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Isaiah 53:10-12

The Divine Satisfaction

The Song of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
The Divine Servant (52:13-15)      PDF
The Divine Sufferer (53:1-3)      PDF
The Divine Substitute (53:4-6)    PDF
The Divine Sacrifice (53:7-9)    PDF
The Divine Satisfaction (53:10-12)   PDF

Our song of suffering reaches a grand climax in the last three verses. The song begins and ends on the same high note of victory. Between the two high snow capped mountain peaks of extreme exaltation in glory is the deep, deep valley of humility and intense suffering. The one who died like a criminal was buried like a prince, and is now exalted high and lifted up so that He sees the fruit of His suffering. The Servant will see the result of His redeeming sacrifice and be fully satisfied. Unregenerate men would expect the sad song to end at the grave. But not this song. It is time to celebrate! He dies, yet His work goes on. He sees it, and He is satisfied. What a Savior!

After the hour of His deepest humiliation was over, the LORD God exalted His divine Sufferer to the highest place of exaltation.

In the extreme humiliation the Suffering Servant satisfied the divine justice of the heavenly Father toward every sinner. Since a holy and righteous God is satisfied the sinner can now be satisfied, too.

The divine Sufferer is also the great High Priest and our intercessor in heaven. He pleads the case of every believer before the throne of God.

With vivid details, the inspired Hebrew prophet writes as if he were a personal eyewitness to the events at the cross, resurrection and exaltation of God's Suffering Servant. Keil writes: "The banner of the cross is here setup. The curtain of the most holy is lifted higher and higher. The blood of the typical sacrifice, which has been hitherto dumb, begins to speak."

THE PURPOSE OF THE DIVINE SATISFACTION (v. 10)

Thirteen times in this song, Isaiah mentions the vicarious substitutionary suffering born for others. This pattern is central to the theme of the Suffering Servant. In the New Testament, the cross of Christ is central. Both Testaments reinforce the master theme of the Bible. Moreover, the Song of the Suffering Servant finds its fulfillment only in the person and work of Jesus Christ as our redeemer.

It is interesting that the history of Jewish interpretation of this passage was centered on the Messianic interpretation until the time of Aben Ezra about 1150 AD. Almost all Christian expositors took the same view as early Jewish expositors until the nineteenth century. Later Jews abandoned the earlier traditional interpretation because of the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this great song of the Suffering Servant. I find no reason to accept modified contemporary Jewish theories and abandon the historical belief that Jesus Christ fulfills this great song.

This magnificent passage in Isaiah is the grandest and most profound revelation of the LORD God in the Old Testament. God has revealed through His prophet centuries ahead of time that salvation will be accomplished through the vicarious sacrifice of His Servant.

But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

It was no accident, and God was not caught by surprise when His Servant was crushed and put to grief. It was Yahweh's eternal plan for redemption of Israel. There was no hostile intent, but only a righteous God dealing with the transgressions of His people. The emphasis Isaiah makes is God did it. It was the LORD's will to "crush" His Servant. The depth of His suffering, as we have seen, has been horrifying.

"The LORD was pleased to crush Him; putting Him to grief" catches us by surprise and shocks the mind until we remember in verse six he wrote, "the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." God is the author. God was in control, not the Jewish religious leaders and the Romans soldiers. They wicked men could accomplish their evil deed only as the sovereign God allowed them. The LORD was in control of both the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

The only adequate answer to the question of why God did it is found in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." God was pleased because His purpose on behalf of sinful man was achieved. Reconciliation with God was accomplished in the bruising of Jesus.

"The LORD" is the emphasis. The Servant was not caught up in evil circumstances. What was the pleasure of the LORD? His purpose in the suffering of His Servant was "the justification of many" (v. 11). God was at work accomplishing His eternal purpose. John R. Sampey observed, "The Servant's death, far from being an accident, was in Jehovah's plan for human redemption."

The expression "the LORD was pleased" is not the idea of some sadistic, demonic mind getting profound joy at inflicting punishment on an innocent person. Reconciliation with sinful man was achieved. He was pleased to accomplish peace in the midst of enmity. It is the pleasure that comes from seeing the matter through and accomplishing reconciliation and the resultant peace.

