Understanding Isaiah 53 the Good News of God’s Substitutionary Saving Grace! Part 1
(ver 1.1) This is Part 1 in a lesson series on understanding the prophesied saving work of Jesus predicted to come in Isaiah 53. I recently received a valid important question concerning the prophecies found in Isaiah 53. The basis for the question was who this chapter was about, who are the players and characters being described and is this God pouring out His judgment upon someone and why was it necessary? As part of this question I surmised that this also included the implied question of, “Was all of this prophecy fulfilled and if yes, what was accomplished by the fulfillment of this prophecy?” I will not be attempting to answer every part of all these questions in this single Bible lesson today. In order to understand the deep subjects of any chapter in the Bible we must first regress to understand the very basic subjects that establish the foundation for the deep. Therefore today’s lesson is a teaching of the basic concepts found in Isaiah 53 to lay the foundation for the coming more complex subjects being mentioned. I pray that you understand why I teach in this manner. Paul said “I fed you milk and not with meat because you were not able to bear it” (1 Cor 3:2). God teaches us very clearly that we should not get the cart before the horse and expect the passage to be successful while striving for deeper knowledge and understanding. Therefore I am going to leave the meat parts of this subject to a future lesson in the series and focus upon the more important subjects in today’s lesson.
This chapter of the Old Testament is actually vital to understand as a Christian. God places certain facts here that apply to us today and these help us understand why some people are saved and some are not. In the English King James Version of the Bible there are several Hebrew words that were poorly translated by the translators. These mistranslated Hebrew words cause serious doubts and even confusion when read in isolation ignoring the New Testament explanations and descriptions. Without studying and researching what these original Hebrew words really mean people are left wondering what was actually prophesied by God to occur and who these words were really written about. Also when we find the Hebrew scripture being quoted in the New Testament many of the Greek language translations were done with greater degree of accuracy. Why the translators were not smart enough to be consistent I cannot explain but I have learned that I must find the answers from the New Testament in order to understand the writings of the Old Testament.
There is an essential basic concept found on the pages of the Old Testament that is absolutely crucial to understanding any of it. Every word found on the pages of the Old Testament is completely true from a natural perspective but the spiritual meanings of the words have been hidden from the natural human viewpoint being veiled from their carnal minds. I know of very few Bible teachers that teach or try to explain this spiritual veiled writing technique. I have learned this fact simply because the Holy Spirit taught it to me personally and I did not learn it from any human teacher. That is exactly why I teach this over and over to allow more people to understand the importance of this truth. Every unsaved person will never be able to read the O.T. in isolation and figure out what it is all about. Even carnal baby Christians do not have a clear perspective to what the O.T. was written about. In today’s lesson whatever I say about the chapter of Isaiah 53 will come directly from the New Testament and this is the proper way to understand any verse written in the O.T. In doing this we allow the Holy Spirit to interpret and define the O.T. words that are presented. I am going to focus only on the first verse in this lesson on Isaiah 53. I believe that Isaiah 53:1 contains the key to unlock the rest of the chapter. In other words if you do not understand Isaiah 53:1 completely you will not understand the verses that follow. We will discover this fact by continuing to read and learn what the Holy Spirit has to say about it.
IS ISAIAH 53 EASILY UNDERSTOOD?
What I am going to do to begin this lesson is to turn to a story in the New Testament and go through a good portion of it to help confirm what I have just introduced you to in the first few paragraphs concerning the hidden spiritual information found in the O.T. I want you to ask God to open the spiritual eyes of your understanding and allow you to see what He has to say in His Holy Word! God gives us a very clear example of the O.T. hidden spiritual truth fact in the book of Acts. If you go to Acts chapter 8 you will find this story and I ask that you read it over carefully and consider what was just revealed to you by God and how it applies to your understanding of the same passage:
- Act 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
- Act 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
- Act 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
- Act 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
- Act 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
- Act 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
- Act 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
- Act 8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
- Act 8:34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
- Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
This God inspired story is pretty awesome. You can clearly see from reading verse 34 that the man did not understand what he was reading. Here is a Gentile man from Ethiopia and he was sitting and reading the book of Isaiah and wondering what these words meant. If you note from the context this man was a seeker of God coming to Jerusalem to worship and that is very important for what happens next and why. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God rewards those that diligently seek Him and this story is a prime example of that basic truth. The Ethiopian man was struggling greatly with the understanding of the words that he could clearly read on the scroll before him but he still desired earnestly to know their meaning. If you are observant you will find that this man was reading the words found in Isaiah 53. God sent to him a preacher man to help explain the words and this man was named Philip an evangelist of God. Well as you can clearly read in verse 35, Philip preached the hidden Christ in Isaiah 53 and as a result of this explanation this man was saved. We have just learned something very important.
