ISAIAH 53: JESUS IS NOT THE SUFFERING SERVANT – Part 21

Continued from Part 20

ISAIAH 53:10

53:10:  If he would offer himself as a guilt-offering

The suffering servant as a guilt-offering

Following the initial declaration that it was God’s will for the servant to suffer, the verse is written as a conditional statement.  If condition A is satisfied, then the outcome B will occur.  That is, the rewards of verse 10 are contingent on the servant’s willingness to offer himself as anasham, “guilt-offering.”  

In a literal sense the verse says, “If his soul places herself [tasim] as a guilt-offering.”  The herself is referring to the soul (nefesh) of the servant, nefesh being a feminine noun.  Grammatically tasim could be female third person (she will place, set, put) or masculine second person (you will place), but the female fits best since nefesh is a feminine noun.  The verse promises the servant poetically that if his soul is willing to offer itself in the service of God as if it were a guilt-offering he will receive rewards.  Nevertheless, martyrdom is no stranger to the servant community with many coming to the brink of death and others dying for the Sanctification of the Name of God.

As the servant’s rewards follow after the meeting of the conditional requirements it is a further indication that the servant entity as a whole will not die as an actual guilt-offering.

God does not sin and if He lessened Himself to do so He would not be God.  If Jesus was an incarnate part of God he had no free will to sin or choose an evil path.  He had to die and shed his blood for the remission of sin as alleged by the New Testament.  Without the choice provided by free will could Jesus do otherwise than carry out the assignment he was programed to do?  If an incarnate Jesus had gone against the wishes of the Godhead the cosmic plans for salvation described in the New Testament and developed by later Christian theologians and church councils would have crumbled.  In other words, as described in the New Testament, Jesus’ incarnate death was not a free will decision on his part but a pre-programed decision decided upon prior to his assuming a fleshly body.  However, God’s offer is conditional upon a free will acceptance by the servant of his fate here and now on earth.  It is not an offer the personal rewards for which are agreed upon in a previous pre-existence prior to the servant’s birth.

Asham requirements

Can Jesus be a guilt-offering who literally takes upon himself the sins of those who trust in him?  The asham, as all other sacrifices, must be perfect, without spot, and without blemish (Leviticus 22:19-22).  Therefore, the New Testament authors needed to portray Jesus as literally being as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Peter 1:19) who “offered himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14).  Jesus was none of these so the New Testament authors claimed he was unblemished because he was sinless.   This conveniently unverifiable contention is not found in the Jewish Scriptures.  There is no proof that Jesus was sinless, only the claim that he was.  One must address the fact that human sacrifice is abhorrent to God (e.g. Leviticus 18:21, 20:2-5).  Biblical sacrifice is animal specific and is not speaking metaphorically of human self-sacrifice.   There is no support in the Jewish Scriptures for a one-time superlative human sacrifice.   Jesus’ alleged sacrifice is said to have been a literal self-sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26).  But, as a human being, he was unfit for sacrificial purposes and no such sacrificial provision is found in the Jewish Scriptures.

According to Paul, the Torah was in effect until Jesus brought it to an end by his blood shed on the cross (Galatians 3:24-25, Colossians 2:14).  There is no mention in the Jewish Scriptures of a perfect human sacrifice bringing the Law to an end.  In any case, under the criteria established by Paul, Jesus was not a valid sacrifice under the laws of the Torah.   The Torah would be in effect up until the very moment of his death, so his death could not have brought the Torah to an end.  Why?  As a human he would have been an invalid sacrifice to begin with.  Therefore, the effect of Jesus’ death on the sacrificial system would have been zero.  Outside of New Testament claims the reality is that Jesus’ death had no salvific function.

Compare the Torah’s requirements for the sacrificial offering with Jesus as an alleged offering.  The Torah is specific as to the species, age, physical condition, and manner of application of the blood to the altar of the sacrificial animal.   All biblical sacrificial offerings have to be physically unblemished with no cuts or deformities.  But, nothing is said of it being “sinless.”  It is an animal, after all.  As for physical blemishes, Jesus was circumcised and Paul referred to it as mutilation (Philippians 3:2) and castration (Galatians 5:12).   Jesus is also said to have been beaten and whipped prior to his execution (Matthew 27:26, 30; Mark 15:19, John 19:3).  This would also disqualify an offering.

© Gerald Sigal

Continued