Wednesday, April 17, 2024

2024.04.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Questions from the Scripture text: With what command does Isaiah 52:13a begin? Whom should we behold? How will He deal? What will happen to Him (verse 13b)? What will we see when we look (Isaiah 52:14)? What shall He do to whom (Isaiah 52:15a)? What will kings do (verse 15b)? What will they see (verse 15c)? What will they hear (verse 15d)? What two questions does Isaiah 53:1 ask? With what word does Isaiah 52:2 begin? So, what is this report that is the revelation of YHWH’s saving arm? Like what kind of plant would the Servant grow (verse 2a)? Out of what kind of ground (verse 2b)? What does verse 2 assure us would not be true about the Servant physically? How would men treat Him (Isaiah 52:3a)? What would He experience (verse 3b)? How would we respond to His sorrow and grief? But whose grief and sorrow is He actually carrying (Isaiah 52:4)? And Who, would men think, was punishing the Servant? But for whose transgressions was He wounded (Isaiah 52:5a)? For whose iniquities was He bruised? For whose peace was He chastised? Whom did He heal by His stripes? What had we done (Isaiah 52:6)? And Who was it that laid their guilt upon the Servant instead? When it came time for Him to die, how did it happen (Isaiah 52:7a, c)? And how did He conduct Himself (verse 7b, d, e)? What was done to Him (Isaiah 52:8a, c)? What generation doesn’t know what to say to this (verse 8b)? But what does YHWH say to this (verse 8d)? With what people did men appoint His grave to be (Isaiah 52:9a) But with whom did He end up being buried (verse 9b)? Why (verse 9c–d)? Whom did it please (Isaiah 52:10a) to do what (verse v10a–c)? With what outcome for the Servant (verse 10d)? And Whose pleasure will He proceed to accomplish (verse 10e)? How will the Servant feel about this (Isaiah 52:11a)? With what, especially, will He be satisfied (verse 11b)? How, will He do this (verse 11c)? With how many does He share His portion (Isaiah 52:12a)? What will be the condition of these portion-sharers (verse 12b)? How did He gain this for whom (verse 12c–f)?

How did the Servant bring many sons to glory? Isaiah 52:13–53:12 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these fifteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that it was by His suffering that the Servant brought many sons to glory. 

A command to beholdIsaiah 52:13. “Behold” in verse 13 is a command to look at, consider, and dwell upon the marvelous truths that follow—and the marvelous One about whom they are true. Marveling at the wisdom (verse 13a) of how He accomplishes His own exaltation, by way of our salvation, is part of His bringing us to faith, and we will be rejoice to continue that marveling forever. 

Astonishing suffering, astonished salvationIsaiah 52:14-15. The suffering is so great that it is spoken of as dehumanizing (Isaiah 52:14b). The astonishing suffering (verse 14) accomplishes astonishing salvation (Isaiah 52:15a) unto astonished worship (verse 15b).

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead seeIsaiah 53:1-2. The arm of YHWH, a revelation of Himself (cf. Isaiah 51:19) and His own saving action (cf. Isaiah 52:10), is reported (Isaiah 53:1a) as revealed (verse 1b), not first in the saving of His servant, but first in the smiting and suffering of His servant (Isaiah 53:3). This Servant, Who is a revelation of YHWH, is also distinct from Yahweh, since He is before Him in Isaiah 53:2a (cf. John 1:1–2; 1 John 1:2). 

And He is described in very human and creaturely terms as growing up, a tender shoot at first (Isaiah 53:2a)—unexpectedly from infertile/dry ground (verse 2b)! His humanity is so complete that there are no visible cues to distinguish his Divine personhood (verse 2c–e). 

The complexities of how this humanity fits with Him being YHWH Himself will not be resolved until the incarnation. Even after they are resolved, they remain so profound that we will learn and worship forever. 

A seeing that is only by grace–given faithIsaiah 53:3-4. In themselves, men do not rightly respond to or recognize Him (Isaiah 53:3).  We are so ignorant that the fault is ours (Isaiah 53:4a–b), that we think that His suffering is due to rejection by God (verse 4c–d), rather than approval by God as the only One who could successfully atone. 

Apart from grace, people have the same response to Jesus now that they did then. They are rebellious against His demands of exclusivity, indignant at His claims of divinity, and offended by His convicting exposition of morality that accuses and condemns us all. Then and now, apart from grace, sinners want to conclude that the Scriptural Jesus is bad (Isaiah 53:4c–d) for these things, in order to maintain a view of ourselves as good. 

The Man of greatest sorrow everIsaiah 53:3-5. There is an emphasis here on the consequences of the fall, by use of the literal language of sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4a, where NKJ has “griefs”) and pains (verse 4b, where NKJ has “sorrows”). He did not make Himself more miserable by sin, like we do with our own sin.  But the miseries of this life were more profoundly miserable to Him for the knowledge of their origin, and for their distortion of “very good” condition in which He had created all things (cf. Genesis 1:31), and for what the enemy had done to mar the display of God's glory in His image bearers, and even for the knowledge of what all of these sicknesses and pains would culminate in, when He was made to be sin with our sin at the cross (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). Not only did the Lord Jesus genuinely suffer illness and pain throughout His earthly life, He suffered it more genuinely and profoundly than any of us can imagine in our own ignorance and sinfulness.

