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Isaiah 53 (Revised)

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Isaiah 53 ESV
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Introduction

Some have referred to Isaiah as the 5th gospel
The book has two distinct parts:
First 39 chapters - the prophet’s revelations about God’s judgment on Israel for their rebellion
Chapters 40-66 - the prophet’s revelations of God’s grace and the promise of a Messiah - a man that Isaiah refers to here simply as God’s servant
It is a definite shadow and preview of the gospel
the sin and rebellion of God’s people
the resulting wrath and judgment of God poured out on them
ultimately, the Promise of God to send a Saviour to redeem a people for His glory
And in we see one of the most amazing portraits in the Old Testament of this Servant and Saviour that is to come
Who is He?
What would He come to do?
What is His purpose?
What would He ultimately achieve?
These are some of the questions we will be looking to answer today
But we are not going to begin with - we are actually going to begin in , which is really the introduction of
That is where Isaiah introduces the Servant and what He will do.
Isaiah 52:13–15 ESV
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14 As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— 15 so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
Is
My Servant will act wisely...
a statement that can also be translated as “my servant will prosper in what he has been sent to do”
He will accomplish his purpose in full
The same word is used in - that “David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that His name was highly esteemed” (see the rest of )
This was when Saul tried to get David killed, and offered him his daughter in marriage as a reward for 100 foreskins (yes, it was a weird time to be alive), thinking he would be killed.
David brought 200 foreskins.
David’s success was emphatic
When the Philistines came after David in battle, he defeated them every time.
The introduction gives the assurance that the Messiah will prosper and succeed in absolute fullness the purpose for which He is sent
And His name will be high and lifted up, He will be exalted, He will be praised, He will be worshipped, and He will rule supreme.

1. Unthinkable Suffering

Well after that introduction, you’d think that when this Servant comes, He is going to come in with a parade and a big entourage, and just dominate everywhere from beginning to end
Something like an entrance that would put the likes of Connor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather to shame
That’s what Israel expected
But instead, the unthinkable happens to Him.
Instead of being universally adored by everyone who saw Him and met Him, He experienced Unthinkable Suffering
The prophet begins to explain his revelation of the Servant that is coming here in ch 53 by asking 2 questions: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Its like Isaiah expects that his revelation is so radical, so far fetched, so left field that he wonders who is ever going to believe it
In fact, its so radical that he expects that the only way that anybody will believe it, is if it is revealed to him
To believe this message is going to take more than logical thought, or an act of the will.
It has to be supernaturally revealed to him by the Lord… his eyes need to be opened so that he can see
In , Jesus is talking to the disciples and he asks them who the people say He is
They say, “Elijah… Jeremiah… one of the prophets...”
But Jesus asks them “who do you say that I am?”
John 1:12–13 ESV
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
and Simon Peter says “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”
Matthew 16:17 ESV
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Because its Radical

The gospel cannot be understood or believed by human intuition, but must be revealed by the Father.
We are reliant on the grace of God to open our blind eyes to it
Because it is a radical message. A shocking message. If we look at the rest of the passage its not hard to see why
Isaiah 53:2 ESV
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Is 53
As Isaiah begins to paint a picture of the Messiah, he begins to look the opposite of what Israel would expect of a victorious Conqueror and Redeemer
Samuel was the first prophet to speak of a coming Messiah
He said that this comparably small and insignificant nation of Israel would be raised up by God to become the most important nation in the world
That a Messiah would be sent by God to lead Israel to the fulfillment of that promise
But as Isaiah begins to paint a picture of the Messiah, he begins to look the opposite of what Israel would expect of a victorious conqueror sent to redeem and raise them up as a mighty nation
He is described as a young plant out of dry ground
vulnerable, delicate, humble...
that doesn’t sound at all like the arrival of a victorious conqueror
And yet that is exactly how He arrived...
Not on Chariots of Fire supported by armies of angels with Eye of the Tiger playing as a theme song…
But as a baby…
born to humble parents
in a stable reserved for the owners’ animals
sent by God to a nation that was as dry and unfruitful as a desert… it had been 400 years since Israel heard from God through any prophet
and yet in the middle of that spiritually dead ground… the Messiah was born
When Israel wanted a king, they chose Saul as their first king.
Why? Because he was the tallest. The most physically impressive
He was the very picture of what they thought a victorious Messiah should look like
But the true Messiah was nothing like that
In most paintings and artist impressions of Jesus today, he is portrayed as a beautiful man
Long, beautiful hair ideal for Pantene shampoo adverts
Handsome and striking good looks and a perfectly trimmed beard
But Jesus was nothing like that
When he came, he was nothing special to look at
his physical form was not at all the sort of physique that would intimidate any man
For all we know, he might have been the last guy you would pick on your tug-of-war team
For all we know, he might have been the last guy you would pick on your tug-of-war team
Not quite what Israel would expect from their victorious Messiah
Isaiah 53:3 ESV
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Instead of being the physically impressive and commanding figure that Israel would have expected…
a man who would have had the unquestioning loyalty, respect, love and support of the whole nation
Jesus was hated, rejected, and a man who knew the deepest experience of suffering and grief
Jesus was hated, rejected, and a man who knew the deepest experience of suffering and grief
A man who instead of receiving the adoration of His people…
Was instead held in such low esteem that men would hide their faces from him
Like that person who nobody likes, nobody talks to, and when he walks into the room everybody pretends they don’t see him
hoping to avoid eye contact and avoid him approaching them
Many still treat him that way
Isaiah 53:4 ESV
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
As if his humble beginnings as a baby and his unimpressive physical appearance were not enough to turn off the most interested listener…
This is the final straw
A Messiah coming as baby?
A Messiah with an average physical appearance?
A Messiah with an average physical appearance?
A Messiah who will be hated and rejected?
A Messiah who will be hated and rejected?
But most unthinkable than any of that…
A Messiah who would be struck down and killed…
and by none other than God Himself
No wonder that Isaiah asks… who will believe this message?
No wonder that Isaiah expects that nobody will believe it… unless God in His grace reveals it to him.

