Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
God was actually speaking to John the Baptist in this verse. It was meant to be John’s message that he was to proclaim. (Compare Is. 40:3 with John 1:23.) Here’s what he was supposed to say:
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
Even though the nation of Israel suffered and was led into captivity, no amount of physical suffering—losing their nation, going into captivity, all the terrible things that happened—could pay for all of their sins. You can’t pay for spiritual transgressions and sins in the natural.
People who wonder, How can a loving God ever send anyone to hell? don’t have a revelation of what sin is all about. Sin is such a terrible transgression against God that eternity in a place of torment will still never fully pay for the sins that people have committed. Sin is a terrible thing!
“Woe Is Me!”
I was born again at the age of eight, but the Lord revealed Himself to me in a powerful way at age eighteen. This was the first time I really saw Him, and instantly I had a revelation of His holiness. Even though I was a good person by religious and moral standards, I immediately recognized my relative unholiness and unworthiness. I’ve never said a word of profanity, never taken a drink of liquor, never smoked a cigarette, and never tasted coffee in all my life. Now, I understand that coffee and alcohol aren’t the same thing. There’s even scripture to stand on for drinking coffee.
If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.
I’m just saying that I’ve lived a super holy life by man’s standards, one that the world might view as holier than most people. Yet once I saw the glory of God, I realized my relative unworthiness and instantly knew in my heart that I deserved to be destroyed.
When Isaiah saw the Lord in all His splendor and glory, he too fell on his face and cried out:
Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.
Every person in the Bible who ever saw the glory of God expected to be destroyed. That’s His justice. It’s what we deserve. Anyone who says, “I can’t believe that a loving God would ever send someone to hell” has never seen imperfect man in the light of God’s perfection. They haven’t seen the transgressions and total mess of things man has made. Even the so-called “good people” have seriously transgressed against the Lord. There’s just no way you can pay for the transgression your sins have made in just this physical life.
“Her Warfare Is Accomplished”
Isaiah 40:2 is a prophetic scripture speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not talking about how, in the natural, Jerusalem had suffered enough and now God says, “The war is over.” This verse is referring to the war God had toward mankind for their sins. It’s saying, “When the Messiah comes, He’s going to bear your sins. The warfare will be over because your sins will have been paid for. God the Father will have put twice as much wrath upon His Son—the Lord Jesus Christ—as the entire human race was worthy of receiving.” Jesus bore our sins and now the warfare is over.
If you continued down through the rest of Isaiah 40, you’ll see that the whole chapter is prophetically speaking of Jesus and what He would accomplish when He came. It’s saying that John the Baptist was to proclaim to the people that the wrath of God had now been satisfied. The war is over. God’s not angry with you anymore. Sin isn’t an issue. Jesus has paid for your sins.
Starting with chapter 40 and continuing on through the rest of Isaiah, these are all prophetic scriptures about the Lord Jesus. They contain verses and passages that John the Baptist quoted and made clear that he understood that this was God’s instructions to him.
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied [astonished] at thee; his visage [face] was so marred more than any man.
Jesus’ face was marred more than any person who has ever lived. A man came to one of my meetings in Kansas City who had cancer all over his face. His whole face was a cancer. Another fellow came who had lost his nose. It had been eaten away by cancer. He came forward for prayer with a big towel over his face. Not knowing the situation, I asked him, “Well, what am I praying for?” He took the towel off and I could see right up into his head where his nose used to be. Yet, this scripture says that Jesus was marred more than that.
His visage [face] was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.
If you study all this out in the original Hebrew language, it means that Jesus didn’t even look human. How could this happen?
People said that well-known actor and director Mel Gibson was too graphic in his portrayal of Jesus’ beating and crucifixion in the movie The Passion of the Christ. However, Mel himself freely admits that he had to tone those scenes down significantly from what the scriptures describe because nobody would have ever viewed them.
According to these scriptures, Jesus’ face looked worse than any person who has ever lived. His body was so marred that it didn’t even look human. It wasn’t recognizable as a human being. It doesn’t matter how bad of a physical beating someone endures, a whip with small pieces of metal or bone at the tips can’t accomplish that.
He Became Sin
Jesus took our sins into His own body on the cross.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.
1 Peter 2:24
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him.
Every sin, sickness, and disease of the entire human race—every deformity, tumor, and perversion—entered into the physical body of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why His face looked worse than any other person who has ever lived, and His form became so distorted that He didn’t even look human. God did this to His Son.
The Passion of the Christ only showed the physical beating. There’s no way they could fully depict our Lord’s emotional and spiritual suffering too. Who can imagine the agony that came upon Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He thought about becoming sin—the very thing He hated and from which He came to set us free? (Matt. 26:36–39,42.) He had to become that sin so that we could become the righteousness of God.
