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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Unique Work and Servanthood of Christ

Let us, then, spend a few minutes in looking at His unique work and service. I think it is impressive to note that this section begins with the glorious end to which God is moving. "Behold, My Servant ... shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high" (52.13). It is always good to get the end right into view at the beginning, and see how it is all going to work out. All this tragedy of chapter 53 (Isaiah), all this terrible story - how is it going to end? Well, here God begins with His end. He says: "This is how it is going to end: before I tell you all about the course of things, which might terribly distress and depress you, I will tell you how it is all going to end. This Servant, Whom I am going to describe in His Person and His Work, in the end shall be exalted, shall be high, shall be lifted up!"

Of course, this word immediately carries us over to those great passages in the New Testament, such as Acts 1 and 2; Philippians 2:8-10 "He became obedient unto death ..." God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knew should bow ..."' and Hebrews 1:3 "He ... sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high ..." That is not how it is going to end; that is how it has ended! And that is how the terrible story is introduced. It is all found n this repeated phrase of two words? "He shall..." 'He shall be exalted ... He shall be lifted up ... He shall be very high ... He shall see the travail of His soul ... He shall be satisfied.' It is established from the beginning. That is vindication; that is the Arm of the Lord! Let all this transpire - nevertheless, the Arm of the Lord will see to it that it leads to a glorious end. Before anything happens - before the Cross, before the rejection - it is established in the counsels of God: "He shall ..."

And if you and I come into the true spiritual principles of Christ's service, that is exactly how it will be with us. God will see to it that that is how it will be with us. God will see to it that that is how the end will be. "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:17). "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Timothy 2:12).

Having notes how this matter is introduced, let us now look at the story of His unique servanthood.

His Vicarious Sufferings

There are eleven expressions in chapter 53 which describe the vicarious character of the sufferings of the Servant of the Lord.

1.  He bore our griefs.
2   He carried our sorrows.
3.  He was wounded for our transgressions.
4.  He was bruised for our iniquities.
5.  The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.
6.  By His stripes we are healed.
7.  The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
8.  For the transgression of My people was He stricken.
9.  Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.
10. He shall bear their iniquities.
11. He bare the sin of many.

It is very instructive to notice the three words, used here, descriptive of what He bore. The three terms are: "iniquity," "transgression" and "sin." If you turn to the Book of Leviticus, chapter 16, you will understand what Isaiah was talking about, and what the Holy Spirit, through Isaiah, was pointing to.

"He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins: and so shall he do for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses ..." (Lev. 16:16).

"And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins". Here we have our three words of Isaiah 53.

"And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land: and he shall let go the goat into the wilderness".

"For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord".

"And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make atonement for the children of Israel because of all their sins once in the year".

Here in Isaiah, then, we have the work which corresponds to the work of the scape-goat. That term fits into this chapter so perfectly. This suffering Servant is the scape-goat, bearing iniquities, transgressions, sins, and driven out into the wilderness into desolation.

What are we to conclude from this as to the Arm of the Lord, in relation to His service.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Arm of the Lord: Related to the Cross")

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