The 52nd and 53rd chapters of Isaiah bring to a climax the teaching about God’s Righteous Servant. W.A. Criswell writes in his commentary on Isaiah that reading Chapter 53 is like walking into the Holly of Holies. To read it, one would think that Isaiah was standing at the foot of the cross when he records these words.
The four Servant Songs of Isaiah all focus on a character identified as God's Righteous Servant. That Righteous Servant is The Anointed One of Israel—the Messiah. Chapters 42, 49 and 50 contain the previous three Servant Songs, and all build to reach a crescendo in chapter 53. Here we find the finale of the Righteous Servant’s ministry fully revealed. Isaiah 53 is the climax of this tremendous series of Songs. This Fourth Servant Song is the single most important chapter in the Old Testament because it reveals the reasons why God’s Servant had to suffer and die.
Beginning with Isaiah 52:13 and ending with Isaiah 53:12, this section (Pericope) of Scripture illustrates mankind’s ultimate redemption from sin. The Fourth Servant Song demonstrates how the holy God of Israel has secured reconciliation for mankind from sin through His Righteous Servant. In a sense, you could say that this last Servant Song ties together a lot of ‘loose ends’ of Old Testament Messianic thought.
The three previous Servant Songs flow directly into the fourth. Some difficult to understand Scriptures found in the previous Songs are now fully explained in this Song. All the questions generated by the first three Songs, are answered by the fourth.
In Isaiah 42, the prophet speaks of two servants since it is quite clear that there are two different servants referred to in this chapter. One servant is Israel, which is described as the blinded servant living in spiritual darkness (Isaiah 42:18-20). The other Servant is The Anointed One, who is called not only a light of the Gentiles but also a covenant of the people (Isaiah 42:6). This First Song does not mention what this covenant is:
Isaiah 42:6 “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles”
In Isaiah chapter 49, the second of Isaiah’s Servant Songs, the prophet illustrates that the nation of Israel will despise and abhor God’s Righteous Servant. However, the reason is not mentioned:
Isaiah 49:7 “Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation (singular) 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.”
In Isaiah chapter 50, the third of Isaiah’s Servant Songs, the despised and rejected Servant is beaten. According to this Song, God’s Servant willingly gave his back to the whip and His cheeks to them that plucked off his beard. He did not hide His face from shame and spitting. Again, this Third Song fails to mention the reason for the suffering of God’s Righteous Servant.
Isaiah 50:5, 6 “The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. (6) 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.”
With that background, let’s look at some more of this Fourth Servant Song. If you remember, I told you that the song is broken up into five stanzas. Last Sunday we examined the 1st Stanza—the Destiny of the Suffering Servant: 52:13-15. It reveals Christ’s Exaltation, His Humiliation, and His final Glorification.
This evening we will look at the 2nd Stanza—The Career of the Righteous Servant.
He died for you. Are you willing to live for him? Every day, all around the world, men and women hear the story of The Righteous Servant for the first time – and their lives are changed forever. What about you?