We have been anticipating a study of the Old Testament here at Grace Church, for those of you gathering with us, after many years in the New Testament, and a few forays into the Old. And we have just recently embarked upon that study of the Old Testament and are beginning to look at one particular prophecy in the Old Testament, found in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. And so, if you have a Bible handy…if you don’t, there’s one in the pew…you can turn in your Bible, somebody around you can help you find that if you don’t know where it is, to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. Actually the prophecy in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah begins at the end of the fifty-second chapter. If I had my way, I’d move that fifty‑three back three verses, just to encompass the whole prophecy in one. It really begins in chapter 52 in verses 13 through 15.
That is going to be the text for our talk with you this morning, Isaiah 52 verses 13 to 15. Let me read them for you. “Behold, My Servant will prosper. He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle or startle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him, for what had not been told them, they will see and what they had not heard, they will understand.”
This speaks of Jesus Christ, seven hundred years before He was born. And so does chapter 53, and so does this entire section of Isaiah with many chapters directed at the person of the Messiah who was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. For us, as Christians, we go back to the Old Testament and we see Christ everywhere throughout the Old Testament because the Old Testament promises, prophesies, predicts His coming. He is the Savior, the only Savior, the only Savior the world will ever know, the only way to heaven, the only Redeemer.
I understand there are twenty or so major religions in the world. There are about 300 separate segments of those 20 religions. There are, in addition, countless tribal, traditional, and cultic forms of religion. And then there are millions upon millions of personal belief systems. One would have a hard time counting up all the imaginary deities that exist in the minds of people. However, all except Christianity are false religions. All except Christianity are deceptive.
There is only one God. There is only one Savior. The only God is the Creator and Redeemer who is introduced to us on the pages of Holy Scripture, who came into the world in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only Savior. And, by the way, the only God in all of religion to die and rise again to give forgiveness and salvation to His people is the Lord Jesus Christ, the true God. Only Christianity, only Christianity presents a savior. And there is only one truth and it is the truth of Christianity. And there’s only one Savior, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Only Christianity faces the reality that no person can earn his way to God. No person can earn forgiveness. No person can earn salvation. No person can earn heaven by goodness, morality, religious activity, ceremony, ritual. The Bible is very clear that salvation is a gift for those who know they can’t earn it and cry for mercy, putting their trust for forgiveness and salvation and heaven in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for their sins in their place and rose triumphantly from the dead, divine conformation that He had fully satisfied the justice and the wrath of God and salvation was available.
All people are sinners, all who have ever lived are sinners, all are unable to save themselves, all need a savior. There’s only one Savior, Jesus Christ, who died and rose to save His people and bring them all to heaven. That’s the message of Holy Scripture and that’s the truth. And that is why the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are celebrated the way they are by Christians. It is the greatest event in the history of the world. But to put ourselves in the place where Isaiah is, as he writes about this seven hundred years before it happened, let’s flash back a little bit. Let’s go back to the time before Jesus died and before He rose from the dead, and let’s see if we can’t get into the Jewish mindset a little bit.
The Jews had always waited for the Messiah, which means the Anointed One, which is simply a way to identify Him as the King. They had been promised greatness. They had been promised prosperity as a nation from the beginning because the father of that nation was Abraham. And God made a covenant with Abraham and repeated it to his sons, the patriarchs, and then repeated it again through the history of Israel that God would one day save that nation, both temporally and spiritually, and bring glory to that nation and through that nation to the world. God would bless that little nation, Israel, and make them a blessing. They counted on that promise being fulfilled.
The promise was made to David that the one who would come and bring all this about would be in the line of David, a royal Son who would come out of the line of David who would be the King, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who would bring about all the promises of glory and blessing to and through Israel. They were waiting for their King. He would deliver them from their enemies, from their bad circumstances, and from all of their suffering. He would fulfill all the Old Testament covenant promises of blessing and prosperity and the nation and influence, and peace and righteousness to them and through them to the world.
