The Atonement: The Ordeal of the Suffering Servant, Part 2.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Isaiah 53:4-6 forms the middle section of the five portions of Isaiah’s fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These three verses form what is arguably the most significant statement of substitutionary atonement contained in the Old Testament. Everything Isaiah has written thus far, and everything he will subsequently say, frames these three verses.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:5. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

But he was pierced for our transgressions.” Isaiah 53:5 begins with the conjunction “but.” The word indicates a contrast in what has been written prior to this verse. The prophet wanted to make sure that there was not misunderstanding as to why the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would die on the cross. It would be on behalf of the sinner. It would be on behalf of His people.

The phrase “he was pierced” literally means the penetration of a sharp object into the body which can harm, wound and even kill. The subject remains the Servant of Yahweh. The question is then asked: why was he pierced? The answer is given in the second half of the sentence: “for our transgressions.” The word “transgressions” means defiance to authority, rebelliousness, wrongdoing and the committing of a crime. Notice that these acts were ours, and not His.

Also notice the small word “for.” It means in behalf of, in lieu of, in place of, or instead of. In the Greek language of the New Testament, it is the word “huper.” The late Swiss theologian Karl Barth once remarked that, in his evaluation, the word “huper” was the single, most important word in all of the Greek New Testament. Isaiah was calling attention to the fact that Jesus Christ would die on the sinner’s behalf.

“He was crushed for our iniquities.” The Servant was bruised, beaten, and oppressed because of our misdeeds, sin and the resulting guilt caused by our wickedness.

“Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” The Servant received the chastening, punishment and the judicial penalty which would bring to sinners completeness, soundness and safeness from the wrath of God.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:7-10 says, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

“And with his wounds we are healed.” The wounds and pain Jesus endured on His people’s behalf resulted in healing. Many take this verse to mean strictly physical healing. It becomes a proof text for health and wealth preaching. However, the word “healed” means to be put into a right state, eventually cured of the sickness of soul and the state of sinfulness, which is the core reason we physically die. It means to be justified.

I Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Have you repented of your sins and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? His work on the cross is the only means by which sinners can be justified and reconciled before God the Father. Trust in Him as the only One who can save you from the penalty, power and eventual presence of your sin.

Meditate upon the word by Keith and Kristyn Getty entitled Beneath the Cross of Jesus. 

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy
That calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me
Hold wounds which tell me, “Come.”
Beneath the cross of Jesus
My unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
His family is my own—
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams,
Now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor
The ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus
See the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus—
The path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Atonement: The Ordeal of the Suffering Servant.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

“All professing Christians know that the cross is important, but we often fail to grasp the all-encompassing significance of it—that the cross is not only at the heart of our faith, but it encompasses the entire existence of our faith, our life and our worship. In order for us to possess a proper theology of the cross, the reality of Christ crucified must possess us in all we believe, and in all that we do.” Pastor Burk Parsons

Isaiah 53:4-6 forms the middle section of the five portions of Isaiah’s fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These three verses in this section form what is arguably the most significant statement of substitutionary atonement contained in the Old Testament. Everything Isaiah has written thus far, and everything he will subsequently write, frames these three verses.

I have entitled this section The Ordeal of the Suffering Servant. An ordeal is a setting or a circumstance of torment, suffering, tribulation, trouble and affliction. Isaiah described the ordeal the Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ, would endure. However, the prophet made it quite clear the ordeal Jesus encountered and experienced was not because of any sin He committed, but rather His ordeal was on our behalf because of our sins.

The Messiah’s humiliation and agony of being despised, rejected and not esteemed is explained in Isaiah 53:4-6. The text presents, as one author writes, “a staggering awakening” regarding the ultimate reason for the cross.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:4. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)

Surely.”  This adverb means truly and certainly with a strong sense of emphasis on the truth of what is going to be said. What truth was so predominant in the prophet’s mind?

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” On the surface it may seem that this verse is saying that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, helps people through their griefs and sorrows. While this is biblically true (Hebrews 4:14-16; I Peter 5:7), this is not what this particular text means.

On the contrary, the sure truth is that the Messiah, has borne and carried something on behalf of sinners. The word borne means to carry, to lift and to bear. The word carried means to carry a heavy load. What is it that Jesus has borne and carried?

The text says, respectively, our griefs and our sorrows. The word “griefs” means illnesses, wounds and afflictions. “Sorrows” means pain, anguish and suffering.

