Summary: In the day of Christ’s dying, there was the dam of God’s patience, and the flood of God’s wrath; the day that Christ was placed upon the cross, God said that Christ was guilty of all of the law, having become of a curse through his crucifixion.
As most of you are aware, in preparation for Easter we have been taking a close look at the message of Isaiah, particularly Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12. And over the past two weeks we have taken a close look at the prophets portrayal of the Suffering Servant. First we saw the Surprising Appearance. Last Sunday we examined the Strange Attitude. Tonight we will look at the center paragraph, the chi (key) of his message: The Substitutionary Atonement. Let us once again read the inspired words given to Isaiah Ben Amoz.
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him-- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness--so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Early in my childhood I remember a minister using this illustration. It made such an impact on me that to this day the imagery strikes me. In the windows of my mind, I look over my grandfather’s wheat fields and see this story as it unfolds. In those early days of this century, wood-burning locomotives ran from village to village. And those old locomotives often set fires on either side of the tracks as sparks flew from the stacks. As you all know, there is a ten-to-fifteen day period when the reap is ripe enough to burn but not yet ripe enough to cut. In those early days, wheat fires sometimes burned for ten miles, sweeping across the plains before a farmer would see the fire burn toward his buildings.
One such farmer saw the smoke of one of these great wheat fires. As he stood out in front of his farm he looked off to the northwest. Then, judging the direction of the wind, knew that the fire raging in the distance would burn his wheat right down to the barn. If he did not do something to stop it, that fire would take his cattle, his barn, his very house. So he took a torch and ran to the edge of the field to light a back fire. His fire began to burn - 100 yards, 200 yards. It made a great circle all the way around the buildings so that when the great fire came and met the burned wheat it would pass around and thus the farmers building would be saved.