The Exaltation of God’s Kingdom Isaiah 40-66, cont’d.
Isaiah 49-57 God Saves Those in His Kingdom through His Servant, cont’d.
The Servant’s Suffering, cont’d. Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Isaiah 53:1-3…The person of the Servant
The Servant would have nothing that would naturally attract men to Him. In fact, He would identify with men through suffering. This is not what the Jews were anticipating in the Messiah. They were looking for a military/governmental leader who would storm in and set them free from those who held them in bondage. He would establish an earthly kingdom whose was rule was in Jerusalem. So, when Jesus came and began to establish a Heavenly kingdom whose rule was in the heart…they did not recognize Him because of their incorrect preconceptions. Isaiah’s description of the Servant was completely contrary to what the Jews would develop for themselves. This is why Isaiah would tell them ahead of time that the Messiah would initially be rejected…”Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?” (Message).
Isaiah 53:4-6…The passion of the Servant
The suffering that the Servant would endure was caused by the very ones that He sought to save.
- He had griefs and sorrows; being acquainted with them, he kept up the acquaintance, and did not grow shy, no, not of such melancholy acquaintance. Were griefs and sorrows allotted him? He bore them, and blamed not his lot; he carried them, and did neither shrink from them, nor sink under them. The load was heavy and the way long, and yet he did not tire, but persevered to the end, till he said, It is finished.
- He had blows and bruises; he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. His sorrows bruised him; he felt pain and smart from them; they touched him in the most tender part, especially when God was dishonoured, and when he forsook him upon the cross. All along he was smitten with the tongue, when he was cavilled at and contradicted, put under the worst of characters, and had all manner of evil said against him. At last he was smitten with the hand, with blow after blow.
- He had wounds and stripes. He was scourged, not under the merciful restriction of the Jewish law, which allowed not above forty stripes to be given to the worst of male factors, but according to the usage of the Romans. And his scourging, doubtless, was the more severe because Pilate intended it as an equivalent for his crucifixion, and yet it proved a preface to it. He was wounded in his hands, and feet, and side. Though it was so ordered that not a bone of him should be broken, yet he had scarcely in any part a whole skin (how fond soever we are to sleep in one, even when we are called out to suffer for him), but from the crown of his head, which was crowned with thorns, to the soles of his feet, which were nailed to the cross, nothing appeared but wounds and bruises.
- He was wronged and abused (v. 7): He was oppressed, injuriously treated and hardly dealt with. That was laid to his charge which he was perfectly innocent of, that laid upon him which he did not deserve, and in both he was oppressed and injured. He was afflicted both in mind and body; being oppressed, he laid it to heart, and, though, he was patient, was not stupid under it, but mingled his tears with those of the oppressed, that have no comforter, because on the side of the oppressors there is power, Eccl. 4:1. Oppression is a sore affliction; it has made many a wise man mad (Eccl. 7:7); but our Lord Jesus, though, when he was oppressed, he was afflicted, kept possession of his own soul.
- He was judged and imprisoned, as is implied in his being taken from prison and judgment, v. 8. God having made him sin for us, he was proceeded against as a malefactor; he was apprehended and taken into custody, and made a prisoner; he was judge, accused, tried, and condemned, according to the usual forms of law: God filed a process against him, judged him in pursuance of that process, and confined him in the prison of the grave, at the door of which a stone was rolled and sealed.
- He was cut off by an untimely death from the land of the living, though he lived a most useful life, did so many good works, and they were all such that one would be apt to think it was for some of them that they stoned him. He was stricken to death, to the grave which he made with the wicked (for he was crucified between two thieves, as if he had been the worst of the three) and yet with the rich, for he was buried in a sepulchre that belonged to Joseph, an honourable counsellor. Though he died with the wicked, and according to the common course of dealing with criminals should have been buried with them in the place where he was crucified, yet God here foretold, and Providence so ordered it, that he should make his grave with the innocent, with the rich, as a mark of distinction put between him and those that really deserved to die, even in his sufferings.
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Isaiah 53,
- And by His stripes we are healed: Here, the prophet sees through the centuries to know that the Messiah would be beaten with many stripes (Mark 15:15). More so, the prophet announces that provision for healing is found in the suffering of Jesus, so by His stripes we are healed.
- There has been much debate as to if Isaiah had in mind spiritual healing or physical healing. As this passage is quoted in the New Testament, we see some more of the thought. In Matthew 8:16-17, the view seems to be of physical healing. In 1 Peter 2:24-25, the view seems to be of spiritual healing. We can safely say that God has both aspects of healing in view, and both our physical and spiritual healing is provided for by the suffering of Jesus.
- However, some have taken this to mean that every believer has the right - the promise - to perfect health right now, and if there is any lack of health, it is simply because this promise has not been claimed in faith. In this thinking, great stress is laid upon the past tense of this phrase - by His stripes we are healed. The idea is that since it is in the past tense, perfect health is God's promise and provision for every Christian at this very moment, even as the believer has the promise to perfect forgiveness and salvation at this moment.
iii. The problem of this view - not even counting how it terribly contradicts the personal experience of saints in the Bible and through history - is that it misunderstands the "verb tense" of both salvation and healing. We can say without reservation that perfect, total, complete healing is God's promise to every believer in Jesus Christ, paid for by His stripes and the totality of His work for us. But we must also say that it is not promised to every believer right now, just as the totality of our salvation is not promised to us right now. The Bible says that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8), that we are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and that we will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:15). Even so, there is a sense in which we have been healed, are being healed, and one day will be healed. God's ultimate healing is called "resurrection," and it is a glorious promise to every believer. Every "patch-up" healing in this present age simply anticipates the ultimate healing that will come.
