The Jewish Nation a Vicarious Sufferer
Isaiah 53:1-12
Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?…

Isaiah 53 has been supposed by many to refer to the Jewish nation as a whole, and not to Christ or any other individual. And, in truth, it is in many ways singularly applicable to Israel as a nation. As a nation Israel was "despised and rejected," and "bore the sins of many." This people was the chief medium through which the Eternal was made manifest on earth. Hence came the peculiarities and deficiencies of the Hebrew nature. The Jews were haunted by the Infinite and Eternal; and therefore they knew not the free and careless joyousness of Greece. The mountains are scarred and rent by storms and tempests almost unknown in the valleys. The deepest religion necessarily involves prolonged suffering. The near presence of the Infinite pierces and wounds the soul. To Greeks or Romans Israel was a sort of Moses, veiling even while revealing the terrific lineaments of Jehovah. The face of Israel did indeed shine with an unearthly glory after communing with God on the mountain; but it was a glory utterly uncongenial to the gaiety of joyous Athens. Most truly might Greeks and Romans say of the devout Jew, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Yet was Israel a mighty benefactor to the human race. "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Salvation came by the Jews. They had more genuine moral inspiration than any others of the sons of men. To them alone was clearly disclosed the true Jacob's ladder connecting earth with heaven. To the Greeks the Infinite was a mere notion, a thing for the intellect to play with, or a kind of irreducible surd left after the keenest philosophical analysis. To the Hebrews, on the other hand, the Infinite was an appalling and soul-abasing reality, an ever-menacing guide, as the fiery flaming sword of the cherubims "which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." "It pleased the Lord to bruise" Israel for the sake of the whole world. By being "numbered with the transgressors," Israel found out the real righteousness.

(A. Crawford, M.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

WEB: Who has believed our message? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?

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