As noted in an earlier article of Sharing the Word, it is possible to reach erroneous conclusions from that which is observed. Law enforcement is well aware of that and thus questions many witnesses when possible to any incident. Scripture states the necessity of employing such procedures especially in capital offense cases. “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” (Deut 17:6 NASB).
Things were no different in Isaiah’s day as he prophesied that the nation Israel would observe God’s judgment on the Suffering Servant, but would draw the wrong conclusion as to why. The prophet had vividly portrayed to the nation the Servant’s sacrifice for the sins of mankind … “yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4 NIV). They witnessed the Person and Work of Christ on the Cross accurately, but in spiritual unbelief failed to see that it was for their sins that He was being judged. Isaiah had correctly stated … “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him” (Isa 53:5 NIV).
The prophet’s words were poignant -- the Hebrew word CHALA used to describe God’s judgment on the humanity of Christ as the sins of the world were laid upon the sinless Son of God. It was as if He were slain for our rebellion as our sins were placed on Him. Yet through it all, He remained sinless so that He could bear our sins. He became the sin bearer as … “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21 NIV). Only God could design such a redemptive plan of salvation and any person can experience the results of the finished Work of the Cross on the basis of faith in Christ.
So specific was the prophetic message concerning the death of the Suffering Servant that the psalmist described a mode of execution that was not even known one thousand years before he penned the words and thoughts of the Savior while on the Cross … “For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones” (Ps 22:16-17 NASB). Isaiah continued his portrayal of God’s judgment on Messiah by prophesying that … “he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5 NIV). The thoroughness of the judgment demanded that every sin committed by each individual be placed on Christ. The use of the Hebrew words DAKA AVON speak of breaking into pieces in order to grind or pulverize.
The prophet is not speaking of Messiah’s bones being broken, for the psalmist prophesied that would not occur (Ps 34:20). He uses the analogy of worms being crushed to obtain dye or the treading of grapes for juice. Isaiah had begun his ministry with a call to the nation to turn back to God … "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa 1:18 NIV). Forgiveness was available to all, but it would require first the crushing of an Innocent One. “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (Ps 22:6-7 NIV).
What condescension, love and grace were displayed on that Cross! It demands a love response by those who have placed their faith in Christ. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2 NIV).