We do not suffer the miseries of this life in the right way, but the Lord Jesus has done so obediently and believingly in our place (obedience in experiencing everything sinlessly, “active obedience”). So also we are unable to suffer the penalty for the guilt of our sins, but the Lord Jesus has also done this (obedience in subjecting Himself to curse for us, “passive obedience”). Thus, He brings that peace (Isaiah 53:5c) in which the miseries themselves shall eliminated. The contrast between the “all” and the singular “Him” in Isaiah 53:6 shows how great indeed must be the atonement and the One who makes it. It is a similar contrast to that of the one and the all in Romans 5:12, Romans 5:18 and the one and the many in Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19

Suffering that had to happen, one way or the otherIsaiah 53:4-6. Going astray (Isaiah 53:6a) is not only the language of leaving the correct path/place, but also the language of putting oneself in danger of sure and violent death. This is what happens when sheep go astray. Grace opens our eyes to see that it is because we are wicked that the one good Man that there has ever been was wounded, bruised, chastised, and scourged (Isaiah 53:5-6). Redundant pronouns in the original emphasize that He Himself suffered this (Isaiah 53:4a and c; Isaiah 53:5a, c, and d; Isaiah 53:6c). He alone. Because we could not. And in the contrast of the Hebrew poetic parallels, this is emphasizing that we alone are the sinners.

Laying down His life with authorityIsaiah 53:7-8Isaiah 53:7-9 zoom in on the end of the Servant’s earthly life, just like Isaiah 53:1-3 had zoomed in on the beginning of His earthly life. There is not just the willingness of God to make the Servant into the suffering substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6), but now here an emphasis on the willingness of the Servant Himself (Isaiah 53:7). His silence and resolve are a display of authority and power (cf. John 10:17–18; 1 Peter 2:22–25). He is able to be as silent as a lamb, because He has authority of the One who has life in Himself.

Jesus knows exactly why He is dying. It is His generation that doesn’t know what to say/declare (Isaiah 53:8b). A more literal translation would be, "Who of his generation considered?" That is to say that no one else at the time had an awareness of what was happening in his death. From the Gospel accounts, we see that this was true even of His disciples. 

Isaiah emphasizes Jesus as the sole One on earth who understood, at the time of His death, what was truly happening. This isolates for us the great transaction that is occurring between God and God the Son. No one else is pictured as being “in on it” until, marvelously, one of the thieves who had been mocking him suddenly speaks in the same categories of innocent penal suffering (cf. Luke 23:41) and imminent royal victory (cf. Luke 23:42) that we see here towards the end of our passage. 

Surely, the same Spirit who wrote it by Isaiah's hand on Isaiah's scroll is the one who wrote it on that day on the redeemed thief's heart. And if we are to know these truths not merely academically, but as a glorious reality, we must now have the same Spirit write it upon our own hearts. 

Buried in dignityIsaiah 53:9. In verse 9a, “wicked” is in the plural and refers to those with whom men would have buried Him. But “rich” is in the singular and refers to the providence of God, through the care of His disciples, by which His body was treated with honor. Though humiliation continued (in His being under the power of death in the grave) chastisement and atonement had been completed. 

God cared for Jesus's buried body, for which it was impossible that He should see corruption (cf. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27–32; Acts 13:35–39). This indicates to us God's Care for our own interred bodies, though they see correction. He was buried with one rich man, but our burials cannot excise our bodies from being united to the Heir of all things. And so, we ought to treat the bodies of deceased believers with a similar respect to that which was shown the body of our Lord in His death.

The fruit of His laborIsaiah 53:10-12Isaiah 53:10 declares that the suffering has been a success. By it, the Servant obtains His offspring, for whom He had suffered. Death was not the end for Him; resurrection is a new beginning. The most natural way to read the original of Isaiah 53:4 is that the prolonged days belong to the offspring, as a consequence of the Servant’s death. 

The language of the Lord's pleasure brackets Isaiah 53:10 at its beginning and end: the Lord's goal in history has been to bring about this great, successful life, death, and resurrection. The whole purpose of history has been secured by this one, great event. The same Servant who suffered that brings about the glorious ends unto which He had suffered (Isaiah 53:11).

Isaiah 53:12 speaks of the same accomplishments, but from the perspective of the Servant being rewarded. The application of Christ 's finished work is not just a function of His power but of His rightful reward and honor. “Great” in Isaiah 53:12a is actually the same as “many” in Isaiah 53:11b, Isaiah 53:12e. The “many” who are justified by His bearing their sin become sharers of His portion—sharers in His birthright, reward, and inheritance.

Who is Jesus? Why did He suffer? How did He give His life? What did He gain by it? For whom? What is your part in His suffering? What is your part in His accomplishment and reward?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for how easily we ignore our sin. And forgive us for how unthoughtful and unfeeling we often are about the greatness of our Savior’s misery and death. Grant that we would love for Him to receive His reward—even as You and He have been pleased to give us to share in His reward with Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH352 “Man of Sorrows”

No comments:

Post a Comment