The Victor’s Portion…Isaiah 53 pt 8

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.(Isaiah 53:12)

The last verse of this fourth Servant Song has always struck me as anti-climatic. But this is because I believe the King James version confuses the meaning somewhat, for it reads as though the Servant takes his place among other great and strong ones.

But the according to evangelical scholar Alec Motyer, Hebrew text reads, “I will allocate to Him the many, and the strong will be apportioned as a spoil”. Thus, the Servant receives as his own possession, the many for whom he died to save.

As for his possession of the strong, the prophet has already sung about the reactions of the “princes” of the earth to the Servant,

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.(Isaiah 52:15)

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.(Isaiah 49:7)

The song closes by listing the grounds for which the Servant receives ‘the many’, as his own, and why the “strong’(Kings of the earth), as His possession,

“Because…” Young points out in his commentary,that this word,‘tahat aser’, is the strongest causative in Hebrew, and is the equivalent of “Because of the fact that…”.

…he hath poured out his soul unto death… He will receive the many and the strong for his possession, because He gave His life as a drink offering to God. Notice that the Servant is not said to have been murdered, He himself was the agent of his own death, He poured out his own life!

…and he was numbered with the transgressors… The word ‘numbered’, niphal, is in a ‘tolerative ‘ tense, “He let himself be numbered…”The Servant receives the reward because He voluntarily identified with the people He came to save. He allowed himself to be so identified with us, He actually became liable before God for our guilt! Paul proclaims,

“He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him”(2 Cor 5:21)

…and he bare the sin of many…As a substitute, the Servant ‘lifted up and took away’ the transgression of the rebels, bearing our sins to judgment on the cross. Like the scapegoat of Leviticus, he was banished for us, carrying away the guilt of our defection from God.

…and made intercession for the transgressors. Finally, because he became a mediator, standing between we who deserved nothing but wrath and judgment, and the Holy God, against whom we have sinned. He made His own life our sin offering. His sinless life , perfectly pleasing to God, becomes our only plea for pardon and favor.

The cross itself, which fixed him between heaven and earth, is the ultimate intercession, the final and complete act of interposition. He put himself between sinful man, and the Holy God! He took upon himself our judgment, our guilt and the sorrows that accompany our rebellion!

He still pleads for us at the Right hand of God, as the ever faithful High Priest, constantly bringing us to God, and maintaining our life before Him, in spite of our sins, flaws and periodic defections.

The Servant himself is our peace, for He has accomplished the task, He has pleased the LORD, who has ordained Him to bring this reconciliation without. Small wonder that in the end, all shall sing with trembling adoration, ”Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is LORD”.

Yet in grace and love that is nearly unfathomable, He freely shares the spoil, with all of us who by faith have gathered to Him and who freely identify with Him in the great conflict between darkness and light. He justified us, redeemed us, Loved and washed us from our sins in His own blood! And the Servant lavishes gifts upon we, who are his bride! All glory, honor and praise to Jesus!

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My Servant Shall Justify the Many…Isaiah 53pt7

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. 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. 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 (Isaiah 53:10-12)

We come now to the last section of the 4th Servant Song of Isaiah.These verses point to the benefits which the efforts of the suffering servant of the LORD have purchased for God, and for himself and for us.

We have already examined the terrible reality of the saying, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (crush him), He hath Put Him to grief (He hath made him sick).…”.

The plight of sinful man required this self offering of the Servant, as a substitution, for a righteous God can only receive sinners on righteous terms. Sin must be paid for, Holiness must be satisfied, the punishment must be carried out.

The LORD appointed the Servant, that He might take our place in the judgment of our sin. All of the humiliation, pain, perplexity and estrangement that He experienced, is summed up in this terse, “He(the LORD) hath put him (the Servant) to grief“. It can also read, “He hath made him sick”.

The death of the Servant was an offering of propitiation for our sins, that is a satisfaction offering. All of the demands of the broken law of God, and the offended holiness of God against sinners, have been satisfied by the offering of the Servant.

…when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…This is addressed to the reader or hearer of this prophecy, “… When You make His life your sin offering…”. We are to approach God solely by the offering of this life, for this is the only sacrifice acceptable to God. In fact, this Servant is nothing less than the offering God made to himself.

