Hast Thou Believed Our Report Sunday, September 24, 2017
Hast Thou Believed Our Report
A Treatise on Isaiah 53
By James L. Thornton
Isaiah 53:10. “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:”
The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah reads as if it had been written beneath the Cross of Calvary. This chapter is the most central chapter, the deepest and the highest chapter in the whole of the Old Testament. The Holy Ghost has here excelled Himself.
It was when Jerome was engaged in translating this chapter out of the original Hebrew into his western Latin, that he exclaimed in wonder and praise; “Surely this is the chapter of a New Testament Prophet.”
And ever since Jerome said that, Isaiah has been known in the Church as “The Evangelical Prophet.”
Not only many Jews, but even atheists have been converted to Jesus Christ by means of this Fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, History records the names of some of them: God alone knows the names of them all. And indeed, this most wonderful chapter deserves all that has ever been said in admiration of it.
There is nothing like this chapter (Isaiah 53) even in the New Testament itself: There is no other single Scripture—in the whole of the Word of God—in which the sin-atoning death of the Son Of God is set before the faith of a sinner as it is here.
Simply nowhere else is the redeeming death of Christ set forth so clearly, so fully, so emphatically, so explicitly, so positively, so impossibly-to-be-disputed, and so impossibly-to-be-for-one-moment-doubted—as it is here.
A sinner must have his eyes sealed up very tight indeed, not to see his salvation here. He must surely have a very seared conscience, who does not flee to the Cross of Christ as it stands so open to him in Isaiah Chapter fifty-three.
A Review Of Isaiah Chapter Fifty-Three:
Listen as we review the accumulated statements of the atonement in this passage of Scripture—listen, and cast your anchor on every one of them, as I repeat them to you for that purpose.
1. “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
All other Scriptures of the Old Testament are written with pen and ink; But these (Isaiah 53) read as if they were written with the very Blood Of Jesus Christ Himself, with the sin-atoning Blood of The Lamb Of God slain for old Testament believers, and New, before the foundation of the world.
1. “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
This is the first point I want us to consider. Now, though it is not too much for Almighty God, and His divine Son, to take up and deal with the iniquities of us all, it is impossible for us to take up all that iniquity into our minds, and to lay it all upon our hearts.
I am told there are six billion souls on earth at the present time, and if each of them had sinned only six times, that would be thirty-six-billion sins that Jesus died for, not counting the billions who have already lived and sinned that would be added to the weight of sins Jesus bore to Calvary. But it is not intended for us to weigh ourselves down with such staggering numbers.
Jesus took our own sins to Calvary.
What we are called to think of, and to deal with here, is our own individual iniquity, and to think of it as taken off us and laid upon Jesus Christ. We shall simply lose ourselves, we shall simply drown ourselves, if we begin with the iniquity of all other men, and try to wade out into that ocean of sin, and into our Lord’s atoning death for all that.
The right way is to begin, and end, with our own iniquities, and with our Lord’s atoning death for us and our sins.
The right way is to read this great Scripture, as if it were addressed to each and every single one of us separately and alone—and as if there were no other sinful man for Jesus to die for in the whole world.
In the first verse of this great chapter (Isaiah 53:1) the Prophet asks two questions.
Who hath believed our report?
And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2. “Hast thou believed our report?”
This demand is made to each one of us, severely and alone.
“Has the arm of the Lord been revealed to thee?”
Has the Lord made all thine iniquities to meet on His Substituted Son?
The whole atonement—in all its length, and breadth, and height, and depth—is far too high and too deep for us. It is enough for us to have to make sure that our own sins have been atoned for, and that the Son Of God has taken them all for-ever away, and has given us His own justifying righteousness in their place.
It is our own sins and iniquities that we are to think of when the atonement is read by us, even so it is particular sins and transgressions of our own that we are thinking of. We are not to attempt to think of the mass and the immensity of our sins, for that is also far too much for us.
A whole lifetime of sin, and then our whole nature steeped and soaked in sin,--what human mind could keep all that in memory, or could ever take up and feel correctly the full weight and guilt and shame of all that? No human mind, no human heart could do so, it is absolutely impossible.
