The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

Isaiah 52

Isa 52:1

CLOTHE... GARMENTS: New garments indicating a new status, a new covenant (as High Priest, other priests: Exo 28:2,40). Clothing sym way of life, to be kept clean, as a "wedding garment" (Mat 22:11-13). Inner beauty, not as whited sepulchres of Pharisees (Mat 23:25-28; Ecc 3:11). "Let your priests be clothed with righteousness" (Psa 132:9). "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and diadem" (Job 29:14). "Put on the new man... righteousness, true holiness" (Eph 4:24). "Be clothed with humility" (1Pe 5:5). "Whole armor of God..." (Eph 6). "Righteousness, girdle of loins; faithfulness, girdle of reins" (Isa 11:5). "Clothed with house from heaven" (2Co 5:2,3). "Girt with golden girdle" (Rev 1:13).

GARMENTS: Obtained from the shorn sheep (Isa 53:7).


THE UNCIRCUMCISED AND DEFILED WILL NOT ENTER YOU AGAIN: A ref to Assyrian soldiers garrisoned in the Temple area: "Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him" (2Ch 28:21). 2Ch 28:21. Lit, "divided up a portion of the temple" -- giving it to the Assyrian soldiers as a place to rest and reside. Cp 2Ki 16:18. (A similar policy was followed by the Assyrians with other vassal nations; cp also the Roman garrison next to the Temple in NT times.) Cp idea, Isa 63:18; 64:11; Psa 74:3-8; 79:1; Isa 7:13; 11:9; 52:1; Mic 5:5.

Isa 52:2

SHAKE OFF YOUR DUST: Sym the curse of Adam (Gen 3:19).

CHAINS ON YOUR NECK: Chains of slavery (ie Act 12:7). Could also ref bondage of laws, rules, etc (Act 15:10).

Isa 52:3

YOU WERE SOLD FOR NOTHING: Sold because of your sins: ie Isa 50:1. Cp Paul: "I am carnal, sold under sin" (Rom 7:14,24).

WITHOUT MONEY YOU WILL BE REDEEMED: "Justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:24). Cp Isa 45:13.

Isa 52:6

MY PEOPLE WILL KNOW MY NAME: They will be as slaves happily acknowledging the name of their new Master (cp Rev 14:1).

Isa 52:7

BRING GOOD NEWS: Cp Luk 8:1: "Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God." And Paul appropriates the same words to himself: Rom 10:15 -- where "feet of HIM" becomes "feet of THEM".

YOUR GOD REIGNS!: When a new king was enthroned, his followers would give this shout. Other examples of this enthronement formula: 2Sa 15:10; 1Ki 1:11,13,18; 2Ki 9:13. The LORD is an eternal king, but here he is pictured as a victorious warrior who establishes His rule from Zion: Isa 24:23; Psa 47:7,8; all of Psa 93-100.; Rev 19:6.

Isa 52:8

WATCHMEN: Like Simeon, looking for the Messiah (Luk 2): "My eyes have seen your salvation" (Luk 2:30). The "song" of Isa 52:9,10 here // Luk 2:25-38. [Note: at the time of return from Babylonian captivity, there were no watchmen and no towers!]

LIFT UP THEIR VOICES... SEE IT WITH THEIR OWN EYES: Respectively, the watchmen calling to one another at night, and actually seeing one another in the day.

SEE IT WITH THEIR OWN EYES: Cp Joh 9:1-7: the man born blind, healed by Jesus!

Isa 52:9

YOU RUINS OF JERUSALEM: The countryside around Jerusalem, wasted and ruined by the Assyrian army.

Isa 52:11

VESSELS: One's own life and /or body: 1Th 4:3-6; 2Ti 2:21,22.

Isa 52:12

YOU WILL NOT LEAVE IN HASTE OR GO IN FLIGHT: The captives returning from Assyria/Babylon did not have to flee for their lives -- as did the Jews going out of Egypt (Exo 12:33).

Isa 52:13

Isa 52:13 -- Isa 53:12: One complete song: 5 stanzas of 3 vv each: (a) Isa 52:13-15: "Behold my servant" -- the twofold aspect of Messiah in sufferings and glory; (b) Isa 53:1-3: "Who has believed our message?" -- the appeal of Christ heard by Israel, and rejected; (c) Isa 53:4-6: "He took up our infirmities" -- the reason for his sufferings; (d) Isa 53:7-9: "he was oppressed and afflicted" -- what his sufferings involved; (e) Isa 53:10-12: "it was the LORD's will" -- the divine purpose behind Messiah's sufferings.

Isa 52:13 -- Isa 53:12: The cross from OUR viewpoint. Psa 22: The cross from Messiah's viewpoint.

SEE: Or "Behold!": a trumpet call, demanding careful attention to all the follows.

MY SERVANT: The servant of Exo 21:5,6; Psa 40:6. The plural servant fails, but the singular servant succeeds.

