Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to know you. We want to please you. We thank you for full salvation through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray in His mighty, holy name! Amen!
Last time when we stopped we were in the middle of a study of the first three chapters of my book, “Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (The book is available on my website and at amazon.com.) I’m going to reread three paragraphs from the Introduction to the book. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 have much in common. Chapter 1 is titled “A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun ‘Pesha’ ’’; chapter 2 is titled “A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun ‘Awon’ ”; and chapter 3 is titled “A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun ‘Chet’.” These three Hebrew nouns are similar in meaning. The NASB and KJV typically translate pesha as “transgression,” awon as “iniquity”; and chet as “sin.” A prime goal for these three studies is to show that these Hebrew nouns include within their range of meaning the ideas of sin (transgression, iniquity), guilt of sin, AND PENALTY FOR SIN.
It is quite significant, but it is not widely known, that these Hebrew nouns (unlike the English nouns) include within their range of meaning the idea of penalty for sin. (Sin always has penalties/consequences). An understanding of the fuller meaning of these Hebrew nouns will enable us to better translate and better understand many passages of Scripture. For one thing, this insight will enable us to better understand sacrificial offerings. Since our salvation is founded on the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is very important for us to understand these offerings.
In Chapter 2 we will discuss Lev. 16:20-22. (We’ll turn to those verses when we finish this paragraph.) They are key verses in the chapter that deals with the very important sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. This was the one day of the year that the high priest entered the holy of holies with sacrificial blood. The verses we will discuss speak of the offering of the second goat of the sin offering (sometimes called the “scapegoat”). It is important to understand that when the high priest placed all the awon of the peoples of Israel on the second goat, he was placing on it all their iniquities with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES. This sacrificial goat was then driven to a land cut off (a land cut off from the life and blessings of God). The goat took the place of, and bore the penalty for, those who had sinned. If the goat had not taken their place, those who had sinned would have been driven from the camp of God. The sacrificial offerings (speaking of the sacrificial offerings in general) bore the sins of the people of Israel with the guilt and with the penalties (including the death penalty).
Now I’ll turn back to page 15 of my book, and we’ll discuss Lev. 16:20-22 in some detail. First I’ll read verse 20, “When he [Aaron the high priest] finishes atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat.” “The holy place” speaks of the holy of holies; “the tent of meeting” speaks of the outer compartment. (See Lev. 16:15-17.) The altar refers to the sacrificial altar. “The live goat” is the second goat of the sin offering (see Lev. 16:5, 7-10, 15-19). It is important to see that both of these goats were required to complete this one, very special sin offering. I’ll comment briefly on the first goat of this sin offering as we continue.
Now I’ll read verse 21, “Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities [plural of awon] of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions [plural of pesha] in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.” Aaron transferred “all the iniquities…and… transgressions” of the people of Israel with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES to the second goat of the sin offering. Note, “and he shall lay them on the head of the goat.” After this transfer, the sacrificial goat bore the awon (plural) and the pesha (plural) of the people of Israel (see verse 22). These awon and pesha that were put on the second goat of the sin offering were not different than the awon and pesha that were borne by the first goat of the sin offering, whose blood was taken into the holy of holies (see Lev. 16:15-19). The sacrifice of both goats was required to complete this one, very special sin offering of the Day of Atonement.
Although Leviticus chapter 16 doesn’t mention this detail, Aaron undoubtedly also put his hands on the head of the first goat of the sin offering. That would have been standard procedure (see, for example, Lev. 1:4; 3:2, 13; 4:4, 15, 24; 8:14, 18). And undoubtedly there was a confession of sin over the first goat of the sin offering, as there was over the second goat. I’ll quote part of what C. F. Keil says here (Keil and Delitzsch “Commentary on the Old Testament,” Vol. 1). “As both goats were intended for a sin offering, the sins of the nation were confessed upon both, and placed upon the heads of both by the laying on of hands; though it is of the living goat only that this is expressly recorded, being omitted in the case of the other, because the rule laid down in chapter 4:4ff. was followed. By both [by both goats] Israel was delivered from all sins and transgressions.”
