I have a question about a passage in Isaiah 53. I understand that the chapter is speaking of the sufferings of Christ and also of those who will compose His faithful bride, but why should it &lquot;please the Lord to bruise him&rquot;? I have checked several of the newer translations, and all seem to have the same thought. I would appreciate your comments.
The text in question reads: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Isa. 53:10).
You are correct in thinking that it is inconsistent with the Divine plan for the Lord to be “pleased… to bruise” His servants, as though He were intentionally arranging for them to suffer. And the translation is changed hardly at all in the newer translations.
However, the Septuagint Bible, the earliest translation made from the Hebrew into Greek several centuries before Christ, has another thought. The Septuagint rendering of this text is as follows: “The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed: the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to show him light, and to form him with understanding.”
The thought of “purge,” i.e., cleanse, purify, render clean, is entirely different from the thought of “bruise,” yet this is an alternate translation allowed by the original Hebrew. The original word translated “bruise” in our King James Version is kathandzo and is defined in Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon as “to make clean, to cleanse;…in a moral sense, to free from the defilement of sin and from faults; to purify from wickedness; to abstain in the future from wrong-doing; to free from the guilt of sin, to purify; to consecrate by cleansing or purifying; to consecrate, dedicate.”
The Interpreter’s Bible has observed this translation and offers this comment: “For ‘bruise him’ the Septuagint reads ‘cleanse (or “purge”) him,’ an acceptable meaning in the Aramaic.”
This translation is in harmony with general Bible teaching. God does use the events that come into lives–our “stroke,” literally “heavy affliction, severe wound, a blow, stripe,” afflictions, suffering, that would seem to wound us–to purify and cleanse from sin, to “purify from wickedness.” The apostle Paul expressed this same thought in his Epistle to the Ephesians, speaking of Christ’s work in behalf of His bride or church: “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5: 27).
God’s whole purpose in working with His human creation is to perfect and purify, to develop a people that He can use in His eternal purpose. And it is only through “much tribulation” that one can qualify for that honorary role (Acts 14:22).