Servant Song 4 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Servant Song 4 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in the Servant Songs


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. This is the fourth and final episode in our a month in the Servant Song series. There are four Servant Songs in Isaiah, and last week we talked about the third Servant Song. This week Jason and Tom talked about Servant Song number 4. Our text is found in Isaiah 52:13–53:12. We’ve created an album cover for this month in the Servant Song series. Be sure to go to our show notes and download the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to this album cover throughout this podcast. You’ll also find other Jason DeRouchie lecture notes on the Servant Songs.

Review of Earlier Servant Songs

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom and I’m with Jason.

JD: Yes, glad to be back with you, Tom.

TK: I am very glad, and I’m really excited about today’s subject. We are in the fourth of the Servant Songs in Isaiah.

JD: We’ve looked at Isaiah 42 and seeing God talk about his Servant and the mission that he has to the weary and the broken to be a covenant for the people, and a light to the nations to set free the prisoner who is bound. What hope! And then we looked at Isaiah 50, sorry, Isaiah 49:1–13 and we saw that the Servant is actually named Israel and he creates a new people who—his mission is to save Israel the people and that’s too small of a thing. He’ll also extend God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. Then we learned he would be one who’d be abhorred by the nation, and that’s picked up then in Isaiah 50:4–11, where the Servant—again he talks and he notes that he is one who morning by morning met with his Father as a disciple at his feet to gain words that could ultimately meet the needs of the weary. Yet he was one who was rejected by many, who was spit upon, whose beard was pulled out. And yet, in the courtroom of God, he’s declared righteous. And so it really raises a question for the reader—you can either surrender to the Servant and obey his teaching that he’s gaining from the father, or, in the midst of your darkness, you can keep trying to build your own fire and create your own light. But ultimately the Servant himself declared it will result in your torment. So that’s where we’re at.

TK: He says, This you shall have from my hand” (Isa 50:11)—a side of Jesus that maybe people don’t talk about very often. Psalm 2 does the exact same thing. At the end of it, it says, “Kiss the son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:12). It’s the same two categories we’re finding at the end of Isaiah 50.

JD: That’s right. The Savior, who comes in his first appearing will return. Yet when he does, he will be a warrior who will judge all who have stood against him. His wrath will be quickly kindled in that moment, and there will be no turning back. So, the call is decide now. Surrender to the King. Surrender to this royal anointed Servant because there’s good news, there is good news for those who surrender. And this just sets the stage for where we’re going today, “How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him, who brings good news”—that’s the word gospel, and it’s directly associated with this Messiah; I believe that’s the him “who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation and declares to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isa 52:7). So, this Servant, who is about to be exalted through his own suffering is the very one whose feet are beautiful and brings good news to people like you and me, if we will but surrender and recognize God is the king. I’m not the king.

Structure of the Song

TK: So this next Servant Song starts in Isaiah 52:13, and in the Hebrew you wouldn’t find a note that says Servant Song Four at this point, but you can just notice the text—we talked about it in the last podcast just saying reading slowly and just watching what Isaiah’s doing as he writes. It says, “Behold my servant shall act wisely.” Right there we say, OK, we’re back to the subject right here of the Servant here, “He shall be high and lifted up” (Isa 52:13). Just as we read slowly, we’re going to see something that in verse 53, though, “who has believed what he’s heard”—or chapter 53—“who has believed what he’s heard from us” (Isa 53:1). So we’re going to see some speakers change in this Servant Song and what it just means is we slow down and we read it carefully.

JD: That’s right. We want to be those who slow down. God’s going to open talking in the first THREE verses and then the prophet’s going to carry us from the beginning of chapter 53 all the way into the middle of verse 11. And then Yahweh is going to talk again and end the unit. So Yahweh’s words will frame the prophet’s words. in the midst of it, the focus, though, remains on this Servant person whose substitutionary sacrifice is going to save many and many, not only from one people, but from all the nations.

