A Cluster Of Spiritual Paradoxes

Isaiah 53:10-12

The Golden Passional of the Old Testament - A Cluster Of Spiritual Paradoxes

A paradox is a statement seemingly absurd yet true. There are quite a number in this" Golden Passional, and there are a cluster of them in this last stanza. Observe that the speaker is the prophet speaking for God, and the main subject, the glory that should follow the suffering.

I. THE PLEASURE OF THE LORD. The opening sentence of this last stanza found in Isa 53:10 is at first sight startling. It has a grim repulsiveness about it. He who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked was pleased to put His Righteous Servant to grief. Surely the God of the Bible does not resemble the many gods of the heathen in being a lover of blood and agony!

The explanation of this problem is found in other two statements concerning the pleasure of the Lord, in Psalm 149:4, "He taketh pleasure in His people;" and Psalm 35:27, "He taketh pleasure in the prosperity of His people." The pleasure He takes in His people themselves, and in their prosperity, urged Him to take pleasure in the sufferings of His beloved Son, for, without that atoning death they could never have become His people, and they could never have prospered.

II. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST DIVINELY INFLICTED. It is distinctly stated that it was the Lord who bruised Him. This might be objected to: was not His death due to the hatred and plottings of wicked men? Study Act 2:23, where it is shown that whilst the murderers of Christ were acting in fulfilment of a Divine decree, their deeds were really and absolutely their own. It was the Divine counsels that used the enemies of Christ as His instruments. Now in the recognition of this great fact lies the secret of composure. The secret of a happy life is the recognition that nothing can come to us without God's consent. This is the thought and fact that makes pain tolerable, and lights up the profound mystery of suffering. We can always find good shelter behind either His actual or His permissive will.

III. THE SOUL AN OFFERING (Isa 53:10). This sentence is impressive. It was His soul and not merely His body, or should we not say, it was His soul plus His body, or through His body, that was the offering for sin. "The prophet lays no particular emphasis upon Christ's bodily sufferings, because, though visible, it was not the main part of His atoning sufferings. Mental pain is harder to bear than bodily pain. The soul, with its larger capacities, finer sensibilities, and chief place as governor of the body, is more sensitive."

IV. HE SHALL PROLONG HIS DAYS (Isa 53:10). Note the second occurrence of this sentence, "the pleasure of the Lord." Is it not remarkable that the prophet says nothing about the Saviour's activity on earth till after death! When He is dead He begins to work! Having died He prolongs His days, sees His offspring, and carries into effect the Divine purposes! What a cluster of paradoxes!

V. THE SERVANT'S TRAVAIL (Isa 53:11). The word travail, coined to describe the toil and agony attendant on motherhood, is also used in Scripture for painful toil and exhausting labour for Christ. There is a place for travail in Christian service. Toil without God is, in Ecc 1:13 and Ecc 3:10, described as a travail. But Paul also uses the word in 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8 to describe the exhausting nature of his labours for his blessed Master. Do we know anything of soul-travail in our missionary labours, or are we "easy going?" What about your prayer-life? Is there ever any travail in it?

VI. THE SERVANT'S SATISFACTION. Many an one is not satisfied with the fruit of his labour-not so the Saviour. As creation ended with the rest and satisfaction of the Creator, so the redemptive work of our Saviour has and will end with the Redeemer's satisfaction. For He will be satisfied with:

1. The Number of the redeemed (Rev 7:9): "A great multitude which no man could number."

2. The Variety of the redeemed: "Of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues."

3. The Character and attainments of the redeemed. "I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness." And He cannot be satisfied with anything else.

4. The Prospects of the Redeemed (Joh 17:24).

5. The Praises of the Redeemed (Read Rev 5:9, Rev 5:11-14; Rev 7:10; Rev 14:1-3; Rev 19:1-7).

6. The Service of the Redeemed.

VII. THE SERVANT'S KNOWLEDGE AND OUR JUSTIFICATION. How perplexing is 2Th 3:11. What has knowledge to do with our justification? Are we not justified by faith? Then whose knowledge-the Divine Servant's, or our own? There are three explanations.

1. The Punctuation Explanation. A Biblical scholar thus renders and punctuates: "Satisfied by His knowledge, My righteous Servant shall justify many." That is to say, His knowledge of the vast numbers who will be justified through His sufferings, brought satisfaction.

2. Instruction Explanation. Another thus renders the sentence: "By His instructions, My Servant will make many righteous." He is One under authority, and has acted under instruction.

3. The Objective Explanation. David Baron declares that the phrase in the original cannot be understood definitely to be in either a subjective or objective sense, as grammatically it can be rendered either way. But he points out that all the commentators who understand by the Servant our Lord Jesus Christ, prefer the latter, viz., by the knowledge of Him on the part of others. He also points out that the Hebrew "Yada" stands in the Bible for experimental knowledge-a practical experimental knowledge. That is to say, it is not His knowledge of me, but my knowledge of Him which leads to my justification. And even that knowledge, the knowledge of His death and resurrection, of His atonement, of the conditions of justification, we have gained by His grace.

VIII. THE SUFFERING SAVIOUR A GREAT CONQUEROR. There is a singular contrast in 2Th 3:12 to the rest of the prophecy. In the former we have the lowliness and the suffering-the minor key; here we have the rapture and the triumph, the major key. Here the once suffering Servant is depicted as a Conqueror, leading back from His conquest a long train of captives, a rich booty. "He shall divide the spoil." This sentence is taken from the custom of distributing the spoils of victory after a battle. In ancient time, one convincing proof of a victory was the securing of captives and booty. Note:

1. The Time of the Victory. Here is a striking fact, another paradox, the victorious campaign and glorious conquest is achieved after the Servant is dead. This is never so in the case of mere man.

2. The Allies in the Victory. Note the singular blending of God's power and the Servant's own activity: "Therefore will I"-"He shall divide."

3. The Condition of Victory. Note "Because"-that is an important word. The Cross was the condition of the Servant's victory.

4. Evidences of Victory. Great spoil.

5. Recompense Accompanying Victory. Viewing the spoils, He will feel amply recompensed for all the toils and perils of the battle.

"Numbered with the transgressors." He, the Sinless, was counted sin that we sinners might be counted righteous (2 Cor. 5 21). He was numbered with the transgressors that we might be numbered with the redeemed. His name was placed on the roll of transgressors that I might have my name written in the Book of life. "He bare the sins of many." This may seem to teach a limited atonement for a select few. But that is not so. Hebrew scholars say the stress should be placed on the article "the many." It might be rendered "The masses," "an indefinite expression, which, if not declaring universality, approaches very near to it." Thank God for 1Jn 2:2 : "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

IX. THE INTERCESSOR. The Golden Passional closes with a sentence which summarises the whole. In the A.V. we have the past tense-"Made" intercession; in the R.V. we have the present tense-"Maketh intercession." It takes both the past and the present tense to describe His work. He made intercession by His death. Observe the close connection between His death and intercession in the verse. But He "maketh" intercession now in the Father's presence in the glory.

"Why don't you beg?" exclaimed a passer-by to a ragged man. "Beg?" he replied, "why, every rag on my body begs with a loud voice!" In the glory Jesus Christ bears the marks of the crucifixion in His glorified body. Every one of those marks prays and intercedes for us with a loud and prevailing voice. Thus His very presence is a mighty and overwhelming plea on our account. (Note Heb 7:25.) Glory to His Name!

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