Israel in particular and the world in general, often tend to evaluate Jesus’ death as the result of Him being stricken, smitten and afflicted by God for His own sin. Stricken means to be violently struck. Smitten means to be destroyed or to be struck resulting in death. Afflicted means to be mistreated, oppressed and to suffer.

However, the text is saying that Jesus took upon Himself the humiliating death on the cross not only because of the griefs and sorrows we experience because of other people’s sins, but also the griefs and sorrows we have caused other to experience because of our own sin. It was on our behalf, and because of our sin, that God the Father struck, smote and afflicted the sinless Son of God.

The pain the Servant bore was our own. The affliction He endured was because of the affliction we have caused others and others have caused us. It was the price to be paid for our sins and for our salvation.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Jesus acts as the Substitute, taking our place at the bar of God’s justice. For this reason, we sometimes speak of Jesus’ work on the cross as the substitutionary atonement of Christ, which means that when He offered an atonement, it was not to satisfy God’s justice for His own sins, but for the sins of others. He stepped into the role of Substitute, representing His people. He didn’t lay down His life for Himself; He laid it down for His sheep. He is our ultimate Substitute.”

This truth is beautifully expressed in the song His Robes for Mine by Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger. May it be our testimony on this Good Friday.

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Refrain:
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

The Atonement: The Confession about the Suffering Servant, Part 3.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:1-3)

“If we fail to understand what God is saving us from—namely wrath, judgment and hell—we will never understand His mercy. If we are not confronted with the wretchedness of our sin, we will not be able to rest in His amazing grace. For it is only when we grasp that we in our sin put Jesus on the cross that we can begin to see what God did for us at the cross.” Burk Parsons

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:3: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Three words stand out in this verse regarding the reaction of the people towards the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. He was (1) despised; (2) rejected; and (3) not esteemed.

As we begin examining this verse, please notice that Isaiah used the state of being verb “was” to describe the people’s reaction to Jesus Christ. While Isaiah is writing about events which will take place hundreds of years in the future at the time of this prophecy, he presents it from the perspective of eternity and the people’s realization of what Jesus did in history.

He was despised.” Literally it reads, “He was the One who was despised.” Yahweh’s Servant, Jesus Christ, received nothing but contempt, ridicule and hatred by the masses. He became the object of their scorn and ridicule.

He was despised and rejected by men.” Not only was the people’s attitude toward Jesus one of contempt, ridicule and hatred, but ultimately this resulted in rejection. He was forsaken and deserted by the people for whom He came to die. Jesus was not the political leader they had hoped He would be, but rather was the suffering servant who provided atonement which the people did not feel they needed Him to be.

“And as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised.” Because the people despised and rejected Jesus so much, they literally turned away from Him. What a contrast it will be when Jesus is eternally exalted before everyone because of the rejection and scorn He received while suffering on behalf of His people.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

“And we esteemed him not.” It is interesting to note that the prophet includes himself in this evaluation. He does not deny the sinful condition of his own soul when examining the Servant’s substitutionary atonement (cf. Isaiah 6:1-7).

The verb esteemed is an accounting term meaning credit, to impute, or to determine value. It means to think in a detailed logical manner regarding a particular object.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The Hebrew word “esteemed” is an accounting term—the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word logizomai meaning “imputed” or “reckoned.” It’s a vital word in the biblical doctrine of justification.” The English Standard Version translates the word as “counted.”

Genesis 15:6 says, “And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:3 – “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Within the context of Isaiah 53:3, the prophet is saying that Jesus’ Messiahship did not add up or make sense to the people. They wanted a Messiah like the kings of the world rather than the King of kings and the Lord of lords. They counted Him to be worthless. However, His apparent worthlessness would result in sinners being counted righteous. What irony!

Therefore, it is said the Yahweh’s Servant that He was truly “a man of sorrows.” He was a human being who experienced pain and anguish. This not only applies the physical pain Jesus experienced while on the cross, but also the extreme mental anguish associated with that pain. Along with being a man of sorrows, Jesus was also “acquainted with grief.” He knew what it was like to experience the wounds of afflictions.

As Dr. MacArthur states, “Isaiah is writing this prophecy with an eye to the cross, and his focus is on the profound agony—both the physical pain and the soul-shattering grief—that Jesus endured. The torment of his body and soul was so appalling that he literally became “one from whom men hide their faces.”