TK: We have an album cover for this. You can download it in our show notes, and we have an image from each of the four Servant Songs. It’s arranged, kind of—there’s two images on the left side, two on the right. The first one is from Isaiah 42 and it shows light pouring into a prison and there’s a man who looks like he’s been there for some time. And you’re just thinking, wow, that one’s going to be able to walk free. The light is based on a verse from Isaiah 42. That’s a picture of the servant. Then the next one is an arrow and a quiver. And then someone with his beard being pulled. Here, the image from this one is of a lamb, and just a comment I wanted to make about the way the album cover is put together. If you look at the two images on the left-hand side, the lamb and the man in prison, those ones are biographical. And the ones on the right are both autobiographical. So they’re kind of, as you start being able to picture in your head, I think I could picture the four Servant Songs based on this album cover and how they’re working and even who would be speaking. So even—you just said it here—ok, I know in this new one it’s not the Servant speaking. It’s like you said, Yahweh starting, then the Prophet, then returning back to Yahweh.

JD: That’s right. And yet the focus is on the one who in our picture is depicted as a lamb headed to the slaughter. We have the one leading the lamb, and then we have one like a priest who’s got the knife in his hand, ready to take this unblemished lamb as a substitute sacrifice for the sin of the one who is leading it. And that’s the role that Christ plays on behalf of the many.

Isa 52:13–15: The Servant Will Prosper, Sanctifying Many

TK: So, Jason let’s talk about those first three verses in Isaiah 52:13–15. It says, “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—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.” What verses or thoughts jump out to you in this first chunk.

JD: Well, right off the bat. God is talking to a group, this “you,” and I think that “you” is Israel, who in just the previous verses, in verses 11 and 12 God talks about the new exodus that Israel will experience. Yet here, he says, “My servant will act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you,”—Israel, that is, in their own rebellion, in their own exile, in their own experience of the curse—just as many nations looked at you and said while they are accursed people, so too, “his appearance was so marred beyond human semblance and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” So we’re getting this picture of one who is related to Israel, just as they experienced a curse, he experienced a curse. But that’s not where the passage opens. It opens by declaring “My servant will act wisely,” that is, the Servant is going to prosper in a significant way and will be high and lifted up and shall be exalted. So, on the one side, we might think what is—what exactly does this mean? Is it an image of like as Moses was lifted up? As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so would the Son of Man be lifted up? Or is this more like in Philippians chapter 2, where, because Jesus obeyed to the point of death, now God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name?

And I think it’s the latter element and the reason is because of two passages in Isaiah. First in Isaiah 6:1, it uses the exact same verb when it says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” And John 12 tells us the one Isaiah was seeing was Jesus himself in all of his glory, “I saw the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up.” And then in Isaiah 57, “The one who is high and lifted up, the one who is holy and who inhabits eternity, says, ‘I dwell in the high and holy place” (Isa 57:15). I think we’re envisioning here the Servant, after all that we’ve read, having a mission to save, to reach the broken, a mission that will include pain and rejection, a mission where he will be completely declared right by God. The ultimate end is declared in verse 13. “He will be high and lifted up.” On the other side of his perfect obedience will become a beautiful exaltation, as Paul says in Romans chapter 1 that God has highly, no, that’s Philippians chapter 2. God has highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name. In Romans chapter 1 what we read is that through the resurrection, “he was appointed the son of God in power” (Rom 1:4)—declared to be, identified as the son of God in power. It happened through his resurrection from the dead. That’s, I think what we’re going to see—we’re going to see a retelling of his suffering and a depiction of his resurrection unto absolute sovereignty. When he receives the reward for all of his labor, that’s where we’re going in the Servant Song.

TK: And we start right with this prospering right here.

JD: That’s right. His prospering—it’s just declared right off the bat; he is one who will be elevated by God and will prosper fully like a garden that is flourishing in a new creation. That’s who he will be. That’s what his life will generate. “Unless a seed is planted in the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit” (John 12:24). In this passage, that seed is planted, and it bears much.