But it is possible to take this and that sin, this and that transgression, and lay it on our offered surety and substitute.
Innumerable evils compass us all about, and pursue us like so many avengers of blood. But it is not in our innumerable evils that we are always to deal with, so much as this evil, and that evil, and that other evil: committed at that time, and at that place, and against that person, God or man.
It is that particular evil and special sin that we are to fix our eyes on, as the Lord takes it, and lays it on His sin-bearing Son. And then, when we do that—how our sins horrify us at such times, and makes us at such times hate them almost as much as God hates them.
To have to take this and that sin, in all its vileness and wickedness, and to have to stand and see it taken off ourselves, and laid on the sinless head of the Son Of God.
How Does Sin Then Survive?
It should break our hearts in pieces, never to be healed again. Why does that not make it impossible for us to perpetrate that sin again?
Oh, the fearful dominion of sin!
Oh, the unspeakable deceitfulness and persistence of sin!
That it can survive such awful experiences as that.
And that it can still steal away our hearts from such a God and such a Savior!
But hard and all but hopeless as our hearts are—yet every time we do attempt to take such and such a sin, and, for the hundredth time, and lay on Another, and such Another—as a matter of fact that does something to horrify our hearts at that sin, and at the thought of loading and defiling and “Crucifying the Son Of God afresh” (Hebrews 6:6) with that sin.
Yet it remains absolutely true—as true as God is true; as true as Christ is true; as true as the Gospel is true;--that “The Lord hath laid on him all our iniquities,” all the abominable, and the most aggravating of our iniquities and our transgressions.
What an awful list of our Lord’s sufferings for our sins, Isaiah here brings home to our hearts. Let us read.
“His visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. He was stricken, smitten, wounded, bruised, chastised, scourged, oppressed, and afflicted.”
And all that—“For Me.”
Nothing of all that would ever have happened to him, but for me.
All that was my deserving reward or punishment.
All that was the wages for my sins.
But for Him, and His interposition, and for His substitution (1 Peter 2:24) of Himself, my visage would have been marred more than any man.
But for Him, I would have been despised and rejected of men, and no man would ever have put any esteem upon me. I would have been stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.
I would have been wounded, and bruised, and chastised, and scourged--
I would have had all my iniquities laid on myself--
I would have been oppressed and afflicted--
I would have been bruised and put to grief.
That is the way that you and I should go through this chapter (Isaiah 53) on Christ’s death.
This is the way for a man to examine himself and so to “Eat of that bread and drink of that cup.”
This is the way to receive the atonement.
That is the way to let Him “see the travail of his soul”—that it has not been thrown away on us.
Let us cry out to Isaiah, I, O Isaiah: I have believed thy report!
To me, for one, “Has the arm of the Lord been revealed.”
So let us all say, and each man for him self.
3. “It Pleased The Lord To Bruise Him.”
Among the most amazing things of which this chapter (Isaiah 53) is full of, there is nothing that strikes us, and overawes us, and staggers us more than this—that “It pleased the Lord to bruise” His Messiah Son.
This means that God was so set, from everlasting, on the salvation of sinners that the most awful steps that had to be taken in order to work out that salvation are here said to have absolutely pleased Him.
It is somewhat like our Lord’s own words,--“I delight to do thy will,”—even when His Father’s will led Him to the Garden Of Gethsemane and the cross of Calvary.
But it brings out the simple truth of God in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoso believeth on Him shall have everlasting life.”
God could not be pleased with the death of His Son—in itself.
No. But nothing ever pleased Him more than that His Son should lay down His life as a ransom, in atonement for those sinners whom the Father wanted to save and give everlasting life.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul tells us.
“God hath set forth Christ Jesus to be a propitiation through faith in His blood: To declare His righteousness, …. that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)
“It pleased the Lord to bruise Him,” because in this way alone could God’s full hatred of sin be declared to men and angels, and at the same time God’s Justice might be manifested in the salvation of sinners.