I have personally learned a lot from this story. The primary take away is to understand that Isaiah 53 is predominately about Jesus the Messiah/Christ. The second most important thing to understand from this chapter of Isaiah is the primary theme concerning Jesus pertains to human salvation since the Ethiopian was saved after hearing and understanding just these words. The initial verse that Philip preached from was Isaiah 53:7. This was where the Ethiopian was focused on so Phillip used it to teach the man about Jesus our silent sacrificed lamb. It is important to note that when Acts 8 occurred there was no New Testament to read or share with others. So the early church had to use only the Old Testament to preach and get people saved. Do you understand this? Why couldn’t this Ethiopian man just read the text, figure it out and get saved without anyone preaching and teaching him what the words meant? Did the words on the page suddenly change when someone preached them? I really do not think they did, but something happened to change the man’s perspective who was listening to a new way of seeing them. A wrong thinking within the human mind is the greatest reason why the words are not known to the spirit of the man. Once the mind is opened and cleared to see the words they are passed into the spirit of man to be believed. I’ll definitely be talking more about his as we go forward.
God designed a system based upon divine grace and human faith where salvation is the common desired end result for both. The fact that someone must preach the Gospel and the hearer must believe the Gospel is just a part of God’s design for salvation. There is something about a man speaking with authority and preaching the Gospel with boldness that makes the words on the page come alive to many people that want to know them. This Ethiopian man clearly desired to know them, was open to learning about them and God sent the preacher to open the words up from their concealed original state to be seen through preaching and teaching.
So far we have looked at only one reference of Isaiah 53 found in Acts 8 and have discovered the central theme to be salvation and the theme giver to be Jesus Christ. That is the foundation for the rest of this lesson. I might point out to you that the name “Isaiah” does not appear in the New Testament. However that does not mean his written words are not found there. The problem is that the New Testament was written in the Greek language and the name Isaiah was transliterated from Hebrew into Greek and then into English. The Old Testament was transliterated directly from Hebrew omitting the Greek transition and thus we have two different spellings for the same name. In the KJV New Testament the name “Isaiah” is written as “Esaias”. This Greek word that was changed to “Esaias” is G2268 and it is derived from the Hebrew name H3470 written as “Isaiah” in the English. Just understand that they are both the exact same name. Then learn what the name means in the Hebrew. “Isaiah” literally means “Jah saves”. “Jah” is a short form of the Hebrew “Jehovah” (H3050) a primary name of God in the Old Testament. The name of the prophet designates further hidden confirmation of the book’s main subject content. Isaiah the prophet wrote about God’s plan of salvation for man so we need to learn how this applies and what it entails.
I’m only going to go through the first verse in Isaiah 53 to keep the lesson shorter. Then I will move to the New Testament to understand this verse. What we will be looking for is the New Testament explanations and applications for what Isaiah recorded for God. It is absolutely essential that you understand these words written to the natural nation of Israel are applicable to us and for us in the church. If you do not know this you will discount them as being irrelevant and unimportant. The reason I know they apply to the church is because these verses in Isaiah 53 are quoted in the New Testament repeatedly and explained there. So we will begin reading with verse 1 of Isaiah 53 and then find the references to it in the New Testament:
- Isa 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isaiah 53 begins with one of the most incredible O.T. hidden secrets that was only revealed to us in the New Testament writings after Jesus was raised from the dead. Isaiah 53:1 is about the subject of faith. Nowhere in this verse is that subject described, named, or defined and that is the reason very few understand it. Galatians 3:23 describes a principle that faith was revealed (uncovered, made clear, opened for view) by God in the New Testament. In order for any subject to be uncovered for view it had to be previously covered from view. That is further confirmation for what I have taught. However, if you do not understand the subject of faith then you will not understand this verse is about faith. I would strongly suggest that you go and read my lesson series on “Understanding Bible Faith” if you have not read them. This will build a foundation for understanding what is written here in Isaiah 53:1. I will attempt to give you a brief overview of the subject of faith but I cannot repeat the lessons in any detail. What is the number one question being asked here in Isaiah 53:1? God very clearly says “Do you believe the report”? What is a report? A report is a spoken account of a given event by a witness or an expert qualified to speak about it. Remember what we just read about in Acts 8 concerning the Ethiopian man? Didn’t God send the report of a witness to the man from Ethiopia so that he could hear and believe it? Did the Ethiopian believe the report sent by the Lord? Evidently the Ethiopian man was saved because he did believe what was reported to him by Phillip. Wow, that is pretty amazing!
