This study is based upon the New City Catechism.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:10-11)
When a man’s situation is clarified for him – that he is a sinner and that the wrath of God is surely due him – it is only reasonable for him to ask, “Might there be any escape, any pavement away from my demise?” Due to the incredible hatred he has for God and all things pleasant, he may not care for the answer. Yet if he is touched by the Spirit, so as to be awakened from spiritual death, then he will inquire therein earnestly. There is first the matter of what need he has, and second the matter of what provision may exist to meet that need. Both matters are explained in Isaiah 53.
Pertaining to our need, notice first that we have transgressions and iniquities (v.5), and that “we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way” (v.6). It has already been established that God punishes sinners, thus we note the inevitable punishment due. This is our first need: we need escape from punishment, deliverance, salvation, rescue. We need to be snatched from the fires of Sodom and Gomorrah. We have a great need for escape.
Second, notice a greater state which follows escape: reconciliation to God (vv. 5, 11-12). It will not due to simply have our sins acquitted, for this would save us from Hell yet leave us with no communion with God. Communion with God requires, not only a lack of the negative, but a presence of the positive. We need to be accounted righteous (v.11). It was one thing for the prodigal son to return home, and quite another for him to be reinstated as a son (Luke 15:11-32). We are in need of such reconciliation.
Now, with our need clear, let us consider what remedy may exist to meet this need. First, notice that reconciliation is possible. What we have commented on from Isaiah 53 is not fictional, but true: that there exists a true offering for guilt(v.10), a true accounting of righteousness (v.11). Salvation from sin truly takes place! Peace with God is possible! Let bells peal for joy, and may we press forward to know how such reconciliation is possible!
Second, notice that God is the reconciler. We have made plain that God is the One from Whom we must be saved, but likewise God is the One from Whom salvation comes. This suffering Servant is God the Son, incarnate as the Messiah. It is He Whom God crushed upon the cross (v.10), where He died stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted(v.4). Reconciliation is not possible because a few Romans whipped Jesus and placed Him on a cross. No! Reconciliation is possible because, when He was on that cross, God smote Him with all the wrath that was due for His people. The sins Israel filled God’s chalice of righteous indignation, and for the purpose of securing reconciliation, Jesus Christ drunk that cup to the dregs. This was all by the plan of God (John 3:16; Acts 2:23), for God put Him forward as a propitiation(Romans 3:25). If we are saved, then we are saved from God, by God, to God, and for God.
Third, notice that Christ is the One through Whom we are reconciled. It has already been stated that Christ is the medium of our reconciliation, but let us reflect on this matter specifically. Christ is God’s chosen man, His choice Servant, through Whom we are reconciled to God. The focus of Isaiah 53 being upon Christ should be understood as exclusive language. “The Lord has laid on him [and no one else] the iniquity of us all” (v.6). “It was the will of the Lord to crush him [and no one else].” It is fitting, therefore, that the world should call us “Christians,” and that the focal point of our faith be directed to the incarnate second member of the Trinity, Whom the Spirit exalts (John 16:14).
Question: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?
Answer: Yes, God reconciles us to himself by a Redeemer.