This is the way one great preacher of another century described it.
“For God to deliver up His Son to death, and for Himself to bruise Him, and that this should be His good pleasure: there must have been some incomprehensibly vast design of glory to accrue there-from and to be attained only by doing it: some high end, and far transcending design, that was to be the issue and the product of it; and which, as you know, was the manifestation and magnifying of His grace in the salvation of sinners.
And this is surely the very highest evidence and arguments to our faith that can possibly be given—that God is determined to save sinners. For what has been done to Christ is forever past recalling: and is not to be justified or recompensed in any other way, than by saving many by knowledge of him—as God here speaks by the mouth of His Prophet.”
4.“He Shall See His Seed”
This is the conclusion of the matter.
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him: He hath put Him to Grief: When Thou shalt make His Soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands,”
Does He see His seed in us? In you and me?
If He does, then He is “satisfied’ for the travail of His soul—so far as we are concerned.
He forgets and forgives all His sufferings when He sees His seed. When He sees the souls He has redeemed to God with His own blood, and putting on His image, and filled with His Spirit, and continuing His work in this world.
Now let us look back into this great chapter (Isaiah 53) as into a mirror in order to see if we can recognize any of the features and characteristics of Christ in ourselves. Do we see any of those features and characteristics of Christ as they here so impressively set forth to our faith, and to our love, and to our imitation?
Such as this:
“He is despised and rejected of men: A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: He was despised and we esteemed Him not.”
As to the meaning of all this and its bearing upon us, the Apostle Peter has spoken for all time.
“For hereunto were ye called: because Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow in His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile (deceit) found in His mouth; Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not;” (1 Peter 2:21-23)
Now how do you stand in these?
For, every day and every hour, God so orders things around some of you, and so brings things to bear upon some of you, that you are buffeted and reviled and despised and rejected—almost every day.
And that for this very purpose that at such times Christ shall see His seed in you.
Now you know your own heart under all that discipline; and He knows it.
Now, does He see in your heart at such times of temptation and trial a copy of his own? “A Copy, Lord, Of Thine.”
You will sometimes be “wounded” for other people’s transgressions,” as He was for yours. And, “Bruised for their iniquities,” as He was for yours.
5. “He opened not His mouth.”
How about your speech or your silence under all that? How happy (blessed) you are, and how much to be envied, if you are His seed in that also.
To suffer injury and pain and shame and humiliation—at home and around, and never to retaliate, or to let it be seen that you suffer so acutely, the seed and solace of Christ rests upon you if you do so.
Blessed are ye, “if ye be reproached (criticized) for the name of Christ, happy (blessed) are ye; for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon you;”(1 Peter 4:14a) .
Almost above everything else in this world imitate Christ Jesus in His silence.
For “The tongue can no man tame.”
No man, but the Man of Sorrows.
But He can. He tamed the tongue in Himself, and He is taming it in you if you are indeed His seed.
More and more imitate Him, then, amid all the injuries and insults, and provocations, and vexations, and even annoyances that are let loose upon you every day and for this very end—that your Redeemer may see His seed in you and in your silence under injuries and wrongs.
“For even hereunto were ye called:” (1 Peter 2:21a)
6. “Neither was deceit in His mouth.”
Cleanse your mouth also of all double-talk and wishy-washy mouthing. Be sincere and simple; and in everything and to every man be honest and honorable.
Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, till the God of all truth and all integrity shall see true children in you, and till the Son of God shall see His true seed in you.
7. “He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
This is the crowning grace of the Lord Jesus Christ—both in Messianic prophecy and its evangelical fulfillment—“He made intercession for the transgressors,” and especially for those who had transgressed against Him.“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) .
Do you do the same?
Shut your doors and do the same.
Make intercession for those who transgress against you.
Make intercession for those who will never know it till the books are opened that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; and that Christ Jesus may be the firstborn among many such as you.
Romans 8:14. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God”—in such things as these—“they are the Sons of God.
16. The Spirit also bearing witness with our spirit, that we are children of God,
17. And, if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we shall may also glorified together.”
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By James L. Thornton