The prophecies relating to Yahweh's servant are found in Isaiah, from Isa 41 through this section. In these prophecies, Isaiah has been continually contrasting the "national" servant, Israel, with the "individual" servant, the Messiah, much to the discredit of the former. Israel the multitudinous servant has been called to an honorable position of service, but has despised the privilege and failed miserably (Isa41:8; 42:19; 43:10; 44:1,21; 43:4; 43:20). For this they are sharply rebuked (Isa 42:17-20). Meanwhile, Israel is called upon to "behold My Servant" (Isa 42:1); God's individual "Servant" would accomplish what the national "Servant" could not. Through him the works of the Father, the greatest of which is the redemption and glorification of a portion of mankind, will be accomplished

God's purpose of redemption requires the suffering and finally the sacrificial death of His obedient servant. See the stages in this second portion of Isaiah: (a) first, there is the merest hint of temporary discouragement (Isa 42:4), (b) secondly, a lament over "failure" (Isa 49:4); (c) third, personal abuse (Isa 50:6); and (4) finally, here, misrepresentation, injustice and a violent death!

Possible progression in 4 verbs here: (1) act wisely: Christ's ministry; (2) raised: crucifixion; (3) lifted up: resurrection; and (4) highly exalted: ascension.

ACT WISELY: Or "prosper" (AV) or "succeed" (NET); sw Jos 1:7,8; Jer 23:5; 1Sa 18:14 (David in court of Saul). The sw in Heb can also mean "give understanding, or teach".

RAISED: Heb "rum" = to be high. Lifted up in crucifixion and also in glory -- double meanings throughout: cp Joh 12:32 and Isa 6:1, referred in Joh 12:41. Cp also Isa 57:15; Psa 89:27 (sw).

HIGHLY EXALTED: "Nasa": a banner, or ensign (Exo 17:9,11). Cp "nes" (Isa 11:10). (As Hezekiah was exalted in the eyes of the nations: 2Ch 32:23).

Isa 52:14

MANY: Not only are many "appalled", but ultimately "many" will be cleansed (v 15).

APPALLED: Or, "astonished" (RSV), "aghast" (NEB).

APPEARANCE: Sw "beauty" in Isa 53:2.

DISFIGURED: Heb "mishchath" -- prob derived from a rt meaning "ruin". Only twice in OT. In Lev 22:25 describes sacrifices that were marred or defective, and thus unacceptable.

BEYOND HUMAN LIKENESS: Crown of thorns (Mat 27:26), bruises on back, black eye, teeth knocked out, scar on cheek (Mat 27:30; Joh 18:22; Mic 5:1).

The "as" beginning this verse is matched by the "so" beginning v 15. As many individuals were astonished at the Messiah, so shall "many" nations be sprinkled (ie, cleansed) by him! Here is the multiplying effect of the work of Christ: what a comparatively few witnessed in person, in the streets of Jerusalem and on the brow of a little hill, will ultimately bring blessing to multitudes scattered from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth! And the marvelous irony is this: that which appalled and repelled those who witnessed it will at last be embraced joyfully and thankfully by humble and obedient believers. That which appeared tragic and senseless will be seen to be lovely and wise. Paul speaks of the rationale of the crucifixion, and this irony of the cross, to the Corinthian brethren: "Hath not God made foolish the things of this world?... We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1:20,23,24).

That which "the world" saw as scandal and weakness was actually righteousness and power. Paul leads us surely to the conclusion that the salvation of mankind is specifically designed by God to run counter to proud and vain man's expectations; hence the "astonishment" of Isa 52:14 (and the despite and disesteem of Isa 53:3). His purpose in so doing is undoubtedly to lend man to renounce his "worldly", materialistic, natural attitudes, and to see salvation on God's terms, and to see himself in God's eyes. In the words of Paul again, this was done so "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1Co 1:29).

Isa 52:15

SPRINKLE: "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?... that no flesh should glory in his presence" (1Co 1:20-29). One who is made to appear leprous -- ie an outcast and criminal -- becomes the "priest" to cleanse "leprous" Gentiles. Cp Num 19:18,21. "Blood of sprinkling" (Heb 11:28; 1Pe 1:2). Ashes of heifer (Num 19; Heb 9:13). Blood of Passover lamb on doorposts (Exo 12:7,22; Psa 51:7).

The RSV has "startle", but the Hebrew word ("nazah") occurs elsewhere 19 times, always in the sense of sprinkling for ceremonial purification (ie, Lev 4:6; 16:14,19; Num 19:18,21). It is difficult to see why modern translators should replace the AV rendering.

MANY NATIONS: The blessing of all nations through the special seed promised to Abraham (Gen 12:3) will involve the forgiveness of sins. Cp Isa 42:1-4; 49:1-6.

KINGS SHUT THEIR MOUTHS BECAUSE OF HIM: Awe and astonishment (cp Job 29:9; 40:4). The LXX of this expression is used to describe the "marveling" of Pilate (Mat 27:14; Mar 15:5) at the patient silence of Jesus in the face of accusations (cp Isa 53:7).

Another "servant song" has this same idea: Isa 49:7 (cp v 23 there).

FOR WHAT THEY WERE NOT TOLD, THEY WILL SEE, AND WHAT THEY HAVE NOT HEARD, THEY WILL UNDERSTAND: Cited by Paul in Rom 15:21: prophetic of gospel being preached to Gentiles.

Previous Index Next