TK: Would you say that the start then of verse 14—it says, “As many were astonished at you,” and we had just said this is Israel: “His appearance was so marred beyond human semblance”—that he’s wanting us to keep this to Israel’s in mind, even as we read this? That that phrase there is not a throw away phrase. He’s wanting us to remember this is Israel saving Israel.

JD: You really see it because Israel has endured the curse, and now he’s enduring the curse and there’s a parallel. Their exile, spiritual exile continues all the way to the cross event until he overcomes the sin problem. And so yes, I think you have that parallel of Israel’s experience of curse is followed by his experience of curse as he identifies with them fully in their sin. But what’s amazing is it’s not only the “you” of Israel, the many are mentioned, and the many is clarified in verse 15 and following, “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.” This idea of sprinkling, that’s straight out of the Old Testament law where sprinkling points to cleansing from sin. And cleansing for the purpose of holiness. It’s how things are purified: through blood. So the priest would sprinkle blood, and that which they sprinkled that blood on would become pure and upright. Here’s what we read in Hebrews chapter 9, “If the blood of bulls and goats in the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb 9:13–14). This is a blood sprinkled upon us that cleanses us wholly. As the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” That sprinkling happens through the blood of Christ. It really captures his mission. Why did he experience the curse? That not only the you, that is, Israel might be sprinkled, but it says so he might sprinkle many nations.

TK: What do you make of like when we’re reading along and we see poetry that reads like “Kings shall shut their mouths because of him” (Isa 52:15). And I read a statement like that and I say what, what is the prophet saying there? Like, what’s the image that’s supposed to come to mind? What are you thinking, a king shutting his mouth? What was he talking—what was he doing?

JD: Well, rather than instructing or warning or guiding, he stands in awe. It’s verse 14, “Many were astonished at you,” But then Isaiah explicates why it is that they shut their mouth. These kings will be quiet “for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isa 52:15). This points us right to Romans 15 where Paul says, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand” (Rom 15:20–21). So, we’re truly talking about the mission of Jesus. Ultimately, through his offspring who become servants, the Servant gives rise to servants who carry out his mission, and that mission is to go to people who God’s word was never given to. The Jews had the revelation. The rest of the world didn’t. And yet, even though they were never told to be hoping in the Messiah, that there would ultimately be an answer out of their darkness and out of their sin problem, what they were never told about they know about. What they had never even considered seeing, now they see. They understand. So, what you have here is Gentiles, even the highest-level Gentiles, surrendering to a higher king because he is being high and exalted. So you can either bow down to Jesus ultimately as a prisoner of war, or you can surrender now to him as it says in Psalm 2, “Kiss the Son lest he be angry in the way. But blessed are those who find refuge in him” (Ps 2:12). And here we’re getting a picture of kings who are themselves recognizing good news, Good news has come: our God reigns. So they’re surrendering their kingship to a greater kingship and it’s beautiful.

TK: So we and the church then and the and the mission of the church is wrapped into this— the Kings hearing what they hadn’t heard before, that’s happening even right now. We are part of this story being told.

JD: Right, exactly it—we see it again in Jesus words in John 12. “Though he had done many signs before, the Jews, they still didn’t believe, so that the word.” Sorry, that’s jumping into our very next verse. I was jumping ahead of us. What were you going to say?

TK: It’s Ok. No, I just—it’s stunning. What I was just saying was this thought the implications of this chapter, even the working out of this chapter, not reading it as somebody who’s holding it at arms distance. Saying that was really amazing that that happened 2000 years ago or that Isaiah prophesied this so many years before Christ came. But it’s saying, no what we’re reading about right here, directly impacts our life at this very moment.

JD: We are among the very nations who are sprinkled clean and that changes our lives. It changes everything. Even though I, as a Gentile, didn’t receive the Old Testament scriptures. It wasn’t given to me. I didn’t grow up in that tradition. All of a sudden all of that history, all of that revelation, becomes mine. It becomes filled with words of hope, and that’s what we’re reading right now. The very words that the Jews had been given, the Gentiles have received. And here you and I are two Gentiles proclaiming, I hope, to Jews and Gentiles alike, that Jesus is the answer.