Transition

But even after it is revealed to us and we have received it, we still need to be constantly reminded of the gospel and immersed in it, don’t we?
Even after Peter had just declared that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus goes on in to tell the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and there he must suffer many things… and die.
And who is the first person to open his big mouth?
Peter
He takes Jesus aside and rebukes him
Far be it from you Lord
Peter believed Jesus is the Messiah, but he had a hard time accepting that the Messiah would be made to suffer like that
He had a hard time accepting that the Messiah would be a Suffering Servant
what good would that do?
What good could possibly come through his suffering?
What good could possibly come through his death?
Why would God allow such tragedy and suffering to happen to His servant?
We still have a hard time understanding suffering today, don’t we?
We aren’t much different from Peter
We can’t understand why God allows Christians to suffer
There are countless books and preachers telling us that if we believe in God then we won’t suffer, and many believe them
Have enough faith and you won’t be sick, and your wallets will be full
Victorious Christianity is misunderstood to be a life without suffering, without hardship, without tragedy
People have a hard time reconciling suffering with victory, and hardship with everlasting joy
But as the prophet reveals… It was God’s sovereign plan and will to bring salvation and redemption through suffering - by means of suffering
Specifically… through the suffering of His own Son… the Suffering Servant

2. Purposeful Suffering

As Isaiah continues, he shows exactly that
That the suffering of God’s Servant is not in vain… that it is not irrational or without reason, and it doesn’t leave us without hope.
Actually, there is a divine purpose in His suffering...
Isaiah 53:5 ESV
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
The Messiah was pierced… why?
for our transgressions
The Messiah was crushed… why?
for our iniquity
That’s what the Father did to His Son on the cross
And this is what He achieved by it...
He was chastised / punished… why?
to bring us peace
He was wounded… why?
to heal us
That was the divine purpose of the Messiah - the very reason God sent Jesus in the first place - the reason He sent Him to suffer
And He achieved that purpose perfectly, completely, emphatically, to the praise of his glory and grace
Now there are people who are going to hear this and still not understand why it was necessary for God to bring such suffering and wrath on His own Son…
Why exactly did the Servant of God need to suffer this way? Wasn’t there another way for God to bring salvation to His people?
And questions like that are asked because we don’t really understand the reality of who we are
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
You should just take your highlighter or pen and highlight or circle those words… every one
Every one of us have sinned
Every one of us have sinned
In any given church gathering - and I don’t think its any different here today...
there are people who have been raised in Christian families, have all the Sunday school attendance badges and all the pedigree of an honorary and contributing church member.
And there might also be people who have been or are addicts, abusers, pub crawlers, thieves and foul mouthed liars
There are also people who have been or are addicts, abusers, pub crawlers, foul mouthed liars
But everybody has something in common
Every one of us have sinned
It goes all the way back to and The Fall
In that moment that Adam sinned, there was a separation between God and man and from that moment on, every human being, apart from Jesus, was and will be born a sinner
We saw it play out immediately didn’t we?
We saw it play out immediately didn’t we?
, Adam’s first born son Cain murders his brother Abel
, God looks at all mankind and says that every intention of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually
Destroyed the whole earth in a flood and redeemed a few in order to keep His promise in Genesis 3
From the moment of the Fall, every one was born cursed and broken
We aren’t sinners because we broke God’s Law… we broke God’s Law because we were born sinners
Created for God’s glory, but born with a bent towards sin so that our default position is always to go in the opposite direction to God’s will, and to go our own way instead
We have gone astray from God’s perfect and good will and design…
and have instead gone our own way and did whatever felt right to us
We have all believed the lie in our minds that we know better than God, and broken every one of his commandments and decided to live however we felt like instead
All the wrath and judgement of God on Israel that is prophecied by Isaiah in the first 39 chapters, and their subsequent enslavement to Babylon...
... is nothing but a bad day compared to the wrath and judgement of God that will be brought to bear on every sinner who has transgressed / broken His Law
- the wages of sin is death.
That is our estate - that is who we are, what we deserve and what we should get… if it weren’t for the suffering of Jesus Christ
All because Jesus took our suffering upon Himself.
He was pierced for our transgressions… so that we wouldn’t be
He was crushed for our iniquity… so that we wouldn’t be
He was crushed for our iniquity… so that we wouldn’t be
Isaiah 53:7 ESV
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
The innocent Lamb, silent before the shearers, went without objection or complaint to the slaughter…
The innocent Lamb, silent before the shearers, went without objection or complaint to the slaughter…
and suffered in our place
But notice that he didn’t just take away our transgressions… but He also died to give us something...
He was chastised to bring us peace
He was wounded so that we would be healed
He didn’t just take away our sinful actions - our sins are the symptom of the problem - not the problem
Jesus dealt with the root of our problem - the reason we sin.
He died to take away our curse, and in its place, give us His righteousness and eternal life.
Imagine if you went to the doctor with huge gash in your forehead and the blood is gushing out…
… and you tell the doctor, “man, you gotta do something about this, I’m in a lot of pain”
… and the doctor gives you some Panado and says see me again tomorrow if the pain hasn’t subsided”
To redeem us, Jesus dealt with the root of our problem.
Our problem was our separation from God and the curse of a sin nature and inescapable death from God’s judgement
The curse is why we sin - we are born with a heart that is set against God
So you don’t deal with sin by just removing the sins that have been committed, because tomorrow we will sin again...
Because the root cause is still there
So Jesus didn’t just take away our sin… He took away our curse - in fact, he took that curse upon Himself.
He died at the hand of His Father
That is what is meant by Isaiah when he says “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus took away our curse and our transgressions,
They were all laid on Him,
And He suffered at the hands of the Father
And the purpose of all that was to redeem us completely and to reconcile us to God
He took our sin and our chastisement
He gave us peace with God, healed our brokeness, restored us to God not only as servants but as adopted children.
He died to