…he shall see his seed… Death will not be the last word for the Servant, for the Servant will see the outcome of his agony, a believing seed will arise out of his work. His sufferings will be the source of a vast, redeemed congregation , purchased by His blood. They will be faithful and true believers in Him, and in the God whom He came to reveal.

Psalm 22, a similar prophecy of the suffering and glory of the Messiah predicting the crucifixion the casting of lots for His garment and the Servant’s death at the hands of gentiles, starts with the cry of dereliction, “My God,My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and ends with a variation of the saying, “It is finished (He hath accomplished)”.

But in the middle of the Psalm the prophet looks ahead past the suffering of Messiah, to behold the glory and exaltation which should follow,

All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.(Psalm 22:29-31)

…he shall prolong his days, … This is a prediction that the Servant will live forever. How could the same servant be “Cut off of the land of the living…and be appointed a grave with the wicked and the rich in his death” yet prolong his days? Isaiah 53 predicts here the resurrection of the LORD”S Servant.

This promise is also given in Psalms to David’s seed,

He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him. For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.(Psalm 21:4-6)

…and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand

God’s pleasure, all that the Lord would accomplish for the reconciliation of Israel and of all sinful men, will succeed by the hand of the willing Servant. There will be many of every tribe and tongue who shall come to know the “only true God” through the work of the servant. The good purposes of the Lord shall flourish by the suffering of this one.

…He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied… This too is a reference to the resurrection of the Servant, and the satisfactory outcome of his work. He will see the result of what he suffered for, and will be satisfied. It will have been worth pouring out his very soul to death, when He sees the redeemed company, knowing and loving God.

…by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities… Accepting in humble faith, the report of what the Servant has done for us; with all of it’s implications as to our persons, (that we are sinners in need of redemption, utterly separated from God by our sins, in need of forgiveness and deliverance from wrath), amounts to saving faith.

Knowing and receiving the risen Servant of the LORD, and his work of sin bearing, taking upon himself the guilt for our sins, is the only way sinful man can be justified before a holy God. It is the God appointed way to be saved.

As “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness“, even so the many, who simply believe the report of the Servant, shall receive as a free gift right standing with God. This is only possible because the offering of the Servant has satisfied the claims against us, and given the LORD a Righteous way to justify us.

What glorious mystery! That we sinners can be justified by faith in the one who took our place in judgment before the Lord, dying under the penalty of God’s law in our place. Truly with tears streamiing down our eyes we sing ;

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain-
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace-
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love- how can it be” That thou my King shoudst die for me?

 

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He Was Oppressed and Afflicted…Isaiah 53 pt 6

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. 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. 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. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:( Isaiah 53:7-9)

We are looking at the fourth Servant Song of Isaiah’s prophecy, (Isaiah 52:12-53). The first part of the prophecy(Isaiah 52:13-15) is the LORD’s introduction of His Servant,“Behold my servant… .”

The middle section,(Isaiah 53:1-9) comes in the form of a mournful confession, offered by a chastened and recently enlightened Israel. The Holy Nation has been made to see the suffering servant in an entirely different light. This has forced them to see themselves also and the long, painful history of Israel completely differently than they had previously.

The one whom the nation had long “despised and rejected” turned out to be the Messiah whom Israel had long-awaited! This ignominious figure in Jewish history, whom they had assumed to have suffered and died as a false prophet, and as a blasphemer under the judgment of God Himself, is now revealed to be the chosen One of God.

This man Jesus, of whom Israel had reckoned to have been the cause of so much suffering and hatred of Israel through the centuries, is in fact revealed to be the greatest lover of Israel;

In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.(Isaiah 63:9)

Our passage in Isaiah 53 considers the civil trials of Jesus, with the emphasis the compliance of the Saviour, even at the patently sham trial, and the false condemnation which followed it. The King James renders it,

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; and He opened not his mouth…

But the Hebrew scholar Delitzsch translates the passage

He was ill-treated, whilst he bowed himself…” ie“suffered voluntarily”.

