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Andrew Bonar: Leviticus, Covenantal Premillennialism, and Ezekiel

April 3, 2017 1 comment

As part of the 2017 Challies Reading Challenge, for the commentary I’m currently reading Andrew Bonar’s classic and highly-recommended commentary on Leviticus (1846).  I’m a little over halfway through, and greatly appreciate it, as a verse by verse, chapter by chapter commentary that is straightforward reading for the layperson, with many good devotional thoughts.

I have read other works by Andrew Bonar, including his Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms, and (earlier this year) his biography of Robert Murray McCheyne, which I especially enjoyed.  I like reading his perspective as a covenantal premillennialist, a view not often seen today, due to the over-reaction by many Reformed against the errors of dispensationalism–to the point of rejecting even what has historically been affirmed by Reformed / covenantal theologians.  For Bonar, in the Reformed tradition, saw the unity of scripture (Old and New Testament), and noted in Leviticus many types (figures, allegories) of Christ—yet also affirmed what the scriptures say regarding Israel’s future and how the scriptures describe the future millennial age.

Here, from Bonar’s commentary – published in 1846, years before dispensationalism had taken hold of much of evangelical Christianity – come some interesting thoughts regarding Leviticus and the last chapters of Ezekiel, regarding the future millennial temple.  He notes (as did the later dispensational writers) the differences in this temple as compared to the previous tabernacle and temple, and relates the types and shadows of Leviticus to their educational, instructional purpose:

Is it not possible that some such end as this may be answered by the temple which Ezekiel foretells as yet to be built (chap. Xl., &c.)  Believing nations may frequent that temple in order to get understanding in these types and shadows.  They may go up to the mountain of the Lord’s house, to be there taught his ways (Isaiah 2:3).  In that temple they may learn how not one tittle of the law has failed.  … Indeed, the very fact that the order of arrangement in Ezekiel entirely differs from the order observed in either tabernacle or temple, and that the edifice itself is reared on a plan varying from every former sanctuary, is sufficient to suggest the idea that it is meant to cast light on former types and shadows.  … As it is said of the rigid features of a marble statue, that they may be made to move and vary their expression so as even to smile, when a skillful hand knows how to move a bright light before it; so may it be with these apparently lifeless figures, in the light of that bright millennial day.  At all events, it is probably then that this much-neglected book of Leviticus shall be fully appreciated.  Israel—the good olive-tree—shall again yield its fatness to the nations round (Romans 11:17).  Their ancient ritual may then be more fully understood, and blessed truth found beaming forth from long obscurity.”

The commentary itself includes many references to New Testament passages as well as the Psalms, to give a complete picture of the Levitical worship and what various texts in Leviticus symbolized or paralleled elsewhere.  As for instance, the concluding remarks on Leviticus 1 relate the sacrifices found here to the original sacrifices and features of Eden, explaining these details of God’s progressive revelation from earlier to later Old Testament revelation:

Let us briefly notice that the rudimental sketch of these offerings, and the mode of their presentation, will be found at the gate of Eden.  …  Just as we believe the Hiddekel and Euphrates of Genesis 2 are the same as the Hiddekel and Euphrates of later history; and the cherubim of Genesis 3 the same as those in the tabernacle; and the “sweet savour” of Genesis 8:21 the same as that in Leviticus 1:9 and Ephesians 5:2; so do we regard the intention of sacrifice as always the same throughout Scripture.

In Mosaic rites, the telescope was drawn out farther than at Eden, and the focus at which the ground object could be best seen was more nearly found.  But the gate of Eden presents us with the same truths in a more rudimental form.