3. Prosperity Through Suffering

Isaiah 53:10 ESV
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Were our sins taken away because of what the Jews or the Romans did to Jesus on the cross?
Absolutely not… they were just carrying out what God purposed before time
But our sins have been taken away and we have been restored to God because of what The Father did to His Son
Isaiah says it was the will of the LORD to crush Him
It was God’s good purpose and perfect will to send Jesus to suffer and to die, so that his holiness and justice would be satisfied
God’s holiness and justice required payment for our sin, and Jesus came to take the full weight of God’s justice on Himself
He gave himself as an offering to God for our guilt.
This can also be translated as “God took pleasure in crushing him”… or “It pleased the Lord to crush him” and actually that is how the KJV translates it
This doesn’t mean that The Father took some sort of cruel pleasure in watching His Son Suffer in the way that He did under His own arm...
What is meant is that God took pleasure in what he was achieving through it
God took pleasure in what His plan of redemption through Jesus would accomplish -
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand
It pleased the Lord to give His Son to make atonement for our sin, so that His Son would be lifted up and exalted
So that Jesus’ name would be exalted and glorified above all
And so that all for whom Jesus died would be redeemed and share in His prosperity
Isaiah 53:11–12 ESV
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
I mean, we should all be shouting praise to God at the top of our voices right now
Jesus, the Son of God, was numbered with transgressors
and He bore our sin and curse and took it away
In its place, He gives us His righteousness so that we who believe are counted as righteous
If there is any rational reason to see the gospel as radical, or far fetched…
it is because it is so amazing and unthinkable that the God of the universe would come to us…
sinners…
rebels…
haters…
And that while we were still shaking our fists at him in stubborn rebellion and hatred
He took our sin upon Himself
made atonement and satisfaction for our sin
gave us the share of His Son’s eternal inheritance by adoption,
and restored us to God with new hearts to love Him and desire Him above all else
Is that true of your heart?
From the bottom of your heart, do you love Jesus?
Does your heart desire Him above all else?
Or
That’s a sign of a new heart, a believing heart, paid for by Jesus, and given to you by the grace of God
Or, even after hearing the gospel,
Are you unmoved?
Maybe you have the desire to love God above all, but you’re struggling with something right now
Are you off somewhere else, wondering what
Brother, sister, look to Jesus
We are called to trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross every day.
Not only does He give us grace and the help we need to fight every kind of temptation and sin
but also gives us assurance...
That even when we stumble and fall, we still have peace with God
Because the very one who died for us and achieved to the fullest extent our salvation…
… has made and is making intercession for us
And He will continue to do so until we are made perfect in Jesus when He comes.
Praise God!
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