Faithfulness to the Covenant offered National Health Benefits. Neglect of, or the breaking of the covenant would have profound consequences. This would be felt all across the land, its agriculture and of course upon the people. Among the signs of the people being out of favour with Yahweh would be Yahweh afflicting them with the sicknesses and plagues of Egypt.
Did this promise preclude the Nation from having other health remedies? No! God had already placed on record the healing qualities herbs, and physicians are also mentioned. The treatment of people with skin complaints is well known with those infected being excluded from society until pronounced clean. A distinction needs to be made between individual cases of sicknesses and the Lord’s use of the curses in judgement. Consider the case of Hezekiah. He took ill and was told he would die. The King cried, literally, to the Lord for a reprieve which was granted. His cure consisted of a lump of figs put in a plaster and placed on the inflammation. He was healed.
Therefore, there must be more than mere physical healing when considering what is healed by the Suffering Servant’s stripes. Often the visible expression of a moral or spiritual infection breaks out in a person’s body. Isaiah’s diagnosis of the Nation was a sickness caused by the iniquity of priests and people which corrupted worship. Yahweh turned His back on their rituals. Jeremiah used another word to describe the moral and spiritual condition of Israel. Treachery by leaders, perversion by priests of the sanctuary’s holiness through idolatry and forgetfulness by the citizens he called ‘backsliding.’ The Nation was consistently moving in a direction away from fellowship with their Lord. Before a healthy relationship could be rekindled the people must turn around, an expression for repentance. But, a price had to be paid.
The Nation was morally and spiritually decrepit. If the Covenantal fellowship was to be restored only the Lord could endure the severity of the chastising strokes.
Another factor needing attention was the power of Yahweh’s curse. Deliverance, was needed. When the Law and Covenant were broken the curse was activated. Israel was therefore under its curse. Justice must be pronounced and carried out. A ‘cutting off’ from Yahweh was decreed. It meant a death sentence. As such a breach had happened no human endeavour or sorrow could heal it. How could the Nation survive? Isaiah 53.8 tells us about the One who stood between Heaven’s wrath and the Nation’s destruction and was ‘cut off on its behalf!
Marriage, expressed the uniqueness of God’s relationship with His chosen people (Jeremiah 3:14). Their unfaithfulness through spiritual adultery cause the Lord to issue a bill of divorcement. But His love for Israel would not be denied. But the ‘bill’ had been issued, how could it be withdrawn? Only by the adultery being punished! How could Israel die and live again? How could Israel survive to be forgiven? As Israel’s husband He chose to pay the price. He gave up His life on her behalf. Forever the price of such love would be worn. Yahweh’s righteousness was more powerful than the chains of death as shown in His rising again. Isaiah 54:4-10 is a glorious expression of His redeeming love. He is Israel’s husband, Maker and Redeemer. Though a period of separation is decreed, a day has been set for reconciliation.
Every aspect revealed as offensive act towards God and His word. The judgement upon such action and attitude required punishment or death. Here is grace expressed . The Nation could not be eliminated because Yahweh had decreed its purpose and future. How could Justice be done and yet the promise be fulfilled? In steps the Suffering Servant. He took their place and took their curse, their death sentence and satisfied The Lord God's Holiness. How wonderful to read, ‘He saw His soul’s travail and was satisfied’ Isaiah 53:11.
In future studies we will consider the heart of God for this Nation. As we do we will understand a little more of His mercy, grace and faithfulness to us.