TK: And any wisdom we would have on our own—we’ve had to shut their our mouths because of what he did. We have nothing, nothing to say, like Paul said, but Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2).

Isaiah 53:1–3: Isaiah Announces the Servant as the Arm of Yahweh

So Jason, we get we get a switch in chapter 53. It starts, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isa 53:1). First of all, what’s the shift there? And then can you talk a second about this statement or this description, the arm of the Lord.

JD: “Who has believed what he has heard from us?” In verse 13 of the previous chapter, God talked about “my servant shall act wisely. My servant will be high and lifted up.” But now the Lord is being talked about. “Whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” It seems as though we have a shift. Now the Prophet is talking, and he’s talking about a group that has not listened. And so he’s not talking about the kings in the previous verse who had not been told, but see, who had not heard but understand. He’s saying, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us,” and that us he’s including—it’s like there’s a group, a band that has heard good news and this takes us back actually to the previous chapter in verse 7, the Servant, the very one that we’re talking about, is the proclaimer of good news. “How beautiful upon the mountains of the feet of him, who brings good news, who publishes peace and brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation.” He shows up, declaring “to Zion your God reigns” (Isa 52:7). But the very next verse says there’s watchmen on the wall. They hear what the words of the Messiah are declaring, “The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice together, they sing for joy, for eye to eye they see the return of Yahweh to Zion” (Isa 52:8).

So I think Isaiah is counting himself among the good news proclaimers. He’s gotten a glimpse that God wins his victory through the Messiah, and he’s declaring alongside of others, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” Certainly, Isaiah’s own audience is not listening. God, the very people that Isaiah said, “I live among a people of unclean lips.” Then he goes on and his mission is to keep telling his people: keep looking but don’t see; keep listening but don’t hear (Isa 6:9). His mission is a mission of judgment to a people who are hard hearted. It says in Isaiah 29—it’s as if I bring a scroll to those who are read, and I say read the scroll and they say, sorry I can’t read it: it’s like a scroll that is closed. That’s what his audience is like, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” His audience is not listening. And what’s amazing is that Jesus’s audience didn’t listen, right. So now we go to the verse that I started to jump into, John 12:37. This is what John says, “Though Jesus had done many signs before the Jews, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled. ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us and to whom has the arm of the Lord, been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe.” Or Paul, in that very amazing passage where he says, “How are they to preach unless they are sent?” And then he says, “How beautiful are the on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news” (Rom 10:15). And I’ll just say right there. He does something that’s directly related to our passage, he quotes Isaiah 52:7 that said, “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news?”

TK: He made it plural.

JD: He made it plural because he sees himself as one of the watchmen who, after he’s heard the good news from the Messiah that our God reigns, he becomes one of the new voices singing for joy and declaring our God reigns. So, Paul takes what was originally the beautiful feat of the Messiah and now declares—now it’s the beautiful feat of the church. But he goes on. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news? And then Paul says of his unbelieving Jewish audience, “But they have not obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us.’ So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:16–17). So Paul’s audience is just like Isaiah’s audience, Isaiah says, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” The answer is no one’s listening God, my Jewish contemporaries are not listening. Jesus’s contemporaries weren’t listening. Paul’s contemporaries weren’t listening, and so because of that, Paul says, I’m going to the Gentiles now.

You asked about this arm and it is amazing, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed in Isaiah?” The arm of the Lord is the great instrument by which God acts. This reaches all the way back to the first exodus. God accomplished his deliverance with his strong arm, and so we read in Isaiah 52:9–10 “Break forth into singing, for the Lord has comforted his people and redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations and all the lands of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” God’s arm is the instrument by which he delivers. We see it similarly in Isaiah 59, God sees that “There was no man, and he wondered there is no one to intercede. Then his own arm brought him salvation, his righteousness upheld him” (Isa 59:16). The question before us, though, is how does this arm relate to our passage? And here’s what’s beautiful. Here is what is amazing. Isaiah says, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 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, no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised. He was 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” (Isa 53:1–3). Who are we talking about? Who’s the “he” that was despised and rejected by men? Tom. Who’s the he?