… opposite to this sword [at the gate of Eden], at some distance, we see an altar where our first parents shed the blood of sacrifice—showing in type how the barred-up way of access to the Tree of Life was to be opened by the blood of the woman’s bruised seed.  …when we find clean and unclean noticed (Gen. 8:20), and in Abraham’s case (Genesis 15:9,10), the heifer and goat, the turtle and the pigeon, and also “commandments, statutes, and laws” (parallel to Lev. 26:46), we cannot but believe that these fuller institutions in Leviticus are just the expansion of what Adam first received.  The Levitical dispensation is the acorn of Eden grown to a full oak.  If so, then may we say, that the child Jesus, wrapped in his swaddling-clothes, was, in these ceremonies, laid down at the gate of Eden!

Sundry Laws: James White on Leviticus 19

December 26, 2016 1 comment

Continuing in James White’s Holiness Code series, the following three messages look at Leviticus 19:

Many misconceptions have abounded regarding this chapter.  Some have taken a superficial look at what seem to be miscellaneous or “sundry” laws, all thrown together, and treat this chapter as a justification for claiming that the Mosaic law was “all one law,” with no distinction between moral, civil and ceremonial aspects.  The general idea that the Mosaic law, and especially Leviticus 19, was “only for the Jews,” persists with many evangelicals, who have discarded this portion of God’s word as completely irrelevant to Christians today.

Then, especially ironic, are the unbelievers who quip that we should put aside all those antiquated, “iron age morality” ideas, and just love our neighbor as ourselves; they who object to the words against homosexuality, found in Leviticus 18 and 20, are completely unaware that the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is also found here – sandwiched in between those two chapters, here in Leviticus 19.  Leviticus 19 also answers the modern evangelical idea that in the Old Testament age everything with Israel was all about externals only, nothing about their heart motive (the erroneous NCT idea that Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” was something completely new and unknown before that point:  verse 17 says “you shall not hate your brother in your heart.”

White instead approaches Leviticus 19 from the perspective of Israel as the covenant people of God; how should the people of God live?  Similar to handling the book of Proverbs, we look at the context – which in this case is not necessarily the immediate verses around it, but the same idea expressed elsewhere in God’s word—in this case, similar passages in Deuteronomy.  The context includes also the actual practices of the pagans surrounding Israel, and also, especially, the moral precept behind the laws, which pertain to our relationship to our neighbor as well as or our relationship to God (such as verses 26-31, in reference to idolatry – the negative commands as well as the positive in verse 30).

What about verse 19, the laws forbidding the breeding of different kinds of cattle, the sowing of different kinds of seed, or garments of different materials?  Some of the laws were not in themselves moral, but had the purpose of keeping God’s people separate from the rest of the world.  These laws emphasized separateness, dedication and purity (not mixing, no division, in regards to your cattle, seed, and garments).  Another interesting feature, seen in these laws, is that to be in covenant relationship with God meant a disadvantage, in the world’s economy, compared to other people.  The laws regarding cattle, seed, and garments, brought a disadvantage compared to the worldings – as did laws in this chapter that curbed greed and provided for the poor (harvesting, gleaning the fields, verses 9-10) .  Unregenerate Israelites would chafe under the restrictions, but the true, regenerate believer in relationship with God (and such did exist in the Old Covenant era; mankind have always been saved by faith, some Israelites were regenerate believers) would be willing to accept these disadvantages, trusting that God will take care of us and He is first in our lives.

James White’s “The Holiness Code for Today” is a very interesting and edifying series, one that looks at texts generally ignored and not taught in sermons or Bible teaching.  Later lessons in this series look at Leviticus 20, chapters in Deuteronomy, and will address the issue of slavery in the Bible, noting the differences between Hebrew slavery, Roman slavery, and our own, much later history, American Slavery.

Apologetics and the Law: James White’s “Holiness Code For Today”

December 14, 2016 1 comment

A few weeks ago a friend linked a great response of James White to the “West Wing” Bible Lesson, a sharp and witty response to an atheist’s ridicule of Christianity in reference to the Mosaic code. James White here responded to one of several such sarcastic remarks that originated several years ago in a letter from an atheist to Dr. Laura, this particular one: “My neighbor was working today (sabbath) so I murdered him. This is correct?”