Hymn writer Phillip Bliss expressed it this way.

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;                                                                                              
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Guilty, vile, and helpless, we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full redemption—can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished!” was His cry;
now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 When He comes, our glorious King,
To His kingdom us to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Confession about the Suffering Servant, Part 2.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:1-3)

“If we fail to understand what God is saving us from—namely wrath, judgment and hell—we will never understand His mercy. If we are not confronted with the wretchedness of our sin, we will not be able to rest in His amazing grace. For it is only when we grasp that we in our sin put Jesus on the cross that we can begin to see what God did for us at the cross.” Burk Parsons

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:2: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” There are three metaphorical statements contained in vs. 2 pertaining to the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. All three contain statements regarding why Israel had such contempt for the Servant of the LORD.

First, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;” Isaiah begins to focus on the servant’s humble beginning. He grew up in His humanity before Yahweh like a sapling or a sucker branch. A sucker branch is, as one commentator explains, “a useless , uncultivated, unwanted parasitic shoot off the main plant.” Gardeners remove them in order so that they will not drain resources from the main trunk. These type of shoots are prevalent on olive trees.

The Servant was not distinguishable from any other infant. He appeared to be ordinary. When Jesus Christ was born, very few recognized Him for who He was. There were the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and others who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). That was pretty much it.

The Servant grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). John the Baptist recognized Jesus for who He was at His baptism (Mark 1:11; John 1:29) as few others did (Matthew 13:53-58).  His beginning was ignoble and insignificant (John 1:46).

A root out of dry ground closely parallels the first statement. No one plants a root in dry ground. If it does appear, it is because it is a weed that no one cares for and would rather eliminate.

Second, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him.” Jesus had no physical appearance or positon of wealth and power which would attract people to Him. He looked like any other common man.

Third, “and no beauty that we should desire him.” Jesus had no particular appearance or facial features that were necessarily outstanding. He did not attract people because of His beauty. No one took pleasure in wanting to look upon His face. He probably would have not qualified as a male model.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Servant will arise in lowly conditions and wear none of the usual emblems of royalty, making his true identity visible only to the discerning eye of faith.”

Dr. Don Carson writes, The gulf between God’s message and man’s opinion is very plain, in the contrast between what is revealed (cf. v 1 with Rom. 10:16–17, 21) and what is naturally attractive (2) or impressive (3). Cf. the reaction to the humiliated Jesus in e.g. Mt. 27:39–44 and to the preaching of the cross (1 Cor. 1:23).”

I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Have you been drawn by the Holy Spirit to see and understand the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ. Take this moment to repent and remember all which He accomplished on the cross for His people.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Confession about the Suffering Servant.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:1-3)

“Death is the great equalizer.” W. Robert Godfrey

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. In these three verses, and for the next three days, we will consider the Confession about the Suffering Servant.

What exactly is a confession? We normally think of a confession with respect to an acknowledgment by an individual of a committed crime. When I was growing up, one of my dad’s favorite television programs was the hour long court room drama Perry Mason. Each week’s episode featured a climatic and dramatic confession on the witness stand by the actual murderer under cross examination by the famous, fictional defense attorney.

A confession is also a declaration and affirmation of truth or that which is real. It does not necessarily always involve the admission to a sin or criminal act. It may refer to a truth which is often ignored, denied or ridiculed. Such is the case with the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Prophet Isaiah begins recording Yahweh’s confession regarding His Servant in Isaiah 53:1. It takes the form of two questions. “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

In spite of the details surrounding this prophecy, few would recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah; the Servant of the LORD when He appeared. Israel did not welcome Him at His first advent.

John 1:9-11 says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

John 12:37-38 says, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

 What was true regarding Israel’s inability to recognize Jesus Christ as the Servant of Yahweh also applied to the Gentile nations. The Apostle Paul applied these two prophetic questions to the world at large. Romans 10:16 says, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

As Yahweh’ spokesperson, Isaiah posed the question, “Who has believed what he has heard from us?” In the Hebrew, the question is literally, “Who has believed?” Isaiah asked the question with respect to and concerning Yahweh’s Servant: the Messiah. In other words, Jesus Christ.

The verb “believed” parallels the noun “faith.” It is the Hebrew word He-emin. It means trust, dependability, and what is known to be firm and reliable. This definition parallels the Greek meaning of trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of an object worthy of such trust, dependence, commitment and worship. In short, God and God alone.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?” This rhetorical question has an obvious answer: no one! Within the immediate context, the pronoun “who” specifically refers to Israel.