God was pleased to bruise Him painfully in the crushing, and "putting Him to grief." The results of the crushing is deep sorrow, and plunging into extreme distress.

In verse ten the tenses of the verbs suddenly changes. The prophet now has his eyes set on the future. What has been viewed as accomplished still remains in some sense to be done “when He shall make a trespass offering.” 

The sacrifice is offered up to God, not by God. "Although the Lord does bring about the death of the Servant, He is not the Offerer." The Servant offers Himself as the sacrifice. He is both the Great High Priest and the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the people. In verse twelve the Servant receives the reward for faithful obedience. His whole life of obedience, which reaches the climax in death, is the sacrifice. He was obedient to death, a substitutionary death for the guilty sinner.

Asham is a "guilt offering." It is an expiatory sacrifice because it makes atonement for sins. The very life of the Suffering Servant will be made a vicarious propitiatory sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God.

The sacrifice paid by the soul of the Servant is by submitting to the violent death. It was a self-sacrifice and it signifies: (1) the guilt or debt, (2) the compensation or payment, (3) discharges the guilt or debt and sets the man free.

The Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ, is the end of all the sacrifices because He is the satisfaction of the justice of God. His sacrifice is the climax of all the Old Testament sacrifices in the Hebrew economy because His sacrifice on Calvary is all-sufficient to cover every sin.

Isaiah uses the language and imagery of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Probably in the "guilt offering," or trespass offering, because all the blood was scattered over the altar (Lev. 5:14ff).  Christ is the satisfaction on our behalf to God.

The Servant's torment was in every way the fulfillment of the great plan of God. Nothing was done was by accident. It had been foreshadowed by temple sacrifices for centuries.   

In His own words Jesus said, "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

Moreover, Isaiah says, He dies; yet, He lives! The idea of the resurrection is implicit in the following words of Isaiah.

He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

God is vindicated by each individual who places his trust in the Servant. The Servant is not only vindicated, but satisfied when a guilty sinner comes to Him and received cleansing in His precious blood. He sees His seed, the travail of His soul and is satisfied.

What was God's purpose in the suffering of His Servant? "He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand." He shall prolong His day––eternally. He will die and rise again and He will see the results that He will accomplish. God will bless it eternally. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

"He will see His offspring" because He will rise from the dead. His spiritual seed consists of every individual down through the ages who has believed on Him as their substitute. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves the divine satisfaction of His vicarious substitutionary sacrifice. God saw it and was satisfied.

"He will see His offspring" only because He gave Himself as the expiatory sacrifice for sin. It will be a great multitude that no man can number (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). There can be no seed without redemption having taken place. Without the substitutionary atonement there can be no seed.

The Servant will see His "offspring," literally "seed." That would be impossible if He died and remained dead. But if He should rise from the dead, "He will see His seed." Isaiah says, death will not hold the Servant. As a living person He will see His seed and rejoice in the prosperity of the good pleasure of the LORD.

"He will prolong His days" reminds us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He rose form the dead to enjoy an unending resurrection life. He is "alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18). Jesus said, "I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades" (1:17b-18).

He is the Eternal One, without beginning and end who died as a sacrifice for our transgressions and rose form the dead and now lives forevermore. Because He lives, He has all power and authority over life and death for all eternity.

He will live many years. Longevity for the Jewish people meant God's favor and blessings upon them. God will bless His Servant who will live eternally. It is probably a reflection of other Messianic passages (2 Samuel 7:13, 16; Psalm 89:3-4). Christ is the eternal King on the throne of David (Psalm 132:12).

Isaiah has in view the unending resurrection life of our Lord.

"And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand." It will happen through His "seed" as they go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). The redeemed "will prosper in His hand." There will be spiritual growth and the "seed" will bear fruit.

God's eternal purpose of redemption will be fully accomplished by His divine Servant. "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." When Jesus cried, "It is finished!" God saw it and was satisfied.

The expression "His hand" suggests the mediatorial and high priestly work and exercise of power and authority over the kingdom of God. Only the risen Jesus Christ has such power and authority. The kingdom of God will "prosper in His hand" means it will reach its successful conclusion and accomplish God's goal. He will be satisfied because He will prosper it.