The Jews were looking for the coming King, every generation. You might even say every family of Jewish people, since the promises were given early on to Abraham and to David and reiterated to the prophets through their history, they were all waiting for the arrival of the King. They were looking for a king, a king like the king they chose originally, Saul, somebody great and powerful. They were looking for someone with military might, someone who was a dominating ruler, someone who is triumphant, someone who would deliver them from all the things they hated, all the things they resisted, all the things they resented, and lead them to glory and through them bring peace and righteousness to the world. And they knew what to look for because the prophet said the Messiah would be a man, He will be the seed of a woman, He will be a man.
He will be a man and yet He will be God. How can that be? Isaiah gave them a hint when he said, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” So a God/Man, born of a virgin. Yes. He will be a Son of Abraham, that’s why His genealogy is there. He will be in the royal line of David. He will come through the tribe of Judah. He will be born in the town of Bethlehem. They had some details by which to identify the Messiah. So for centuries, they had been looking. And then Jesus Christ arrived, born of a virgin in the line of Abraham, in the line of Judah, in the line of David, born in the town of Bethlehem, and evidenced His deity by words and works the likes of which the world had never and has since never seen, a power display without parallel.
Shouldn’t they have just signed up? This is the Messiah? All the qualifications were met and more. But the problem they had was where was the pomp and where was the circumstance and where was the fanfare and where was the military power? He was born humbly in a feed trough and He was attended in His birth by the lowest people on the social ladder, shepherds, considered a base kind of work. He lived humbly in a very average family in a less than average, out of the way town called Nazareth. He collected around Him some very humble nobodies and made them His messengers. He sought no office, He sought no position, He sought no education. He made no friends with the elite. He gathered no army. He presented no strategy to set up His rule.
But He had this power that was unmistakable and undeniable and highly visible, as during the time of His ministry He banished illness from the land of Israel. He had power over disease, demons, death and nature. And even with all the disappointment about what He wasn’t doing, there was still the reality that He had this amazing, divine power. And so at least for one day their hopes that Jesus might be the Messiah sort of got fired up, and there was this massive collective anticipation, hope that He might be their Messiah, in spite of the disappointment and that was the day that He came into Jerusalem for the last Passover.
They threw their garments at His feet. They threw palm branches under Him. They said, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” which was the Messianic title. They praised Him, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” They hailed Him as their King and their Messiah based on His miracles, the last of which very, very well known was the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And they must have hoped that maybe if we just force the issue…there were hundreds of thousands of people there in Jerusalem because it was the Passover. And maybe they thought if we just put the pressure on now, and we’re all here, He can collect us as sort of an instant army, and we can get this thing going. And so they hailed Him as their Messiah, wishfully like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus who said, “We were hoping that He would be the King, the Redeemer.” They were all hoping.
The next day He came back to town after the triumphal entry and He went on the attack. But He didn’t attack the Romans, the enemies of God and the enemies of Israel. He attacked the Jews; He attacked the temple. He made a whip, started throwing people out. They turned it into a den of robbers. He did it at the beginning of His ministry; He did it the final week of His ministry. He assaulted the Jewish religious leaders. He assaulted Judaism at its highest point, at its peak, at its pinnacle. He assaulted the temple, He assaulted the religion, and He never touched the Romans.
They were already doubtful about Him because He didn’t act like a King. They were already tired of being disappointed by Him because when they tried to make Him a King, He disappeared. So they turned on Jesus. For the rest of the week He went on attacking the false and apostate theology of Judaism in the temple and teaching the people the truth. But the people had turned and, eventually, by Friday they were screaming for His blood, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” They turned Him over to the Romans and that’s exactly what the Romans did. They were hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel. But He wasn’t the king they wanted.