David Baron notes that a rendering by a Bishop Lowth, in agreement with Cyril and other ancient expositors, rendered this passage thusly,

It was exacted, and He was made answerable, and He opened not his mouth…”.

The outstanding truth shining through this part of the prophecy is that the Messiah, the suffering servant of Jahweh, took the full responsibility and liability for our sins, he co-signed our note, and offered himself as a payment for our sins.

Like a meek lamb, led to the slaughter, so the Servant, who truly could have testified to his own innocence and successful acquittal, refused to open his mouth in his own defense. He took our place in judgment.

He was taken from prison and from judgment…(KJV)

The idea is that he was violently denied due process, the Hebrew word “taken” , luqqach, means to be snatched or hurried away, an accurate prediction of the unlawful and hurried conditions of Jesus’ trials and condemnation before religious and Civil authorities.

And Who Shall declare His generation?

This is possibly a prophetic allusion to the custom of the Jews to call for anyone to plead on behalf of the one condemned to death, to declare anything in favor of the defendant; innocence or any mitigating factors. Who among Jesus’ contemporaries, stood up for him at his trial, or registered a complaint at the manifestly unjust treatment he was receiving?

…for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

The expression “cut off” implies violence, and also implies being stopped short of fulness, a prediction that the Servant would die at the prime of life. But once again the confession of the nation reverts to the theme of vicarious suffering and death. Israel has always known that Jesus of Nazareth died a violent death and in relative youth.

But now they know and ruefully acknowledge that the Servant was “stricken” , “plagued by God” and “cut off” from life, for the transgressions of God’s people, as a substitute for them.

He made his grave with the wicked, but now they see that contrary to the Talmud and other Jewish legends, the Servant himself wasn’t wicked, though he died on a cross. He died between two thieves, but”He did no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth”.

But with the rich in his death…

The custom of the times was to degrade the condemned even beyond death, by denying them so much as a a dignified burial. Crucified ones were often thrown in unmarked communal graves, or even thrown out into the open.

But as the Psalm says of the Messiah “the LORD would not allow his holy one to see corruption”. Thus to honor him, the LORD put him into the unused tomb of a rich man. THis prediction was remarkable fulfilled in the case of Joseph of Arimathea, a Senator of Israel, who lent his family tomb to Jesus.

But it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, he hath put him to grief…

Here we come to the deepest mystery of this prophecy. The LORD wants us to realize that the sufferings of the Servant spring not primarily from wicked men, neither the Jewish nation or the Gentile Romans. Nor do these sufferings come from Satan and the hosts of hell.

Now the penitential confessors see the deepest meaning of the tragic life of the LORD’s Servant. The Servant is being bruised ,(lit crushed) because of the pleasure of the LORD himself! It pleased the Holy God to crush the servant and to “Put him to grief”, (lit “make him sick”) because He knew, in His Sovereign wisdom that this is what it was going to take to bring about our salvation.

What a mystery!

We could fathom some malevolent evil, crushing the innocent sufferer, but here in the confession of Israel, we stand in awe and horror, and ask ourselves, is this what had to be?.

For we behold the truth that the Servant, whose whole life was a none but a demonstration of fidelity to God, sincerity, compassion, truth , and holy love, is crushed at the hands of The LORD of love, holiness and glory, .

As Baron put it,

“Here is not only the mystery of suffering innocence;but of innocent suffering at the hands of righteousness and perfect love”.

How could it be? Why did it have to be so? The Righteous God had to make a Righteous way to accept you and I, unrighteous sinners, into his presence. For So God loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…

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The Vicarious Sufferer…Isaiah 53 pt 5

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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. 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.(Isaiah 53:4-6)

We have been looking at the 4th Servant Song from the book of the prophet Isaiah.It seems that the Song is divided into three parts; 1) Introduction,(Is 52:13-15), 2) The Penitential confession of the Nation of Israel, (Is 53:1-9), and finally 3), the Benefits that the Servant gained, (Is 53:10-12).

We are in the middle section, which is written in the form of a sorrowful confession by the nation, which has been made to acknowledge their complete failure to understand the nature of the Servant and his divinely appointed task.

