15. The Lord Did Not Take Away Our Sins by His Suffering on the Cross, but He Did Carry Them.
THERE are people in the church who believe that through his suffering on the cross the Lord took away our sins and made satisfaction to the Father, and by so doing brought about redemption. Some also believe that he transferred to himself the sins of those who have faith in him, carried those sins, and cast them into the depths of the sea-that is, into hell. They support this among themselves by what John says of Jesus,
Behold the Lamb of God, who is taking up the sins of the world. (John 1:29)
and by the Lord’s words in Isaiah,
He bore our diseases and carried our sorrows. He was pierced because of our transgressions and bruised because of our iniquities. Chastisement was upon him for the sake of our peace; with his wound, healing was given to us. Jehovah made the iniquities of us all fall upon him. He was oppressed and afflicted, but did not open his mouth, like a lamb being led to slaughter. He was cut off from the land of the living. He suffered a blow because of the transgression of my people, to send the ungodly to their grave and the rich to their deaths. As a result of the labor of his soul, he will see and be satisfied. By means of his knowledge he will justify many, because he himself carried their iniquities. He emptied out his own soul even to death and was counted among transgressors. He bore the sins of many and interceded for transgressors. (Isaiah 53:3-end)
Both of these passages are talking about the Lord’s trials and suffering; his taking up our sins, [bearing] our diseases, and having the iniquities of us all fall upon him mean something similar to his carrying our sorrows and our iniquities.
1 Kings 20:37; Isaiah 53:4-12, 53; Revelation 2:29, 2:17, 2:11, 2:7)
 So I need to say first of all what his carrying iniquities means and then what his taking them up means. The true meaning of his carrying iniquities is that he was subjected to severe trials and endured being treated by the Jews the way the Word was treated by them; and they dealt with him in that way precisely because he was the Word. The church among the Jews was in utter shambles at that time; it had been brought to ruin by their perversion of everything in the Word to the point that there was nothing true left. As a result, they did not recognize the Lord. That is in fact the intent and meaning behind each detail of the Lord’s suffering.
The prophets suffered in much the same way because they represented the Lord’s Word and therefore his church, and the Lord was the quintessential prophet.
 We can tell that the Lord was the quintessential prophet from the following passages:
Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24)
Jesus said, “It is not fitting for a prophet to die outside of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33)
They said of Jesus, “He is a prophet from Nazareth.” (Matthew 21:11; John 7:40-41)
Fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying that a great prophet had been raised up among them. (Luke 7:16)
A prophet will be raised up from among his people; they will obey his words. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
 We can tell from the following passages that much the same was done to the prophets.
The prophet Isaiah was commanded to represent the state of the church by taking the sackcloth off his waist and the sandals off his feet and going naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a wonder (Isaiah 20:2-3).
The prophet Jeremiah was commanded to represent the state of the church by buying a belt and putting it around his waist without putting it in water, then hiding it in a crevice in the rocks near the Euphrates; after some days he found it ruined (Jeremiah 13:1-7).
The same prophet represented the state of the church by not taking a wife for himself in that place or entering the house of mourning or going out to grieve or going into the banquet house (Jeremiah 16:2, 5, 8).
 The prophet Ezekiel was commanded to represent the state of the church by taking a barber’s razor to his head and his beard and then dividing the hair, burning a third of it in the middle of the city, striking a third with a sword, and scattering a third to the wind; also, he was told to bind a few hairs in his hems and eventually to throw a few into the midst of a fire and burn them (Ezekiel 5:1-4).
The same prophet was commanded to represent the state of the church by packing his belongings to take into exile and traveling to another place in the sight of the children of Israel. In a while he was to take out his belongings and leave in the evening through a hole dug through the wall, covering his face so that he could not see the ground. And this was to be a sign to the house of Israel. The prophet was also to say, “Behold, I am a sign for you: what I have done, [your leaders] will do” (Ezekiel 12:3-7, 11).
 The prophet Hosea was commanded to represent the state of the church by taking a whore as his wife. He did so, and she bore him three children, the first of whom he named Jezreel, the second No Mercy, and the third Not My People (Hosea 1:2-9).
Another time he was commanded to go love a woman who had a lover but was also committing adultery; he bought her for fifteen pieces of silver (Hosea 3:1-2).
 The prophet Ezekiel was commanded to represent the state of the church by taking a clay tablet, carving Jerusalem on it, laying siege to it, building a siege wall and a mound against it, putting an iron plate between himself and the city, and lying on his left side for three hundred ninety days and then on his right side [for forty days]. He was also told to take wheat, barley, lentils, millet, and spelt and make himself bread from them, which he was then to weigh and eat. He was also told to bake a cake of barley over human dung; and because he begged not to do this, he was commanded to bake it over cow dung instead (Ezekiel 4:1-15).
Further, prophets also represented other things-Zedekiah with the horns of iron that he made, for example (1 Kings 22:11). Then there was another prophet who was struck and wounded and who put ashes over his eyes (1 Kings 20:37-38).
1 Kings 20:38, 20:35-38, 1 Kings 20:35)
 In general, prophets used a robe of coarse hair (Zechariah 13:4) to represent the Word in its outermost meaning, which is the literal meaning; so Elijah wore that kind of robe and had a leather belt around his waist (2 Kings 1:8). Much the same is true of John the Baptist, who had clothing of camels’ hair and a leather belt around his waist, and who ate locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).
We can see from this that the prophets represented the state of the church and the Word. In fact, anyone who represents one represents the other as well because the church is from the Word, and its life and faith depend on its acceptance of the Word. So too, wherever prophets are mentioned in both Testaments it means the body of teaching the church draws from the Word, while the Lord as the supreme prophet means the church itself and the Word itself.
1 Kings 20:37, 1 Kings 20:35; Hosea 3:1-3; Isaiah 53; Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29)