See, the problem, as I told you last week, was that their Judaism had developed into a false religion like every other false religion in the world, every other set of lies, every other deception. A system of merit, a system of credit, a system where you earn your way to God and to heaven by being a good person, a moral person, and a religious person. That was how they viewed religion. The bottom line, they didn’t need a savior. Even when John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” they didn’t get it. But all those sacrifices they had made for millennia, all those millions of animals that had died were pointing to one who would be the final sacrificial Lamb whose death would truly satisfy God and pay the penalty for their sins.
They still didn’t get it. They didn’t need, as I told you last week, they didn’t need a savior. They just needed a king. They didn’t need to be delivered from their sins. They were righteous. They needed to be delivered from their circumstances and their suffering. They did not think they needed a savior to deliver them from the judgment of God that was about to fall on them because they were so sinful. And they were Abraham’s children. They were safe, they thought. They were the children of promise, children of the Covenant. They had been adopted by God. And so they turned on Jesus.
Now the truth is this. Jesus is the King. He arrived as the King. But He could not bring His Kingdom in its fullness with all its promises until He had provided salvation for His people. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of salvation. People in His Kingdom are people who have been saved from their sins. There can’t be a Kingdom for Israel or anybody else until sin has been paid for. He couldn’t provide a Kingdom for His people until He provided salvation for His people. They couldn’t be delivered from their enemies. They couldn’t be delivered from their circumstances.
They couldn’t be delivered from their suffering until they had been delivered from their sin, and that was why He had to die and rise again. And that’s the gospel. And that was the message He preached, and that was the message the apostles preached, and that was the message the preachers, after the resurrection, preached, and that’s the message the New Testament writers gave us, and that’s the message that the true church has preached ever since up until this very morning.
They should have believed it. They should have believed that they needed to be saved from their sins. They should have believed that the Messiah was going to come and die and rise and then reign at some later time. He was going to come and provide salvation, spiritually, for His children, and then deliver them into the Kingdom promises. You say, “Well why should they have believed that?” Well, you might say they should have believed it by understanding the sacrificial system, all the animals that they massacred every single day in the morning sacrifice, the evening sacrifice, all the days of atonement, all the other sacrifices. What did it all point to? What was it all looking at? They should have known.
And when John said, “This is the Lamb of God,” they should have put that together with the system they had lived under, and understood that He was coming to make the final and acceptable sacrifice to which all the others pointed. But if they couldn’t have made that connection, they should have known what Isaiah 52 and 53 said. So let’s go there. Because Jesus appears in Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12, this is about My Servant, the Messiah. This is the fourth chapter on the Messiah as the Servant of Jehovah. Chapter 42, 49 and 50, Isaiah has already featured characteristics of the coming Messiah who is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the fourth of those chapters. And it really begins, as I said, in verse 13 of 52.
Now, just so you know, the Servant of Jehovah, the Messiah, doesn’t actually appear here and speak in this chapter. But as one writer said, “He haunts the poem. It is about Him. He’s not the speaker but it’s about Him. Also, this wonderful prophecy concerning the Messiah breaks down into five categories, five sections, and we’ll walk our way through all five sections. Each is about three verses long. They get more profound, weightier and even somewhat lengthier as they go. It’s an accumulating powerful presentation of the coming Messiah. One other thing to note about this section of Scripture is that it’s sorrowful, it’s sad. It’s kind of a broken sobbing tone to it. It’s dark, and the darkness of it and the weeping of it and the sobbing of it sets a background of darkness against which its light shines ever so brightly.
Now, as we come to verses 13 to 15, we’re going to be introduced to the Messiah, the King, and thus to the Lord Jesus Christ in His career. This is a remarkable prophecy. What it tells us…it introduces, by the way, the fifty-third chapter, and the fifty-third chapter expands what is just stated in a summary form in 52:13 to 15. But what it tells us about the Messiah is that He will suffer and He will be exalted. That before His glory will come His suffering. That’s what you see in the three verses that I point you to at the end of chapter 52, suffering and then glory. They should have known that. And then the suffering and the glory are spelled out in detail in chapter 53. In fact, just to give you a kind of a preview of chapter 53, we know it’s about the death of the Servant of Jehovah, the death of the Messiah.
