‘Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin’

In the Levitical law there were many different words for ‘offering’. Different words were used to describe the various types used for the different needs as they occurred.

The Lord Jesus in His death was the true antitype and each had their fulfilment in Him. He was the great ‘burnt offering’, the true meat offering, and the perfect sin and trespass offering. Indeed, he was the fulfilment of every aspect set forth in this wonderful section of scripture.

We may well ask, then, why Isaiah chapter 53 describes His offering as a trespass offering, v. 10. Two things characterized the trespass offering. Firstly, it required the sacrifice of the ram for an atonement for the wrong done either to God or man. Secondly, it involved the restoration of what was wrongfully taken or omitted to be given, plus a fifth part added to compensate the loss. It was a making good of previous wrongs.

Who could estimate the wrong done to God in the sin of mankind? Who could even guess at the wrong done to man throughout human history? The Lord Jesus was made a trespass offering to make good the whole matter of human guilt. God had full compensation, as it were, and the fifth part tells us how God had far more. Equally, those saved by His blood stand in a place far beyond that known in man’s original state. We do not go back to Eden but on to the heavenly city whose builder and maker is God.

But this phrase is also at the very heart of Calvary, its deepest mystery and its profoundest truth altogether outside our grasp. Without this fact there could be no salvation for any and here is something only God in His infinite love and mercy could accomplish. We must join with this statement the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew chapter 20 verse 28, ‘and to give his life a ransom for many’.

Both these statements speak of something only God could do, a work altogether essential to meet the need of fallen humanity. This work lay outside the province of human ability, a work neither the ablest nor holiest of mere men could accomplish. Man could not atone for his own sin or meet the ransom price for another. Many men have been crucified in the same way but none availed to save another. Many have died trying to help or spare the life of another but none could ransom their souls. It is this fact that makes the Lord’s death on the cross altogether beyond any other. It is this Divine dealing with His soul on behalf of sinners that makes His sorrows, His agony, so intense beyond all others. It is for this cause that believers go back to that scene in worship, awe, reverence, and love, for here were sorrows above all other sorrows, and suffering beyond compare!

In the phrase that is the title of this meditation we have one ‘thou shalt’. In the remainder of the verse, and the verses that follow, there are five ‘he shall’ statements. These five stand in direct consequence of the one ‘thou shalt’.

Without the words that form our meditation the Lord’s death would be nothing more than a martyr’s death, a gross miscarriage of justice by wicked men. But these words tell us otherwise, ‘he hath put him to grief’. It was the hand of a sin-hating God which fell upon Him. It was He who made His soul an offering for sin. Man could not do that, only God could lay sin upon Him, only God could put Him to grief. This is the essential core of redemption, that which Christ endured alone at the hands of a holy God.

However, blessed is the outcome! The fruit of His sorrows come out in resurrection. His seed, His own blood-bought children, placed with Him in eternal glory, justified, and sanctified in His sight. This He will see and be satisfied. Who can tell the wideness of the glory of a reconciled universe which He will see? Who can appreciate how precious to Him, and what joy and satisfaction will be brought to Him, to see those He has purchased with Him eternally?

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