Dr. John MacArthur, from his book The Gospel According to God, writes, “Bear in mind that this passage represents the collective confession all Israel will make on that day yet future when the nation finally turns to Christ. The words, of course, would be a suitable expression for anyone who has known about Christ but spurned Him for some time before embracing Him as Lord and Savior. But in this context, it is a remarkable confession of national repentance and we need to understand it in that light.”

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” The phrase “arm of the Lord” refers to Yahweh’s power and strength. It is the potency and ability to accomplish something (cf. Isaiah 51:9; 52:10; 59:16; 62:8; Luke 1:51; John 12:38). It is a power and strength which the LORD alone possesses.

It is this power and strength of the LORD that has been revealed or uncovered. Initially, it refers to the many miracles Jesus Christ would accomplish during His three year ministry. However, ultimately the LORD’s power and strength refers to the powerful message of the gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Dr. John Walvoord explains, The Jewish remnant will lament the fact that so few people will believe their message about the Servant, and that so few will acknowledge their message as coming from God and His strength.”

As it was with Israel, so it is with unbelievers today. Many believe that they are justified before God solely by their physical death. The reasoning is that all you have to do to become accepted by God into heaven is to die. He welcomes everyone.

However, that is not what the Bible says. Our acceptance by the LORD God is solely based on sinners being justified by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Romans 3:21-16 says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

May you have your hope for righteousness and acceptance before God based solely on the person and work of Jesus Christ: The Servant of Yahweh.

May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: The Humiliation of the Servant of Yahweh, Part 3.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s verse is Isaiah 52:15: “so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:15).

Concerning the theology of the cross and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, Pastor Burk Parsons writes, “One of my greatest fears for the church today is that we will become bored with the cross of Christ. I am concerned that any mention of Christ and Him crucified is leading many professing Christians to say to themselves: ‘Yeah, I know all about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins—let’s move on to something else. Let’s get past the basics, and let’s deal with bigger theological issues.’ I firmly believe that Satan is set on trying to destroy us, but he’ll settle with just getting us to lose our astonishment of Christ and Him crucified.”

As the Prophet Isaiah speaks the Servant of Yahweh’s exaltation and humiliation, he once again addresses the exaltation of the LORD’s Servant because of His humiliation.

“So shall he sprinkle many nations.” The Servant of Yahweh remains the subject. It is He, as a consequence of His humiliation spoken of in vs, 14, who will purposely sprinkle the masses. What does this mean? “Sprinkle” is associated with cleansing by the priest under the Mosaic Law (Lev. 4:6; 8:11; 14:7). It also means to startle someone and to leave them speechless. This Servant, who many have not considered important at all, will actually provide the most important thing for nations and their kings: namely, cleansing from sin. This truth will astonish people.

John 1:29 says, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

 “Kings shall shut their mouths because of him.” With rare exceptions, most politicians believe they have the right to speak about everything. It usually doesn’t matter the subject or the circumstances. However, they will be speechless when the Servant of Yahweh returns in power, might and glory.

Psalm 2:1-5 says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

 “For that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” Eventually, when the Lord returns to earth, all those who did not understand or desire Him will fully understand and comprehend who He is and what He has done.

The Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 52:13 in Romans 15:21. He does so in order to verify that he has fulfilled him ministry by proclaiming the Gospel to those who had never before heard of the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. I encourage you to contemplate the lyrics to Kristian Stanfill’s song Behold the Lamb. 

See Him there, the great I Am
A crown of thorns upon His head
The Father’s heart displayed for us
Oh God, we thank You for the cross.
Lifted up on Calvary’s hill
We cursed Your name, and even still
You bore our shame, and paid the cost
Oh God, we thank You for the cross.
Behold the Lamb
The story of redemption written on His hands
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours
We sing Your praise
Endless hallelujah to Your holy name
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
All for us, this sacrifice
For every sin our saviour died
The Lord of Life can’t be contained
Our God has risen from the grave
Oh, our God has risen from the grave.
Behold the Lamb
The story of redemption written on His hands
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours
We sing Your praise
Endless hallelujah to Your holy name
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
When the age of death is done
We’ll see Your face, bright as the sun
We’ll bow before the King of kings
Oh God, forever we will sing.
Behold the Lamb
The story of redemption written on His hands
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
We sing Your praise
Endless hallelujah to Your holy name
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
You reign forevermore.
The victory is Yours.
King Jesus reigns forevermore
The victory is Yours.
Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Have you received His imputed righteousness as your own? If not, then I encourage you to repent of your sins and receive Christ and His forgiveness (John 1:12-13).

