We have been working through the book of Jonah in my Hebrew class, and this week we discussed several nuances in Hebrew that are tough to see in our English translations. The question was asked, “how do we show these differences when we teach or preach?” Our professor gave a response that caused me to reflect on one of the greatest privileges of seminary: gaining confidence in the text of the Bible.Continue reading “Confidence in the Text”
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. ” –Isaiah 55:7
The book of Isaiah was written about 2700 years ago, an entire 700 years before Jesus walked the earth. Yet he writes about Jesus several times, identifying several specific aspects about his life and death that are perfectly fulfilled at the end of Jesus’ life. This is clear proof that God had preordained and planned the very events of the crucifixion that would cover the sins of the world!
Verse 7 of Isaiah 53 says that Jesus didn’t open his mouth. What does this mean? Well, when Jesus was brought before Pilate, twice scripture tells us that he was accused by the high priests several times, and in Matt. 27:13 Pilate asks him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” And in verse 14 it says, “But he gave him no answer, so that the governor was greatly amazed.” In very good book I read this past month, Pontius Pilate, it describes how unusual this was that Jesus didn’t offer a defense against the accusations of the Pharisees. Those who weren’t guilty would emphatically declare their innocent, yet even those who were obviously guilty offered some type of argument or defense. Jesus didn’t need to argue back or defend himself, for he knew what was to come, and knew that a defense would only hurt his testimony, his humility, and his obedience to the Father. In that moment, we were on his mind, and he remained quiet to be obedient, fulfill what Isaiah wrote, and to humbly embrace the crucifixion sentence that was coming.
This passage of Isaiah also describes Jesus like a “lamb that is led to the slaughter.” In ancient Judaism, the lamb was the most powerful sacrifices to atone for sin. We can clearly see this in the Passover in Egypt, when the Hebrews were required to sacrifice a lamb and paint its blood over their door so that they would be saved. When the angel of death came through Egypt to fulfill the final plague, those who had the lamb’s blood over their door were “passed over” and were saved from death. We must not think that this referring to Jesus as a lamb is a coincidence! In John 1:29 we read, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John exclaimed this the first time that he saw Jesus, for he knew exactly who he was and exactly what he came to do. Likewise, Isaiah intentionally prophesies about Jesus, calling him a lamb. When we compare the use of the lamb to the passover story mentioned above, we can see an amazing parallel that relates directly to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. Those for whom Jesus died (believers) are covered by the blood of the cross, just like the Hebrews were covered by the blood of the actual lamb, and by this covering we are saved from spiritual death, just as they were saved from a physical death!
It is through His death on the cross as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin and His resurrection three days later that we can now have eternal life if we believe in Him. The fact that God Himself has provided the offering (a perfect “lamb”) that atones for our sin is part of the glorious good news of the gospel that is so clearly declared in 1 Peter 1:18-21: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”