[Isa 52:13] Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.AN ANALYSIS OF THE GREAT SERVANT ORACLE
[Isa 52:14] Like as many were astonished at thee (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men),
[Isa 52:15] so shall he sprinkle many nations; 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 understand.
[Isa 53:1] Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed?
[Isa 53:2] For he grew 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 see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
[Isa 53:3] He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.
[Isa 53:4] Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
[Isa 53:5] 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.
[Isa 53:6] All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
[Isa 53:7] He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
[Isa 53:8] By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who [among them] considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke [was due]?
[Isa 53:9] And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
[Isa 53:10] Yet it pleased Jehovah 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 Jehovah shall prosper in his hand.
[Isa 53:11] He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.
[Isa 53:12] Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
ON THIS chart I have designated Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as "The Great Servant Oracle." This passage is indeed a divine disclosure concerning the great Servant of Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The term, servant, is a favorite one with Isaiah, but he uses it with three connotations: In its broadest sense, it refers to the nation of Israel; in a more limited one, to the faithful remnant of Israel; and, in a personal way, to the Messiah. In the latter sense it occurs in Isaiah 42, 49, 50, and also in the passage under discussion. In order to get a clear-cut idea of this servant as seen by Isaiah, one must study these passages.
This selection of scripture falls into three well defined, sections: I. Messiah's Redemptive Career, 52:13-15; II. Israel's Penitential Confession, 53:1-9; III. The Divine Interpretation of the Cross, 53:10-12. To each of these let us now turn our attention.
THE REDEMPTIVE CAREER OF KING MESSIAH
"Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high." This quotation is taken from the American Revised Version. In it we see the unfolding of Messiah's redemptive career up to the point of His ascension to the right hand of the throne of God. Let us analyze this verse. The clause, "He shall deal wisely," speaks of the innocent, holy life of our Lord while upon earth. The word of the original text rendered "shall be exalted" literally means "shall rise." The term translated "lifted up" means literally "to be lifted up" or "to lift himself up." The words in the original rendered "shall be very high" are accurately translated. According to the fundamental rule of interpreting all language, we must take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the context indicate clearly otherwise. An examination of the rest of this oracle (chapter 53) shows that this servant, notwithstanding his innocency, is put to death, is buried, and is raised to life again. Since the words in the original, just examined, mean literally to rise and to be lifted up or lift oneself up, and since we see from the facts of the context that this one is put to death and rises again, we naturally conclude that the terms in question are to be rendered literally. Obviously, they refer to the historical facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Looking at the chart above, note the places indicated by the arrows and the words on them. In view of all the data, we see that this verse simply calls attention to the fact that Messiah during His personal ministry deals wisely. Notwithstanding that fact, He is put to death. But Sheol cannot contain or restrain Him, for He is raised from the dead. After returning to life, He is lifted up or lifts himself up, at the invitation of God, to sit at His right hand. After the ascension, He is exceedingly high.
Verse 14 refers to the crucifixion. "Like as many were astonished at thee (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men)." This is the picture appearing in Psalm 22:1-21. Individuals are amazed at His personal appearance as He hangs upon the cross.
Isaiah follows this description with the following words: "So shall he [Messiah] sprinkle [startle] many nations; 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 understand." This verse refers to the second coming of our Lord, when He returns in glory and overpowers His enemies by His august presence. Individuals, gazing upon Him as He hangs upon the cross, are amazed. Nations and their rulers will likewise be startled when they see this one, rejected 1900 years ago, sitting upon His throne of glory and administering a righteous reign of justice upon the earth. In these verses, therefore, the entire redemptive career of King Messiah is set forth. (I herewith give my own translation of these verses in roman letters, interspersed with my comments in italics.)
"Behold, my Servant, King Messiah, shall deal wisely during His life; notwithstanding His purity and innocence He shall be put to death, but shall rise from the dead, and be lifted up when He accepts the invitation of God to sit at His right hand according to Psa. 110:1,2 and shall be very high. Like as many were confounded at Thee because of the horrifying appearance of thy mutilated body (His visage was so marred more than the sons of men), so shall He startle many nations by His appearing in glory as King of kings and Lord of lords; kings who have renounced Him and thrown off His authority in the World Conference (Psa. 2) shall shut their mouths at Him, and together with princes render divine worship (Isa. 49:7); for that which had not been told them, by those who had the Word of God and who should have proclaimed it to the world, shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand clearly."
ISRAEL'S PENITENTIAL CONFESSION
In Isaiah 53:1-9 we see the verbal, penitential confession which the convicted remnant of Israel will make in the year 1942-plus (Book published in 1942). Moses, in Leviticus 26:40,41, foretold that Israel would confess her crime before God but did not tell of what it would consist. Isaiah, however, is very specific on this point. Thus far, Israel has never made that confession. But in these nine verses, we can see the convicted nation making it. In order that she might do so, the facts relative to this sin must be given to her. One can never confess a sin until he is made aware of the wrong of which he is guilty. Since the nation will make this confession, we conclude that the facts will have, by the time here foreseen, been given to it.
Who has this information? There can be but one answerthe church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We, therefore, who know Him and know His truth are under obligation to do all that we can to get this message out to His Chosen People. Whether or not the testimony has been given sufficiently so that they can make this confession, no one can say. It is for us to avail ourselves of every opportunity of giving forth this message in an intelligent way so that these people can make this confessionas they must.
A second version of this confession is found in Isaiah 63:15-64:12. Hosea, speaking for the Messiah, says that He will return to His place and will never come back to this earth until Israel acknowledges her offenseagainst Him(Hosea 5:15). "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly."
THE DIVINE INTERPRETATION OF THE CROSS
In the second division of this oracle, as we have seen, is Israel's verbal, penitential confession. In it the cross towers above the wreckage of the centuries. But why in the providence of God is Messiah executed? The answer to this question is given in the last three verses of this oracle. It is seen that the divine hand overrules in this tragedy of the ages and brings a blessing to the world through it. The silent sufferer in dying makes His soul an offering for sin. In doing this He is carrying out the good pleasure of the eternal God. After His death, He comes forth from the unseen world bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel. On the basis of His sacrificial death, He is able to justify all who come to God by Him and who accept His atoning blood. This salvation is free to all who call upon Him for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." Have you, dear sinner friend, accepted this atonement? If not, why not do it today?