We’ve been asking some faithful questions about the popular view of atonement (Penal Substitutionary Atonement, or PSA) that postulates that God killed Jesus in order to forgive us. The main verse advocates use for this view is Isaiah 53:10.
We will get to PSA’s proof-text in due course, but we’re still covering some vital background to understanding this prophecy.
It also occurred to me that you might still be wondering why this is relevant on a blog about sonship and living in the Father’s embrace. It’s for exactly THAT reason!
In my view, any theory that teaches that God the Father killed Jesus is utterly repugnant, morally unjust, and creates a convoluted and conflicted view of the Trinity by turning the Father against the Son. Not to mention, this scripturally contradicts everything Jesus taught us about His Father. I will talk more about all this later in this series.
I also believe that the PSA view of a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Father has done more to undermine our relationship with Him than just about anything else we’ve ever hypothesized about God. After all, who wants to be intimate with someone with such extreme anger issues that He can’t even forgive unless He murders an innocent victim—namely, His own beloved Son! Do we really think this is what the Old Testament taught us about God? What Jesus taught us? But I digress…
In this installment, I want us to see whose perspective is being given in Isaiah 53. In other words, is this prophecy written from God’s perspective (theocentric) or man’s perspective (anthropocentric)? I discussed why this is important to properly understanding Scripture in the introduction. Let me give you one biblical example here that’s relevant to this topic.
For example, one lonely verse (actually, only half of a verse!) is often cited for why God cannot look at sin. It’s found in the first half of Habakkuk 1:13:
You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness. (Hab.1:13a NKJV)
I hear this quoted over and over by preachers who say that God cannot even look at sin, so He had to abandon Jesus at the cross, as if this were actually true! But let’s read the rest of the verse (bold-text added):
Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he? (Hab.1:13b NKJV)
Habakkuk’s sentiment in verse 13 was a repeat from his lament earlier in verse 3 (bold-text added):
“Why do you make me see wrongdoing?
And why do you watch wickedness?” (Hab.1:3 GWT)
WHO has the problem with “beholding evil” here? God? No! Habakkuk! I mean, come on…do we really think our God is so small that He can’t look at evil? What was Jesus doing then? Yet, He has been misrepresented this way for centuries, even by highly-educated people, as if it were the gospel truth. I made a more thorough case on this point in my post, “God cannot look at sin…really???” My point here is that this half-verse proof-text has been misinterpreted, taken out of context, and made into a doctrine that everybody repeats without question, all because of confusion over whose perspective is being given here.
With these things in mind, we can now turn our attention back to Isaiah 53. Whose perspective is being given in this prophecy? Is it God’s or man’s? For the most part, I see this prophecy as anthropocentric. I will highlight some words from verse 2-4 to show that this is the case:
And when WE see Him,
There is no beauty that WE should desire Him. (Isa.53:2b)
He is despised and rejected BY MEN,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And WE hid, as it were, OUR faces from Him;
He was despised, and WE did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet WE esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isa.53:3-4)
I will ask some questions from this that should be very easy to answer. Whose perspective is this? Who are the ones hiding from Jesus? Who are the ones who have turned their face away from Him? Who are the ones who have interpreted this as God punishing Jesus? It can only be us. This is an account from man’s perspective, not God’s.
One more thing while we’re here. In Jesus’ day (as well as Job’s day), bad things happening to people were always interpreted as punishment from God (Not much has changed today!) But Jesus rebuked them for this faulty understanding in Luke 13:1-5.
Now, we are ready to look at Isaiah 53:10. Next time.