Excerpted from the West Wing program that featured this same content:

“I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?”

“While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it OK to call the police?”

… “Here’s one that’s really important, ‘cause we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

“Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side?

“Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

From the comments at the James White note (above) I learned of a full series that James White did on this very issue, “The Holiness Code For Today,” begun in 2014 and recently completed (August 2016), preached at Phoenix Reformed Baptists for both Sunday morning and evening sessions. The full series of 38 lectures is available here.

I’m now about ¼ of the way through this series, in lesson 10 of a great series that approaches the “holiness code” (generally seen as Leviticus 17 through the end of the book) from an apologetics perspective, equipping Christians with serious, thoughtful responses to the secular unbelieving world.  The introductory lectures set the tone and the background, acknowledging our increasingly secular world and hostile unbelievers who mock by asking tough questions — and the truth, the right response to such challenges.  As White mentioned, googling “holiness code Leviticus” or “iron age morality” will indeed bring up some rather interesting anti-Christian web pages.  This portion of scripture especially deals with the evil and abomination of homosexuality, and this series responds to the common objections of those in our day who would try to deny or twist these texts into something that no longer applies to us in our age.

The introductory messages provide the overall setting and perspective regarding the holiness code and the real problem that unbelievers have.  As White well said in this lessonNo one will ever hear or honor the law of God, who hates the God of the law. No one will ever honor or hear or bow to the law of God, who hates the God of the law, and that’s the real issue.

Among the highlights: the importance of looking at the historical context, of Israel surrounded by pagan religions and practices, a nation in stark contrast to the standards of its neighbors; whereas our society today cannot fully appreciate this, from a time reference of a post-Christian culture, a society that has enjoyed the common grace benefits of the Judeo-Christian worldview – a society that is, sadly, quickly heading back to paganism.  Also, we must not look at these laws, the ones given to Israel in the Leviticus holiness code, from a pragmatic view, of trying to determine “why” He did so, “the real reason” for each particular law.  A common example of this is the modern “explanation” as to why the Israelites were forbidden to eat pork, trying to rationalize it due to supposed modern discoveries of science.  Instead, our starting point should be, that these laws were commanded by God; God forbid these things, and we may never discover the reason why.

In response to those who think that the Mosaic law in its entirety was “only for the Jews” and a part of “iron age morality” no longer applicable:

First, as noted in these chapters, the Canaanites were judged by God, were spewed out – the land itself said to vomit them out for their abominable practices.  They did not have the Mosaic law, nor any prophets sent to them, yet they were still held accountable and judged, based on the light they had; reference Romans 2.

Secondly, it is true that these sexual behaviors, including homosexuality, were a part of the religious rituals of the Canaanites.  That does not mean, though, that the underlying idea is in itself okay; people cannot reason that, because the Canaanites were doing such things in their religious practices, thus homosexuality in a different context is okay, in a “loving, monogamous (homosexual) relationship.”  Leviticus 18 simply states the abomination itself:  a man lying with another man.  Leviticus 18 says nothing that would restrict the meaning to only those religious ceremonies.

White also references the various scriptures and usages of the Hebrew word for abomination – pronounced as “Toe-ay-Vo” (I have no idea of the spelling in Hebrew letters).  The first occurrence is found in Genesis 43 (Hebrews were loathsome to the Egyptians), but the second and third are found in Leviticus 18 and 20.  Other uses throughout the Old Testament, including several places in Isaiah, include the abominable idolatry of the Israelites. Throughout, the meaning of the word is clear, of something detestable; none of us would want to be considered as such, before God.  The early church used the Greek Septuagint, and in the New Testament we find that Paul uses (in 1 Corinthians 6) the same Greek word for abomination, as what is found in the Septuagint in Leviticus 18.

All the above and so much more is available in just the first ten lessons of this series.  The upcoming lessons consider the distinctions of law (moral, civil and ceremonial) and deal with the specific content of Leviticus 18-21 as well as a few passages in Deuteronomy.  I find this series edifying, a topic that is especially helpful to study in our day and age, and I look forward to listening to the rest of the series.

Charles Spurgeon: Sermon Application of Leviticus 11

November 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Charles Spurgeon’s textual preaching style brought forth some rather interesting — and sometimes unusual — ideas that appear quite different from the result of expository (“verse by verse”) preaching of the actual text. And in some cases I agree with Spurgeon’s sermon points while thinking he could have preached from a better, more direct, text. Still Spurgeon often brings out interesting items for consideration.  This weekend’s Spurgeon reading, number 499  (from spring 1863) dealt with an Old Testament Jewish law text: Leviticus 11:2-3, about clean and unclean animals.

Regarding the basic understanding, that the Jewish laws were especially meant to keep them separate from other people, as a unique people to God – and by application, a call for us to come out and be separate from the world, a wonderful summary from Spurgeon:

When the Jews were put away as the people of God for a time, then the Gentiles were grafted into their olive branch, and though we did not inherit the ceremonies, we did inherit all the privileges to which those ceremonies point. Thus all of you who name the name of Christ, and are truly what you profess to be, are solemnly bound to be forever separated from the world. Not that you are to leave off your daily dealings with men. Our Savior did not do so. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, yet, you know, He was always in the company of sinners, sitting at their table, seeking their good, and hunting after their souls. He was with them, but He was never of them. He was among them, but always distinct and separate from them—not conforming Himself to them, but transforming them to Himself!

Spurgeon expands beyond this with another interesting point about the Jewish man’s experience of life and the law, with an idea he notes is from Bonar (probably either Andrew or Horatius Bonar):

An Oriental Jew, sensible and intelligent, walks out in the fields. He walks along close by the side of the high road, and what should he see but a string of camels going along? “Ah,” he says to himself, “those are unclean animals.” Sin, you see, is brought at once before his mind’s eye. He turns away from the road, and walks down one of his own fields, and as he goes along a hare starts across his path. “Ah,” says he, “an unclean animal again. There is sin in my path.” He gets into a more retired place; he walks on the mountains; surely he shall be alone there. But he sees a Coney burrowing among the rocks—“Ah,” he says, “unclean. There is sin there!” He lifts his eye up to Heaven—he sees the osprey, the bald eagle, flying along through the air, and he says, “Ah, there is an emblem of sin there!” A dragonfly has just flitted by him—there is sin there. There are insects among the flowers; now every creeping thing and every insect, except the locust, was unclean to the Jew. Everywhere he would come in contact with some creature that would render him ceremonially unclean, and it were impossible for him, unless he were brutish, to remain even for ten minutes abroad without being reminded that this world, however beautiful it is, still has sin in it!

Additional ideas from this text: an analogy of how the animal “chewing the cud” is like our inward life of meditating upon God’s word; and the animal having a parted/divided hoof as like our Christian walk, our outward behavior. Just as the clean animals for the Jews must have both parts, so a true Christian must have both the inward life with God AND the outward walk:

You cannot tell a man by either of these tests alone—you must have them both. But while you use them upon others, apply them to yourselves! What do you feed on? What is your habit of life? Do you chew the cud by meditation? When your soul feeds on the flesh and blood of Christ, have you learned that His flesh is meat, indeed, and that His blood is drink, indeed? If so it is well. And what about your life? Are your conversation, and your daily walk according to the description which is given in the Word of believers in Christ? If not, the first test will not stand alone! You may profess the faith with in, but if you do not walk aright without, you belong to the unclean. On the other hand, you may walk aright without, but unless there is the chewing of the cud within, unless there is a real feeding upon the precious Truths of God in the heart, all the right walking in the world will not prove you to be a Christian! That holiness which is only outward in moral, and not Spiritual, does not save the soul! That religion, on the other hand, which is only inward is but fancy—it cannot save the soul, either. But the two together—the inward parts made capable of knowing the lusciousness, the sweetness, the fatness of Christ’s Truth, and the outward parts conformed to Christ’s image and Character—these conjoined point out the true and clean Christian with whom it is blessed to associate here, and for whom a better portion is prepared hereafter!

What the Bible Really Does Say… About Slavery

May 30, 2012 4 comments

Reflecting on a recent Dr. Reluctant article, What the Bible Really Really Says, I came across yet another example of the issue addressed here, in a Cripplegate post.  Henebury’s article addresses the issue of understanding literal interpretation versus what some believers say a text means, contrasting the liberal unbelieving scholars who fully recognize what the Bible has to say about a particular doctrine — they are honest at least, recognizing that the Bible is clear on the point, only they choose to reject that truth — versus evangelicals who try to deny or twist the meaning, such as those who say they believe Genesis but it’s just poetry.  As pointed out, this principle applies for everything the Bible has something to say about, whether the truth about homosexuality (the first example here cited) or biblical creation, but so many other topics as well.

The Cripplegate post, Slavery, gay marriage, and hypocrisy in the black church, is primarily addressing the secular media’s twisted logic concerning homosexuality and African American slavery.  Overall the writer makes some good points, but fails at one important point.  His second reason given for “why a literal reading of the Bible actually condemns the institution of American slavery” does not agree with what the Bible actually says.  From the Cripplegate post:

2) Slavery in Old Testament times was fundamentally different than American slavery. It was an institution of mercy, which people entered voluntarily, for the purpose of providing for their families. It was not based on the kidnapping, sale, and ownership of individuals. Slaves were released every six years (Exodus 21:2). There is no concept of perpetual slavery in the Bible.

The article referred only to the slavery of fellow Israelites.  Notice the last line, “There is no concept of perpetual slavery in the Bible.”  But what about Leviticus 25:44-46?

As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

When this was brought up in the comments, the author responded that even these slaves were redeemed in the Year of Jubilee.  But that’s not what the text says.  The later comments illustrate very well the point of Henebury’s article above:  a non-Christian commenter, Sarah, also challenged the author several times, pointing out that indeed the Old Testament did allow the Israelites to have permanent slaves from among those of other nations.  The interaction is quite interesting, showing the author’s continued denial of that fact, while Sarah brought up various texts and reference to the commentaries on this point, regarding such passages as Leviticus 25:44-46, Deuteronomy 23:15 (refers to slaves that run away from non-Israelites to an Israelite), and Deuteronomy 20:10-15.  As an unbeliever, she of course could not reconcile what the Bible says regarding slavery: since slavery is morally wrong, therefore the Bible is not the ultimate source of authority on the matter.  The discussion did address Sarah’s errors concerning what the Bible has to say about homosexuals then and now, but since the writer maintained that the Old Testament did not really have permanent, “real” slaves and slavery, his responses failed to satisfy.  And rightly so.  Excerpts from Sarah’s comments:

This is the part that I’m not sure is true: “The key difference between American slavery and the distinctions in OT Israel is this: slaves entered OT slavery voluntarily. They were not kidnapped. They were purchased, but the money went to the slave, not to some slave trader.” Leviticus 25 says that Israelites can become indentured servants, and that people from the nations around them can become slaves for life as “inherited property” (Leviticus 25:44). … Rules protecting the slave DO condone slavery, because the rules could have just as easily been, “Don’t have slaves. Don’t let parents sell their children into indefinite slavery.” Instead, there are guidelines for properly treating a slave, which is nice except that people are not property. … Israelites could not “kidnap,” but they could purchase male and female slaves from the surrounding nations and they would become “property.”  … A person is not property.  The Bible describes people as property.  This is the single, undeniable fact (again, see Lev 25:45, Exodus 21:21) that makes people VERY uncomfortable about the use of the Bible to construct US law, especially because our country has a history of using the Bible to justify completely wrong acts. … We may be straying from your original point here; I don’t believe in the Bible as the literal word of God, so it’s every letter doesn’t matter to me as much as the overall ideas and themes expressed throughout it.  But I think that you do believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God, completely true and not open for “interpretation.”  And that’s where we find a problem, because some of those who owned slaves in the past fully, 100% believed that they were biblically justified.