At the end of time, in the day of the LORD’s intervention into human affairs, Israel will come to realize that Jesus, “the man the nation abhorred…despised and rejected”, is none less than the long-awaited Messiah, sent by God to save them.

One of the things they will suddenly see, when finally the veil is lifted from their eyes, is that the sufferings of Jesus, were vicarious sufferings, and that Jesus was carrying out a priestly role in his life and Passion at the hands of gentiles and Jews.

Thus the fourth verse could literally be rendered,

“Verily they were our griefs ( or sicknesses) which He bore,and our sorrows ( or pains) with which He burdened himself…”

The word nasa, to bear is a technical Levitical term used of the sacrifices, for example of the “scapegoat” offering, from Leviticus 16

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.(Leviticus 16:21-22)

The idea is that the sacrifice takes upon itself the sins, or takes responsibility or bears the penalty of, the sins of the worshippers. The fourth Servant Song is teaching that the true anti-type to the scapegoat offering is the Messiah himself. On the day that God opens Israel’s eyes, they shall see it and confess to it with sorrow and love.

Matthew 8 says that the physical healings of Jesus were a fulfillment of Isaiah 53,

When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.(Matthew 8:16-17)

It is true that sickness and disease are part of the curse, there would be none had man not sinned. The Messiah truly did come into the world and suffer to effect a complete salvation for those who worship him. This blood bought salvation shall ultimately be fully realized, for all of the affects of sin, pain, guilt, God estrangement, sickness, guilt, etc, will be done away. Surely He bore our griefs…

The Apostle Peter uses Isaiah 53 to proclaim this as well, when he reminded us that it was Jesus,

… Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.(I Peter 2:24)

The self incriminating confession of Israel’s blindness continues ;

(lit) “…But we regarded Him as stricken (Plagued),smitten of God and afflicted (bowed down under suffering)…”

The expressions, “Plagued”, “Smitten of God”, and “bowed down under suffering” all refer to the fate of one under the judgment of God for sins such as blasphemy.

We have already refered to the Talmudic epitaphs for Jesus; the Rabbis and Sages call him Jeshu (an acronym meaning, May His name Be blotted out), the “Hanged one”,(cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree), a convicted magician, “the transgressor” who deserved such suffering and crushing.

But they will freely confess on that day that in their blindness they have only been terribly half right. This Servant of he LORD was indeed plagued, smitten and crushed by the LORD, but not for his own sins, for he did no sin, he never broke faith with God, but for all of ours!

It was for our transgressions that He was wounded(literally pierced through) …

Transgression is high-handed sin against God. God draws a line and forbids us to step over it, and we step right over it in defiance…because we won’t even have God rule us. But the Servant of the LORD was pierced through to death for our transgressions.

…He was bruised ( literally crushed) for our iniquities….

Our Iniquities, refer to our lawlessness. The Servant of the Lord was “crushed” under the wrath of God, for the lawlessness which estranged us from the Judge of all of the earth. This language of Him bearing our iniquities and our transgressions, cries out that the Servant is a vicarious substitute.

The sacrificial system ordained by God presupposes wrath and satisfaction by substitute. Torrents of blood flowed out of Jerusalem on feast days and even in the course of the daily temple services. There is nothing new to the Bible about substitution offerings, they have been around since the garden of Eden, when God killed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve.

There are those now, even within the confessing church, who question the justice of vicarious suffering, one Anglican Bishop going so far as to blasphemously suggest that Jesus suffering and dying in our place is some kind of “cosmic child abuse”.

The Cross: Cosmic Child Abuse Or Fitting?

But the reconciliation of man to God has as much to do with Righteousness as it does mercy. The Righteous God can only reconcile us in a Righteous way. The demands of the Law of God must be met; holiness and justice cry out for satisfaction.

At the end, when God opens her eyes, Israel will finally see and confess, that the one whom they had long rejected, was the Servant God appointed to make expiation* for them.

* To make right a wrong, to atone, to propitiate.

 

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He Was Despised…Isaiah 53 pt 4

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 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. 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.(Isaiah 53:1-3)

It is the climax of human history, the apocalypse, the very end of the world. The Jewish people are surrounded on all sides by armies who have amassed themselves together to wipe them out! Israel’s enemies have never been so seemingly close to achieving their goal .