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

  

 

 

LORD’S DAY 15, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 15 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for the next several weeks concerns the subject of God the Son.

Q. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?

A. That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.1 This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,2 he might deliver us, body and soul, from eternal condemnation,3 and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.4

1 Isa. 531 Pet. 2:243:18.
2 Rom. 3:25Heb. 10:141 John 2:24:10.
3 Rom. 8:1-4Gal. 3:13.
4 John 3:16Rom. 3:24-26.

Q. Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

A. So that he, though innocent, might be condemned by an earthly judge,1 and so free us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.2

1 Luke 23:13-24John 19:4, 12-16.
2
 Isa. 53:4-52 Cor. 5:21Gal. 3:13.

Q. Is it significant that he was “crucified” instead of dying some other way?

A. Yes. By this I am convinced that he shouldered the curse which lay on me,
since death by crucifixion was cursed by God.1

1 Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23).

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: Books on the Atonement.

Each Saturday, during this series on the atonement of Jesus Christ, I will submit some books for you to consider reading which concern the substitutionary atonement of and by Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. Some of these books are by authors you may readily recognize. Others you may not. Some of the books are by contemporary authors and pastors. Others are by pastors and theologians from church history. All are beneficial.

Today’s book originates from a series of plenary session messages given by various pastors and theologians at the 2008 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, which is annually sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The book, compiled by Editor Richard D. Phillips, is entitled Precious Blood:  The Atoning Work of Christ.

Richard Phillips writes in the preface that, “At the very heart of our Christian faith is a precious red substance: the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sin-atoning death of Christ is remarkable for being at once most offensive to the world, most treasured by the church, most astonishing to the mind, and most stirring to the soul. Simply put, the one thing we would least expect to hear about God is that he sent his own Son to die for our sins. Thus it is Christ’s precious blood that puts the amazing into grace, puts the wonderful into the gospel, and puts the marvelous into God’s plan of salvation. There can be no greater truth to be faced than the gospel message of the cross, not greater mystery to be considered, and no greater comfort to be received. The cross is a theme that Christians will meditate on forever without exhausting its wonder, and of the cross God’s redeemed will sing glorious praise to unending ages.”  

The book is structured by two major divisions: Part 1: The Atonement in Biblical Revelation features a series of chapters addressing where the atonement of Jesus Christ is taught in the Scriptures. The chapter titles, and their respective authors, are as follows: 1. Necessary Blood, by Joel R. Beeke; 2. Redeeming Blood, by W. Robert Godfrey; 3. Atoning Blood, by Philip Graham Ryken; 4. Cleansing Blood, by Richard D. Phillips; 5. Offensive Blood, by W. Robert Godfrey; and 6. Precious Blood, by R. C. Sproul.

Part 2 examines The Atonement in Christian Thought. The chapter titles, and their respective authors, are also as follows. 7. Early Church Reflections on the Atonement, Derek W. H. Thomas; 8. The Medieval Achievement: Anselm on the Atonement, Philip Graham Ryken; 9. The Reformation Consensus on the Atonement, W. Robert Godfrey; 10. The Blood of Christ in Puritan Piety, Joel R. Beeke; 11. Post-Reformation Developments in the Doctrine of the Atonement, Carl R. Trueman and 12. Penal Substitutionary Atonement and its “Non-Violent” Critics, Richard D. Phillips.

Having attended several Philadelphia Conferences on Reformed Theology, I appreciate the various pastors and theologians who provide valuable and biblical insight to any given topic at this annual gathering. Reading this book gives the reader the sense of being at the 2008 conference. It will refresh the souls and minds of veteran believers and instruct and inspire those who come to grips with the cross of Christ for the very first time.

Whether you are familiar with all the contributing authors, or only some of them, you will be inspired, encouraged, enlightened and blessed. This is not only because of the ability of the men presenting the information, but also because of the subject which consumes the men presenting the information: the Lord Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement on the cross for His people.

