He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. (53:7; HCSB)
The prophecy continues to describe the suffering of the servant sent from God. The servant was oppressed and being afflicted. His life would not be easy. He would endure harsh physical treatment at the hands of others. Yet, in the midst of this mistreatment, he would not protest. This was the portion of scripture that the Ethiopian eunuch was reading when Philip approached him (Acts 8:32). The apostle Peter alludes to this prophecy in his encouragement to the Christians.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23; ESV)
What we cannot forget is that this was not simply a person who was being mistreated deciding not to respond in protest. This is the arm of the Lord, the servant of God. This is the one sent to carry away the sins of the people. If anyone has a right to protest mistreatment, it would be the servant sent from the Father who was accomplishing God’s will and purpose. Yet, he did not protest the mistreatment and oppression he endured. The example is clearly left for us to follow in his footsteps with the same response when we are reviled and mistreated. Let God give justice. We do not respond with the same treatment that they have treated us.
Verse 7 continues to expand the image of the lamb who is being led to the slaughter. Again, the emphasis is on the lack of protest. Even during Jesus’ trial, Jesus does not mount a defense against the charges laid against him. This lamb imagery was invoked when John the Baptist declared of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). In Revelation 5:6 we see the Lion of Judah revealed as the Lamb who had been slain who is worthy to open the scroll, revealing God’s messages of judgment.
Before we leave this verse, in the overall scheme of Isaiah’s prophecy this may be a contrast between the nation of Israel and the suffering servant. Israel has protested its ill treatment (Isaiah 40:27; 49:14; 63:15) as the first half of the book has declared Israel’s doom. However, Israel’s judgment and oppression is deserved. The suffering servant did not deserve what happened to him, yet he accepted oppression without protest.