We’re introduced to the fact that He’s a man of sorrows in verse 3. He’s acquainted with grief. We find Him stricken, smitten, pierced, crushed. And this results in, literally, His death. He is like a Lamb led to slaughter in verse 7. Verse 8, He is cut off out of the land of the living. That’s a Hebrew expression for death. We find Him in verse 9 in a grave. We find Him in verse 10 as a guilt offering. We find Him in verse 12 pouring out Himself to death. This is the Servant of Jehovah. All Jews in history, up until the time of Christ, interpreted this section of Isaiah as messianic. This is Messiah. This is Messiah dying a horrible death, looked at from a number of angles, a crushing, bruising, chastening, scourging, slaughtering kind of death.
But you also find in chapter 53 the resurrection. In verse 10, He will see His offspring. He will prolong His days. And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. In verse 11, as a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see, and it’s…one reading puts it, He will see light and be satisfied. Verse 12, “The Lord will give Him a portion with the great and He’ll divide the treasure with the strong.” So He comes out triumphant and victorious. The Jews should have known that their Messiah in Isaiah will die, will rise, will be exalted. Suffer first and then be exalted, because it was here. And they knew this was messianic because all the passage around it is about the Messiah.
So today, I want to look at these three verses that introduce this portion under the title, “The Startling Servant,” Startling Servant. The language here emphasizes that everything about the Messiah is astonishing. It begins with the word “behold,” verse 13, and then in verse 14, the word “astonished” appears. And then in verse 15 the word which in some Bibles is “sprinkle,” would be better translated “startle,” and I’ll explain that in a moment. And then you have speechless kings and nations. The language, “Behold, astonishing, startle, speechless” all indicates that this is a startling, shocking, stunning picture of the career of the Messiah King.
We’ll just break it down simply. The first, verse 13, is the astonishing revelation, the astonishing revelation. “Behold, My Servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.” Behold, the Hebrew hinneh, full attention. Give Me your full attention. The Messiah is introduced for the fourth time in this prophecy of Isaiah as the Servant of Jehovah, My servant, My ebed, meaning slave, a word referring to one who did hard work in obedience to his master, who had no will of his own, only that of his master and lived to please his master. God identifies the Messiah as His Slave, His obedient, submissive Slave. The Servant of Jehovah, the Slave of Jehovah that is a messianic title, the one who comes to do the will of Jehovah.
He is the one Israelite, the one whose work will prosper on such a level that He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. And in the end, literally, He will render the globe speechless. God had been disappointed in the nation of Israel. Here is the one true Servant of Jehovah, the one true Israelite who will affect the redemption of His people from their sins and then from their circumstances and their suffering and their enemies.
Just a note about “My Servant.” There are four times in the prophets where you have, “Behold My,” or “Behold,” referring to the Messiah. Here, “Behold My Servant,” also in Zechariah 3:8, “Behold My servant,” referring to Messiah. In Zechariah 6:12, it’s “Behold the Man…the Man,” which tells us Messiah will be the Servant of God, He will also be a man. In Zechariah 9:9, the prophet says, “Behold your king,” so the Messiah will be the Servant of Jehovah, a man and king. And in Isaiah chapter 40, verse 9, it says of Messiah, “Behold your God…Behold your God.” Messiah will be Man and God, and Servant and King. Those are juxtaposed, aren’t they? Man and God, Servant and King, He is all of that.
“Behold,” look at Him. And those powerful titles, that quartet of titles, Man, God, Servant, King, become the theme of the four gospels. Matthew presents Him as King. Mark presents Him as Servant, Luke presents Him as Man, and John presents Him as God. Look at Him. Look at My Servant. The one whose food is to do the will of Him who sent Him and finish His work, the one who said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to My Father. My Servant – ” He says – “will prosper.” This is the revelation, “He will prosper.” It’s not…it’s not a well-intended life gone bad. Jesus didn’t die as some kind of a martyr to a noble cause that He failed to be able to pull off. “My Servant will prosper.”
