April 28, 2019
The Servant Song of Isaiah 52 and 53 is the prophecy of the glorious work of the Messiah of Israel. The Messiah obeys God to the point of death. He pleases God by offering Himself as a guilt offering and sheds His blood for the atonement for sin. His blood sacrifice makes it possible for God’s children to be united with God. The death of Christ is a propitiation which satisfies the wrath of God.
The Servant, Jesus Christ, glorifies God. God is glorious in being loving and compassionate, and God is glorious in His judgment of sin. Because Jesus glorifies the Father, the Father glorifies the Son and puts all things under His feet. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Isaiah 54 and 55
Chapters 54 and 55 are celebratory in their invitation to participate in the salvation of Christ.
The main idea of the message is that we are to enter into a life of salvation knowing our compassionate Redeemer’s covenant of peace shall not be shaken.
We can rejoice in God’s commitment to our salvation. God’s great compassion is His motivation to save us and keep us. His faithfulness is unaffected by our sin and failure but remains steadfast because of His unwavering covenantal love.
Before we get into the passage, it is helpful for us to look at our salvation from God’s perspective. There are four key truths for us to know regarding our redemption in Christ. Knowing these truths helps us better understand Scripture and apply it in our lives.
1-God’s children are born by faith in the gospel
God’s people span the history of time. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, John, Paul, Calvin, Whitfield, and Piper are some of the more well-known names of God’s people. There is also Rebekkah, Rahab, Mephibosheth, Cyrus the Great, Aquilla, Titus, and countless others from many times and many nations.
God’s people, those in the Old Testament and those in the New Covenant, share a distinguishing characteristic. They put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. God’s children are born by faith in the gospel. There are no exceptions. To be adopted sons and daughters of God, we must be saved by Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-29)
It is helpful when we read the Old Testament to keep this in mind. Every child of God reading Isaiah’s prophecy puts their faith in Jesus. They recognize that they are a sinner needing salvation.
When God looks at people, He does not see Jews or Gentiles. He doesn’t see the ancient world or the modern world. God does not see His people according to economic status. God does not see His children as male or female. God does not measure the good works of His children (John 1:12).
The only chosen people of God are those who are in Christ. It is imprecise for us to call Jews God’s chosen people when they do not believe the gospel. If they believe Jesus died for their sins, they are chosen. Being a blood descendant of Abraham does not make them God’s chosen people. (Google search using the phrase “God’s chosen people,” ought to turn up Christians, not Jews.)
And, those who belong to Christ are considered descendants of Abraham. Only spiritual descendants of Abraham inherit God’s promises.
God’s chosen people are those who belong to Christ. We belong to Jesus because we are His bride. All of those who are saved are members of the Bride of Christ.
2-History is the work of God to save His children
We look at history from the perspective of nations rising and setting. We think of the time of the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, or British. We look at history according to technological advances. We think of the bronze age, iron age, the time of the horse and buggy, industrial age, or the computer age. There are many ways we identify periods of history.
God looks at history the same way He looks at people. God sees a Redemptive History. He is looking at the passing of the ages in relation to His work to save His children.
God’s children prove incapable of keeping God’s law. It doesn’t matter if they are a Jew or Gentile, and born in the stone age or the information age. God’s children are not righteous. Not even one. (Romans 3:9-10)
God seeks to save His children in every age. The only historical significance of every age is God saving His people. Nothing else matters.
3-The Promises of God find fulfillment in Christ
The centerpiece of redemptive history is God the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the central figure. God’s people need salvation. God’s children need someone to take the punishment for their sin.
God speaks to His people about a Savior throughout history. God progressively reveals the details of His identity throughout redemptive history. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, we learn that He is from the seed of a woman. God reveals He is a descendant of Abraham and David. He is a mighty warrior and the Prince of Peace. He is the Servant of God and the Arm of God. We find many of the descriptions of the Savior in the book of Isaiah. The people of Israel call Him the Messiah. We know Him as Jesus Christ.
God makes amazing promises to His people throughout redemptive history. God promises to remove our sin and place it on His Servant. He promises that His Right Arm will defeat our enemies of sickness, sin, and even death. The Savior will make deserts into lush gardens. We will be alive forevermore. All the nations will live together peacefully in His kingdom, and will enjoy the blessings of heaven with great joy.
We cannot fulfill these needs on our own. We long for God promises to come to pass. God says that His promises find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus accomplishes what we are unable to do (Isaiah 49:3; Matthew 5:17-18).
4-God’s People Are Redeemed
God is the Redeemer, His people are the redeemed, and history is redemptive history.
