“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
If you are anything like me, you don’t like being included in blanket or broad-brush descriptive statements – particularly negative ones. I have to admit that I bristle a little bit inside when I hear them; “People from Detroit are allY“, “You Americans allY“, etc. You can fill in the blank; we’ve all heard them.
Why do we so dislike being included in these statements? Is it because we feel we don’t fit? “I’m not like that at all, how can he make that statement? He doesn’t even know me” is our natural, and perhaps justified, reaction. It is the basic unfairness of making conclusive statements without any real knowledge about us that is the source of irritation.
Let’s look at the first statement of our verse; “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Now that is a blanket statement! There are no ambiguous words in that statement. There is no “Most of us have gone astray,” or “Some of us have gone astray.” It’s “All … have gone astray”!
Can we accuse the writer of ignorance? The author of this statement is the prophet Isaiah, but that is not the complete answer. We could also accurately say the author is God! As we read the prophecy of Isaiah we are repeatedly reminded that he is the mouthpiece of God. This is confirmed for us in the New Testament as well by Peter (2Pet 1:21), “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Based on this we cannot claim the author of this blanket statement is lacking in knowledge. Proverbs 15:3 states, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” As the all-knowing One, God has complete knowledge of you and me, and if He says “All,” He means All. There is perhaps one more way to exempt ourselves from this uncomfortable accusation. Is it possible that the prophet’s words were limited in their scope to “all” the people of Israel? This argument fails because the whole Word of God confirms the universality of the sinnership of man. Paul, speaking to his Gentile audience in Romans 3:23, says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
So we are faced with this dilemma: we have all “strayed” (our nature), and “turned” (our choice) from a holy God. As we move farther into our verse we find this activity of ours described as “iniquity,” another word for sin. Sin and a holy God are incompatible, thus our verse aptly describes the result: a widening distance between the sinner and God. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa 59:2). If this condition is unaltered, the
Scriptures describe this widening distance as an eternal “gulf fixed” between God and us.
Into this dark picture bursts a bright ray of hope! “The Lord”! The rest of our verse brings us the wonderful solution and provision God has made for our otherwise hopeless condition. “And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” The New Testament equivalent is 1 Peter 2:24: “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” The Lord Jesus Himself took our sin and bore its penalty on the cross! I love the fact that this wonderful gospel verse begins and ends with the same word – “All.” Those who are willing to take their place in the first “all” can experience the joy and forgiveness that is found by those included in the second “all.” Are you a sinner? Are your sins taking you away from God? If so then you are a candidate for the second “all.” It’s for people such as you that Christ died.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).