The Hebrew actually is, literally to act intelligently, to act wisely. And in the Hebrew language that always means that it's measured by success. It’s not like the Greek language has all kinds of nuances, but when you say someone acts wisely in Hebrew, what you mean is they’re successful. That is why that same verb that is here translated “Will prosper,” appearing in Joshua 1:8 is translated this way, “You will make your way successful.” Success is the result of hard work and wise strategy. He will act intelligently, He will act wisely, He will be successful, He will accomplish My work, He will prosper.
And by the way, the verb actually has the idea of increasingly so. And this verb is never applied to success that someone fell into. It is never applied to any success without effort or any success that is not obtained by wisdom and careful action. “He will not fail,” that’s what the prophet said, “to accomplish the will of God.” He will do what I set Him to do. The evidence of His success in the same verse, “He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.” That’s a series that is not redundant.
I know you read it and you say, “High, lifted up, greatly exalted, sounds redundant.” it isn’t. It’s high, higher, highest. God is going to make Him high, then higher, and then highest. High, I believe, looks at His resurrection. Higher looks at His ascension. And highest looks at His coronation. He is going to be so successful that God is going to raise Him from the dead, God is going to take Him into glory, and God is going to sit Him at His right hand, Philippians 2:9 to 11.
God is going to give Him a name above every name, the name Lord. And at that name, every knee will bow. God is going to make Him the ruler over everything in the universe. He’s going to be the King of the universe, as well as the head of the church. The astonishing revelation of the Servant of Jehovah is this, He will come, He will succeed, He will accomplish the purpose of God by His great effort, and God will validate that by raising Him from the dead, taking Him into glory and seating Him on His throne. That is an astonishing appearance of the Messiah.
It is followed by an astonishing humiliation. Those great words in verse 13 then immediately fade away in the language of 14, “Just as many were astonished that You, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men. This seems bizarre to us because the next verse talks about how the nations and the kings are silenced by His glory. What is going on here? His career will be successful. He will be lifted up, ascended and crowned in glory. But the promised success of the Servant of Jehovah in delivering His people includes an astonishing humiliation.
Verse 14, “Just as many were astonished at you,” and I think that is directed at the Messiah and so some add “My people” in italics. That doesn’t help because He’s talking really to the Messiah, not Israel. “Just as many were astonished at You,” and switching pronouns from the second to the third is not uncommon in prophetic language in the Old Testament. “Just as many were astonished at You, so His appearance was more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.” Many are going to be astonished at Him, but not because of His exaltation, many. They’re going to be astonished because of His humiliation. Many? Yeah, many, the people of Israel basically. They’re the only ones that saw His humiliation.
The word “astonished” we might want to talk about for just a moment. Again, the Hebrew language gets so much from the context. The word could be translated to be desolate, to be waste, to be thrown into a numbed condition, to be petrified, to be paralyzed. It basically has the idea of you’re so shocked that you lose control. That this is going to happen to the Messiah is so shocking, it’s almost paralyzing. And what is the shock? “That when Messiah comes His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.” His appearance has to do with His face, and His form has to do with His body. In face and body, He is marred more than any man, more than the sons of men.
What does that mean? His face and body will be so totally disfigured and so totally distorted that He will literally be…literally in the Hebrew…away from men or beyond men, out of the category of being human. This is a distortion and a disfigurement that destroys all resemblance to being human. What could that be about? Some thought that the Messiah would be ugly, that He would be repulsive when He walked on earth, and He would be deformed in some way. That’s not what this is saying. The truth is the Messiah was God in human flesh. He was the sinless ideal of human creation; therefore, He was beautiful in every feature. He was the manliest man, the most strikingly handsome man who ever lived.
