|<< Isa 48|
Isaiah 49-53 Listen
1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
This chapter looks to the time when the Messiah of Israel will rule over all the earth - Gentile nations and all, a clear reference to the period we know as the yet-future millennium. The emphasis here is that God has not forgotten Israel, but has dealt with her through trial. When the Messiah comes, everything will be restored and Israel will be the center of dominion over all the nations under the Messiah, including the Gentile nations. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul quotes verse 6 here as his justification for turning to the Gentiles to minister in Acts 13:46-47 (see notes). These first 7 verses prophesy the ministry of the Messiah during the millennium.
Paul quotes verse 8 in II Corinthians 6:1-2 (see notes):
II Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
II Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
It's interesting that Paul uses this quote. He seems to be saying that the time for Gentile salvation has arrived, and it would be a shame for the Corinthians to treat this occasion with anything less than enthusiasm. There is a heavy emphasis in Isaiah 49 on the Messiah's role in establishing Israel as the center of Messianic rule, respected by all nations on earth as such.
The remaining verses in this chapter serve as an encouragement to those in captivity who think that perhaps Israel has been forgotten by God. Not only has Israel not been forgotten, but there's another reference to Gentile salvation under the Messiah in verse 22. Notice also in verses 23-26 how that the Jewish people will be ministered unto by these Gentiles, and those who would do otherwise will be dealt with harshly (to say the least) by God.
Israel's sin and the servant's obedience (Isaiah 50)
1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.
4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
8 He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.
9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.
10 Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.
11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
The divorce procedure of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (see notes) is referenced in this passage with regard to Israel (the wife) and God (the husband). In this passage Israel is shown as temporarily put away because of her sin. It is emphasized that Israel sold herself in this process. In other words, God did not cast Israel away; Israel alienated herself from God in the first place with her idolatry and worship of other gods. God remained faithful; Israel left. Now...what about Israel's redemption from this state?
The servant in this passage appears to speak of the Messiah who will redeem Israel and bring her back into a relationship with God, but that doesn't happen until the regathering of the millennium. That being said, verses 6-7 logically identify the suffering of the Messiah, Jesus, on the cross, along with the events leading up to the crucifixion during his first advent. This picture of the suffering Messiah emerges clearly in Isaiah 53 (see below). Were it not for chapter 53, these verses might stand as ambiguous. However, the picture is presented here and expanded upon in chapter 53 that the redemption of Israel is paid for by the suffering of the Messiah.
Now for a word to Jerusalem (Isaiah 51)
1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
10 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
15 But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name.
16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
19 These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
To get our bearings in this chapter, notice that the reference to Abraham and Sarah in verse 2 clearly identifies Israel and Zion in verse 3 as Jerusalem. Jerusalem's redemption is in view continuing on into chapter 52. This final redemption does not take place until the millennium, although a return by Jews to Jerusalem did take place during the reign of Cyrus the Persian King after 538 B.C.
God's relationship to Jerusalem is presented in verse 16, "And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people." But then we see God's wrath poured upon Jerusalem for their disobedience in verse 17, "Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out." The description of God's wrath continues until verse 21 where we are told that God will withdraw his wrath from Israel and put it upon those who have afflicted them (verse 23). It would appear that these verses refer to the destruction of Israel's enemies (Assyria and Babylon) in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. rather than the final destruction of Israel's enemies at the yet-future Battle of Armageddon.
1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
4 For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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!
8 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.
9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
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.
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.
This chapter begins with the oppression of Jerusalem and the promise that it will not always be so. There's a recognition of the fact that the Babylonians take great delight in their captivity of Jerusalem, as seen by the comment in verse 5, "...my name continually every day is blasphemed." Paul quotes that verse in Romans 2:24 (see notes). The transition to promise begins in verse 6, and we notice that Paul quotes verse 7 in Romans 10:15 (see notes) as he speaks about the salvation of the Jews when he says, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" Verses 13-15 are clear references to Christ's suffering on the cross as the obedient servant redeeming Israel and all mankind. This message continues on into the next chapter. Paul quotes verse 15 in Romans 15:21 (see notes) to justify taking the Gospel to Gentiles rather than to the Jews when he says, "But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand."
