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Monday: The Suffering Servant Poem — 17 Comments

  1. I grew up among sheep. My grandfather kept a flock of about 200 sheep - not a large flock when I see some go the flocks here in Australia, but in New Zealand, a lot of farmers mixed dairying with sheep because it made the farming more productive. Cows and sheep eat the grass differently. I don't know how many of you have seen a sheep being sheared. We had a small shearing shed and every year one of the neighbours would come in and shear the sheep. Typically you grab the sheep by its front legs in a sort of rugby tackle fashion and flip the sheep onto its backside and drag it to the shearing station. Most shearers in our day used a narrow comb set of shears roughly 2 inches wide. New Zealand shearers pioneered the use of wide comb shears that are about 4 inches wide, but that was long after I had left the farm. Shearing is a skilled operation and requires both speed and accuracy. The aim is to get all the wool off the sheep without nicking the skin too much. There is a special way of holding and handling a sheep to maintain control over it. A sheep weighs almost as much as a man, so it is heavy work. A "gun" shearer takes about 3 minutes to shear a sheep. Our neighbour used to take about 5 minutes.

    Sheep were remarkably compliant when it came to shearing time. They seldom bleated, even when their skin was nicked by the shearer. So, when we had family worship and read Isaiah 53:7:

    He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. KJV

    it had a real sense of meaning for me. Jesus suffering was quietly subdued.

    ...and the lesson is ...

    • Hello, Maurice. Shirley DeBeer comments are exactly what I am referring to concerning the cover picture for this week's lesson. She says, "What a surprising verse - God the Father crushed/bruised and made His own Son suffer as our substitutionary sacrifice because He loved us so much."
      This to me is saying that the "lightning bolt" is coming from the Father. She also quotes Is. 53:10 ISV which is saying the LORD will CRUSH Him and MADE Him to suffer.
      According to this reading and interpretation of the text, the cover picture says, God is doing the killing and is the source of the suffering.
      This is how I am understanding Shirley's comments combined with the cover picture.

      • Hello Benjamin, my understanding is that in the Hebrew culture, whenever someone allowed a thing to happen, they considered that as equal to having made it happen, similarly to the concept in our time of an accomplice being held legally accountable for not stopping a crime. I believe this is what was meant in Isaiah 53:10 by "the LORD will crush Him and make Him suffer" - that God did not stop Jesus' suffering, because He loves us so much that He allowed His Son to pay the redemption price for our sins so that we might have the opportunity to live with Him eternally.

    • thanks for sharing the experience of being familiar with sheep. it is important to understand the characteristics of sheep since that is the noun that is used to describe Disciples of The LORD Jesus Christ.

    • Thank you. I have been fascinated by the online videos of sheep being sheared. I would often question their "compliant" attitude and it caused me to wonder that maybe they knew it was for their best. The removal of all that wool would give them such relief from the heat of the sun.
      Sadly the shearing that GOD would do in my life causes me to often bleat with complaints. Let's take the lesson from the sheep and allow HIM to remove all that would hinder me from enjoying the beauty of being in the SON.

  2. The Suffering Servant:
    Isa 53:10 ISV  "Yet the LORD was willing to crush him, and He made him suffer.

    What a surprising verse - God the Father crushed/bruised and made His own Son suffer as our substitutionary sacrifice because He loved us so much.

    This was foreseen in the Abraham/Isaac episode:
    Gen 22:1-2 MKJV  And it happened after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Behold me.  (2)  And He said, Take now your son, your only one, Isaac, whom you love. And go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will name to you.
    Gen 22:8 MKJV  And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.
    Joh 3:16 MKJV  For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    • Regarding “What a surprising verse-...”, how did God crush/bruise and make Jesus suffer?
      Why would God need the blood sacrifice?...or does sin-infected humanity need the blood sacrifice?
      Did God send His Son to “pay” for sin? Or was He sent to save (cleanse) humanity from sin? God knew how Jesus’s sacrifice would play out...but did God commission the torture and death of our Savior, His Son? Or was Jesus’s bruising and crushing the diabolical scheme of an enemy of humanity and God?

      • Why would God need the blood sacrifice?

        Because there is no other way (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

    • Gary & Benjamin, my understanding is that Isa 53:10 can not be separated from John 3:16 for God so loved the world that He gave His Son to suffer and die.
      Secondly I remember John 1:1 - Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God. Jesus' substitutionary sacrifice was part of the plan agreed to by all three of the Partnership of the Godhead. Jesus voluntarily laid down His Life.
      The sins of the world were laid on Jesus and He suffered the penalty - separation from God. The physical suffering was nothing compared to the separation and it was the possibility of this being eternal that broke His heart and caused His death.

      John 10:17-18
      17The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”

  3. 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. Isa 53:5.

    'It was to redeem us that Jesus lived and suffered and died. He became “a Man of Sorrows,” that we might be made partakers of everlasting joy. God permitted His beloved Son, full of grace and truth, to come from a world of indescribable glory, to a world marred and blighted with sin, darkened with the shadow of death and the curse. He permitted Him to leave the bosom of His love, the adoration of the angels, to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred, and death.' SC 13.