But that’s not the point. This looks at His crucifixion and what led up to it, where He was so disfigured, so mutilated, so distorted as to be beyond looking even human. Psalm 22 gives some details about what was going to happen to Him on the cross that even speak of these things. “I’m poured out like water, all My bones are out of joint, My heart is like wax, it’s melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a broken piece of pottery. My tongue cleaves to My jaws. You lay Me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded Me, a band of evil doers have encompassed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet. I count all My bones, they look, they stare at Me.” Isaiah already said in chapter 50 verses 5 and 6 that they’re going to pluck out His beard and they’re going to spit in His face.
We all know what happened to Jesus. We understand that He was scourged, that He was beaten raw, almost to death by lashes so that His body was a mass of open wounds pouring blood out. We understand that a crown of thorns was crushed down on His head, with thorns as long as two or three inches. Blood ran down His face. We understand the sleeplessness of the nights leading up to His crucifixion, the weariness. We understand that from the Scriptures He was slapped in the face; He was punched in the face like a punching bag. He was spit on. And we also have to understand the contorted expressions that He must have had on His face, the disfiguring tortured face of the Holy One suffering. You barely recognize a human being under the blood and the sweeping wounds and the crushing burden of His body hanging on a cross and being dislocated. And so it says they were astonished at You.
It was the astonishment of contempt. This couldn’t be their Messiah. This pictures the shock of the common people who looked at His humiliation. He was a repulsive object to them, nowhere near what they wanted in their Messiah King, not even close. His degradation is the deepest possible, the most profound, the most horrible. But so will His exaltation be. There were many who saw that, many in Israel. But His exaltation everyone will see. We go from an astonishing revelation to an astonishing humiliation or mutilation, and then finally, an astonishing exaltation.
Look at verse 15. This is important. “Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him, for what had not been told them, they will see, and what they had not heard, they will understand.” This speaks of His exaltation. The scene changes with another jolting shock. It was common, local Jews living in Israel who were astonished at His disfigurement in death. Now all of a sudden, the astonishment belongs to nations and kings who, literally, are mute, who are speechless when they see Him, when they see Him.
You’ll notice in your Bible it may say “sprinkle” there. That’s possible. And again, in dealing with the Hebrew language, we have to kind of decide whether we’re going to go one way or another in words that could mean a couple of things. It could mean something literal or something metaphoric. In this case, sprinkle is a fair translation of the verb. It literally means to spurt, something that spurts up. And some translators have used sprinkle and they’ve said, “Well, this means that in His death and humiliation and mutilation, He will provide cleansing for the nations. He will cleanse many nations, that all of a sudden now He’s gone from being a sacrifice to being a priest.
And even when I wrote the Study Bible, I sort of accepted that view. But since then, after further study, I think it’s better to translate it and this is becoming, I think, a more standard way with the word startle, startle. Why startle? Well, because it fits the parallel. The so and thus, they were astonished at the marring of the man and thus they will be astonished at His exaltation. Because of the parallel, the effect He produces by His exaltation needs to be parallel to the effect produced by His humiliation. The effect produced by His humiliation was astonishment or startling, and so the effect produced by His exaltation is startling as well.
You say, “Well that’s fine context wise, but what about the words? Sprinkle and startle seem like two different words.” Not really, nazah the verb can mean to spurt. But it can mean, metaphorically, to leap up. And there’s evidence that could mean to leap up by excessive emotion. It can mean to startle metaphorically. And by the way, nations can’t be cleansed anyway. Individuals can. But the whole world can be startled and will be startled by the return of Christ. The day will come when the nations of the world will tremble with astonishment when He comes. They will be electrified.
The sun will go out, the Bible says. The moon will go out, the stars will go out and the sign of the Son of Man in blazing glory will appear in heaven, Matthew 24:25, He will come in that blazing glory. Daniel also talks about that. We learn as well in the book of Revelation, people will cry for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, to hide them from the face of His coming. Every eye shall see Him. Every eye shall see Him. And why does He pick on the nations and the rulers? Because when He comes to establish His Kingdom, He will literally take over the world. He will replace rulers.
