Meditations in Isaiah 53: The Pearl of Prophecy (4)

The Sections of the Prophecy

The passage contains fifteen verses, comprised of five sections of three verses each. They can be viewed as five stanzas of a song, each stanza with three lines. There are five speakers, one for each stanza. Parallels can also be drawn with the five offerings of Leviticus and with the first five books of our Bible known as the Pentateuch.

The Genesis Section

Isaiah 52:13-15

As in Genesis, we find here the seed plot of all that will develop later. Verse 13 gives us the Father’s estimation of the Son. He would “deal prudently” or “act wisely.” This is the Son Who came to earth as the true Servant. In a threefold way we see the Father’s approval. He shall be exalted, extolled, and be very high. These words have been linked to His resurrection, His ascension, and His sitting at the right hand of the majesty on High, “far above all principality and power” (Eph 1:21). It is the commencement, the continuance, and the climax of His exaltation.

In verse 14 we have a valley between two mountains. It is the valley of sorrow between two mountains of glory. It speaks of Him Who came from glory, “even to the death of the cross,” but Who has gone back to glory. Verse 15 is the antithesis of verse 14. It is the glory that follows His suffering. Further details of His life and cross will be developed in the chapter, but here we have the outline.

Two little words “as – so” begin verses 14 and 15 and they introduce the contrasts: “as many … so many nations.”

In Luke 24 we read of two discouraged disciples who said, “we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” There were the faithful few who were “astonied.” They saw their Lord taken away in death. Yet because of Calvary, not just many individuals, but many nations, will be astonished.

Nations and kings have yet to learn that the Man of Calvary is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. One day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In this Genesis section there is a reminder of another who was an earlier picture of Christ. Joseph was a true servant to his father, Jacob. He was the object of his father’s love, as displayed by the coat of many colors. He went out from Hebron to do his father’s will. Through envy and hatred, he was humiliated and sold by his brethren. The years passed and with the pit and the prison behind him, Joseph was now the savior in Egypt, in fact he was “the Savior of the World.” In those days of famine the peoples of the nations around were forced to go to Egypt and to Joseph. We can imagine the astonishment of his brothers. The one that they had rejected was the one that they now had to bow before. Their mouths were stopped (Genesis 45:3). Joseph had moved from the love of his father’s house to the throne of Egypt through a pathway of sorrow and suffering. Our Lord Jesus left the palaces of glory for the suffering of Calvary, but now He is “at the right hand of the Majesty on High” (Heb 1:3). It can be said of Him also, “God meant it unto good.”

The Exodus Section

Isaiah 53:1-3

Verses 1-3 change to a different scene. Here we have a portrayal of Him as the “Man of Sorrows … despised and rejected of men.” In verse 2a we see Him before Jehovah, “a tender plant and a root” in the dry, barren, empty spiritual wilderness that is Israel. All around were the priests and Pharisees, the spiritually dead, “whited sepulchers.” Isaiah saw Him as “the root of Jesse,” John saw Him as “the root of David.”

When the Lord walked here upon earth there was no son of David on the throne. There had been no son of David since the great captivity by Babylon. The Jewish king was Herod the Great. His father was of Edom (Idumea), his mother was an Arab. He was a son of Esau – not a son of David. King Herod had been put in power by Mark Antony in 40BC and was made king by an act of the Roman senate. There will be no son of David on the throne until the true Messiah comes back in glory. The true Son of David will one day loose the seals of judgment and He will one day take the throne.

Verse 2b shows Him before Israel, having “no form nor comeliness … no beauty.” This is not a reflection of His natural appearance, but rather of their estimation of Him. John the apostle writes, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The leaders of the nation did not see this. They did not see Him as their promised Messiah, the Son of David, the King. They saw no need of a Savior and He didn’t meet their expectations of a Sovereign.

In the book of Exodus we see another man, Moses. He was also God’s servant and he also was their savior. He would bring them from the sorrows and slavery of Egypt through the emptiness of the Sinai desert and onward to the promised land of Canaan. In Acts 7, Stephen, just before he was put to death, reminded the leaders of that day of an earlier attitude toward Moses, “This Moses, whom they refused, saying, “Who made thee a ruler and a judge?’” Israel has a long record of rejecting those whom God has sent. The Lord Jesus depicts the attitude of Israel toward Himself in the parable of Luke 19. Their words were, “We will not have this Man to reign over us.”