A Study of Isaiah 53:5
Today we will look at Isaiah 53:5. But we must remember the context. And thus, we shall read the first six verses of Isaiah 53. As you know, this is a chapter that is very intense, for it deals with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every word is filled with doctrine, and many prophecies are contained in this chapter.
“Who Hath Believed Our Report?” (Isaiah 53:1-6, 1 Corinthians 2:2, Romans 3:11)
Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
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.
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.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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.
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.
Who has believed our report?
What report does God refer to?
It is the report of Christ crucified as written in the Word of God. For it is Christ crucified that is at the center of the Gospel of salvation.
When God wrote by the hands of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”, God declared that everything in the Bible revolves around Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And this is also at the center of this chapter in Isaiah. That is why we are studying it today. And here, in verse 1, God addresses the question:
Who has believed our report?
What is the answer?
Nobody believes our report, for nobody believes the words that God wrote in the Bible. God says in Romans 3:11, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God”.
If God did not personally interfere in the affairs of man, and if God did not personally change the innermost being of certain men and women so that they would believe, then nobody would be saved. But thank God that He did interfere, and as a result we do believe, and we do have a desire to know the Word of God, and we do have a desire to know the will of God.
But if we are honest about this then we give God all the honor and the credit for infusing into us a way of thinking that is pleasing to Him, and that glorifies Him. He made us alive toward Him. We came into the world dead to God. We came into the world believing that we can make a career without God, and we can get along without God, and we can forget about the cross of Christ.
In fact, it is the objective of Satan to build a worldly empire without God and without Christ. He wants to build an utopia on earth where people think they can live forever without God and without Christ. He wants to build a heaven on earth without God and without Christ. And when you listen to the media, on TV or the newspaper or anywhere else, then remember that the majority of journalists do not believe in God.
That is why they are so much in favor of the theory of evolution rather than creationism. It is because the theory of evolution eliminates God altogether. But remember that the theory of evolution is a theory based on the idea that there is no God. It is just a theory, but it is a theory of fools. And this is also how we came into the world. And this is how we carved out the first part of our lives, totally in rebellion against God, and hating God. But then, one day the message of Christ crucified came to our ears, and then the Gospel of Christ came into our lives, for God’s Holy Spirit made us “born from above”, and we were changed. We began to get an interest in knowing the Gospel of Christ crucified, and that is why we are here today. So, let us then read again, Isaiah 53:5,
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.
There are four action items in this verse. These are four action items for the Lord Jesus Christ:
1) wounded for our transgressions;
2) bruised for our iniquities;
3) chastisement of our peace;
4) with his stripes we are healed. Let us now look carefully at each one of these four action items.
“He Was Pierced for Our Transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 22:1,16-18,7-8, Matthew 27:39-44, 20:28, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Genesis 3:15)
The Hebrew word that was translated by the KJ translators “wounded” actually means “pierced”, or “bored through”. It means to be mortally wounded by having been pierced. For instance, when king Saul was mortally wounded by the archers of the Philistines he was pierced by their arrows. There God used the same word to describe the wounded Saul, who was pierced. Here in Isaiah 53:5 God says that Christ was pierced for our transgressions.
We need to keep in mind that God is most of the time speaking only of the elect of God. Thus when God says “our transgressions” He is not speaking of all the inhabitants of the world, but only of the transgressions of all the elect, both from the Old Testament time as well as from the New Testament time period. And the piercing refers to the piercing of His hands and His feet by crucifixion. And thus when we read Isaiah 53:5 it says that Christ was crucified for our transgressions.
What do we mean when we say, “Christ was crucified for our transgressions”?
We will now turn to Psalm 22:1. This is a psalm of David.
Was David aware of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ?
David was a king, but he was also a prophet. And since he was a prophet God gave him the words to prophesy of the coming Messiah, and to prophesy of the sufferings that Christ had to endure.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
From this beginning of this psalm we know that this is a Messianic Psalm, for these are the words that the Lord Jesus prayed while hanging on the cross. A Messianic Psalm is a psalm that was prayed by the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. He either prayed it out loud or He prayed it silently.
And thus the following words are also words from the Lord Jesus.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
The Lord Jesus says, “I am surrounded by dogs”.
And then He specified those dogs, “I am surrounded by the assembly of the wicked”.
Who is He referring to?
He is referring primarily to the religious rulers of the Jews. The priests, and the scribes and the Pharisees were surrounding Him, and they were saying the words we find in verses 7-8.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Indeed, these are the words we find in Matthew 27:39-44, where the chief priests with the scribes and the elders were mocking Him while He was dying on the cross. Their hatred of the Lord Jesus persisted all the way even until after He had died. But let us not lose track of the fact for whom He was crucified. He was pierced for OUR transgressions, because we all liked our sins too much, and because in our former life we all delighted to walk according to the prince of the power of the air, Satan.