Why are the nations in an uproar, Psalm 2? “Why are the people devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us.’ But He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ ” When God installs His King in the world, as King of the world, the nations will all see it at His glorious exaltation.
They’re stunned at His crucifixion, the ones who saw it. The whole world will be stunned when He returns and appears in glory. The drama that will occur as the sky goes black and as Christ appears in glory will not be lost on anyone. Kings will therefore shut their mouths on account of Him. Those who always have a right to speak will be speechless. The involuntary effect of shock and amazement, extreme astonishment, intense emotion will render them silent. The world will be mute as He comes. Why? “For what they hadn’t been told they will see. What they hadn’t heard, they will understand.”
The world hasn’t been told about the glorious return of Christ. But when He comes, they will all see it; they will all understand it, and they will be in stunned silence. They’ll have their complete theological education about the Second Coming in a moment. So our Lord’s inhuman disfigurement, astonish the first-century Jews who saw Him. His exaltation will astonish the globe; the whole world will see Him. Now, between His humiliation which included His death, and His exaltation, something had to happen. What was it? Resurrection…resurrection. There has to be a resurrection and that’s exactly what is not only implied, but stated in verse 13, He will be high, resurrection, lifted up, ascension, greatly exalted, coronation.
Psalm 16, the Psalmist says, “He will not allow His Holy One, God will not allow His Holy One, the Messiah, to see corruption.” His soul will not languish. His body will not languish in the grave. He will see the path of life. Psalm 16 promises the resurrection of the Messiah. Peter preached on that Psalm on the Day of Pentecost in that great sermon on the resurrection of Christ. For the resurrection is here, it’s here in verse 13. But more than that, it’s the most obvious missing part of the text because you can’t have death and exaltation unless you have resurrection.
By the way, the apostle Paul quoted verse 15, the end of it. “What they had not been told they will see and what they had not heard they will understand.” He quoted that, showing that the verse embraces not only the final exaltation and reign of Christ, but the preaching of the gospel that leads up to that. The world will be shocked when it happens because they will not expect it. They haven’t been told. They haven’t understood it. But all through history, even now, people are being told, people are coming to understanding. So Paul extends this which has its ultimate fulfillment in the return of Christ and the shock of the nations back to the period of the preaching of the gospel where we are telling people what they’ve never before seen, what they’ve never before understood about the glory of Christ.
So we find even here the career of the Messiah will succeed. He will accomplish the work of God and therefore be raised, taken to heaven, and crowned. I’m going to let Isaiah have the last word and it’s the first line of chapter 53. An astonishing revelation, an astonishing humiliation, and astonishing exaltation, and there in that one line we have an astonishing rejection. The prophet says, pensively, sadly, “Who has believed our report?” Looking forward, the Jews had this when they crucified Jesus. The Jews had this after He rose from the dead. It’s been there all along. Who has believed it? A small remnant. The world has had this portion of Scripture concerning the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Who has believed it? That’s the sad reality of rejection.
And it begs the question; what about you? And that’s the question that has to be asked and answered today. What about you? What about you? Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again from the dead for your justification, and one day will come as the exalted king and take His people into the Kingdom promised to them? Do you believe that He couldn’t come to reign until He came to save? Do you believe that He couldn’t receive His glory until He suffered? That’s the gospel. And in believing the gospel there is salvation for you. That would make this the most wonderful day of your life if up to now you haven’t embraced Christ. Join me in prayer.
Father, we thank You for the consistency of Scripture and its power. Thank You that it lives and breathes, it is alive and powerful. It does a mighty work in our souls of encouragement, pouring the truth in. For those who don’t know it that they might know it, for those who know it that they might even love it more and proclaim it more faithfully. We rejoice in the gift of eternal life given through the resurrection of our Savior, and we thank You in His wonderful name. Amen.
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