The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), July 26
After God promises the first couple that a seed from Eve will crush the head of the seed of the serpent, He sacrifices an innocent animal to cover the couple’s nakedness. God provides a substitute in the garden of Eden and establishes a pattern. Abel follows that pattern when he sacrifices the firstborn of his flock as an acceptable sacrifice to the LORD. Noah copies the same pattern when he offers the clean animals from the ark in the post-flood world, and God accepts his sacrifice.
Abraham’s arrival in the land of promise is commemorated at an altar, where he slays an animal as an offering to the LORD. Later, the picture is amplified when God provides a ram instead of Isaac on the mount. The annual Passover celebration commemorates the sparing of the firstborn in every Israelite household when God’s wrath passed over every house in Egypt that had lamb’s blood placed on the doorpost—death had already come to the house via a substitute lamb.
Substitutionary death is on God’s mind throughout the story. It should therefore surprise no one that Isaiah foresees the death of Israel’s Passover lamb. This gruesome, substitutionary death the prophet describes in graphic detail.
Notice the words indicating substitution:
“He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (53:5).
“The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (53:5).
“The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6).
“He was led as a lamb to the slaughter” (53:7).
“He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was stricken” (53:8).
“He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (53:9).
The LORD makes “His soul an offering for sin” (53:10).
“He shall bear their iniquities” (53:11).
“He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors” (53:12).
“He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (53:12).
The prophet recognizes substitution and the resulting satisfaction before God. Even the resurrection of Isaiah’s Passover Lamb is promised—though He is “cut off from the land of the living” (8), assigned “a grave with the wicked” (9), He will “see His seed, He shall prolong his days” (10), and “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (11).
No wonder, then, that when John the Baptist first saw Jesus, he declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
To read Isaiah 53 is to see what John the Baptist saw. To believe Isaiah 53 is to find what John the Baptist found.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Is. 52:13-53:12; 54-57):
Make a list of the promises given in Isaiah 54 to give the people of Judah hope for the future of Israel.
What does the LORD communicate about Himself in the invitation delivered in Isaiah 55?
What does Isaiah chapter 57 reveal about God and His relationship with Israel?