There are many ways we may describe salvation. Some people say that they are born again because God makes the dead spirit alive. We describe salvation as being saved from God’s holy wrath because Jesus takes our punishment and dies for our sins. We describe our salvation as receiving the righteousness of God which makes us holy and perfect in God’s eyes. We use the legal term and say that we are justified as a gift of grace. Salvation is to be in union with Jesus. We become the Bride of Christ. All of these descriptions are correct.
One of the more frequent words to describe our salvation is the word redeemed. We are redeemed. Our Redeemer saves, justifies, bestows righteousness, and gives spiritual birth. God redeems us through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. All of God’s children from the beginning of time have the identity of being “the redeemed of the Lord.”
These four truths are to guide and direct us as we read the Old and New Testament Scripture.
Enter into a life of Salvation
After the Servant Song announces redemption in Christ, God invites us to enter into a life of salvation. The first four verses of chapter 54 provide three commands for us to apply in our lives.
Shout for Joy
The first command is that we are to shout for joy. We are to break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud. God expects us to enter into salvation with joy. (Isaiah 54:1)
God needn’t tell us we ought to be joyful. Knowing that we escape God’s punishment that we deserve ought to elicit joy. Our death sentence is commuted. We escape the pit of hell.
Along with the shout for joy comes a reason for the joy. Not only are we to find joy in being saved, but we are to find joy in knowing that there is a great family of people being birthed by God.
Isaiah is using language in these first four verses that is reminiscent of God’s promise to Abraham. Abraham’s wife is barren and God miraculously gives her a child. All of God’s children are born miraculously by God. It is as Jesus tells Nicodemus, we are born-again by God the Spirit.
These verses in Isaiah prophesy of a tremendous population growth of God’s children. Those who have never travailed will have more sons than the married woman. There will be great gladness because of the miraculous increase in children.
God will make once barren nations fruitful. Spiritual fruit is harvested from all the nations. The sons and daughters of Abraham come forth from many. There will be a great multiplication, but it will be spiritual birth.
Enlarge Your Tent
The population growth requires more housing. The second application is the command to enlarge the place of your tent.
Isaiah uses an interesting illustration. During the time of Isaiah, the Israelites are well past living in tents. The Israelites live in tents during the wilderness, but it is not their preferred dwelling. In Egypt, they living in permanent structures (with doorposts).
Abraham (along with Isaac and Jacob) is the true tent dweller in the Bible. The language in this passage (Isaiah 54:3-3) uses many of the same words as God’s promise to Abraham. These verses intend for us to see that the promise of Abraham being a blessing to the nations becomes a reality. The promise of God to Abraham finds fulfillment in Christ.
After Jesus dies and is risen from the grave, we see the tremendous multi-national growth of the people of God. Abraham’s descendants begin to grow throughout the world. There is an expansion on the right and the left which is on every side. Cities such as Rome, Ephesus, and Corinth were desolate (from God’s perspective, they were spiritually dead). Places that were once empty of God’s children, become occupied with God’s children.
Isaiah is commanding us to expand the tent to welcome more children. Believe it will happen.
Israel is disgraced because of her disobedience to God. God chooses Israel as a nation to bring Him glory, but she fails. Nevertheless, God is faithful.
Our third command is to fear not; we will not be put to shame or disgraced. God will overlook our past, and we will prosper regardless of our past sins.
Isaiah talks of youth and widowhood to speak about a full life. Don’t feel disgraced about the sins of your youth, nor the reproach of the sin of your old age. God takes a lifetime of shame and humiliation and eliminates it in an instant. When Christ saves us, our slate is wiped clean. We are new creatures in Christ. Jesus bears our shame and humiliation on the cross so that we are made new. (Isaiah 54:4)
The people of God may hold their head high because of Christ’s goodness.
For the Lord is on our side
The reason to have joy, enlarge our tent, and not fear is because of our husband. We are the Bride of Christ.
This passage speaks to God’s people as a woman. Isaiah uses poetic language to describe our relationship with God. We are the bride of Christ. In verse one, the bride is a barren woman, but Jesus will give her many children. The woman is responsible for the tent. The bride is to expand her tent because the family will grow to be very large. The bride is to forget her shame and live without fear.
The reason the bride receives such joy and blessing is not found within her, but it is her husband (Isaiah 54:5). Her husband is her Maker; her Creator. And, her maker is very glorious.
His name is the Lord of hosts. He commands the angels in heaven. He is their Lord and these powerful beings obey His every command.
Her husband is her Redeemer. He is the one who purchases her from slavery in the kingdom of darkness. He is the one who rescues her from destruction.
