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The Suffering Servant

Now the greatest passage on the cross in the Old Testament is clearly Isaiah chapter 53;

-- Click To Expand/Collapse Bible Verses -- Isa ch53:v1-12
Isa 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Isa 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Isa 53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Now verse 4 we can easily explain by the life of Christ, but the verse contains the phrase "we did esteem Him smitten". The verse does not state that He was smitten by God, but that we esteemed Him as such. In this manner He was wounded for the transgressions of Old Testament Israel.

The cross was the moment of translation from the Old to the New covenant, the completion of the mediation of the new covenant was with the cross - the sin of the world was taken away through Christ because it could not ever be laid to His charge by God.

It was the sin of Israel (and all men) that they rejected their God Jesus Christ (both before His coming and at the cross.) Verse 5 immediately follows verse 4 with "But he was wounded .." (which goes to show that the rejection of Christ by Israel at the cross was the transgression, the iniquity.) He translated Israel, becoming the object of rejection of those that prefer their physical standing in the law to those that believed on Him.

All Israel was guilty of this sin, (verse 6) in that before Christ even came they had all likewise rejected God through lack of faith. The cross of Christ is the moment of division between those that reject Him and those that come to Him for newness of life, that gather about Him as if the cross were an ensign to gather those that love Him by its utter brutality. The more brutal the cross, the more effective a gathering sign for those who love God.

The brutality of the cross and the punishment of Christ by His own flock (including those who love Christ) will ensure that His chosen elect will place themselves in the position where they are separated from the former (physical) Israel towards the latter (spiritual) Israel. This is the process of translation, where Christ draws out His own lost sheep from the house of Israel to the new spiritually reconfigured Israel. Everyone in the new Israel had to have been in the first group before the translation into the latter with the new covenant's completion.

The suffering of Christ then is such that He was despised and rejected by His own, but the sin He bore was of that rejection at that point. He bore it in the sense that He did not injure in kind, he did not curse, he did not destroy them, he suffered it willingly so that those who would be gathered to Him from all those who crucified Him might not share in the wickedness of His murder but would be welcome at His table. (verse 6, verse 7)

The Israel that crucified Him was then done away with, and the new Israel that He had gathered to Him in the knowledge that He had borne their sins against Him (of the former for the benefit of the latter) was established. This translation from a people with guilt before God to a people without guilt before God is the moment of translation at the cross, and is its power.

We have this in the sense that Gods people in verse 8 are the elect of the new covenant, Christ suffered the rejection (iniquity) of the sinners of the old covenant in order to separate out His own. His own were guilty, in the first group, but now have found mercy in the second.

So the greatest verse to state that Jesus was punished for our sins is verse 5, yet this is explained away (to nullify God punishing Christ) by the translation of Israel by the faith placed upon Christ by His elect (the lost sheep) of the House of Israel. The cross is the door (from one to the other) for all those who weep and mourn as for the bridegroom taken away. The brutal treatment by the jews of Christ is the ensign of the cross because the sin and rejection of Christ (the controversy God has with man) is upon the former group until they be gathered into the second. The transgressions are not upon the heads of those who come to Christ and are under the new covenant, because they are not guilty but are those for whom Christ laid His life down.

We have in verse 10 that it pleased God to offer His Son Christ to us,.. because of the good done by Christ in mediating the new covenant and scorning the shame of the cross. The brutality of the cross has shown the great love of Jesus Christ to us all, and is a greater dividing line between Christ being an offence to many and as an arm offered in peace and reconciliation.

verse 12 concludes the chapter with Christ placing Himself with sinners, being "God with us", bearing the sins of many (the lack of faith of all) and has made intercession for them, now sat down at the right hand of the Father.

We therefore find the doctrine of the New Testament translation of Israel in this passage rather than the atonement by any punishment of Christ by God in our place. In the Old Testament we would not expect the spiritual substance of the new testament to be given except in the manner of the Old Covenant ordinances. The prophet Isaiah spoke in the shadows of the Old Testament now revealed and unlocked by the ministry of Christ and His apostles to us in the New Testament.

After all, God would not accept a sacrifice of a spotless lamb for passover that had been brutally whipped and beaten beforehand, would He? The greater offering of Faith by Christ for the redemption of His people must accompany the sacrifice of Christ for us all - much as did the faith of Abraham that of offering Isaac. A loving Father should never slay His innocent child.


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