TK: The whole way through our Servant Songs, we’d say it’s the Servant.

JD: It’s the Servant. And we would say this is Jesus, right? But when we look at how the he shows up in verse two, what’s preceding it, it says “he grew up before him.” So we have two individuals. The “he” who is like a child growing up before his father. And then we go to the previous verse to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him. Well, the him must be the Lord. Well, who’s the he? The only he that I can recognize in the context is the arm. God’s arm is a person. It’s as if when God rolls up his sleeves, we see Jesus in action. Jesus is the savior. Jesus is the victor. This is why in Isaiah 59, right after it says his own arm brought him salvation, that is Yahweh’s arm, Jesus, brought him salvation and his righteousness upheld him. “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; and put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped himself up in zeal as a cloak” (Isa 59:17). Who is this warrior. It’s the arm of God. It is Jesus and that armor that we just read should remind us of Ephesians, chapter 6, the armor of God. Well, it’s our armor that we wear: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness. It’s our armor because it was first the Messiah’s armor. He is God’s strong arm. He is the instrument by which God saves. He was the one Jesus who saved Israel at the Exodus (Jude 5), and it is Jesus who saves God’s new people through the new exodus.

TK: So we have these images. We have the image, you just said, almost like God rolling up his sleeves. And you’d say, what are you looking at? A powerful arm. Who’s the powerful arm that’s going to go to work? It’s the Servant. And then in verse two, we have “He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground.” We’re changing some images there. So what do you see in that verse?

JD: Yeah, it’s surprising because we’ve got this image of power that all of a sudden moves to this image of weakness, right? And yet that’s where the Messiah’s portrait began in the book. A virgin will conceive a son and will name him Emmanuel, Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 9:6. He will be a child king who will sit on the throne of David forever, and he will be called wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace. He’s a child in Isaiah chapter 11 when we read that “a wolf will dwell with the lamb and a leopard will lie down with the young goat, a little child shall lead them” (Isa 11:6) We’ve got to be thinking it’s the child king, right? He looks weak. He looks small and then it goes on to say “the cow and the bear will graze; their young shall lie down together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the whole of the cobra” (Isa 11:7–8). Don’t just think this is talking about any child. This is the exact same word that we read—that’s translated as young plant in Isaiah 53:2. This is a suckling. The nursing child is a suckling that plays over the hold of the Cobra.

TK: It doesn’t even say plant in 53:2. He grew up before him like a suckling, correct?

JD: A suckling? Yeah, it’s something small. It’s something needy. And yet out of that neediness, God will display amazing power. But this plays into the whole idea in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 how the cross is foolishness to most of the world (1 Cor 1:18). When they look at God’s way of saving, they don’t want anything to do with it. And yet it is the only way. The path to glory is the path of suffering.

TK: So what? So we have the “High and lifted up” in 52:13 and then here he’s despised and rejected, and no one sees it in him. And then Isaiah says in 53:3 at the end of the verse, “He was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Who’s the we there?

JD: Yeah, I think that Isaiah is identifying his own self and other followers. He’s identifying himself with Israel, the rebellious Israel who had not listened originally, who did not hope like they should hope. And yet, ultimately, he’s among those who have surrendered. But I think that’s the most likely referent to the “we.” “We” is all the world that wasn’t hoping in the Messiah. That was the original “we” that wouldn’t think of his suffering. It’s even like the disciples in the New Testament who didn’t want to accept that Jesus had to die. And Peter’s declaration makes Jesus say, “Get behind me Satan” (Matt 16:23) because Peter didn’t understand that the path was one of suffering unto triumph. The sins of man had to be paid for. And Jesus knew what it would take. He would have to die a sinner’s death in order to save sinners.