    If the above para is true and I believe it is. How then followers of Christ think they must not or will not suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred, and death while following Christ on this earth? Hymn # 609 in the SDA hymnal says it all.
    Many Christians want to be taken to the skies on flowery beds of ease. Everything offends them and they want to retaliate.
    The people who are worthy of heaven are mentioned in Heb 11:36-40. The others. The others had no names. Others have taken on another persona these days, but from the Christian eyesight, am I an other? Are you? Can Christ count on me and you?
    Peter says it so reassuring about Christians suffering as compared to non Christians. 1 Peter 1:12-16. Am I suffering today? Is it for Christ?

  4. The sheep had no idea of your plan , had no choice but Jesus fully understood what would happen to Him voluntarily submitted to torture not for any wrongdoing on His part but because He did not want me to suffer for my sin.!! What love !! I pray that I might fully appreciate His suffering on my behalf and live for Him daily.

  5. The first verse of Isaiah 52 caught my eye. Isaiah pronounces the Word of God: ” AWAKE, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on they beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
    Powerful nations had come to seek spoil and destroy the land God had given to His people. But now it was over, no more should other kings come to displace, kill and take captive the children of Israel. God pronounces once more the ‘setting free’; but this was to be the final ‘redemption’; Isaiah 52:3KJV -”For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money. Praise God!

    This became the time of Hope for the people of Israel; as they are told of their last defeat by their enemies, they hear God's Word of Hope. God steadfastly loves His People and is confirming His Name – Isa.52:3-6 - ”Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.”

    Again, I hold that these are the Lord’s inspired Words which are spoken by His servant Isaiah. Early on, He had declared himself to be a man of ‘unclean lips’; but his iniquities where taken away and his sin purged by the God who asked him “who will go for us?” – he was anointed as the servant and messenger of the Lord! Now, Isaiah was prepared to speak the Words of the Lord and became the custodian of the words of warning and to proclaim the end of suffering and shame to His people, comforting him and his fellow citizens, as well as the generations yet to be born that have an ear to hear – Isa.6:6-13KJV.

    I understand Isa.49:1-12KJV and Isa.50:6-10KJV to address the prophet Isaiah and his work at that time. I see the Lord’s Words explain the position of Isaiah as a servant to His people as well as give the shadowy outline of the ultimate Saviour of His people.
    Both, he and Jesus, seem to have been persons who’s appearance was not comely: “As many were astonied at *thee*; His visage(face) was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.“ Isa.52:14.“He has not form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”.” Both are servants, both were "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief: and we hid (or, He hid as it were his face from us) as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” – Isa.53:2,3KJV.

    Christ Jesus, the Son of God, received from man the vilest expressions of hate and disrespect. I suggest to use the word ‘by’, instead of ‘for’. Jesus was despised, was given no value by his tormentors; His life was perceived to have no value> They acted out their utter contempt they felt about Him, emotions stirred up by the adversary of our Lord and Savior; he wanted to eliminate Him, see Him die and used fallen man to do his deed – Isa.53:5KJV.

    But what a most marvelous plan God the Lord had to defeat this adversary! What the adversary meant for to establish his victory, our Heavenly Father used to defeat him with and so bring about Salvation for all mankind. Acts of Love were more powerful than acts of hate. Christ Jesus’ self-sacrificing Love, His willingness not to defend and so protect Himself, defeated the powers of evil present in the body of man.
    His Love, Trust and Faith in the Father and His unwavering desire to provide The Way to bring Salvation to mankind sustained Him.
    The effects of His Love, Trust and Faith was more powerful then the sins committed against Him by fallen, sinful man. Christ Jesus, the Son of God and man became our Savior.
    I thank the God of Israel that He remained faithful to His chosen people, that He did not forsake them because of their sins; in His Faithfulness, all mankind was to be blessed. I praise God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever – Amen!

  6. Sometimes we say "death cut short his work". But for Jesus, His lifework was His death. What must that have been like for Him the day it dawned on Him that these Isaiah prophecies were about Him and He was born to die a sacrificial death? to be the Messiah? What is it like for us when it dawns on us that we are born to surrender to Him? Through us Isaiah 53:5 comes to life .... Jesus intends for us to light up the world with an interpretation of what "with His stripes we are healed" means. I know I need to more deeply receive the salvation story personally for my life to truly be an unstoppable, powerful witness for Him.

    C.S. Lewis talks about his moment of surrender, of conversion to faith, the moment "God closed in on me", in his book, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life" pp. 216-217:

    "I became aware that I was holding something at bay, or shutting something out. Or, if you like, that I was wearing some stiff clothing, like corsets, or even a suit of armor, as if I were a lobster. I felt myself being, there and then, given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armor or keep it on...The choice appeared to be momentous but it was also strangely unemotional. I was moved by no desires or fears. In a sense I was not moved by anything. I chose to open, to unbuckle, to loosen the rein. I say, "I chose," yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite...You could argue that I was not a free agent, but I am more inclined to think this came nearer to being a perfectly free act than most that I have ever done."

  7. We are all familiar with the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, who wondered who the subject of Isaiah's prophecy was. What certainty(Prov 22:20,21) could anyone have without the gospel record and the knowledge of this prophecy's fulfillment? We stand today on the other side and with Peter can say "we have a more sure word of prophecy!". No guessing about the meaning if we accept the witness of those who saw it.

    Isaiah's poem by itself means very little without the record of its fulfillment which we have today. From the very first promise in Gen 3:15 to the record of both prophets and apostles, we have a complete view of the love of God and the perfect Example in Jesus.


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