He is the Holy One of Israel. He is the holy One who is set apart and lives in the heavens. And He is of Israel, the God who condescends to be among His people. He is God of all the earth. He is Lord of the heavens, and God of all the earth. Her husband is sovereign over all things. The husband seeks for the success and prosperity of the bride, and nothing will stand, or can stand, in His way.
Shout for joy church, for our husband is our Maker.
Expand our tent church, for our husband, is Lord of hosts and God of all the earth. Nothing stands in our way.
Fear not, do not be ashamed, church, for our husband is our Redeemer who forgives our sin and removes them as far as the east is from the west.
The bride of Christ is not great because of any attribute she possesses. The bride of Christ is magnificent because she is joined to her husband, and He is glorious.
We need to look at redemptive history from God’s perspective. Do not see it as the history of Israel and then the history of the church. God sees redemptive history as the history of the bride of Christ.
God brings the bride of Christ out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. God gives the bride of Christ the Law and the Prophets. Then, God gives the bride of Christ a Husband who is now preparing a place for His bride.
If we look at redemptive history, we see how the Bride of Christ grows in numbers. The greatest growth occurs begins at Pentecost when God begins to gather people from all the nations.
But, there is a period when God does not allow the Bride of Christ to grow, and that is the time after Solomon until the return from the Babylonian captivity. During that time, there is an appalling apostasy. If it were not for God’s grace, there would be no children added to the Bride during that time. But, God saves a remnant. Isaiah speaks of God’s work of grace in the first chapter. If it were not for God, Israel would be as Sodom and Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:9).
As God is makes the promise of having many offspring, the Bride has to wonder, what if there is another time of apostasy? What if I fail again? The Bride will question if her husband will leave her?
God removes all fears. He says to have joy, expand the tent and to fear not.
Know our compassionate Redeemer’s covenant shall not be shaken
God desires for us to know that our compassionate Redeemer’s covenant shall not be shaken. God recognizes that He forsook His bride. She suffers greatly. But, it is temporary. For a brief moment, God hid His face in an outburst of anger. God is right to be angry because His bride acts wickedly.
Know the Lord calls us with great compassion
But, God wants us to know that there is something much greater than His anger, and that is His compassion. God calls us with everlasting lovingkindness. With great compassion, He calls us. (Isaiah 54:6-8)
Our husband is our Redeemer. Though we deserve for God to forsake us, we may have great assurance in knowing God redeems us from our sin.
God loves us with a “hesed” love. Hesed is a Hebrew word with no English equivalent. Hesed love is a love that endures and persists beyond sin and rebellion. It is a love shown from a superior to an inferior. The superior, God, is betrayed. Despite being betrayed, He seeks to mend the brokenness in the relationship. His hesed love forgives when there is no reason to forgive. His hesed love seeks the good of the one being forgiven.
God is not blind to our human condition, and yet He still loves us. It is God’s hesed love which prompts the Apostle Paul to say, “God demonstrates His love towards us in that while we are yet sinners, Christ died for our sins” (Romans 5:8).
We may rejoice that our Husband loves us with a hesed love. His is a love full of great compassion.
Know God’s Wrath is Satisfied
To assuage our fears of God ever being angry, God tells us the situation is like the days of Noah to Him. God made a covenant that He will not flood the earth ever again. The flood is the propitiation that satisfies God’s wrath. (Isaiah 54:7)
God says to us, in the same way as the flood satisfies My anger, the death of Jesus also satisfies My anger.
God binds Himself and makes a covenant, but He doesn’t have to. He gains nothing. God’s covenant with us is not mutually beneficial. God gains nothing from us, and we gain everything. God satisfies His anger with a hesed love.
Know the Lord’s covenant is everlasting
God speaks to us poetically. He says look at the mountains and the hills. As we look, we see what appears to be a solid structure. Mountains are among the surest things on this earth.
God says, those will shake and be removed, but His lovingkindness will not be removed. His covenant of peace will not be shaken. (Isaiah 54:10)
What this verse is saying is that we are to think about the most substantially stable thing we know of. When it comes to stability, mountains are as stable as sand at the sea compared to God’s covenant.
God appoints the Messiah as the Covenant to His people (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8). Jesus will never be shaken. The covenant of peace is given to us and upheld by the Prince of Peace.
Verse five of this passage is an amazing picture of our salvation and one which helps us to think rightly about our salvation. The basis of our salvation is not on our merits but upon the character and glory of God.
Shout for joy, expand your tent, and fear not
for your husband is your Maker,
whose name is the Lord of hosts;
and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
who is called the God of all the earth.