Updated: Jan 30
In my study of the lessons coming up for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, I was led to read what the Ethiopian eunuch was reading, when he encountered Philip in the wilderness, who offered to explain how Isaiah was prophesying the coming of Jesus. While that certainly was the case, has the prophecy turned old, stale, and dropped from the living vine, like a dead branch? Or, does it continue to live, just as Jesus continued to live in the Apostles … like Philip. Read this with a new pair of eyes and see if you can see what I see.
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot,and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
We all know this refers to Jesus, the Son of God, who would come centuries later; but have you met someone like the one detailed, in your lifetime?
A tender shoot, not a might oak of establishment? One of ugly appearance, not polished and well-dressed? A person offering views that go against those comfortable? A person despised for suggesting you do more? A person without pedigree or goals to amass fortune? A person you assume has been punished by God?
Do you pierce people with your glares of disdain? Do you punish those you outcast by your silence and coldness? Have you never gone astray, yet despise those who pick at your scab of guilt? Have you ever come across a scapegoat in the wilderness?
I ask this last question because the focus of Isaiah 53:7-8 – the words Philip heard the Ethiopian eunuch reading – say:
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.”
This is a clear prophecy of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, but this prophecy of Isaiah is not the only place one sees how “the transgressions of [the] people” cause an animal to be “stricken,” or slaughtered.
In Leviticus 16, we find how God gave instructions to Aaron to gather two goats for a ritual of Atonement (Leviticus 16:7-10).
“He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.”
Both goats were sacrificed for the sins of the people, meaning the slaughter of Jesus was symbolic of the goat that was offered to God, while the scapegoat was those who would remain on earth, still sacrificed for the sins of the people, by being “special” goats. This becomes those who Jesus return to sacrifice, placing the sins of the people on the heads of the Apostles. The two are then the duality of one – the Apostle with the Holy Spirit.
The scapegoats are those who have believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed, for the purpose of touching others, so they too may become atoned.
R. T. Tippett
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