By Christina M Wilson
The Fourth Servant Song Septuagint: Journal 2.53 discusses the Septuagint report of Isaiah 53:10-12.
Content: Part Seven
10 The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If you can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed: 11 the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to show him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins. 12 Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:10-12 LXE)
Summary of the Plot
Although the details of the Greek, and even the Hebrew, are uncertain here, the overall thrust of the passage is clear. Here is what we know:
- The Servant is innocent and righteous before God (Isaiah 53:4-9).
- The Servant died as a sacrifice for the sins of others (Isaiah 53:4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12 and LXE).
- The Lord receives with satisfaction offering for sin. Life is given to those who make such offering (verse 10).
- Like a passive sheep and silent lamb, the Servant allows himself to be such an offering (verse 7).
- God is delighted to reward his Servant (verses 10-12).
PART ONE: REWARD FOR GOD’S PEOPLE
Verses 11 and 12 state that the Servant is indeed the sin-offering presented in verse 10. Isaiah 53:10 Septuagint explains, “If you offer for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived offspring” (NETS). The Servant presented himself to God as such an offering. The passage explains, “He shall bear their sins” (verse 11), and “He bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquity” (verse 12).
Notice the subtlety. As many people as may make a sin-offering to God, God will bless on an individual basis. “If you offer (both the pronoun and verb are plural) for sin, your (plural) soul (singular) shall see (singular) a long-lived offspring.” The words “if” and “offer” form a third class condition (1). That is, the blessing is conditioned upon the offering. God doesn’t offer universal forgiveness because of the Servant’s offering, nor does he offer it to the nation as a whole. The people one by one must offer to God their sin-offering, who is the Servant.
We hear many testimonies today about how someone “received” Christ into their heart as their own personal Savior. But this language falls short. It’s not just that believers must “receive” Christ into their heart. They must give Christ to God as their own personal sin-offering. Belief in Christ entails this element of vicarious (substitutionary) sin-offering by the Servant. God places no limit on the number of people who can so offer. Verse 12 states that the Servant bore the sins of “many.”
If all this appears difficult to understand, I agree. I believe it is difficult to understand. The disciples didn’t understand, not until Jesus himself explained it to them. And, marvelous blessing, God gave us Paul and the other New Testament writers to explain even more.
But with all this grammar, we must not cease to be amazed that both God and his Servant wanted to do this. “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NET). And even without the details of the grammar, Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song makes clear the Servant’s role. He is the sacrifice for the iniquities of many. John explains in his gospel that the “many” are all who believe (πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων) on him. Isaiah explains that God’s blessing comes to all who give to God the Servant as their offering for their sin. This is what it means to “believe on him.” Worshipers believe on God’s Servant (Christ) by giving him to God as their sin-offering.
PART TWO: REWARD FOR THE SERVANT
The Servant suffered horrendously, but in the end, it is a win-win-win situation. God wins. Because he punished his Servant, he did not need to destroy the world. The people win. Those who accept the Servant and present him to God as their sin-offering get blessed by God with long life and progeny. And finally, the Servant wins. This passage makes clear that God is very well-pleased with his Servant.
- “The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke” (verse 10)
- “the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul” (verse 11)
- “to show him light” (v 11)
- “and to form him with understanding” (v 11)
- “to justify the just one who serves many well” (v 11)
- “Therefore he shall inherit many” (verse 12)
- “and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty” (v 12)
Truly, the Fourth Servant Song is a song of God’s deepest pleasure in his Servant. These verses burst with God’s delight in him. The Apostle Paul sums this chapter up in his letter to the Philippians.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
And in Isaiah’s own words:
Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. (Isaiah 52:13 LXE)
1 Wallace, Daniel. Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics. Zondervan, 1996, pg. 689.