- What Christians must not do is foolishly "claim" to be healed, despite "mere symptoms" that say otherwise, and believe they are standing on the promise of Isaiah 53:5. What Christians must do is pray boldly and trust God's goodness and mercy in granting gifts of healing now, even before the ultimate healing of resurrection.
- "'With his stripes we are healed.' Will you notice that fact? The healing of a sinner does not lie in himself, nor in what he is, nor in what he feels, nor in what he does, nor in what he vows, nor in what he promises. It is not in himself at all; but there, at Gabbatha, where the pavement is stained with the blood of the Son of God, and there, at Golgotha, where the place of a skull beholds the agonies of Christ. It is in his stripes that the healing lies. I beseech thee, do not scourge thyself: 'With his stripes we are healed.'" (Spurgeon)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 53,
Isaiah 53:7-9…The passivity of the Servant
He did not speak out against those who were punishing Him. He did not seek to escape the suffering that He endured. This was His mission and He refused to allow anything to prohibit Him from accomplishing it. Jesus willingly went to the cross to pay the price of the sins of mankind.
Isaiah 53:10-12…The payment of the Servant
He will pay for the sins of man (cf. :5-6)...and as a result be rewarded.
- Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: The prophet gloriously, and emphatically, states that the suffering of the Servant of the LORD was ordained by the LORD, even for His pleasure!
- This was God's doing! He has put Him to grief! Jesus was no victim of circumstance or at the mercy of political or military power. It was the planned, ordained work of the LORD God, prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before it happened. This was God's victory, not Satan's or man's triumph.
- As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. The Father and the Son worked together at the cross. Though Jesus was treated as if He were an enemy of God, He was not. Even as Jesus was punished as if He were a sinner, He was performing the most holy service unto God the Father ever offered. This is why Isaiah can say, Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10). In and of itself, the suffering of the Son did not please the Father. But as it accomplished the work of reconciling the world to Himself, it was completely pleasing to God the Father.
- When you make His soul an offering for sin: The Hebrew speaks of a specific, sacrificial sin-offering as described in Leviticus chapter 5. The idea of a substitutionary atonement for sin cannot be more specifically stated!
- And it was this - the becoming of the sin-sacrifice - more than the physical suffering that Jesus dreaded. "My Lord suffered as you suffer, only more keenly; for he had never injured his body or soul by any act of excess, so as to take off the edge from his sensitiveness. His was the pouring out of a whole soul in all the phases of suffering into which perfect souls can pass. He felt the horror of sin as we who have sinned could not feel it, and the sight of evil afflicted him much more than it does the purest among us." (Spurgeon)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 53,
The Servant’s Salvation Isaiah 54:1-57:21
Isaiah 54…The provision of the Servant (the promise of salvation)
Charles Spurgeon commented on this chapter…
"Try and suck all the sweetness that you can out of this chapter while we read it. The personal application of a promise to the heart by the Holy Spirit is that which is wanted. The honey in Jonathan's wood never enlightened his eyes until he dipped the point of his rod into it and tasted it. Try and do the same. This chapter is the wood wherein every bough doth drip with virgin honey. Sip: taste, and be satisfied."
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 54,
Isaiah 54:1-3-They exile in Babylon had meant more to the Jews than just being forcibly taken away from their homeland to a foreign country. They also experienced humiliation, and shame, and disgrace. He compares their feelings to that of a woman who could not bear children. But here, God tells Israel that they are going to return to the land that God had given to them where they will grow and multiply.
Isaiah 54:4-8-God tells Israel that the reason for this growth is that He is their God...and He is going to care for them as if they were His wife. For a short time God allowed them to feel forsaken, to experience His chastisement. But when compared with what He had in store for them…it was nothing.
Isaiah 54:9-10-God is going to establish His covenant with them and it will never end.
Isaiah 54:11-17-God tells them that no enemy will be able to overcome them.
Isaiah 55…The provision of the Servant (the invitation of salvation)
Isaiah 55:1-5-The salvation that God offers is free…and it is offered to all people.
Isaiah 55:6-13-God tells us to seek Him while He may be found. There are many things in life that affect our ability to find God. Circumstances change. Attitudes harden. Life ends. We should seek God now…before the opportunity passes (:6). God’s appeal becomes even more intense as He calls not just the righteous to come to Him, but the wicked, as well (:7). The salvation that God offers is based on Him and His word...not on man's ideas or abilities. God’s word, His promise, will never fail. No matter who the person is, or what they have done…if they will repent and turn to God, He will save them (:8-11). There will be great joy and blessings for those who find God (:12-13).
Prayer: Father, as I read these words about the suffering of the Messiah, my Savior…my guilt weighs heavy on my soul. It was for me that He suffered. It was because of me that He suffered. Please, Lord, don’t let me ever take sin lightly. I don’t know if I am ready to see sin from the perspective of Your total holiness…I fear that I would become so distraught that I would feel hopeless. But help me to see it clear enough that I have a holy fear of it. Don’t let me entertain sin in any manner. Help me to always be mindful of the price, of the pain, that my sin caused Jesus.