Isaiah 53: The Lamb of God

by Britt Gillette


More than 2,500 years ago, God revealed the greatest message in history to the Hebrew prophet Isaiah.  In chapter 53 of the book that bears his name, Isaiah unveils God's message of salvation to the world, and in so doing, he reveals the identity of the Messiah--the Lamb of God who would lay down His life as an offering for the world's sins.

Because of the Lamb, a multitude throughout the ages will be counted as righteous. They will be clothed in white robes and stand before the throne of God without fault. They will experience fellowship with God and spend eternity in His peace.  Because of the fulfilled prophecy of Isaiah 53, a human race that once lived in darkness can now move forward with hope:

Isaiah 53

"Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground.  There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.  He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried. It was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.

"He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins—that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.

"But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners" (Isaiah 53:1-12, NLT).

The Lamb's Identity

Although many claim this passage is yet to be fulfilled prophecy, history records that every iota of Isaiah 53 was fulfilled in the life of one man, a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. The Gospels testify to the life of Jesus Christ, providing the world with ample evidence of His identity as the Lamb of God. For anyone who is skeptical or hasn't had the good fortune to examine the historical record, Isaiah 53 contains multiple prophecies about the life and times of the Messiah—each one fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. Here are just a few of those prophecies, followed by a corresponding verse (or verses) from the New Testament that confirms fulfillment in the life of Jesus:

Buried in a Rich Man's Grave

"He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave"(Isaiah 53:9, NLT).

 "Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled the great stone across the entrance as he left"(Matthew 27:59-60, NLT).

Silent before His Accusers

"He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7, NLT).

"Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Well, aren't you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?' But Jesus remained silent"(Matthew 26:62-63, NLT).

Despised and Rejected

"He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care"(Isaiah 53:3, NLT).

"And Pilate said to the people, ‘Here is your king!' ‘Away with him,' they yelled. ‘Away with him--crucify him!' ‘What? Crucify your king?' Pilate asked. ‘We have no king but Caesar,' the leading priests shouted back" (John 19:14-15, NLT).

Bore the Sins of the Mankind

"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!"(Isaiah 53:4, NLT).

"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus"(Romans 3:23-26, NLT).

Led from Prison and Trial to Death

"From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins—that he was suffering their punishment?" (Isaiah 53:8, NLT).

"But the crowd shouted louder and louder for Jesus' death, and their voices prevailed. So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he delivered Jesus over to them to do as they wished"(Luke 23:23-25, NLT).

"Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him" (Luke 23:32, NLT).

Wounded and Crushed for Our Sins

"But He was wounded and crushed for our sins"(Isaiah 53:5, NLT).

"Then they nailed him to the cross"(Mark 15:24, NLT).

"For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault"(1 Colossians 1:19-22, NLT).

Beaten that We May Have Peace

"He was beaten that we might have peace"(Isaiah 53:5, NLT).

"And they beat him on the head with a stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship" (Mark 15:19, NLT).

Whipped So We Are Healed

"He was whipped, and we were healed!" (Isaiah 53:5, NLT).

"He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him"(Matthew 27:26, NLT).

The Coming Glory of Christ

The last verses of Isaiah 53 continue to describe the life of Jesus Christ:

"But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners" (Isaiah 53:10-12, NLT).

These verses continue to be fulfilled in our day and in the times to come. The heirs of Jesus Christ—a multitude too numerous to count—are still being gained to this day, with new names being added to His family on a daily basis. And although Christians honor Jesus as one "who is mighty and great," the world continues to despise and reject Him. Nevertheless, the day will soon come when this world will honor Jesus Christ in all His glory.

Revelation chapter 5 transports us to the beginning of this new era:

"And I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and unroll it?' But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.

"Then I wept because no one could be found who was worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has conquered. He is worthy to open the scroll and break its seven seals.'

"I looked and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God that are sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And as he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense—the prayers of God's people!

"And they sang a new song with these words:

 
"‘You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become God's kingdom and his priests. And they will reign on the earth.'

"Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a might chorus:

"‘The Lamb is worthy—the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.'

"And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang:

 "‘Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.'

"And the four living beings said, ‘Amen!'  And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb" (Revelation 5:1-14, NLT).

This passage describes an actual event that will take place in Heaven following the Rapture, and just prior to the Tribulation period which begins with the breaking of the first seal. Those who have loved Christ throughout the ages up until the time of the Rapture will be present for this awesome event, and they will participate in singing the praises of the Lamb on the day He takes possession of the scroll.

The scroll represents the title deed of the earth, giving its owner possession of everything that is, was, or will be on it or in it since the first day of God's creation. The opening of the scroll indicates the beginning of Jesus taking possession of the earth in preparation for His millennial kingdom.

Be Comforted

In Revelation 5:4, John weeps because no one can be found who is worthy to open the scroll. If the scroll cannot be opened, then there is no hope for this fallen world. Yet John is soon comforted by one of the twenty-four elders who points out that the Lion of Judah, the heir to David's throne, is worthy to open the scroll. In verse six, we learn He is also "a Lamb that had been killed"—the same Lamb of God from Isaiah 53.

We can be comforted because the Lamb is worthy, for He was killed, and His blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. The sins of humanity will soon give way to Christ's eternal reign, and the words of the prophets will soon be fulfilled.

Jesus revealed to us this peace, which we attain through trust in Him, during His earthly ministry:

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world"(John 16:33, NLT).

 All Will Acknowledge His Glory

As those who love Christ, we can also take comfort in the knowledge that very soon every living creature will acknowledge His glory. After carrying the burden of our sins, and after being mocked, despised, ridiculed, and hated, Jesus Christ will get His just due. He will receive everlasting honor and glory and power, and He will be acknowledged by everyone.

As Revelation 5:13 states, every creature in Heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea will attest to the glory of Christ!

Paul comforts us by reminding us of this coming day in his letter to the Philippians:

"Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11, NLT).

 Conclusion

Hundreds of years before Jesus came into this world in human form, the prophet Isaiah revealed a plan by God to make one man's life an offering for sin. The prophecies of Isaiah 53 were fulfilled in the life, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

The story of the life of Jesus Christ has become so familiar throughout the ages that our world seems to have forgotten just how astounding the prophecies of Isaiah 53 are. They are now viewed more like a historical account rather than what they really are: amazing prophecies of God fulfilled for the benefit of all mankind. Isaiah 53 is an indisputable witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

 For now, most of the world continues to ignore this. But the day is soon coming when this world will fully acknowledge the power of God's Word. Just as the prophecies of Isaiah 53 were fulfilled to the very letter, the prophecies of Revelation 5 will also be fulfilled. And, oh, what a glorious day that will be!

For in that day, the evils of this world will pass away, and "every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!"

Britt Gillette is the author of Signs of the Second Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime and Coming to Jesus: One Man’s Search for Truth and Life Purpose. He’s also the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy.