Isaiah 53 Redux

Isaiah chapter 53 is perhaps one of the best chapters that shows the mechanics of how the substitutionary atonement works. Regrettably, it’s full of pronouns, and that makes it easy to overlook exactly what is happening in the atonement. Several years ago, one of my mentors suggested that I re-write the chapter and replace all the pronouns with names or titles to help see what’s going on. I used the HCSB translation and started in chapter 52 verse 13. Here’s what I came up with.

The Servant’s Suffering and Exaltation

Isaiah 52

13 See, My Servant [the Messiah] will act wisely; He [the Messiah] will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.

14 Just as many [people] were appalled at You [the Messiah] — His [the Messiah’s] appearance was so disfigured that He [the Messiah] did not look like a man, and His [the Messiah’s] form did not resemble a human being —

15 so He [the Messiah] will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him [the Messiah], For they [the Kings] will see what had not been told them [the Kings], and they [the Kings] will understand what they [the Kings] had not heard.

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed what we [the Elect] have heard? And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to?

2 He [the Messiah] grew up before Him [the Father] like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He [the Messiah] didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we [the Elect] should look at Him [the Messiah], no appearance that we [the Elect] should desire Him [the Messiah].

3 He [the Messiah] was despised and rejected by men [all people], a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He [the Messiah] was like someone people turned away from; He [the Messiah] was despised, and we [the Elect] didn’t value Him [the Messiah].

4 Yet He [the Messiah] Himself bore our [the Elect’s] sicknesses, and He [the Messiah] carried our [the Elect’s] pains; but we [the Elect] in turn regarded Him [the Messiah] stricken, struck down by God [the Father], and afflicted.

5 But He [the Messiah] was pierced because of our [the Elect] transgressions, crushed because of our [the Elect] iniquities; punishment for our [the Elect] peace was on Him [the Messiah], and we [the Elect] are healed by His [the Messiah’s] wounds.

6 We [the Elect] all went astray like sheep; we [the Elect] all have turned to our [the Elect’s] own way; and the LORD [the Father] has punished Him [the Messiah] for the iniquity of us all [the Elect].

7 He [the Messiah] was oppressed and afflicted, yet He [the Messiah] did not open His [the Messiah’s] mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He [the Messiah] did not open His [the Messiah’s] mouth.

8 He [the Messiah] was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He [the Messiah] was cut off from the land of the living; He [the Messiah] was struck because of my people’s [the Elect’s] rebellion.

9 They [Those who killed the Messiah] made His [the Messiah’s] grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His [the Messiah’s] death, although He [the Messiah] had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.

10 Yet the LORD [the Father] was pleased to crush Him [the Messiah] severely. When You [the Father] make Him [the Messiah] a restitution offering, He [the Father] will see His [the Messiah’s] seed [the Elect], He [the Father] will prolong His [the Messiah’s] days, and by His [the Father’s or possibly the Messiah’s] hand, the LORD’s [the Father’s] pleasure will be accomplished.

11 He [The Father] will see it out of His [the Messiah’s] anguish, and He [the Father] will be satisfied with His [the Father’s or perhaps more likely the Messiah’s] knowledge. My [The Father’s] righteous Servant [ie, the Messiah] will justify many [ie, the Elect] , and He [the Messiah] will carry their [the Elect’s] iniquities.

12 Therefore I [the Father] will give Him [the Messiah] the many [the Elect] as a portion, and He [the Messiah] will receive the mighty [all people/kingdoms] as spoil, because He [the Messiah] submitted Himself [the Messiah] to death, and was counted among the rebels [guilty people Lk 23:32,33]; yet He [the Messiah] bore the sin of many [the Elect] and interceded for the rebels [either the guilty Elect (Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, 1 Jn 2:1), or perhaps all the guilty people (Lk 23:34)].

Interesting, eh?

There are many things worth noting here. Not the least of which is that Christ’s death was the deliberate and pleasing plan of God, and that satan was owed nothing and was not consulted for his opinion on how the death of the Christ was to take place. So much for the “ransom theory” of atonement.

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3 comments to Isaiah 53 Redux

  • Question – did Jesus die for sin or for sinners? “Sin” doesn’t go to hell, unbelieving unrepentant “sinners” do. Jesus was a ransom for many, no? What the scriptures seem to plainly teach is Jesus death was a ransom for God’s elect, the perfect substitute sin sacrifice who appeased Gods wrath for elect “sinners”. i don’t want to get caught up in semantics, but you know what I mean.

  • Jones

    I might be mistaken here but I believe Yeshua was a random not to Satan but to eternal death. He traded His life/blood to save humans from the corruption we ourselves brought on all people and the whole world to boot.
    Just my thoughts on the matter.

    • admin

      Jesus paid to satisfy the Father’s sense of Justice. “Eternal death” is not sentient. It cannot be a recipient of a payment.
      “Ransom” happens to be a convenient word to express the idea of “payment being made”, but should not extend to modern sensibilities of the word (ie, we should not understand it as “Jesus paid a ransom to the devil in order to secure our freedom”, as if a terrorist had taken people hostage and demanded a ransom).

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