Monday, March 17, 2014

CCXLV – Isaiah 49-53

In these five chapters we’re looking at today, Isaiah speaks of the “Suffering Servant”.  I have not the strength to get into all of the research surrounding this subject in these chapters, but I can say with confidence that he is speaking of three different servants. He speaks of himself as God’s servant/spokesman/prophet.  He speaks also of Israel being God’s servant to lead the world to God as the only God Who exists past, present, and future.  As an extension of Israel, Isaiah speaks of the future Israel which is the saved nation of Christians assigned to lead the lost world to God and His Son.  And finally Isaiah actually speaks of Christ the Suffering Servant.  I hope to cover these sufficiently in this post.

Also in these chapters Isaiah is speaking to four different groups of people:
1)    Israel, the northern kingdom, who will be taken captive by the Assyrians
2)    Judah, who still has a chance to repent, but will later be taken captive by the Babylonians
3)    The Israelites in exile who will return to Jerusalem, and
4)    The Jews and Gentiles whom the Messiah will save and lead to the Father

Chapter 49

Remember in the last post I mentioned the German Lutheran theologian named Bernard Lauardus Duhm had discovered four servant songs in the last half of the Book of Isaiah, the first of which is in 42:1-4.  The remaining songs are found in these chapters, the first of which in the first six verses of chapter 49.  This one is a song about Isaiah answering the call of the Lord as his spokesman.  Verse 1 says that God had selected Isaiah while he was yet in the womb.  {I believe God makes many selections of His servants this way.  This is not to be confused with pre-destination.  I’ll address that later.}  Verses 1-5 speak of Isaiah himself, but in verse 6 he shifts to Someone else: The Messiah Who will bring salvation to the Gentiles and to the ends of the earth.  He goes on to describe briefly in the next few verses of Christ being the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, Who (vs 7) will be despised and hated by the nation Israel.
49:14 – 50:3  - God Has Not Forgotten the Exiles

The exiles thought that God had forsaken them, but God answers them through Isaiah that He longs for their return to Jerusalem in the Promised Land, but is waiting for their hearts to return to Him first.  God’s response to them is somewhat scolding in tone, as He mentions their dependence on Egypt to deliver them rather than God.


The third servant song is found in verses 4-9.  In this passage Isaiah speaks of how the servant can only be successful if he relies totally of God for guidance.  No human is capable of such a commission without Divine assistance.

Chapter 51  -  Zion, the City of God

Jerusalem, Zion, the city of David, the city of God.  All different names for the same place which God holds dear.  This entire chapter speaks reverently to Jerusalem and its inhabitants, both present and future, making it difficult at times to discern to which group he is speaking in each verse.  But his message is clear:  Jerusalem will be restored beyond that of its previous glory in the days of Solomon.  {We have yet to see this happen in its entirety, but we will.}  Beginning in verse 17 God pronounces His wrath upon Babylon because of the disrespectful way they treated Jerusalem when they conquered the city and took the citizens captive.

Chapter 52:1-12

In this rather short chapter Isaiah is speaking to the current inhabitants of Jerusalem, admonishing them to repent and return to God, as there is still time, but time is running out.  He tells them in the first verse to “Wake up!”  He promises that never again after the Babylonians will Jerusalem be taken down.  He assures Jerusalem of its redemption.  And it will be restored properly as God will place His hand directly on the city as it will be reestablished as the City of God.

Chapter 52:13 – 53:13 – The Ultimate Suffering Servant Described

This is the fourth and final song, much lengthier than the first three, as this one is this entire passage of fifteen verses.  I see these verses specifically describing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  The Savior of the world.  Read these verses and you will agree.  Verses 14 and 15 tells of Him being beaten and disfigured beyond recognition.  Look at 53:2.  Isaiah knew ahead of time that Jesus would not arrive as a military leader or a member of the royalty, but rather a baby boy born to the poor working class.  He would be of lowly origin and generally unattractive (which means His appearance would not draw attention).  Verse 3 – He is despised and rejected.  The word “despised” meant one who is treated with contempt or disrespect, just like Jesus was.  Look at verse 4 carefully.  He took up our pain and bore our suffering.  This says He took our punishment for us.  {He was able to do this because He committed no sin.  Had he committed sin, he could have been punished only for Himself.}  Verse 6 – God laid on Him the iniquities of us all.  Verse 7 can make one cry:  He did not open His mouth, but remained silent through His suffering like a lamb when it is led to slaughter.  Verse 8:  Nobody stood up for Him.  He took it all alone.  Verse 10 says that yet it was the Lord’s will to make Him suffer.  Isaiah said this to be certain that all hearers and readers understand that nobody took His life, but rather He gave it willingly.  The second part of verse 9 says “He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth”.  So accurately did Isaiah foretell the existence of Christ.

Next Post:  Isaiah 54 and 55  -  God’s Offer of Salvation

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