The prophets represented their church’s condition relative to its teachings from the Word and its life according to them, as the following stories from the Word make clear:
Isaiah the prophet was commanded to take the sackcloth off below his waist and the sandals off his feet and go naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a wonder (Isaiah 20:2, 3).
Ezekiel the prophet was commanded to represent the state of the church by making travel bags, moving to another place before the eyes of the children of Israel, taking out his bags from time to time, going out in the evening through a hole in the wall, and covering his face so he could not see the ground. In this way he would be a wonder to the house of Israel. He was told to say, “Behold, I am your wonder. As I have done, so it will be for you” (Ezekiel 12:3–7, 11).
Hosea the prophet was commanded to represent the church’s condition by marrying a promiscuous partner, which he did. She bore him three sons, one of whom he called Jezreel, the second No Mercy, and the third Not My People. At another point he was commanded to go love a woman who already had a lover and who was committing adultery, and buy her for himself (Hosea 1:2–9; 3:1, 2).
One prophet was commanded to put ashes over his eyes and let himself be beaten and whipped (1 Kings 20:35, 38).
Ezekiel the prophet was commanded to represent the condition of the church by taking a brick and sculpting Jerusalem on it, laying siege to it, building a rampart and a mound against it, putting an iron frying pan between himself and the “city,” and sleeping on his left side and then on his right side. He also had to take wheat, barley, lentils, millet, and spelt and make bread out of them. He also had to make a cake of barley with human excrement; but because he begged not to have to do that, he was allowed to make it with cow dung instead. He was told,
Lie on your left side and put the injustice done by the house of Israel on it. For the number of days during which you sleep on that side you will carry their injustice. For I will give you the years of their injustice according to the number of days, 390 days for you to carry the injustice done by the house of Israel. But when you have finished them, you will lie again on your right side to carry the injustice done by the house of Judah. (Ezekiel 4:1–15)
By these actions the prophet Ezekiel carried the injustices done by the house of Israel and the house of Judah; but he did not take away those injustices or atone for them, he only represented them and made them visible. This is clear from the following verses in the same chapter:
“Like this,” says Jehovah, “will the children of Israel eat their unclean bread. Behold I am breaking the staff of bread so that they lack bread and water. A man and his brother will become desolate and will waste away because of their injustice.” (Ezekiel 4:13, 16, 17)
The same thing is meant by the statement about the Lord that says, “He bore our diseases, he carried our pains. Jehovah put on him the injustices committed by us all. Through his knowledge he justified many as he himself carried their injustices” (Isaiah 53:4, 6, 11). This whole chapter in Isaiah is about the Lord’s suffering.
The following details of the Lord’s suffering make it clear that he was the ultimate prophet, embodying the Jewish church’s treatment of the Word: He was betrayed by Judas. The chief priests and the elders arrested him and condemned him. They hit him repeatedly. They beat his head with a cane. They put a crown of thorns on him. They tore up his clothes and cast lots for his undergarment. They crucified him. They gave him vinegar to drink. They pierced his side. He was buried, and on the third day he rose.
His betrayal by Judas meant his betrayal by the Jewish nation, among whom the Word existed at that time. Judas represented that nation. The chief priests and the elders who arrested and condemned him meant that whole church. Their punching him repeatedly, spitting in his face, whipping him, and beating his head with a cane meant that they had done the same to the divine truths in the Word. Their putting a crown of thorns on him meant that they had falsified and contaminated those divine truths. Their tearing up his clothes and casting lots for his undergarment meant that they had split apart all the truths of the Word but they had not split apart its spiritual meaning, which was symbolized by the Lord’s undergarment. Their crucifying him meant that they had desecrated and destroyed the entire Word. Their offering him vinegar to drink meant that everything they offered him had been completely falsified; therefore he did not drink it. Their piercing his side meant that they had completely annihilated everything true and everything good in the Word. His being buried meant his casting off what was left from his mother. His rising on the third day meant the glorification, the union of his human nature with the divine nature of the Father.
From all this it is clear that “carrying injustices” does not mean taking them away; it means representing the desecration of the Word’s truth.
from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 130