The fourth servant song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 provides an incredible example of Old Testament prophecy about Jesus Christ. In this episode, we consider how critical historians have interpreted this text, how Jewish scholars have interpreted this text, and how New Testament writers have interpreted this text.
In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, we arrive at the heart of the Book of the Servant. The fourth servant song proclaims the long awaited “how” of spiritual deliverance. How does our holy God justly forgive sinful people?
In Isaiah 50:4-52:12, the third servant song provides a model of faithful resilience. Isaiah exhorts Israel to listen, wake up and walk with God according to that model.
In Isaiah 49:1-50:30, Isaiah begins the final section in the Book of the Servant with the second of four servant songs. God’s servant is a select arrow, hidden in the Lord’s quiver, to be aimed, drawn and released at the appropriate time, not only to restore Israel, but as a light for the nations that God’s salvation might reach to the ends of the earth.
In Isaiah 48:1-22, Isaiah completes his description of Babylon’s fall and Israel’s deliverance. God perseveres in faithfulness to his chosen people, but a dark chord is struck in the joyful song of rescue. A great deliverance from the external oppressor Babylon does not solve the internal problem of the human heart.
In Isaiah 47:1-15, Isaiah looks ahead to the fulfillment of the Cyrus prophecy with the fall of Babylon. Isaiah’s vision looks beyond the specific, historic fall of Babylon to a spiritual reality that runs through human history from the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 to John’s depiction in Revelation 18.
In Isaiah 46:1-13, Isaiah concludes his description of Israel’s obstinacy in regard to God’s plan to use Cyrus. But first we continue our consideration of how Isaiah 45 influenced Paul’s letter to the Romans in regard to the three themes of questioning God’s plan, the righteousness of God, and the salvation of all Israel.
In Isaiah 45:9-25, Israel pushes back against God’s plan to raise up Cyrus, a Gentile Messiah. God responds with a rebuke and an affirmation that Israel will still play a central role in the formation of a world wide people. We will see significant connection between Isaiah 45 and Paul’s letter to the Romans.
In Isaiah 44:24-45:8, we consider the historical background and meaning of one of the most specific and unlikely prophecies of Scripture that a king named Cyrus would deliver the Jewish exiles from Babylon.
In Isaiah 43:22-44:23, we address the second half of our second major section in the Book of the Servant – the Redemption of Israel. The people of God need spiritual redemption from their own sin nature. Only God can meet our deepest needs. Pagan idol-gods, both ancient and modern, are empty fictions of our own design.
In Isaiah 42:18-43:21, we address the first half of our second major section in the Book of the Servant – the Redemption of Israel. Israel is going to need national redemption from exile in Babylon. God is going to do this. God’s people are to give witness.
I’ve had an intense run of teaching, starting in June, that has forced me to make a pause in the Isaiah series. I will start up again sometime in August.
In Isaiah 41:21-42:17, Isaiah offers consolation for the Gentiles by exposing the idol-gods of the nations, prophesying God’s remedy in a future servant, and responding with a new song. Isaiah’s description of an ideal servant in 42:1-4 constitutes our first of four servant songs in the Book of the Servant.
In Isaiah 41:1-20, Isaiah concludes the initial consolation of Israel, with a powerful, compact description of God as sovereign over world events and with three descriptive pictures of the transformation he will bring about when Israel’s exile is complete.
In Isaiah 40:12-31 Isaiah extols the character of the Creator God as the ground of the hope proclaimed in 40:1-11. We can find comfort in the hope of God’s glory, word and arm when we see God as he truly is.