Isaiah 53:4–9: The Servant Afflicted to Justify the Many

TK: Which brings us right to verses 4 through 6. This this is the part that says, “Surely he’s borne our griefs carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4). So we have a this is what he did. And then this is what we thought. So he was carrying our griefs and ourselves—we thought God was judging him.

JD: Right. He—it looks like he is bearing God’s curse. It’s as if we were Job’s three friends who are saying you must have sinned. You’ve got the problem. It looks like God is punishing him. And yet it says “He was wounded for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed…. [God] lays upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:5–6). This is some of the clearest verses in all the Bible speaking about the substitutionary nature of the Servant’s suffering. He only gains victory for us by identifying wholly with us in our curse and in our sin. It’s like in John chapter 3 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up” (John 3:14). The irony of identifying Jesus, the Son of Man, with the elevated serpent, who’s the embodiment of all curse and the embodiment of all that is hostile to God—“God made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). In the words here—so that by his stripes we might be healed, so that through his chastisement we might experience peace (Isa 53:5). This is the great exchange, our sins put upon Christ, his righteousness ultimately counted to us, so that we might experience peace and healing.

TK: So, who is the “our” here? “Surely he has borne our griefs.” Because earlier we read about a people who were walking by their—in the last Servant Song—walking by their own light. They made their own torches. They refused to walk in the light given by the Servant. And he says, “You will lie down in torment” by my hand (Isa 50:11). So there’s a there’s a—the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Who’s the group we’re talking about?

JD: Yeah, the us, all the us again. This is those who have heard good news, who have recognized their desperate state, and then, they’re the Watchmen. This is the many that were astonished in verse 14 at the suffering of the Christ, and it’s the many who are sprinkled. So Isaiah is just a part of a group, but it’s a group bigger than ethnic Israelites, and it’s also a group smaller than all ethnic Israelites.

TK: Because there’s some who utterly reject this.

JD: That’s right, they’re those, I mean, they’re the very ones who are wounding him, who are crushing him, who are putting chastisement upon him and striking him. They’re the ones who were rejecting the King of kings, and many of them were the ethnic Israelites along with Pontius Pilate and Herod and the Romans, doing exactly what God’s hand had purposed and predestined to take place (Acts 4:27). The all here, not all without distinction, but rather an all that is inclusive of every type of person. All of us who have heard all of us who have been sprinkled, all of us who have seen and surrendered, standing in awe, ww—that’s the all I believe. For whom all…

TK: Yep, all who fall in this category.

JD: That’s right, “all we, like sheep have gone astray” (Isa 53:6), and yet it’s the all and the many that are identified with Jesus in his suffering. We’re gonna see it very clearly shortly, in a passage from the New Testament. But I’m not going to go there until we hit verse 11.

TK: OK, so we have the Lord laying on him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53:6), and then we get we get the lamb imagery which we have in our album cover. “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that before it shears is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 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?” And then we read this, which would be familiar to those who’ve read the gospel accounts, “They made his grave with the wicked and with the rich man in his death, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:8–9). Jason the lamb imagery—after you read a passage like this, does it change how you read for instance, the imagery from the law of Moses, for instance, about the lambs? Should it change how I see the lambs there?

JD: Well, I think we’ve got to see, honestly, what is happening with every sacrifice is war. You have a wrathful judge, justly wrathful, who is punishing iniquity and his wrath in order to make things right. That is, to establish righteousness once again. The only way that can happen is by his rightly killing the sinner or a substitute. This is why every lamb had to be recognized as unblemished so that it was clear this lamb is not dying because it’s sick or because it has failure, but rather this lamb is dying because it’s standing as my representative. It’s on my behalf. And so every time we read like Leviticus 1–7 and we see all the pattern of sacrifice in Israel, we should be thinking that it was pointing to this. And what this is within this chapter is a divine war against sin in order to save real sinners.

TK: With a perfect sacrifice.