Suddenly something happens which is totally unexpected, Israel’s God reveals himself . The embattled nation dimly recognizes Him as the one whom they had once shunned and pierced. It is now evident that the Messiah/Saviour who has come to them in their most desperate hour, bears the marks of crucifixion!

The nation of Israel reels. It was Him all along? The Nazarene? Jesus ? Everything they thought they knew of their own history, scripture, and law has been upended. In the darkest hour, the 2500 year old prophecy of Zechariah is fulfilled, “They shall look upon ME whom they have pierced and they shall mourn as for an only Son…”.

 

In the fourth Servant Song, Isaiah predicts the heartfelt confession that the prodigal son nation of Israel, long estranged from her God, will make at that point in time ;

…he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 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.(Isaiah 53:1-3)

He is despised and rejected of men;…When men don’t ignore Him, they usually scorn or hate him, rejecting Him virulently. To this day, they often refuse to give any credence to Him, and loathe the implications of his life and ministry. Somehow they sense instinctively that this man reveals the very secrets of their own hearts, therefore they hate and shun him.

There is something about Him that brings out in men either an instinctive abhorrence , or an attraction, as it is written, “He came unto His own and His own received him not… but as many as received him…”. He does not and cannot ‘fit in’ with the Age, He is always separate, isolated, the outsider.

…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…This is a man completely familiar with the human condition. He knows by experience what sorrow and grief , weakness and limitation are all about. The Messiah entered into our human dilemma, experiencing death in all of its toxic forms.

and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not…What is it about him that causes so many to turn away? To be tempted to be ashamed to even so much as associate with Him? Why does he have to promise reward for those who will confess him before their own generation?

We confess that there was a time for all of us, (the believing community of the Servant), that we couldn’t look at Him, we turned away from him in shame and horror. Was it that our own age so hated Him, and we didn’t want to share in His reproach ?

Is it a sad, misguided allegiance with the rest of the world that “despises and rejects” Him whom God has sent? Could it be that we know deeply that His suffering is a testimony to our own sinfulness, weakness, and rebellion ? Does He not evoke the deepest wells of God hatred in the hearts of Adam’s proud sons and daughters?

So we have all turned away our faces from Him at one time or anther. We have laughed at him, taking our own seat with the rest of the scorners who cynically mock him in our own age. Our estimation of Him has been faulty, we didn’t see anything special in Him, nothing to regard or be in awe of.

But all that tells us is that our own faculties of judgment are so utterly corrupt, and that sin has made us all hopelessly bankrupt, morally and spiritually, unable to see truth, Beauty and genuine Holiness and goodness, when it is presented to us. He, the Servant, is rejected of men, but precious to God.

The Jewish nation has had many figures in her history, many noble and more than a few ignoble. But far and away the one figure in Jewish history who has invoked the most intense despite, and loathing among them , has been Jesus of Nazareth.

I quote the Hebrew Christian author of the last century, David Baron;

“No person in the history of the Jews has provoked such deep-seated abhorrence, as He who came only to bless them and on the cross prayed for them,”Father forgive them, they know not what they have done…”…Their hatred of Him was intense and mysterious…All through the centuries no name has provoked such intense abhorrence among the Jews as Jesus…I have known personally most amiable, and as men, lovable characters among the Jews; but immediately the name “Jesus” was mentioned, a change came over their countenances, and they would fall into a passion of anger….How often it has been my lot to witness some of my people almost mad with rage – clenching their fists, gnashing their teeth, and spitting on the ground at the very mention of that name which to the believer is “As an ointment poured fourth”….Israel’s atitude to our Lord Jesus may be gathered also from their literature. In the filthy legends about him in the Talmud and more modern productions, the very names by which he is called are blasphemous. The precious name Yeshua has been changed to Yeshu,(an acronym meaning ‘May his name and memory be blotted out’)…He is often styled “the Transgressor” and another frequently used term, “Tolui( “the hanged One”) which is equivalent to “the accursed one”.( Baron, The Servant of Jehovah)

But the Jewish people are a microcosm of the entire Human race, their unbelief and rejection of their own Messiah is a type of all of our own bitterness towards God. How did we come to love Jesus, whom we once would have crucified? He revealed himself to us in grace and Mercy, as He will soon to his own original chosen people! Hallelujah!

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Israel’s Penitential Confession…Isaiah 53 pt 3

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 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. 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.(Isaiah 53:1-3)

We have been looking at the 4th Servant Song of Isaiah, the first part of which is God’s introduction to the one whom He designates as “My Servant”,in the beautiful yet mysterious words of Isaiah 52:13-15,

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 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.

We come now to the second part of the prophecy, which is the penitential confession of the nation of Israel. It occurs at the end of the tribulation, when the chosen nation will be brought face to face with the realization that the one they had rejected and pierced, was and is their Saviour and Messiah.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.(Zechariah 12:10)

The whole tone of this prophecy is that of heartfelt remorse, godly sorrow and a bitter sense of regret, as the Nation is caused to “look on Me, (The LORD) whom they have pierced and mourn as for Him as for an only Son…”, in that last day when God grants his long estranged people, a complete and lasting repentance.

Who has believed our message? And to whom is the Arm of the LORD revealed?

The implied answers to these questions is, “few if any at all…” have believed in the message of a lowly Servant who has bought full salvation for God’s people, through his own suffering and death.

Those who do believe in the message, do so only because of a gift of revelation, “Flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to (them), but the Father in heaven”, has shown them that hidden in the spectacle of the defeated, crucified servant, derelicted of all friends, lovers and even God himself, is all of the power and wisdom of God.

The “Arm of the Lord”, is personified and appealed to directly earlier in the prophecy of Isaiah, for it is a metaphor for God in His mighty power.

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? 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? (Isaiah 51:9-10)

Israel wanted to see the power of God, or as Paul put it “the Jews seek after a sign”

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:(I Cor 1:18)

But for the most part, the nation couldn’t perceive the power of God in the figure of the suffering, Servant. He wasn’t what they considered to be “powerful”, he didn’t fit the ideal that they held of the Messiah. They had misread the prophecies, so they rejected Him , as the confession that they will soon make affirms,

For He grew up before Him as a tender plant- The servant’s development was in lowliness and obscurity. Slowly and quietly, without fanfare,He lives before God, and among an enslaved and humiliated nation. He is born in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth, literally “Shootsville”.

A tender plant is a frail shoot, a “sucker” coming out of a trunk or branch, merely a twig that normally would be pruned.

By contrast, Isaiah had earlier predicted that the Messiah would be as a vigorous shoot out of the stump of the felled house of Jesse, and would become an “Ensign” for all to see and seek God thereby,

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”(Isaiah 11:1-2,10)

But that is a prediction of the Messiah as revealed in glory.

Here in Isaiah 53, Israel confesses that all they could see of Jesus of Nazareth, was one as a root out of dry ground, that is an unlikely growth, in an unpromising environment.

Israel in the first century had certainly become “dry ground“spiritually speaking. The Priesthood had become corrupt, rationalistic and self-serving. The people of Israel were defeated and occupied by a pagan power, Rome, and there hadn’t been a prophet, nor a “Son of David” upon the throne for more than four centuries. No one expected anything of the tiny shoot, (Netzer) from Nazareth.

He has no form or comeliness, there is no beauty that we should desire Him…

The confession of the nation will acknowledge that there was nothing in Jesus, of the greatness, charisma , power and beauty that they had expected to see in the Messiah. Jews were looking for something else, The same is true for all men. It is only possible to see the beauty hidden in Jesus the Messiah, when one is allowed to see the desperate need for salvation from sin and it’s power and consequences.

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Behold My Servant…Isaiah 53 pt 2

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 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.(Isaiah 52:13-15)

The fourth Servant song is composed of three sections. First of all, we have this introduction in Isaiah 52:13-15. Secondly we have the great and final confession that a chastened and restored Israel will offer, after the time of tribulation and their final conflict and deliverance, (Isaiah 53:1-9). Finally there are three verses ,(Isaiah 53:10-12) which reveal the fruit of the Servant’s travail.

Isaiah’s prophetic Servant Songs have described an individual whom God holds forth as the answer to the idolatrous world’s sad predicament. He is the one person in whom the LORD delights, and he has been given the task of restoring Israel and the nations of the world to God.

His work involves “establishing Judgment”in the earth, that is bringing the truth of God to the world which has embraced lies. It also means , setting things right, and bringing people into a right relationship with God, first of ll Israel, then the nations. Therefore, his ministry will be a ministry of the Word, he will bring “a word to the weary ” from the LORD himself.

Establishing judgment also means that the Servant will be the standard of the final judgment of all men. Eternal destinies will be determined by how individuals respond to God’s Servant.To hear Him is to hear God, to accept Him is to accept God, God cannot be known except by Him, He who refuses the Servant of God, condemns himself.

His manner with people will be gentle, restorative, for He will not discard “the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flax”. He calls all who are “weary and heavy laden” to come unto Him, that they might find rest for their souls.

Though he is chosen of God and fully equipped for the task, He is human also, and subject to discouragement, and weariness at times. But his personal comfort comes from his constant reliance upon God, for He is God’s own disciple.

Finally, we already have seen hints that the Servant’s work will involve suffering,humiliation and rejection. He is the one “Despised of the people” and who “gave his cheek ” to be plucked.

Thus says the Lord,
The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
To Him whom man despises,
To Him whom the nation abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:(Isaiah 49:7)

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.(Isaiah 50:6)

We come now to the beginning of the fourth and most detailed Servant Song which details the reasons for His suffering, and of the glory which will surely follow,

*Behold My Servant Shall deal prudently…In other words, “See that my servant shall act wisely”, He is the LORD’s servant, he has been sent on a mission, he has a task to accomplish. Echoes of Psalm 40 come to mind here, in which the pre-incarnate Son of God discusses his mission with the Father, in eternity,

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.(Psalm 40:6-8)

The servant knows what needs to be done to bring men back into right standing with God, and He doesn’t hesitate to do it, regardless of the personal cost”. One translation says, My Servant’s wisdom shall prosper. In other words, His wisdom was effective, he took the action that brought about the desired result.

 

*…he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high… This is a sentence which is breathless, as if to say, “He shall be raised… no, not just raised… but He shall be lifted up…and yet more than that…He shall be highly exalted!” Thus Isaiah predicts that the Lord’s servant shall be thrice exalted. Could this be a reference to the Resurrection, Ascension, and Seating at the right hand of the Majesty on High?

*As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:… But people will look at the Servant in horror, they will be appalled at the sight of Him. Shockingly, His face will be disfigured, He will almost not look human!

How do we reconcile the exaltation of the Servant with this vision of horror? The Servant will be Exalted, lifted up, highly exalted ? Yet He will be a picture of disfigurement,pain, and rejection? This is the theme of the fourth Servant Song,

*…So shall he sprinkle many nations;… The partial answer is that humiliation of the Servant will serve to fulfill some kind of priestly ministry. He will sprinkle many nations, as Moses and Aaron and the long line of God appointed priests of the Old Testament would do, ritually sanctifying the worshippers with the blood of sacrifice.

*…the kings shall shut their mouths at him… Kings of the earth shall be dumbfounded at him, they will have nothing to say, their mouths will be stopped, that is how overwhelmed they will be at Him. Who is this one, so disfigured and rejected that men turn away from him in abject horror? Yet who also is this glorious one who is thrice exalted, and before whom ‘every knee’ must one day bow ?

*…for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider… As the truth begins to dawn on the Kings of the earth of who this “despised one” truly is and what He did, they are awestruck. They could never have conceived of the actual truth that reconciles the horror,suffering and disfigurement of the Servant, with his exaltation, ascension and glory, unless God had shown them something that had never entered into their thoughts.

What is it specifically that these Kings will “see” without being told? They will perceive that the one whom the world has hated, condemned, humbled and persecuted, is actually the one chosen by God himself, fully vindicated and exalted by the Holy One. Who could ever imagine such a thing? It can only be revealed as truth by God!

 

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