Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:1. “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

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This incredible chapter has been preached, memorized, memorialized in beautiful music—and often misunderstood. I want to take my time going through this chapter, so it will be a short post today.

We have to put the question (53:1) into proper perspective with all that has been said in the previous chapter.  Isaiah, under God’s guidance, has described the suffering of Messiah, and His ultimate victory.  Now, he is saying, “Who would believe that the Messiah would suffer and be exalted? Who would understand and accept such a message?”

Remember, the Jews ended up rejecting Jesus one week after they had hailed Him as King during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. They rejected Him because He was not the conquering King they wanted.  They didn’t see that He was the fulfillment of so much Old Testament scripture and that the suffering had to come before the victory.

On Monday, we will dig into the rest of this chapter.  Read it ahead of time if you can. We’ll probably be there for at least a week, maybe longer.

 

Jesus, God’s Servant

Isaiah 52: 13-15.

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

14 As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men:

15 So shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

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Jesus would be prudent; that is, circumspect, intelligent, considerate, expert, prosperous,skillful; have good success, have wisdom, behave wisely and with understanding. 

All these traits are indicated in the Hebrew word for prudent. No wonder the crowds followed Him, wanting to hear every word from the lips of the Master.  He was everything  mankind could ever want or need.

He would be exalted (highly praised); extolled (praised above all others); and be very high (Jesus will be high and lifted up above all others).

And yet!  His suffering  was beyond understanding.  Rome was a cruel executioner, making sure that the victim suffered as much as possible.  It wasn’t unusual for a man to die before he ever made it to the cross.

Verse 14 tells  us that people were astonished His appearance. He face was unrecognizable because of the beatings,  having His beard ripped out, the crown of thorns shoved down on His brow.  He was a mangled mess, barely looking human by the time they nailed Him to the cross. He looked worse than any other man.

There was nothing, absolutely nothing, glamorous or beautiful about His death;  there is nothing, absolutely nothing, glamorous or beautiful about sin once you look under the surface. Jesus became sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:21).

In v. 15, sprinkling many nations is a reference to the custom of sprinkling guests with perfumed water for their refreshing and cleansing. The words actually means to spurt, sprinkle. It has nothing to do with baptism done by sprinkling. In reference to the nations, His blood is figuratively sprinkled on all mankind for cleansing from sin. In the Millennium, many nations will accept Him, finally, as Savior and Lord.  Kings and rulers will be amazed at Who He is, and will worship Him.  They will finally hear, see, and understand what Jesus had done for them.

The Whole Earth shall see God’s Salvation

Isaiah 52:10-12.

10 The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

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Verse 10:  Baring His holy arm is an expression of showing His power to all nations.  It is a term meaning  preparation for active work, especially for war. Oriental custom  permitted the arm to be made bare in an instant; the sleeve was so free that one hand passing up the arm would lay it bare immediately.

All the ends of the earth: Only a small part of mankind has seen the reality of God’s salvation.  Many millions on earth have yet to hear of the gospel. In the Millennium, the earth for the first time, will be filled with the knowledge of God.

Verse 11:  This verse speaks of the Israelites’ return from the Babylonian captivity as well as the return of all Jews to Israel in the Millenium. It was an admonishment that they were to leave all idols and anything else that spoke of idolatry. They were not to touch any unclean thing.  Those who bore the vessels of God were to be ceremonially clean before they touched those vessels.  It was a holy mission to take these items back to Jerusalem

Verse 12:  They were not going to be running away from Babylon.  They would be leaving with the King’s blessing, so there was no need for haste. God would go before them and behind them, both leading and protecting.  Rereward is  the obsolete spelling of rearward (in the archaic and historical military sense of rearguard). God was their leader and their protector.

Sing Together!

Isaiah 52: 8-9,

Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.

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What a time of joy and celebration when the watchers–those who stand on the walls looking for Him–will shout together as they all clearly see Messiah coming. The phrase eye to eye did not mean then what it means to us today.  Rather, it indicates they will all see the same thing, and there will be no doubt or debate about what is happening.  Everyone’s eyes will see Messiah.

Even the waste places, the places that have been utterly ruined, will join in the song of rejoicing when Jesus comes to comfort His people, and to redeem Jerusalem from it’s long history of sorrow.