JD: With a perfect sacrifice. “Stricken for the transgression of my people” (Isa 53:8).

TK: I’m thinking of a passage, Psalm 34. It’s a Psalm of David, and there’s a spot there, it says in 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones not one of them is broken.” And David does something in this Psalm. He’s talking about a righteous one, but he quotes something that said about the Passover lamb, but he applies it to a righteous person. So already, even before Isaiah, a transfer is being made from the lamb to a coming righteous one. So this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this in God’s word.

JD: No, the pattern of substitution and the pattern of what we would call imputation, that is God counting something that is not to someone—he counts our sins to Jesus. This, even though he was not a sinner. And he counts Jesus’s righteousness to us, even though we are not. And yet he does so by faith. And because it’s by faith and we’ve confessed our sins, he then, in turn, because of what Jesus did, is indeed “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

TK: Verse nine—it says, “they made his grave with the wicked with a rich man in his death” (Isa 53:9). Passages like this you think right away that, well we saw that (like I mentioned in the gospel accounts) they buried Jesus in a rich man’s tomb. And we have a couple ways of thinking about this. One is to take this verse and go forward into the Gospels, which is good and right to do that. But the other is to say that that happened so that we would know—we would have a hook to go into Isaiah 53 and say, am I reading this right? Does this really apply to the Lord Jesus? And we’re not just looking for this one verse then. Finding that—where Jesus is buried there—is sending us back to Isaiah 53 and telling us read this whole account because Jesus’s death and resurrection—this whole Isaiah 53 is about that. So I’m super thankful for things like this where you’ll get something in the Gospel accounts and you’ll say, OK, that came straight out of Isaiah. It’s sending me back there and giving me the confirmation I need. Yep, this is about what I thought it was about. This is about the Lord Jesus.

Isa 53:10–12: The Servant Creates Offsping

JD: Amen. That’s a really good process of reading our Bibles. And then we’ve got this reaffirmation, “No violence had he done and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:9). This is simple reaffirmation of what we already saw of the servant in Isaiah chapter 50. Within the courtroom of God, he is indeed completely blameless. “Yet it was the will of Yahweh to crush him” (Isa 53:10). There’s so much here, Tom. But to consider what does God delight in—and in this text, God’s delight, his purpose, his will was to crush his Son, to put him to grief, not randomly, but for a purpose. God’s will was to crush his Son “when his soul makes an offering for guilt.” There he is: he’s the lamb on the altar, being punished for sin. It says when this happens, under the crushing hand of God—crushed for our iniquities by the purpose of God—it says three things: “he shall see offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of Yahweh will prosper in his hands” (Isa 53:10).

He just died. He was the offering for guilt. But now it says if he will do this, he will see. This is resurrection, Tom. He will see. And what he will see is offspring. We know that Jesus in his body never married and never had kids, and yet what he sees is offspring. And in this text that offspring is motivating him. Not only will, on the other side of his resurrection, he see offspring, it says his days will be forever, they’ll be prolonged. And God’s will will prosper in his hand. Now at this it just pauses and restates something that it just said, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied” (Isa 53:11). So, what will he see in verse 10?

TK: He’s going to see offspring.

JD: He sees offspring and now it says when he sees those offspring, he is satisfied. And Tom, I just want to jump into Hebrews chapter 12. What is that joy set before him that moved Jesus to enter into the cross, despising its shame? Isaiah 53, says the joy that motivated Jesus to persevere through his suffering was the joy of a community, a people. On the other side of the cross event some from every tongue and tribe and people and nation would be gathered with new identities, new birth certificates, declaring Jerusalem as our mother. This one was born there. That one was born there (Psalm 87). Jesus becomes the groom of a new bride, a New Jerusalem with Jews and Gentiles gathered to the city. We are the offspring of this union. And we are the joy. And as a church, as we send forth missionaries and as we see those missionaries endure suffering, to what end? It’s the same end. The joy is the hope of seeing more and more offspring of the Messiah.

