Home > Bible Study, Isaiah, S. Lewis Johnson > Isaiah 53: The Five Stanzas, and the Five Offerings of Leviticus

Isaiah 53: The Five Stanzas, and the Five Offerings of Leviticus

With Isaiah 52:13 -53:12 the S. Lewis Johnson Isaiah series reaches a high point in Biblical prophecy: the most quoted and referenced passage from OT prophecy, in the New Testament.  This is a well-known text, and yet even here I learned many interesting things from the SLJ Isaiah series.

This passage consists of 5 strophes, or stanzas — 5 facets of the saving work of Jesus Christ.  Each set contains three verses, and the verses increase in length as we go through all five.  The first words of each of the stanzas sets the theme for the verses that follow.

  • Isaiah 52:13-15 — The Suffering Messiah, Successful:  “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.”
  • Isaiah 53:1-3 — The Suffering Messiah, Misunderstood:  “Who has believed what he has heard from us?”
  • Isaiah 53:4-6 — The Suffering Messiah, Substitutionary  (or, A Substitute):  “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”
  • Isaiah 53:7-9 –The Suffering Messiah, Submissive:  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,”
  • Isaiah 53:10-12 —  The Suffering Messiah, Foreordained (or Planned, or Purposed):  “it pleased the Lord to bruise/crush Him”

These five stanzas also show similarity to the five Old Testament offerings as described in Leviticus 1 – 5.

  • The Burnt Offering (Leviticus 1):  this offering illustrates the one who is whole-hearted to do the will of God.  Here in Isaiah 52:13-15 we see the will of God: Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and cession
  • The Meal Offering (Leviticus 2):  the meal offering represents, in the fine flour, the perfect humanity and character of Jesus Christ.  Great Christian men of our history, such as Luther and Calvin, were not as fine flour, but had their faults, their coarseness.  Jesus is a “man of sorrows,” the fine flour.
  • The Peace Offering (Leviticus 3):  In Isaiah 53, the substitute is smited — a violent striking.  The peace offering represents an atonement that issues in peace.  Isaiah 53: “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
  • The Sin Offering (Leviticus 4):  In the sin offering, the transgression of Israel was covered.  Part of the animal burned, but the body taken outside the camp and destroyed.  Jesus was the sin offering, executed outside the city.
  • The Trespass (Guilt) Offering (Leviticus 5):  In Isaiah 53:10 “when his soul makes an offering for guilt,” the same Hebrew word for guilt is used here, as the Hebrew word for the guilt offering in Leviticus.


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