the following: “He was stricken or plagued, God was its source, Jerome said, ‘Christ was afflicted with leprosy,’ even some Rabbis refer to the Messiah as the Leprous One because in verse eight, it actually says in the Hebrew, ‘For the transgression of My people the plague was upon Him.’ This is the same word for the plague of leprosy. He was smitten,’ or as the great Hebrew scholars render it, ‘He was defeated in His cause.’” I can see nothing edifying in the above exposition of verse eight — far otherwise. It is true the word translated stricken is used over and over again in Leviticus for the plague of leprosy, but the same word is used in Deuteronomy for stroke (i.e. to strike) where it could not possibly be rendered plague, for instance, “Stroke for stroke” (Deut. 17:8). To connect the person of Christ with leprosy is horrible. We must distinguish between sin itself and its consequences, or even the type of it. Christ became identified with sin, not joined to it, as Mr. Rainey says.
Many thanks for your kind letter of criticism. An editor frequently is caught between two extremes, the one, in respecting too much the judgment of a well reputed author; the other, of correcting and deleting from an article until it becomes an expression of the editor’s mind and not that of the author. Our endeavour throughout the many years has been to avoid as much as possible, the second.
We agree with L.R.F. that there is nothing edifying in these statements of the Jewish Rabbis; they are unfortunate and misleading, and have resulted in an interjecting into the article what was not intended. It might have been better had the objectionable paragraph been deleted.
Nothwithstanding, I can assure you that brother Leslie S. Rainey believes as strongly as you and as strongly as myself in the impeccability of the Lord Jesus. We all alike would emphasise that Christ was holy in His birth, harmless in His life, undefiled in His death, separate from sinners in His burial, and made higher than the heavens in His glorious ascension.
We believe what the Word of God says about the Man Christ Jesus: “Who did no sin” (1 Pet. 2:22); “Who knew no sin” (1 Cor. 5:21); “In Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Yet, withal, He was made sin for us; that is, by imputation only; that we, by imputation, might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
That brother Rainey would quote from Jewish Rabbis is logical and, to be expected. He served the Lord for years as a missionary to the Jews; he lived in Jerusalem. From their own writings our brother in dealing with them would attempt to prove that their Messiah was a suffering Messiah who would assume the guilt of the nation, yes, of the entire world, not only a Messiah crowned and glorified. It is understandable that he would refer them to the writings of their ancient Rabbis to show them this. We do disapprove of their extravagant language, but one can see how this entered into brother Rainey’s exposition of this remarkable Messianic passage.
Brother Rainey is now serving the Lord as a missionary in Africa; we shall forward your letter to him. He may personally reply to your criticism.
Many many thanks for your communication.