In a sense, our religious system today has diminished the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. It says, “Even if you’re born again and have made Jesus your Lord, God is still mad at you every time you sin. He won’t answer your prayer if there’s unconfessed (therefore, unforgiven) sin in your life.” Basically, we’ve made Jesus just a part of the solution, but not the total solution. We’ve said, “Yes, you have to have the atonement of Christ. But you also have to repent, feel terrible over your sin, grovel in the dirt, and do all of these things.” People who say these kinds of statements don’t understand the totality of the price that Jesus paid for us.
Forsaken by His Father
While hanging on the cross, Jesus said:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34
After putting all of the sin, sickness, disease, and suffering of the entire world upon His Son, Father God turned His back on Him. God forsook His only Son because that was the price that you and I deserved.
By the Spirit of God, I have had just a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to be God forsaken. I tell you, that will be hell! Scripture reveals that hell will include physical things like suffering in flames. (Luke 16:24.) There will be emotional torment too. But the worst part of hell will be the absence of anything good. Everything good—everything God—will be gone. Nothing but darkness, hatred, and strife will remain. Nothing good.
Some of us think we live in a bad world. Sure, there’s plenty of corruption in this world, but we don’t even have a clue. There is still so much good that is here. There are still people who are going out of their way to make this world a better place to live. As bad as things are, it’s nothing like hell. Whether there’s any physical suffering or not, total separation from God is hell itself. There’s no hope, nothing!
Jesus bore that. He was forsaken by His Father. The Father forsook His own Son so that you and I wouldn’t be forsaken. He totally rejected Him so that you and I wouldn’t be rejected. All this and people say that Jesus only paid for sin up to a point. “When you sin, God is still upset with you. He turns away from you and won’t answer your prayer because of the sin in your life.” Wrong!
Some people think I’m making light of sin. The truth is that they’re making light of the sacrifice of Christ. Jesus paid such a great and awesome price for us that it forever satisfied the wrath of God. He’s not angry with you, regardless of what you’ve done. Now that’s good news.
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
In other words, this is nearly too good to be true. Who would believe this? Who can believe that God isn’t angry with you anymore, and He never will be? That all of your sins—past, present, and even future sins—have been paid for? Not everyone believes this report.
He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Did you know that Jesus wasn’t one of these “beautiful” people? This doesn’t necessarily mean that He was ugly, but He definitely wasn’t special. Jesus wasn’t one of these people who everybody wants to be close to, seen with, and receive attention from. He was just plain and ordinary. If you had seen Jesus when He walked here on the earth as a Man, you wouldn’t have been impressed. There was simply nothing physically special about Him.
Sometimes people say, “Oh, I wish I could have been one of the twelve disciples walking around with Jesus. Wouldn’t that have been awesome?” No, it would’ve been hard—hard to believe that this was God! Jesus walked twenty or thirty miles a day in the hot Judean weather. He didn’t have a Holiday Inn to check into. He didn’t take a shower each night before His message. Do you know what? Jesus smelled sometimes. He got dirty. His hair was matted. The Lord didn’t carry a suitcase full of clothes to change into. He’d wear the same clothes day after day, and probably week after week if He was normal for people living there back then. You had to look past all that. Jesus became like we are.
We portray Him as walking around with a halo over His head, but I guarantee you that people didn’t see a halo over His head. He was just as plain and normal as any one of us. Jesus did that for those of us who don’t feel special. He felt what you feel. Jesus was looked over, passed over, taken for granted, and unappreciated. Anything you’ve ever suffered, He suffered those things for you.
By His Stripes
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. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.
Jesus didn’t have any grief of His own to bear. He had never done anything that caused Him misery. The Lord took all of our sorrow, grief, and misery upon Himself.
Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
People try to limit the application of this verse only to emotional and/or spiritual things. But this verse was quoted in Matthew 8 after Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law and many others. (vv. 14–17.) It says this was done:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
So the New Testament comments on Isaiah 53:5 show that healing isn’t just limited to spiritual and/or emotional things. Jesus suffered so that we could receive healing—spirit, soul, and body—by His stripes.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.
Jesus didn’t just suffer in principle for sin. It’s not like God gave Him a tiny taste—a sampling—of sin for all mankind. Jesus took all of your iniquity—all the iniquity of the entire world—upon Himself. He literally had the corruption of every sin that has ever been committed on the face of the earth—murder, sexual immorality, and all other ungodly things—enter into His physical flesh. Truly, the iniquity of us all was laid upon Him.