Incidentally, Paul quotes verse 11 in II Corinthians 6:17 (see notes) when he says, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." In that verse, the Jews are being told to leave Babylonia and return to their sacred land when the time comes. When that time does come, Israel is under the dominion of the Persian King Cyrus. In that situation, some might not see the urgency of leaving that comfortable environment to return to Jerusalem.
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
You need to get a running start into this passage by reading again 52:13-15. Here's the suffering servant, the Messiah, in great detail enduring what we now know to be the crucifixion of the Messiah. It is remarkable that Isaiah saw this over 700 years before it was to happen. You will notice that verses 2-3 identify the horrible disfiguring beating that Jesus received prior to being placed on the cross. Then, on the cross, he suffered as a criminal...despised and rejected.
Verse 4 needs a little bit of special attention here regarding two phrases - "borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." In actuality, the Hebrew word for "griefs" is "choli" which is almost always translated "sickness" in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word for "sorrows" is "mak-obe," a word expressing the result of that sickness being "pain" or "sorrow." So, this verse tells us that Jesus suffered the physical ailment and resulting pain of the cross on our behalf. However, he was counted as rejected by God as he was enduring that pain. Matthew captures the essence of this verse when he quotes it in Matthew 8:17 (see notes), "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." One might get the impression from the English translation of Isaiah 53:4 that this verse refers to spiritual grief and sorrow, but Matthew makes it plain that it is "infirmities" and "sicknesses" i.e. physical suffering. I might add that, while the Hebrew in this verse clearly depicts physical suffering and not spiritual, the Septuagint (Old Testament in Greek) actually gets it wrong by translating the Hebrew "choli" as "hamartia," the word for "sin." Perhaps this faulty Greek translation has led to the common misunderstanding of this verse to be regarded as spiritual grief and sorrow rather than physical. Nonetheless, Matthew renders it correctly in Matthew 8:17 (see notes).
The passage indeed turns spiritual beginning in verse 5 where we see that Jesus' death on the cross made a spiritual impact on mankind. In other words, spiritual healing (reconciliation to God) was made possible as Jesus paid the penalty of our sin on the cross. Thus, "with his stripes we are healed." We further see this point driven home in verse 6 where we see the phrase "the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." There's your spiritual healing.
John quotes Isaiah 53 in John 12:37-41 (see notes) with regard to the ministry of Christ:
John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
John 12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
John 12:39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
John 12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
Notice verse 9, "And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." We seem to see the fulfillment of verse 9 in Matthew 27:57-60 (see notes):
Matthew 27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus disciple:
Matthew 27:58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
Matthew 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
Matthew 27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
It should be pointed out here that this chapter is the cornerstone prophecy for the atonement which makes our salvation possible. All the theological terms used to describe the proposition of our salvation are found here - propitiation, atonement, sacrifice, substitution, sinless sacrifice, spiritual healing, our Savior's suffering, man's sinful nature, man's rejection, Christ's obedience - it's all here. There is simply no serious contention that this is not a reference to the Messiah, the redeemer of all Israel...and the world. The chapters leading up to chapter 53 have set the stage, and here it is.
It's interesting that the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day highly regarded the prophecy of Isaiah, but had a hand in fulfilling the cruel stipulations of chapter 53 while they were looking for the Messiah. This demonstrates to us that people see what they are conditioned to see. Paul said in I Corinthians 2:14 (see notes), "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." With their natural minds, they rejected the Messiah and fulfilled the very prophecy regarding the Messiah for whom they said they were waiting. Hey! This is fascinating stuff!
Notice the other New Testament references back to Isaiah 53: