TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 53-59
OVERVIEW: The humiliation of the Servant (Messiah) (53:1-12); the blessings of the Servant (Messiah) (54:1-55:13); the blessing of God upon the Gentiles (56:1-8); the condemnation of God upon the wicked (56:9-57:21); the restoration of true worship (58:1-14); the transgression of Israel (59:1-8); the confession of Israel (59:9-15a); the Lord’s deliverance of Israel (59:15b-21).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Isaiah 53 is one of the most incredible chapters in the entire Bible. It was this very chapter that the Ethiopian eunuch was struggling to understand out on that desert road in Acts 8, when the Lord prompted Philip to ask him if he understood what he was reading. When he responded, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:31), “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto Him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Philip used this passage to lead this Ethiopian dignitary to Christ, and it is commonly believed that it was through his conversion that the gospel first made its way into the continent of Africa in the first century. This is the most comprehensive, and yet concise passage in the entire Bible concerning the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of its significance, we will devote most of our attention to this chapter of today’s reading.
In verses 1-3, Isaiah prophesies the rejection that our Lord would endure. John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” By the time the Lord Jesus Christ came to the earth, the Jews were living under the oppression domination of Rome. The Messiah they were looking for was a political revolutionary who would come in warrior-like fashion to overthrow the Roman government and establish His own Kingdom and empire on the earth – a Kingdom in which the Jews would be preeminent. They failed to understand that the physical oppression of Rome under Caesar was just a minor illustration of a spiritual oppression they were experiencing because of sin, and the fact that they were being held in the “snare” of this world by the very will of Satan himself (II Tim. 2:26; Eph. 2:2). They failed to realize that in order for their Messiah and King to have citizens in His kingdom, the sin issue that caused spiritual death in them (Gen. 2:17; Rom 5:12) would have to b!
e dealt with, and that they would need to call upon the name of the Lord to be delivered from their sin, and experience a spiritual birth, before even they, the Jews, would qualify for kingdom citizenship. They failed to realize that their Messiah would take up a cross before He would take up His crown; that there would be humiliation before His exaltation; that there would be suffering before there would be glory.
Isaiah begins in verse one to foreshadow the fact that there would be difficulty for the Jews “believing,” once the “arm of the Lord” (the Lord Jesus Christ) was “revealed” on the earth. Their difficulty, Isaiah says in verse 2, is how He came into this world. He came as a humble bush (“tender plant”), not as a stalwart tree. “Dry ground” is a reference to the barren spiritual condition of the Nation of Israel when their Messiah would be “revealed.” He came offering life to the parched soil of their lives, but it wasn’t the life they were looking for. He didn’t come on the scene displaying the power and majesty that would attract them to Him (“he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” – 53:2). Because of it, the Jews “despised and rejected” God’s glorious Servant, and their Messiah. He who is the King of kings became “a man of sorrows.” The One to whom belonged all glory, was “acquainted with grief.” The !
One who offered life and forgiveness to all who would simply look to Him, had his own people “hide” their “faces from him.” The One who should have been lauded and honored, was “despised” and “esteemed not.”
Even though He came to bare the “griefs” and the “sorrows” man inflicted upon himself through the choice of sin, it was of no consequence. The Lord Jesus Christ was treated as a common criminal, one worthy of the treatment He received (53:4).
Note in verse 5 the price that he paid through His crucifixion: He was “wounded;” “bruised”; “chastised;” “striped” (referring to the stripes upon His back through being scourged with whips). Notice also in verse 5, the reason for such brutality: It was “for our transgressions.” It was “for our iniquities.” It was so we might experience “peace” – “peace” with God, and thus, “peace” with ourselves. It was so we could be “healed.” (Certainly not physical healing, but the healing that was necessary in our spirit and soul because of sin!) It was because every one of us had “gone astray,” turning from God “to our own way.” It was the Father providing His only begotten Son to die a substitutionary death for our sin (“the Lord hast laid on him the iniquity of us all”). Through the entire ordeal of His unfair trial and merciless crucifixion, never did “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) ever “open his mouth” (53:7-8).
Isaiah said that when He died, it would be with “the wicked” (i.e. crucified between two thieves), and yet His burial would be connected with “the rich” (i.e. He “borrowed” the tomb of Joseph of Arimithea, or rich man – Matt. 27:57).
And yet, all of this, according to verses 10-12, was purposed and planned by God! It is the same incomprehensible truth Peter preached about on the Day of Pentecost. That Christ was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23)!
You can keep your bearings through today’s reading by following the content of the chapters detailed in today’s overview, but do allow yourself to lose your bearings today in the wonder of our glorious Saviour and His willingness to offer Himself as a sacrifice for us as it is detailed in Isaiah 53. Pray that, like Philip, God will allow you to use this chapter today to “preach Jesus” to some needy soul.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the ONE WHO WAS REJECTED BY HIS OWN – Isa. 53:3 (John 1:11; Luke 23:18)
As the ONE WHO REMAINED SILENT THOUGH FALSELY ACCUSED – Isa. 53:7 (Mark 15:3-5).
As the ONE WHO WAS BURIED WITH THE RICH – Isa. 53:9 (Matt. 27:57-60).
As the ONE WHO WAS CRUCIFIED WITH SINNERS – Isa. 53:12 (Mark 15:27-28).