Therefore Christ was crucified, to pay the penalty that we ought to have paid for our sins, but which we were not able to pay since this payment would require an eternity in Hell, and thus it would never be completed. The Lord Jesus said of this payment, “The Son of man came to give His life, a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we see that the Lord Jesus came to substitute His payment for our payment, the payment that we had to make. And He could do so because He was the Son of man; He was made like us, except for sin, for He was the spotless Lamb of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him (to be) sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
This does not mean that He was defiled by our sins, and that He now had to make that payment. It does not mean that Christ became literally sin, or that He became sin in the abstract sense of the word, but Christ became a sin-offering for us. He, the Judge, made the payment for us, without becoming defiled by our sin.
We should see it as if Christ, the Judge who pronounced the judgment, came from behind the bar of judgment and paid the price that the guilty sinner had to pay. And what a price that was!
It was equivalent to all the elect spending an eternity in Hell, for the righteousness of God demanded that His payment must be equivalent to our payment. And so, this is the substitution that God designed from the beginning. This was the substitution that God pronounced in Genesis 3:15, where God said to Satan, “He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel”. And since we are now talking about the verb “to bruise”, let us then now turn to the next action item on the list for Isaiah 53:5, “He was bruised for our iniquities”. Actually, the proper translation should have been:
“He Was Crushed for Our Iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 72:4, 1 Corinthians 11:24, John 19:36, Matthew 26:38-39, 12:40, 27:60, 14:19)
The word for “bruised” means “to be broken to pieces”, or “to be crushed”. For example, when we read in Psalm 72:4, “He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor”.
The verb “to break in pieces” is the same word that has been translated “bruised” in Isaiah 53:5. But historically the Lord Jesus Christ was not broken in pieces. And that is why the translators chose the word “bruised”. However, we should not try to be wiser than God, and we should try to understand what God wrote. You all remember the words the Lord Jesus spoke when He instituted the Lord’s Supper ceremony.
1 Corinthians 11:24
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
The Lord spoke here about His body being broken for us. Certainly this does not mean that His body was literally broken, for we must keep in mind that we must always harmonize the words we find in different parts of the Bible.
The scene at the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus was also described in the Gospel of John. There in John 19:36 we read, “For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken”.
And thus, it is obvious that the words in 1 Corinthians 11:24 must be understood spiritually. We get a little idea what the Lord Jesus meant when we see Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He took Peter, James and John with Him to a more secluded place, and there He prayed fervently.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
The Lord Jesus said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death”.
He felt the crushing pain of the penalty for our sins, and He felt it in His soul.
No one has been tormenting His body yet, but He already began to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell in His soul. And the horror of this torment was so intense that He pleaded with the Father if it was possible that this cup would pass from Him. It was the cup of the wrath of God. And remember that it was Thursday night in order that the prophecy would be fulfilled that He would be three days and three nights “in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).
Beginning Thursday night till Sunday morning constitutes three nights and two and a half days, which counts for three days. Just like we must let God define what the meaning is that His body would be broken, so we must let the Lord define what the meaning is of “the heart of the earth”.
Certainly it does not mean that He would be buried underground for three days and three nights, for the Lord Jesus never went underground. He was buried in a tomb, carved out of a rock, which was definitely above ground (Matthew 27:60). And thus from the text we can conclude that the “heart of the earth” represents the entire atonement process, which took three days and three nights. And thus we also understand that the breaking of His body refers to the spiritual crushing of His soul. And now we understand why God says in Isaiah 53:5, “He was crushed for our iniquities”.
And why does the Lord refer to His body?
This is to indicate that He endured the torments for our sins in His humanity, not in His divinity. We can see the wonderful multiplication of bread and fishes in the Gospel stories, such as in Matthew 14:19. There the Lord Jesus broke the bread, to indicate the suffering He anticipated in His soul. As a result everywhere the apostles went to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, they broke the bread as a symbol to remember the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ in His body and soul. Let us now turn to the third action item of the Lord Jesus.
“The Chastisement of Our Peace Was Upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5, Galatians 3:10,13, Deuteronomy 27:26)
What does this mean?
The proper meaning of the word that has been rendered “chastisement” is mostly translated as “instruction”, and to a lesser extent also as “correction”.
However, in Isaiah 53:5 this word cannot mean “punishment”, for there is no punishment where there is no guilt. And since the Lord Jesus had done no sin, He could not be punished. Instead He took upon Himself the sufferings which would purchase the peace of those for whom He died. And the peace referred to here is the “peace with God”.
When we came into the world we had no peace with God. Instead we were openly in rebellion against God. In fact, we were under the law of God, and God declared in Deuteronomy 27:26 that everyone who does not obey all things which are in the Book of the Law are under the curse of God. We read in Galatians 3:10,
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Therefore, anyone who tries to be right with God by obeying the Law of God falls under the curse, for no human being is able to do all the works of the Law perfectly. The only one who is able to obey the Law perfectly is the Lord Jesus Christ. He obeyed the Law perfectly all His life, for He had to be the perfect and spotless Lamb of God. However, as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, He voluntarily placed Himself under the curse of God by hanging on a Roman cross during His atonement for our sins. And since the cross was made of a tree, Christ was hanging on a tree, which was the sign of being under the curse of God. We read in Galatians 3:13,
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
Therefore Christ had to die on a Roman cross and be made a curse on behalf of us, for He who knew no sin had to become the sin-offering for us, so that our sins may be washed away. And so we see that it was God’s plan all along that Christ would be hanging on a tree, for He would take the curse that we so rightfully deserved. He was appointed to be our Redeemer, for He was our Kinsman. He was made like us, except for sin, and He had the power to endure the wrath of God on our behalf, so that our sins would be blotted out. Therefore we could be righteous in God’s sight, and so we could have peace with God. It was in this way that the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.
