7”He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. 9They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7-9).
God presents to the student of Scripture the definitive Old Testament text regarding substitutionary atonement (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). What the Old Testament Scriptures previously illustrated with the sacrificial system, centered in the tabernacle and temple, God now reveals in the person and work of the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ.
Today, we begin to examine Isaiah 53:7-9. It is the fourth stanza of five, and contains three verses. Take notice that all the verbs, unless otherwise noted, are in the perfect tense, which means a past completed action with continuing results. While the Prophet Isaiah was writing prophecy yet future in the 8th century B.C., it was regarded then, as now, as a completed and historical truth.
”He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.” The word oppressed means to experience hardship and trouble. It also means to receive a required payment. The Servant was also afflicted, which is a synonym for oppression. The sinless Servant received the just payment and penalty for the sins of the sinner.
However, in spite of great physical, emotional, mental and spiritual oppression and affliction, He did not open His mouth. We know that Jesus spoke seven times from the cross (Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” — Luke 23:34; “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” — Luke 23:43; “Woman, behold thy Son.” — John 19:26; “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” — Mark 15:34; “I thirst.” — John 19:28; “It is finished.” — John 19:30; and “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” — Luke 23:46). So what does Isaiah mean?
The prophet meant that Jesus, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), quietly submitted to His death. He did not try to stop those who opposed Him. He remained silent rather than defend Himself (Matthew 26:63; 27:14; 1 Peter 2:23). He was obediently willing to go to the cross because He knew it would benefit those who would believe.
“Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” The Servant’s behavior is compared to a lamb.
Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “the tendency of sheep is to follow others (v. 6), even to their destruction. In verse 7, the quiet, gentle nature of sheep is stressed. Seeing many sheep sheared for their wool or killed as sacrifices, Israelites were well aware of the submissive nature of sheep.”
I Peter 2:18-25 says, “18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The word “example” (I Peter 2:21) lit. means “writing under.” It was writing put under a piece of paper on which to trace letters, thus a pattern. Christ is the pattern for Christians to follow in suffering with perfect patience. His death was efficacious, primarily, as an atonement for sin (2 Cor. 5:21); but it was also exemplary, as a model of endurance in unjust suffering.”
Soli deo Gloria!