TK: That’s what it says in it says in Isaiah 49, so the second Servant Song, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob to be bring back the preserved of Israel. I will make you as a light for the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isa 49:6)—offspring everywhere.

JD: I love it. And all those offspring, as we will see in Isaiah 54 and beyond, are the servants. the Servant gives birth to servants and those servants take up his mission. How does it happen? “Out of the anguish of his soul, he shall see and be satisfied.” Then it says this, “By his knowledge shall the righteous one”—so there he is. He’s righteous. God has declared him righteous (Isaiah 50). By his knowledge—he knows what he’s doing. He recognizes his mission; he knows what he’s come for. He is that sharp arrow in the quiver of God, ready to be put in the arrow for this precise moment. “By his knowledge, shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous” (Isa 53:11). There’s the many again, the many nations who are sprinkled are the many who are accounted righteous. The righteous one accounts many righteous, even as he bears their iniquities.

TK: Yeah. So, they didn’t start righteous.

JD: No, they didn’t. And that’s why Isaiah can talk about the all the “we,” the “us.” Our transgressions are the ones that he bore. He bears the iniquities of the many in order that the many may be counted righteous. And that language of the many and the language of the righteous, Paul picks up in Romans chapter 5 and I just draw our attention here. “Therefore, as one trespass [of Adam] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness”—there it is, by the righteous one—“leads to justification of life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,”—the many were made sinners—“so by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:18–19). That’s what Paul’s talking about. This is Paul’s gospel, and he is celebrating it. The many here are many nations and already Isaiah was envisioning a global people as the offspring of this new-covenant worker.

TK: So we we’ve got him and he’s won a victory and won a people, and it says, “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many and he shall divide the spoil with the strong” (Isa 53:12). Who are the strong Jason.

JD: Well, the many is the nations and the strong are those who have been made strong or numerous. A multiplied group is what it could also mean here. It’s the group that have been saved; it’s the group that he died to redeem, and it’s possible this is actually to be just tweaked in its wording so that the many and the multitude or the strong are actually the spoil he gains and the reward that he claims. So that it’s not just that that he gains a portion with them, but he gains a portion in them. That the spoil is indeed the strong itself. But regardless, this is the group that he has saved. Why? “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” (Isa 53:12). There it is. Right there he is one even now, Tom, who is standing before the father interceding on our behalf. John says “I write this whole book to you so that you will not sin. But if we do sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” (1 John 2:1)—straight out of Isaiah 53. This is amazing hope.

TK: I think that’s a great reminder too. We can read this in Isaiah 53. We can read the gospel accounts and think the story of Christ has been done and he accomplished it. And it’s almost like he’s out of the picture. But that’s not what it says here. It says he will see his offspring. He shall prolong his days and the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. So the idea is he won a victory and he’s still working after this point. So making intercession even today.

JD: Yeah, right where we started. Right now, he is high and lifted up and exalted, and from that context of having all authority in heaven and on earth, he is working the will of his Father. The will of God is prospering in his hand as he works it out through his church by the power of the Spirit. It’s happening even now, and Isaiah envisioned it 700 years before Jesus. It is so hopeful and life-bringing. The portrait of the gospel in these Servant Songs is so rich and it demands just pausing and resting and celebrating.

TK: Amen. A man pausing, resting, celebrating and proclaiming. Do you know this story? Jason. This has been sweet. I look forward to hopefully someday we’ll get back in Isaiah because just looking at the start of Isaiah 54, there’s a lot coming up that’s pretty sweet in this book.

JD: Oh my goodness, there’s a lot that’s preceded and a lot to follow that is so sweet. But this month in Isaiah’s Servant Songs has been very special.

TK: Very good. All right, well may you and I, Jason, and may all those who are hearing here find our rest and our joy in the Servant and may we—like we read Paul and Barnabas—may we take up his mission as well. Amen. Blessings. We will see you next time.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. If you haven’t done so already, go to our show notes and download the album cover and the lecture notes for our month in the Servant Song series. Hope you can join us next week.