“And With His Stripes We Are Healed” (Isaiah 53:5, 2 Peter 1:21, Psalm 41:4, 103:3, 37:4, Titus 2:14)
The word “stripes” means properly stripes caused by whips, or bruises from blows on the skin. It means that the Lord Jesus had to be scourged, for God prophesied this here in Isaiah 53:5. Pilate and the Roman soldiers did not read the Prophecy of Isaiah. But God knew the procedures of execution that were to be developed in the Roman Empire. And God instructed Isaiah to write this. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
And with His stripes we are healed. In the charismatic gospels this verse is interpreted as if it refers to physical healing. But we have to stay with the context, and the context does not at all refer to physical healing. The healing here refers to spiritual healing, or healing from sin. In the Bible pardon for sin, and a restoration into the favor of God is frequently represented as an act of healing. The figure is derived from the fact that convicted sinners are often pictured as crushed, or broken, or bruised by the weight of their transgressions. And thus removal of the load of sin is represented as an act of healing.
For example, we read in Psalm 41:4, “I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee”.
And when we read in Psalm 103:3, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases”, we must again keep in mind that spiritual healing is in view. The idea here is that Christ would be scourged, and that this scourging would be an integral part of His atonement, together with the piercing of His hands and His feet, and together with Christ being crushed in His spirit, and together with the correction that took away our enmity with God.
God tells in Titus 2 that the lifestyle of a saint is that we eagerly look forward to the glorious appearing of the great God who is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And then He gives a summary of the Gospel of Christ crucified in one brief verse. We read in Titus 2:14,
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Christ gave Himself as a ransom for us, in His atonement of three days and three nights, so that He would redeem us, or buy us back, out of the slave market of sin, and purify us so that we would be a beautiful Bride of Christ, not having any spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, a peculiar people who would be zealous of good works. And when we give Him some of our good works, we remember that these are works which God has prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them. This touches on a basic principle that describes how God operates. God first gives us things, which we then return to Him as our gifts. For example, we read in Psalm 37:4 these words,
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
God gives us a desire to delight ourselves in the Lord, and then He fills those desires. And we see likewise here in Titus 2:14 how Christ gave Himself for us, not for everyone in the world, but for us, His special people whom He gives a special calling and elects us unto salvation. He redeemed us from our sins and from the consequences of our sins by paying the payment for our sins only for us, not for everyone in the world, for not everyone in the world ends up saved. And so, we see here both unconditional election and limited atonement on display.
Moreover, He saved us from our sins, which points to the fact that we were sinners. But then He purified us and converted us from sinners into saints. And so we became His prized possession, His peculiar people. And by His irresistible grace He makes us zealous unto good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. God gave all those gifts to us, and then He rewards us for giving back to Him what was rightfully His to begin with. What a glorious salvation is it that we have received, totally free, totally by His grace, by His unmerited favor. And think of it, God did not have to do that.
It Was a Voluntary Payment (John 10:17-18, Luke 23:46)
God was already perfect and complete before He created the fist speck of dust. But God loves His creation, for out of His creation comes the Bride of Christ. Before the foundation of the world the Father chose a Bride for His Son. That is what election is. And Christ came to save His Bride from her slippery slide into Hell. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ came to atone for her sins on the cross. We need to see that the Lord Jesus was not a victim of the cruel scribes and Pharisees. The Lord Jesus came to die on a cross because we were sinners who need to be cleansed. God used the scribes and Pharisees to accomplish His goals, just like God used Satan to accomplish His goals. We read in John 10:17-18,
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
You see, the Lord Jesus voluntarily laid down His life for our sins, a ransom for many. He was fully in control when He died. He said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit” (Luke 23:46), and then He died, and His soul went to heaven. His humanity died. His divinity did not die. And when He was raised the third day it was His humanity that was made alive again. The Lord Jesus said that He did it Himself.
In His humanity He received from God the power to make His soul return to His body and to make Himself alive again. This is the wonder of the Incarnation. But the Lord Jesus did that for our benefit. He did not have to suffer and die, for God was already perfect before He created us. But if we had come into the world without this great plan of salvation, then the entire human race would have been cast into Hell forever, for we sin voluntarily, and we were willing servants of Satan against God.
Do we now realize what great blessings God has bestowed upon us?
Do we now live a life of gratitude?
If God has indeed made us born from above, then we certainly have become His grateful servants, and we now love Him and worship Him, and we want to do all those things that are pleasing in His sight, for we adore Him. And so, this is our response in faith to hearing the Good News that Christ was pierced for our transgressions.
By Alfred Chompff