Let’s analyze the last part of the verse, before we move on to the New Testament references. What does it mean if something must be revealed? As I previously stated anything that is revealed must first be concealed. No one on their birthday ever knows for sure what present they have been given until it is opened and revealed to them. What does the arm of the Lord represent in this verse? These are both key determining factors for what I am teaching. God reveals what was previously hidden from plain view was something unexpected. In this case the subject being revealed is connected directly to the “arm of the Lord”. The Hebrew word H2220 that was translated as “arm” can have either a literal or figurative application. God’s “arm” in this verse is a reference to the figurative and not the literal. This figurative Hebrew word will apply to God’s strength and power being revealed. But, since we are limiting the discussion to Jesus and the salvation of man by definition of context discovered from reading the Acts 8 application, we will need to search and find what God says concerning the power of God that has saved men today. Do you recall any verses like this in the New Testament? One comes to my mind very quickly and I ask you to read and learn the reason why I say this:
- Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
I need you to see what God has just plainly stated. The Gospel is defined to be the power of God for our salvation. We also have a direct connection to Isaiah 53:1 with God’s usage of the word “believe”. Since we have previously seen a clear example of Phillip preaching the Isaiah 53 verses to an Ethiopian Gentile man and him being saved from it because he believed the spoken report, we know concretely that Isaiah 53 is the Gospel that contains the power of God for salvation. Therefore God declared Isaiah 53 to be His arm of power that saves if you will see what it says. Let’s move on and look at the direct quotes of Isaiah 53:1.
Isaiah 53:1 is quoted specifically in the New Testament twice. We will look at both of them. I believe to fully understand this verse we must go and discover how God used it in the New Testament, how it was applied and why it was selected. The first occurrence of Isaiah 53:1 is found in the book of John. Jesus is the primary speaker within the context and His words are followed by God’s connection to Isaiah 53:1. Therefore these words of Jesus must contain some very important information directly from the author of the entire book. Read these verses very slowly and carefully:
- Joh 12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
- Joh 12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
- Joh 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
- Joh 12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
These are actually very relevant words to learn. Jesus claims to be the light of the world. But this is a spiritual light and not a physical one. Then Jesus says to them “to believe in the light”. What is God in the flesh saying? He is saying I’m here to fulfill Isaiah 53 and you can see this very clearly reading the context in verses 37 and38 where John also quotes from Isaiah 53:1. What God is doing is teaching us that people have a very significant role to play in the process of salvation. Jesus was God in the flesh walking like every other man before them and they chose not to believe in Him of their own freewill. These Jews were NOT saved because they failed to believe and not because Jesus failed to save them. If you don’t understand this you need to regress to even more basic Bible subjects.
Isaiah asks who has believed the report and Jesus said “Believe in me” and then goes away and hides himself from the people so that they can see what it would be like without Him being found. John tells us that they saw great miracles but still did not believe in Him. That is not good news for them because there are no second chances after death occurs. I do not have time to teach everything that is found in these verses. Just understand the statement that Jesus was sent to fulfill Isaiah 53 and this further confirms the chapter was about Him and His saving work for man to believe in. Let’s move on to read the second critical N.T. reference of Isaiah 53:1 which is found in the book of Romans:
- Rom 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
- Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Here in this chapter’s context is found invaluable information concerning God’s saving power extended to man. God quotes Isaiah 53:1 in verse 16 after He tells how to be saved in verses 9 and 10 of this chapter. How are you saved according to Romans 10:9-10? You must start by believing in Him and this includes believing that God raised Him from the dead. Then you must confess with your mouth Him to be your Lord. This is the basic requirement for salvation and it starts with believing the report since you were not there to witness the resurrection for yourself. That is how faith works, you believe and you say. This is a very basic reality but one that is ignored by many Christians.
It is very interesting to note that Paul quotes 12 different O.T. verses from Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Proverbs, Nahum and Joel in this chapter context including the last verse of chapter 9. I find that fact off the charts fascinating and significant to learn. This knowledge helps to prove what I call the law of related distributed truths. I am a firm believer that God has placed many connected clues in the Old Testament being spread out like random seeds in a field as perceived by the casual reader. To put these random verses all together correctly without the Lord’s assistance is like trying to solve a large complex double sided puzzle without any pictures on any of the pieces. If you do not understand the significance of this distributed factual information being combined together as an integrated lesson then I would suggest that you go and read the context of every O.T. quoted verse found here in Romans 10 and then try to figure out for yourself how God did this and why. How is it possible that 12 different verses from several different books of the Old Testament were combined into a single unified subject lesson taught to the church? I wish people would begin to learn the complexity of the Bible instead of ignoring these types of important factual details.