I believe we must qualify the idea that all the awon and pesha were taken away on the Day of Atonement. The fully willful and defiant sins were not removed (see, for example, Num. 15:27-36; Heb. 9:7). Numbers 15:30, 31 say, “But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD [Yahweh]; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. (31) Because he has despised the word of the LORD [Yahweh] and has broken His commandment; that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt [His awon, very much including the penalty for his iniquity] shall be on him.” To be “cut off” meant to be put to death, as Num. 15:30-36 show (see, for example, Exod. 31:14, 15; Lev. 20:1-5). ‘His awon [his iniquity with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTY] shall be on him.’ ”
Now I’ll read Lev. 16:22, but I don’t fully agree with this translation. “And the goat shall bear [Hebrew verb nasa] on itself all their iniquities [plural of awon] to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” It is not adequate to just think of the second goat bearing “all [the] iniquities” of the people of Israel. This goat was bearing “all their iniquities” with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES, and in this context, the emphasis is placed on the fact that the goat was bearing the penalty for the iniquities of the people of Israel. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon (under awon) lists this verse (Lev. 16:22) under the sub-heading, “consequences of, or punishment for iniquity.” This goat was taken from the camp of God (the place of His life and blessings) “to a solitary land [to a land cut off]” instead of (in place of) those who had sinned. It is also true that the first goat of the sin offering was put to death bearing the penalty for the iniquities of the people of Israel. I have an endnote, which I’ll read, In the light of verse 21, we can rightly say that this goat was bearing all their iniquities with the guilt and with the penalties and all their transgressions with the guilt and with the penalties.
Instead of “to a solitary land,” I would translate “to a land cut off.’ The Amplified Bible has, “to a land cut off (a land of forgetfulness and separation, not inhabited)!” C. F. Keil (the commentator mentioned above) speaks of the “land cut off.” The Hebrew noun I would translate “cut off” is “gezerah”. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon (under gezerah) says, “unto a land of separation, of the goat for Azazel….” We’ll discuss the name “Azazel” as we continue. (The verb gazar, from which gezerah was derived, is used in Isaiah 53:8: “He [the Lamb of God] was cut off out of [or, from] the land of the living.”) If the iniquities of the people of Israel (with the guilt and with the penalties) had not been transferred to the goats of the sin offering, the people of Israel would have been driven from the camp of God to a land cut off (a land cut off from the life and blessings of God), bearing their awon.
Out in the land cut off, Azazel was “god” (Satan is called “the god of this world” in 2 Cor. 4:4). A note in the margin of the NASB at Lev. 16:8, 10, and 26 mentions that the Hebrew noun translated “scapegoat” means “goat of removal, or else a name, Azazel.” I’ll read Lev. 16:8, “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD [Yahweh] and the other lot for the scapegoat.” I agree with the common view that Azazel speaks of Satan or an evil being subordinate to him. There was, of course, no idea of sending a sacrifice to Azazel, but this sacrifice of the second goat of the sin offering powerfully demonstrated to the people of Israel that if it were not for the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement, they would have lost the protective care of their covenant relationship with God and would have driven out to a land cut off where Azazel was god.
Now we come to the heading, “All the Old Covenant Sacrifices, and Especially Those on the Day of Atonement and Passover, Pointed to the One Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The old covenant sacrifices were effective to a point, but they could not dethrone sin and death (see Heb. 7:11-10:18, for example). I have already mentioned that the old covenant sacrifices could not even atone for the willful and defiant sins of the people of Israel. They certainly could not remove the curse of death (either spiritual death or physical death) that had been part of the existence of man since the fall. Death (both spiritual death and physical death) came as a PENALTY FOR SIN, the sin of Adam (see Gen. 2:17; 3:3, 17-24; and Rom. 5:12-21).
The Sacrifice of the Lamb of God had no such limitations. He, by His one Sacrifice, has once-for-all dethroned sin, Satan, and death for all believers. He bore all our sins, iniquities, and transgressions with all the guilt and with all the penalties. He bore our death (a penalty for sin). Now we are born again and have spiritual life; when He returns all the believers who will have died before that time will be resurrected, and all believers will be born into the fullness of eternal life. It is only through His atoning death that anyone can enter new Jerusalem (see, for example, Rev. 21:27; 20:15; and 7:14 with 22:14).
Sin has been dethroned through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ; we are not under the authority of sin (see, for example, Rom. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 1:14-19; 2:24, 25). Satan has also been dethroned through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ; he has no authority over believers (see, for example, Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 1:19-2:10; 4:27; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-18; and Rev. 12:11). The final judgment of Satan will come to pass (at the right time; see Rev. 20:10) because of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (see John 12:31-33; 16:11).
Now we come to a study of Isaiah 53:4-6. I’ll read verse 4, “Surely our griefs [or, “sicknesses”] He Himself bore, and our sorrows [or, “pains”] He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.”