Precious Blood:  The Atoning Work of Christ is published by Crossway Books and is available in various formats at Amazon.com.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

    

The Atonement: The Humiliation of the Servant of Yahweh, Part 2.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s verse is Isaiah 52:14: “As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—“ (Isaiah 52:14).

“As many were astonished at you.” The personal pronoun “you” continues to refer to the subject of Isaiah’s prophecy and God the Father’s revelation: the Servant of Yahweh.  The adjective “many” means a great number, numerous and abundant. Who are the many? They are most likely the people in “many nations” and their “kings” (v. 15).

The many will be “astonished” meaning appalled, horrified, and devastated. Why? This is because the execution of the Servant of Yahweh will be beyond human cruelty. Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The Servant must undergo inhuman cruelty to the point that he no longer looks like a human being. His appearance is so awful that people look at him in astonishment (53:2–3Ps. 22:6Matt. 26:67; 27:30John 19:3).”

“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,” This statement provides further explanation for the preceding verb “astonished.” What the many will see will be a human figure so deformed and mutilated as to become repugnant and ugly to those who see Him. In fact, the Servant is so disfigured that He no longer looks like a human being.

Psalm 22:14-17 says, regarding the brutal crucifixion of the Christ, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me;”

“And his form beyond that of the children of mankind—“The prophet invokes Hebrews poetic parallelism in order to further express Yahweh’s thoughts. The mutilated human appearance of the Servant who suffers such cruelty goes beyond that of anyone else who has ever lived. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but given the full weight of what Jesus Christ experienced on the cross in bearing the sins of His people, it is most accurate.

John Calvin explains that, “The cause of their astonishment was this: that He (the Servant) dwelt among men without any outward show. The Jews did not think that the Redeemer would come in that condition or attire. When He came to be crucified, their horror was greatly increased.”

Isaiah 52:14 provides us with valuable background and insight to what the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-11. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Why did the Christ experience such pain and suffering? Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In commenting on Hebrews 12:2 and Jesus’ enduring the cruelty of crucifixion, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Jesus persevered so that he might receive the joy of accomplishment of the Father’s will and exaltation (cf. Heb. 1:9Ps. 16:9–11Luke 10:21–24). 

We must always remember that the atonement for our sins not only took place on a blood stained cross but also was experienced in the fresh spring air of an empty tomb.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Humiliation of the Servant of Yahweh.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, it is imperative that we not just gloss over the text, but rather examine each word closely. We will do so by studying the text one verse at a time. Today’s verse is Isaiah 52:13: Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (Isaiah 52:13).

The LORD God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah in the first person. He begins by saying, “Behold.” God is saying “Look,” “There,” “Now.” He is calling attention to an idea and emphasizing an idea. What the LORD means is “Do not miss what I am about to say.”

“My Servant shall act wisely.”  The LORD addresses the Servant as “my servant.” Whoever this servant is, He belongs to Yahweh. The noun “servant” is in the masculine gender so we may conclude that this servant is a man. He is also a bond-servant or slave. The meaning also conveys a worshipper of the One who is being served by the One who is doing the serving. Yahweh’s servant also will act wisely. He will behave with understanding and comprehension. He will have insight and prudence in serving Yahweh.

“He shall be high.” The Servant of Yahweh will be exalted in worship. He will be an object of worship. Whoever the servant is, He will not be an idol or a false God.

He will also be “lifted up.” This means to be in a lofty position. Lofty may refer to One who is noble, majestic and sublime.

He will also “be exalted.” This servant, in His personhood, will occupy a high and elevated position.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Two important points are made in this verse: the Servant will act wisely, doing what the Lord wants Him to do, and He will be … highly exalted. His being lifted up refers not to the kind of death He died on the cross, but to His being exalted at God’s right hand (Phil. 2:9; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22).”

John Calvin writes, “He calls Christ ‘His Servant’ on account of the office committed to Him. Christ ought not to be regarded as a private individual, but as holding the office to which the Father has appointed Him; to be leader of the people and restorer of all things so that whatever He affirms concerning Himself we ought to understand as belonging also to us. Christ has been given to us, and therefore to us also belongs His ministry, for the Prophet (Isaiah) might have said, in a single word, that Christ will be exalted and will be highly honored; but, by giving Him the title of ‘Servant’ he means that He will be exalted for our sake.”

Mark 10:42-45 says, “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Take time today to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for serving sinners by dying and rising from the dead on His people’s behalf. Thank Him that you belong to Him.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!