“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)
“Both the Old and New Testaments make it clear that all human beings are sinners. Al our sins are against an infinite, holy God who cannot even look upon sin. An atonement must be made in order for us to have fellowship with God.” Dr. R. C. Sproul
Isaiah 53:7-9 is the fourth section of five in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). In these three verses we witness The Obedience of the Suffering Servant. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:9: “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”
“And they made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death.” A place was set for the Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ, to be buried. We read of these efforts in all four of the New Testament Gospels (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:43-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42). The word “grave” means sepulcher, burial chamber, or burial site. It affirms that Jesus Christ would die on the cross and be buried. His grave was intended to be with the unrighteous, as was the situation with the other two criminals crucified with Jesus (John 19:31).
Roman executioners normally left the deceased bodies of crucified criminals on their crosses for days on end. The corpses would then become food for birds and wild animals. In the ancient world, to not bury a dead body was the ultimate act of dishonoring the deceased person (I Samuel 31:1-12) which God strictly forbid (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).
Why did the Romans do this? Since crucifixions normally occurred on high- traffic areas, the victim’s remains would be seen by many people. This proved to be a strong deterrent to those who thought and sought to oppose Roman law. Crucifixion was the fate which awaited those who disobeyed the Empire of Rome.
Eventually, the remains of the dead would be buried in a mass grave site. It was located south of Jerusalem. It was called the Valley of Hinnom. This was the place where babies were burned to death in sacrifice to Molech, the false god of the Ammonites (I Kings 11:1-7; 2 Kings 17:17; 21:6; Jeremiah 32:35). This detestable act was forbidden by God (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5; Jeremiah 7:31-32; 32:35).
The Valley of Hinnom became known in English as Gehenna. Other names used were Topheth, the Aramaic name for “fireplace.” Scholars believe Topheth could also refer to the word “drum” since drums were repeatedly beaten to drown out the cries of babies were who burned alive in the evil sacrifices.
During Jesus’ life on earth, the Valley of Hinnom was a garbage dump. The fires burned continuously (Isaiah 66:24; Matthew 3:12; Mark 9:48). The final remains of the crucified dead were thrown into that fire. The place became a fitting description of hell.
However, Jesus’ body would not be treated this way. Psalm 16:10 says of the Messiah, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Due to the efforts by a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:38-42).
“Although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” The sinlessness of the Servant of Yahweh, and His substitutionary death on the cross for sinners, is again affirmed by the Prophet Isaiah. Yahweh’s Servant was not a person who committed wrong or who was deceitful. He was righteous and truthful (I Peter 2:22). This was the Fathers’ testimony of the innocence of His Servant, the Son of God.
Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) was an Anglican cleric and hymn writer. He was a contemporary of John and Charles Wesley. He was the author of the familiar hymn Rock of Ages. He also wrote O Fountain of Unceasing Grace. I encourage you to meditate today on the words of this hymn.
O fountain of unceasing grace, Your saints exhaustless theme. Great object of immortal praise, Essentially supreme. We bless You for the glorious fruits, Your incarnation gives. The righteousness which grace imputes, And faith alone receives.
In You we have a righteousness, By God Himself approved; Our rock, our sure foundation this, Which can never be moved. Our ransom by Your death was paid, For all your people giv’n. The Law You perfectly obeyed, That they might enter heav’n.
As all, when Adam sinned alone, In his transgression died, So by the righteousness of One Are sinners justified. We to Your merit, gracious Lord, With humblest joy submit, Again to paradise restored, In You alone complete.
May God’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!