Again, this passage has a two-fold application.  It can address God’s redemption of Israel from Babylon, certainly.  But the context of this whole chapter is the Second Advent, with great emphasis on the final victory Messiah will have over all the enemies of Jerusalem forever.  The time of weeping is over.  The time of rejoicing has come to stay.

 

Beautiful Feet

Isaiah52: 6-7.

Therefore my people shall know My name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!Image result for Isaiah 52: 7

Verse 6 describes His nature and perfections; His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises to them; His power in delivering them out of their bondage; and His justice in punishing their enemies.

In verse 7, people will see, when the people of God are delivered from the antichristian slavery and bondage, and when Babylon is fallen, that all the promises God has spoken are yea and amen; that Jesus Christ is the true and faithful witness; and that these are His true and faithful sayings, which He has spoken.

These prophecies, remember, are of the end times. They are about the Second Advent, when Jesus, Messiah, comes to rule and reign over the whole earth for 1000 years.  Finally, after all the centuries of suffering, captivity, slavery, imprisonment and persecution, God’s people will see the fulfillment of His promises.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Simple Obedience

Proverbs 7: 1-5,

 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

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Proverbs 7 is the “Strange Woman” chapter. Verses 5-27 detail what this strange woman is like. It describes her behavior as being loud and stubborn, and spending her time not keeping her home, but walking the streets and tempting foolish young men.  The last verse says that her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

None of that has to happen, though. Verses one through five are clear instructions for how to avoid the strange woman.  In a short statement:  Obey God’s law.  That’s it. No twelve-step programs, no lengthy counseling sessions.  Simply obey God’s Word.

Of course, if you’re going to obey God’s Word, you have to know  God’s Word.  It needs to be a part of your daily walk. We are to keep it as the “apple” of our eyes.

That’s an interesting phrase, “apple of the eye.”  It means something that is cherished with the greatest regard. It originally referred to the pupil of the eye, which was supposed to have been a globular solid body, much like an apple. As precious as this part of the eye is to seeing, and as all objects are beheld through this aperture, the expression means something very precious.

Is God’s Word precious to you?  To all of us who call ourselves Christians?  How much of our thinking is influenced by His Word?  Are our lives truly founded in Him, and in His Words?
Psalm 119: 11. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”

Psalm 119: 105.  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Let it be so.

 

Accusation

Isaiah 52: 3-5.

For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.

For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.

Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that My people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and My Name continually every day is blasphemed.

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The time has come for God to redeem His people. In verse 3, He refers to the earliest captivity, the captivity in Egypt.  They were not taken into captivity there; they went to Egypt voluntarily  to find food during a time of famine.  Once they got there, though, they became comfortable and chose not to leave, and eventually their numbers grew to the point that the Egyptians began to worry that this tribe of Jacob would take over their land. So the Egyptians enslaved them, even  creating a law whereby all Hebrew baby boys were to be killed at birth.

No one bought Israel to enslave them in Egypt; and no money is going to be paid to redeem them when Messiah sets them free.

Still describing the Egyptian captivity, God  includes the Assyrians in the misery that Israel experienced.  This is a proof that the new king of Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph, was the king of Assyria who had conquered the land (v.4; Acts 7:18).

The Assyrians, noted in history for their cruelty to those they conquered, are said in verse 5 to have “made them to howl.”  The suffering of the people was very great, But the worst thing of all, God said, was that His Name was blasphemed every single day (quoted in Romans 2:24, in which Paul  accuses God’s people that the Gentiles blaspheme His Name  through the idolatry of His people.)

God’s very nature and character and power as represented by His Name will be revealed to them in the day of their redemption

The sin of blasphemy is dealt with in several New Testament scriptures:  Matt. 12:30-32; Mark 2:28-30;  Luke 12:8-10  and others. Blasphemy, simply stated, is to assign the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan.

In Matthew 12:24, the Pharisees say, “This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.”

In the next few verses, Jesus sternly took them to task for their blasphemy.  In Matt. 12: 31-32, Jesus states very clearly that the sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  This is serious business.  We who claim to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God need to clean up our language in reference to Him, because they are One:  God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  Never let it be said by anyone that their blasphemy was just a repetition of what God’s people have said.