By personal faith many will see His eternal purpose in Christ's suffering and be justified. They will believe on Him and He will declare them righteous in His sight, therefore, God will have accomplished His purpose.

THE PLEASURE IN THE DIVINE SATISFACTION (v. 11)

What exceeding pleasure Christ will have in seeing the results of His sacrifice in the untold multitudes who will respond to Him. God is gathering to Himself a people redeemed by His grace through faith alone in the redemption provided by the suffering Substitute.

As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

God is the speaker, just as in the beginning of the song (52:13).

No person or event down through history can be compared to what the LORD's Servant accomplished. We have witnessed 2,000 years of those benefits worldwide.

What will He see? "The anguish of His soul." He will look back upon that grief and suffering and be satisfied. Well done My good and faithful Son! Redemption has been accomplished.

He will see with "abundant satisfaction" and be fully satisfied at the success of the divine work.

It is unparalleled success. It is a job perfectly done. He will see many coming to salvation and be satisfied. "By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant will justify many as He will bear their iniquities." God can be just and justify the believing sinner. He accomplishes this justification by faith.

Don't miss the vicarious substitutionary atonement that keeps recurring throughout the passage. That is what makes it hard to outline. The themes and subthemes keep reappearing throughout this great symphony of redemption. He has redeemed a great multitude that no man can number through His vicarious suffering and atoning sacrifice from the guilt and power of their sins.

He will see the fruit of His labor and be abundantly satisfied. Revelation chapters four and five tells us of a great multitude gathered through all the ages worshiping the Lamb.

The Servant will see it and be fully satisfied. The divine work will succeed and the outcome of the atoning sacrifice will cause God to be glorified. The writer of Hebrews said, "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As he will bear their iniquities.

"By His knowledge" can be translated "by knowledge of Him," or "by His own knowledge." Either is probably correct. Jesus said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3). The apostle John wrote, "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).

He will know that by bearing their iniquities many will be justified. Knowledge, even His knowledge, does not justify. Only the divine satisfaction of propitiation can do that.

It is the "flawless righteousness" of the Servant that will justify the many. His righteousness makes Him competent to a propitiatory sacrifice.

The Son of God has absolute eternal knowledge and could therefore cause the justification of many. He has the power to declare righteous all that come to Him by faith in His atoning sacrifice for sin.

The justification referred to here is a legal, forensic justification. The Servant bears the iniquities that many may be justified. He pronounces them justified, acquitted (Romans 3:21-25; 5:1, 18, 19).

"As He will bear their iniquities" refers to something that will be done after the completion of the work. Isaiah mentions nothing of the benefits of the Servant's work until after He has died and risen from the dead. However, once he mentions that great fact he tells us the effects on mankind.

It is a great assurance to know that once the Suffering Servant bore our iniquities they can no longer rise up to accuse us any longer. The guilt and payment of those iniquities has been punished once for all.

God is satisfied with the vicarious sacrifice and takes pleasure in it and the results it produces. The action is completed. The verbs relating to the vicarious sacrifice are in the perfect tense, describing the action as finished. There is no more work to be done. The payment has been paid in full. The verb referring to the intercession is in the imperfect tense, portraying the action is incomplete. Our intercessor is before the throne of grace interceding on our behalf. He is always ready to plead our case. We have a great God and Savior who is also our great High Priest.

Because God and His Servant are satisfied the message can now be proclaimed.

THE PROCLAMATION OF THE DIVINE SATISFACTION (v. 12)

Isaiah sees the Servant rising to triumph once again. "My Servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted" Isaiah told us in 52:13. We have now come full circle in the exaltation and extreme humiliation and even greater exaltation of the Servant.

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

The great ones of the earth are going to be brought to Him and do homage to Him.

"I will allow Him a portion with the great" are general terms, and do not refer to specific individuals. Could they be Moses and Elijah with whom Jesus shared His "exodus" on the Mount of transfiguration?

The apostle Paul described this same extreme humiliation and exaltation of the Servant. He wrote:

Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equity with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:6-11).