The biblical texts are clear enough on the point, and a look through several online commentaries, both classic ones (such as John Gill and Matthew Henry) as well as recent ones, shows complete agreement with the meaning of Leviticus 25:44-46.  All of them note that the 50-year Jubilee event applied only to Israelite slaves.  Leviticus 25:47-55 makes it clear that the 50 year release in the Jubilee and right of redemption was only for Israelites who had sold themselves into slavery to Gentile owners.   The reason comes out in verse 55: the people of Israel are servants (or slaves) to God.  As much as we may dislike it, in the Old Testament era the people of Israel had a special relationship to God, that the other nations did not then enjoy.

(v. 47) “If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, 48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. … 54 And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee. 55 For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants.

An excerpt from Matthew Henry:  It intimates that none shall have the benefit of the gospel jubilee but those only that are Israelites indeed, and the children of Abraham by faith: as for those that continue heathenish, they continue bondmen. See this turned upon the unbelieving Jews themselves, Gal. 4:25, where Jerusalem, when she had rejected Christ, is said to be in bondage with her children. Let me only add here that, though they are not forbidden to rule their bondmen with rigour, yet the Jewish doctors say, “It is the property of mercy, and way of wisdom, that a man should be compassionate, and not make his yoke heavy upon any servant that he has.’’

A more recent commentary, Thomas Constable’s online work, provides a more in-depth answer to the issue of slavery in Leviticus 25:

God permitted the Israelites to own slaves from other nations (vv. 44-46). That they were not to mistreat them goes without saying. Slavery in itself, as the Mosaic Law regulated it, did not violate basic human rights, but the abuse of slaves did.

“In the first place, for one people or person to enslave another is, by that very act, to claim the other as one’s own; it is in a fundamental sense to claim another’s life as belonging to oneself. Such a claim, however, flies in the face of the biblical story that we have heard thus far. If the creation narratives of Genesis tell us anything, they tell us that the sovereign source and lord of life is God—and God alone. It is in just that sense that to God—and God alone—all life, ‘the work of his hands,’ ultimately rightly belongs. Therefore, from the standpoint of these biblical narratives, anyone besides God laying such ultimate claims to another’s life would in effect be arrogating to oneself another’s prerogatives. In essence, such a one would be making the most presumptuous claim any human being could make—the claim to be God.”

Israelites could also buy back (redeem) their countrymen who had sold themselves as slaves to non-Israelites who were living in the land (vv. 47-55). An Israelite slave could also buy his own freedom. In these cases the Israelites were to calculate the cost of redemption in view of the approaching year of jubilee when all slaves in the land went free anyway.

“The jubilee release does not apply to foreign slaves (vv. 44-46). A theological reason underlies this discrimination: God redeemed his people from Egyptian slavery, to become his slaves (vv. 42, 55). It is unfitting, therefore, that an Israelite should be resold into slavery, especially to a foreigner (cf. Rom. 6:15-22; Gal. 4:8-9; 5:1). The jubilee law is thus a guarantee that no Israelite will be reduced to that status again, and it is a celebration of the great redemption when God brought Israel out of Egypt, so that he might be their God and they should be his people (vv. 38, 42, 55; cf. Exod. 19:4-6).”74Wenham, The Book . . ., pp. 322-23.
. . .

c. Foreign slaves among the Jews did not have the same rights as Hebrew slaves sold into servitude because of debt; they could be held as slaves for life, though they had to be treated humanely (Exodus 20:8-11; 21:20-21).

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

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

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.