I believe that this information which I have just given to you is confirmation that the entire O.T. contains hidden references about Jesus, the church and salvation and we should quickly begin to realize that Jesus is the central theme of the entire book. God teaches us how that the writings of 5 or 6 different prophets can all be tied together to teach a single cohesive lesson about Jesus and human salvation. I’ll give you a list of the verses so that you can do some more research on your on:
|Romans 9:33||Isaiah 8:14|
|Romans 10:6||Deuteronomy 30:12|
|Romans 10:7||Deuteronomy 30:13|
|Romans 10:8||Deuteronomy 30:14|
|Romans 10:11||Isaiah 28:16|
|Romans 10:13||Joel 2:32|
|Romans 10:15||Isaiah 52:7; Nahum 1:15|
|Romans 10:16||Isaiah 53:1|
|Romans 10:18||Psalm 19:4|
|Romans 10:19||Deuteronomy 32:21|
|Romans 10:20||Isaiah 65:1|
|Romans 10:21||Proverbs 1:24; Isaiah 65:2|
I want you to understand God’s usage of the Isaiah 53:1’s reference in the context of Roman’s 10 more clearly. If you back up and read the end of chapter 9 you will clearly see that Paul was writing about the natural Jews that Jesus was speaking directly to in John 12 and this connection carries forward into chapter 10 with Paul’s statement “I pray that they all will be saved” in verse 1 of chapter 10. Paul then goes into a comparative writing between two diverse types of people; those saved by faith and those that were attempting to save themselves by their individual works of righteousness. Paul as you can observe says these people of natural Israel have rejected the gift of God’s righteousness through faith because they have failed to believe the report. Now let me emphasize two other verses found in Romans 10:
- Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
- Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
These words contain some of the keys to understanding Isaiah 53. We need to learn that God has directed some to preach the Good News Report. This is a required design from God. Jesus came to the earth to preach and teach as well as to save. We have already seen the fact that Isaiah 53:1 was used by John to inform natural Israel that Jesus had brought them light and Jesus said for them to follow the light. Follow the light is just another way to say “Believe”! I have also previously shown you in Acts 8 where Phillip preached Isaiah 53 to get the Ethiopian to believe and get saved. Now we can see Paul using Isaiah 53 and all of these references have to do with the existence of a preacher with a message sent to those that can hear and have faith to believe the report to be saved. We have just achieved 3 witnesses in the New Testament that Isaiah 53 is the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST! Gospel literally means good news. What was the good news that Jesus provided to us from Isaiah 53? I guess that is what everyone needs to know next. But let’s focus in on one more verse in Romans 10:13:
- Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Whosoever means me! This is a verse written to me since I am clearly a “whosoever” by qualified application. Whoever calls upon the name of the LORD, will be saved. I want you to review one key word in this verse found in the original Greek language. The Greek word G4982 which is translated as “saved” is the word “SOZO” and I have made mention of this word before. But I want you to learn a new association. We can clearly see the primary subject is salvation and God connects salvation back to the verses found in Isaiah 53:1 by His choice and intelligent design. Therefore we must understand what Isaiah 53 was written about by understanding how God uses it here in the N.T. The Greek word SOZO literally means to be made whole and complete. The antithesis of wholeness is incompleteness. Incompleteness is a state of lack or a deficit in entirety. This word has broad application. This Greek word crosses over into three realms of reality simultaneously. God’s plan of salvation included your spiritual salvation (wholeness), your mental salvation (wholeness) and your physical salvation (wholeness) in one act of His divine saving Grace. This teaches us literally what Isaiah 53 must contain and it MUST include all of these subjects or God does not remain consistent with the N.T. message of salvation. We now should better understand what to be looking for when reading Isaiah 53. We must search and look for the salvation of our spirit, soul and body.
I think this is a good place to end this lesson today. We have learned a lot of good basic information from searching the New Testament and finding God’s explanations for what was written in Isaiah 53. We should now know that the 53rd chapter of Isaiah is God’s power (arm) to save, heal and deliver us. We should also know that Isaiah 53 is only made effective in a human’s life if they choose to hear it proclaimed and believe the report. I thank you for your time reading the Bible and studying God’s Words. Please come back and tell others about what you have learned. God Bless!
If you would like to continue reading in this series of lesson you may continue to “Part 2” now.
Posted on April 30, 2013, in Bible Study, Chapter 53, Isaiah and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Gospel, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Salvation, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.