Does Isaiah 53 show a punishing God?

by André Piet
May 24th, 2013

In response to my earlier blog, in which I observed that the Bible nowhere teaches that Jesus, on the cross, endured God's punishment for the sins of mankind, I received a number of comments. They all wondered how I read Isaiah 53? Does verse 5 of that chapter not speak of the chastisement for our peace? And in that same verse, "for our transgressions he was wounded, and for our iniquities he was crushed?" And does verse 6 not say that "the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all"? And in verse 10: "it pleased the LORD to crush him." And in verse 11, "he shall bear their iniquities." Does all of this not prove that Jesus, substitutionally, endured the penalty of sin?

I do not think so and with a few comments, I would like to explain myself (briefly):

#1. Isaiah 53:5 does not speak of God's punishment. Indeed, Jesus bore the punishment… which the people inflicted on Him. The people cried, He is guilty of death and Pilate condemned Him to the death penalty. Yes, Jesus bore the punishment and that punishment brings us peace. By "the blood of the cross," God makes peace and He destroys all enmity.

#2. The Jews despised their Messiah and maltreated Him. Completely against the law, they brought Him to death by the hands of the Romans. Thus He carried their iniquities (53:5,6 and 11). Not the punishment of their iniquities, but their iniquity, itself.

#3. "It pleased the Lord to crush Him" (53:10). How did YAHWEH crush Him? By giving Him up to His enemies, who pierced Him with nails in the hands and feet and crushed Him with a piercing spear in His side (53:5). And why did it please YAHWEH, to do this? Did He have pleasure in what was done to His Son? Did He receive satisfaction from the most terrible crime committed, ever?

On the contrary, but it had to be done to convince every creature of His love that defies all enmity (Col.1:20). Therefore, it pleased YAHWEH.

#4. In Isaiah 53, Israel confesses (prophetically) her Messiah, Whom they had steadfastly denied. They will acknowledge:

"3 Despised is He, and shunned by men, a man of pains and knowing illness. And, as One concealing His face from us, despised is He, and we judge Him of no account. 4 Surely our illnesses has He borne, and our pains–He was burdened with them. Yet we account Him touched, smitten by the Elohim and humbled."

In other words, they thought that the Messiah was defeated and afflicted by God. This was incorrect, because verse 5 continues …

"YET He was wounded because of our transgressions, and crushed because of our depravities. The discipline for our welfare was on Him, and by His welts there is healing for us."

Was Jesus punished and afflicted by God? No, on the contrary! It were their own transgressions whereby He was pierced. It was the punishment that they imposed on Him and the whiplashes where with they beat Him.


Translation: Peter Feddema

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