First I’ll comment on the meaning of the words, “Surely our griefs [or, “sicknesses”] He Himself bore.” The Hebrew noun translated “griefs” is “choli.” The NASB has “or sickness” in the margin. (The noun is plural in the Hebrew.) The NIV translates “infirmities.” There is no doubt that the basic meaning of choli is sickness, and I would translate “sicknesses” here in Isaiah 53:4. I have an endnote on the meaning of choli, which I’ll read, The BDB Hebrew Lexicon gives “sickness” as the basic meaning of choli. Out of the twenty-four uses of choli in the Old Testament, the KJV translates it as “sickness(es)” nineteen times, “is sick” one time, and “grief(s)” four times. The NASB translates choli as follows: affliction (1); disease (2); illness (3); sick (1) sickness(es) (15); and grief(s) (2). The only places where the NASB translates choli as grief(s) is in Isaiah 53:3, 4. Also see the comments regarding Matt. 8:14-17 under Isaiah 53:4.
I have another endnote dealing with the meaning of choli, which I’ll read, I believe “sicknesses” would be a far better translation than “griefs” in Isa. 53: 4. “Sickness” is a more comprehensive term, which (when used in its fullest sense as it is here) embraces “grief” and a whole lot more. Choli includes physical sickness and mental and emotional sickness, including grief. This Hebrew noun is also used in a figurative sense in the Old Testament, as the two following paragraphs will demonstrate.
Choli is used in Isa. 1:5, which speaks of the condition of the nation of Judah after it had been chastened by God; more severe chastening, however, was yet to come. Isaiah 1:5, “Where will you be stricken again, As you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick [choli], And the whole heart is faint.’ (Isaiah 1:5 should be read with Isa. 1:4-9.)
Jeremiah 10:19 says, “Woe is me, because of my injury! My wound is incurable. But I said, ‘Truly this is a sickness [choli], and I must bear it.’ These words speak of the condition of Judah in the days of the Babylonian invasions and exiles. (Read with Jer. 10:17-22.) Hosea 5:13 also uses choli in a figurative sense.
I believe we should understand choli in the fullest possible sense in Isa. 53:4, including spiritual sickness.
I’ll turn back to our discussion of the words, “Surely our griefs [sicknesses] He Himself bore” of Isa. 53:4. We come to the sub-heading, “But how did the Lamb of God bear our sicknesses?” He bore our sicknesses when (as Isa. 53:11 says) He bore our awon, that is, when He bore our iniquities with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES. He bore our sicknesses when (as Isa. 53:12 says) He bore our chet, that is, when He bore our sin with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES. To appreciate the two previous sentences, we must understand that under the old covenant, which is the framework within which Isaiah chapter 53 was written, sickness (including physical sickness) was typically considered to be a punishment, penalty, chastisement for sin. (See chapter 4 of my book, which deals with this topic.) We will further discuss the meaning of these words as we continue with this study of Isa. 53:4-6.
Now we’ll discuss the next words of Isa. 53:4, “And our sorrows [or, “pains”] He carried.” The margin of the NASB has “or, pains” in place of “sorrows.” The BDB Hebrew Lexicon gives “pain” as the basic meaning of this Hebrew noun (“makob”). The range of meaning of makob covers physical pain, mental pain, etc. In this context I would translate “pains” and take this word in the fullest possible sense. As with bear choli in the first line of Isaiah 53:4, so here, the Lamb of God carried our pains when He bore our awon, pesha, and chet. Our “pains” were part of the punishment/penalty/chastisement that He bore in our place.
Now we’ll discuss the last words of Isa. 53:4, “Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.” The Lamb of God was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” when He bore the penalty for our sins in His atoning death. The Amplified Bible is helpful on Isa. 53:4, “Surely He has borne our griefs - sickness, weakness, and distress - and carried our sorrows and pain [of punishment]. Yet we ignorantly considered Him stricken, smitten and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy] [Matt. 8:17].”
Matthew 8:14-17 are an important cross-reference for Isa. 53:4; I’ll read those verses, “And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. (15) And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him. (16) And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill (17) in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘He Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases.’ “ Matthew 8:17 loosely quotes from Isa. 53:4. These verses in Matthew help demonstrate that choli means much more than “grief,” and they help show that spiritual and physical healing are included in the atonement. (See below under the words “we are healed” of Isa. 53:5. and see chapter 5 of this book, which is titled, “A Study to Show that Healing and Health Are Included in the New Covenant Atonement.” Matthew 8:14-17 are discussed in that chapter.
Now we’ll discuss Isa. 53:5. I’ll read the verse, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions [plural of pesha], He was crushed for our iniquities [plural of awon]; The chastening for our well being [for our shalom] fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
First we’ll discuss the words, “He was crushed for our iniquities [plural of awon].” (It is convenient to discuss the second line of verse 5 before the first line.) I believe the following translation better reflects the intended meaning, “He was crushed [crushed unto death] by our iniquities with the guilt and with the penalties,” or just, “He was crushed [crushed unto death] by the penalties for our iniquities.”
“By” is a reasonable way to translate the Hebrew preposition used here. (See endnote 8 in the book.) Just about everything said in chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 of this book supports the suggested translation for this second line of Isaiah 53:5. The Lamb of God bore our awon [plural] (see Isa. 53:11). “He was crushed” [crushed unto death] by them. The wages of sin is death. The Hebrew verb translated “He was crushed” here is also used in Isa. 53:10.
I favor the longer suggested translation for this second line of Isa. 53:5, “He was crushed by our iniquities with the guilt and with the penalties.” We want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that the Lamb of God was bearing (and taking away) our iniquities with the guilt and with the penalties. He was not just bearing (and taking away) the penalties.
Now we’ll discuss the first line of Isa. 53:5, “He was pierced through for our transgressions [plural of pesha].” I believe a translation like the following better communicates the intended meaning, “He was pierced through [pierced through unto death] by our transgressions with the guilt and with the penalties,” or just, “He was pierced through [pierced through unto death] by the penalties for our transgressions.” Chapter 1 of this book deals with the meaning of the Hebrew noun pesha.
The Lamb of God “was pierced through” and killed when He bore our transgressions with the guilt and with the penalties, including the death penalty. Although a different Hebrew verb for “pierce” is used in Psalm 22:16 and Zech. 12:10, those verses are important cross-references. Psalm 22 prophesies of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ll read Psalm 22:16, “For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.” And Zech. 12:10 prophesies of the conversion of the end-time remnant of Israel, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
We come to the sub-heading, “Commentators on Isaiah 53:4, 5.” I recommend the commentary by F. Delitzsch on these verses (Vol. 7 of the Keil and Delitzsch “Commentary on the Old Testament”) and the commentary by E. J. Young (Vol. 3 of the “Book of Isaiah,” 1981 reprint by Eerdmans). I’ll quote part of what E. J. Young said on the first two lines of Isa. 53:5, “[When we say that the Lamb of God bore our awon and our pesha] we are saying that he bore the punishment that was due to us because of those sins, and that is to say that he was our substitute. His punishment was vicarious. [‘Vicarious’ means that He took our place.] Because we had transgressed, he was pierced to death; and being pierced and crushed to death was the punishment that he bore in our stead.” Dr. Young has a footnote; I’ll read part of that footnote, “At the same time, if we merely assert that the servant bore the punishment of our sins, we have not done justice to the scriptural teaching. We must insist that in their fullness he bore our sins. ….”
Now we’ll discuss the words “The chastening for our well-being [“shalom”] fell upon Him” of Isa. 53:5. These words fit the familiar pattern of Isaiah chapter 53. The Lamb of God took our place; He took “the chastening” - the penalty - for our sins. Through Him and His all-important atoning death, believers receive “well being”/peace/shalom. I believe we should understand shalom in the fullest possible sense. I have an endnote here, which I’ll read, The BDB Hebrew Lexicon has seven sub-headings under shalom. I’ll list the first six sub-headings to show the breadth of the meaning of this word: “(1) completeness in number; (2) safety, soundness in body…is safe, secure; (3) welfare, health, prosperity; (4) peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment; (5) peace, friendship: (a) human relations (b) peace with God; and (6) peace from war.” That completes the endnote; now I’ll continue reading what I said under the words, “The chastening for our well-being [shalom] fell upon Him.” During this age believers are enabled to have peace with God, peace with self, and to a significant extent peace with others, especially with other believers. We have been born again and set free from slavery to sin. (See under Isa. 53:11.) We can begin to receive the benefits provided through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, including healing for the whole man (spirit, soul, and body), but some key aspects of our salvation, including most of the glory, are reserved for the future. What about physical healing, for example? We will not eradicate all physical sickness from the Body of Christ during this present age, but I am very sure that God has provided much more healing than we have been appropriating (see chapter 5 of this book). He is glorified when we are healed and enter into other benefits of our salvation.
It is important to see that all of the shalom of this age and of the eternal age to come has been given to believers through the atoning death of the Lamb of God. What a salvation plan! What a Savior! The Lamb of God didn’t just bear our sins with the guilt so we could be forgiven, as significant as that is. He bore our sins with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES, INCLUDING THE MAJOR PENALTIES OF SPIRITUAL DEATH AND BONDAGE TO SIN, NOT TO MENTION HELL. (I am not saying that Jesus died spiritually; He never sinned or ceased being God the Son - He was the perfect Lamb of God.) Through Him we are born again and made righteous and holy with the very righteousness and holiness of God. In His atoning death, the Lord Jesus earned a very full salvation for us, which includes our being glorified and beginning to reign with Him in a never ending reign. Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!
It’s time to stop. We’ll come back to our study of Isa. 53:4-6 in the next article. God bless you!