"He poured out His soul as an offering for sin." Vine observes, "It was a sacrifice offered to God with the effect of clearing the sinner from his guilt." This divine trespass offering satisfied God's justice.

Everything Jesus did depended on His finished work at Calvary. Even His sovereign power as King will depend on that completed work.

"He poured out Himself to death" means to "strip or empty, or pour clean out, even to the very last drop."

The Savior is sovereign. The Servant voluntarily laid bare His soul even to death. No man took His life from Him, but He laid it down of Himself. He has the power to lay it down, and He had the power to take it up again. Cf. John 10:15, 17-18.

The Servant permitted Himself "to be numbered," i.e. to be crucified between two criminals. By permitting Himself to be "numbered with the transgressors", He bore the sins of the many. This is the way our Lord interpreted these words. Jesus said, "For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS CLASSED AMONG CRIMINALS'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment" (Luke 22:37, Old Testament quote in all capitals). Describing the crucifixion of Christ Mark wrote, "And they crucified two robbers with Him, one on the right and one on the left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'and He was reckoned with transgressors'" (Mark 15:27-28). He is referring to Isaiah 53:12.

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

The action in the word "interceded" is incomplete. Verbs referring to the vicarious sacrifice are in the perfect tense. The action is finished.

One of the most incredible things we see taking place at the cross is Jesus praying. Jesus kept on saying, "Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus was interceding for those who were nailing Him to the cross. He was the sin-bearer and He was making intercession for transgressors.

And what is He doing now for us? "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us" (Romans 8:34). Hebrews 9:24 takes up the same note, "For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us . . ." The ground for His intercession is His substitutionary sacrifice for sin. Everything rests upon His death.

It is the priestly work of the Servant that comes into view. He pleads before the throne the merits of His sacrificial atonement as the only grounds of acceptance of the sinner before God. (Cf. Matthew 26:38, 39, 42; Luke 22:37; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 10:12; 8:1; 4:14-16; 12:2; John 10:15, 17-18; Hebrews 9:28; Mark 15:28; 1 Peter 2:24).

We can see that great multitude of people coming before the throne of God, "saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.' And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, 'To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever'" (Revelation 5:12-13). The Lamb in Revelation is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.

All of Jesus' future glory depends upon His death and resurrection:

Jesus Christ is the Suffering Savior, "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14). I love the way C. H. Spurgeon expressed that love and adoration for Him.

I believe that whenever our religion is most vital, it is most full of Christ . . . I can bear witness that whenever I am in deeps of sorrow, nothing will do for me but "Jesus only." I retreat to the innermost citadel of our holy faith, namely, to the very heart of Christ, when my spirit is assailed by temptation, or besieged with sorrow and anguish. What is more, my witness is that whenever I have high spiritual enjoyments, enjoyments rich, rare, celestial, they are always connected with Jesus only, other religious things may give some kind of joy, and joy that is healthy too, but the sublimest, the most inebriating, the most divine of all joys, must be found in Jesus only . . . I find if I want to labor much, I must live on Jesus only; if I desire to suffer patiently, I must feed on Jesus only; if I wish to wrestle with God successfully, I must plead Jesus only; if I aspire to conquer sin, I must use the blood of Jesus only; if I pant to learn the mysteries of heaven, I must seek the teachings of Jesus only. I believe that anything which we add to Christ lowers our position, and that the more elevated our soul becomes, the more nearly like what it is to be when it shall enter into the region of the perfect, the more completely every thing else will sink, die out, and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus only, will be first and last, and midst and without end, the Alpha and Omega of every thought of head and pulse of heart. May it be so with every Christian. (C. H. Spurgeon, Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon of London, Vol. 9 (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., n.d.), pp. 433-4).

Let's conclude our study by reverently paraphrasing this last stanza by substituting the personal pronouns with the name of our blessed Savior. As we do let's bow our hearts before Him and yield our selves to Him whose name is above every name.

But the Lord was pleased
To crush Jesus Christ, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As Jesus will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Jesus Christ a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because Jesus Christ poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet Jesus Christ Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

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Title:  Isaiah 53:10-12 The Divine Satisfaction
Series:  Christ in the Old Testament

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2008. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

Unless otherwise noted “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.

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