Isaiah 53: Redemption

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 10: Friday

Friday’s Bible reading of Isaiah 51–55, contains the most well known Servant Song in Isaiah, Isaiah 52:13—53:12. This beloved passage tells of the suffering of Messiah as He became an offering for the sins of His people.

In the first recorded instance of someone believing in the Lord Jesus from reading this passage, Acts 8:26–40, tell of Phillip finding the Ethiopian eunuch reading from Isaiah 53.

And the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you earnestly, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him.
Acts 8:34–35 LSB

The Servant is the Lord Jesus. Alec Motyer writes, “The opening ‘Behold’ of 52:13 calls us to watch the work of salvation being accomplished.”1

13Behold, My Servant will prosper;
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14Just as many were appalled at you,
My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15Thus 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.
1Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?
2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no
stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should desire Him.
3He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our peace
fell upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.
6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But Yahweh has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living,
That for the transgression of my people, striking was due to Him?
9So His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10But Yahweh was pleased
To crush Him, putting
Him to grief;
If You would place His soul as a guilt offering,
He will see
His seed,
He will prolong
His days,
And the good pleasure of Yahweh will succeed in His hand.
11As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see
it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12Therefore, I will divide for Him a portion with the many,
And He will divide the spoil with the strong;
Because He poured out His soul to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah 52:13–53:12 LSB

Do you know the Lord Jesus? Have you believed in Him? I invite you to Behold Him. Read my testimony of how I became a Christian. At the top of the right hand column is a link to the article “Who Do You Think That I Am?” explaining who the Lord Jesus is and what He has done for sinners.

John MacArthur calls, “Isaiah 53 is the Romans of the Old Testament.” He says,

“Jesus Himself, the apostles of the New Testament, the writers of the New Testament in proclaiming the gospel point back to Isaiah 53 many, many times. Jesus referred to it. The apostles referred to it. The New Testament writers referred to it again and again and again. There are references to Isaiah 53 in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and 1 John.

Great Isaiah Scroll, Chapter 53

“No Old Testament Scripture so often and so convincingly is applied to Jesus Christ by the New Testament as this one. The New Testament writers refer to virtually every verse in the fifty-third chapter. It contains the sum and substance of the gospel, and to reject Christ is to reject the clear testimony of history, fulfilling every detail in this prophecy. But, on a bigger scale than the history and the fulfillment, as vital and impor­tant and wonderful as it is, is this question: what does that mean to me? That’s the big issue.”2

There are many prophecies in this Song fulfilled by the Lord Jesus. Here is a list from Precept Austin.

Walt Kaiser calls this passage, “The Servant’s Atonement,” and writes:

“Polycarp the Lysian called this fourth Servant song the “golden passional of the Old Testament evangelist…

“Undoubtedly, this is the summit of OT prophetic literature. Few passages can rival it for clarity on the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah.

“The suffering and triumphant Servant of the Lord is narrated in five strophes of three verses each. The prophet, using an inclusio, begins and ends his description with assurances that the Servant will triumph and be successful. He begins with these words: “Behold/See, my servant will have success”…and concludes with the Servant’s receiving a portion with the great ones (53:11). In other words, the agony of this song is bracketed by the news of the Servant’s success and triumph.”3

In his book, The Sufferings and the Glory of the Lord’s Righteous Servant, Robert Culver writes:

“”The Sufferings and the Glory” is a title borrowed from the Apostle Peter (I Peter 1:11), who used the words to summarize the Old Testament prophecies of the career of Christ. The heart of these prophecies is Isaiah 52:13–52:12. Nowhere in all the Bible is the career of our Lord, wherein by a cross He won a crown, more clearly set forth. This book is an exposition of this heartland of Old Testament prophecy…

“There is much obvious evidence that the passage under consideration (Isaiah 52:13–52:12) is one of the most important in the entire Bible…

“Perhaps the most distinguised thing about it is the fact that this very portion stands in the background of almost every New Testament treatment of the great events connected with our Lord’s passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and second coming. The tabernacle and its fixtures, the primeval altars, the high priest’s office — these and other things pictured these events, but these fifteen verses actually describe them in detail…

“…consider this striking portrait of the suffering, dying — living, reigning, man of sorrows, king of glory — the Servant of Jehovah.

“First in 52:13–15 we are reminded of the mystery of His career, next in 53:1–3 of His utter rejection by HIs people. Then in 53:1–6 we are told of the atonement He wrought at Calvary and in verses 7–9 of His complete submission both to the abuse of man and to the will of the Father. Finally, in verses 10–12 we glimpse something of the transcendent exaltation He bought for Himself and for all who by faith make Him the “captain of our salvation.”4

Culver has these titles of each strophe and verse:5

Isaiah 52:13–52:12

I. The Mystery of the Servant — Isaiah 52:13–15
1. His Exaltation
2..Astonishment at His Humiliation
3..Astonishment at His Exaltation
II. The Rejection of the Servant — Isaiah 53:1–3
1. The Rejection of the Message
2..The Rejection of the Person
3..The Nature of the Rejection
III. The Atonement of the Servant — Isaiah 53:4–6
1. The Human Occasion
2..The Divine Act
3..The Great Confession
IV. The Submission of the Servant — Isaiah 53:7–9
1. In His Suffering
2..In His Death
3..In His Burial
V. The Exaltation of the Servant — Isaiah 53:10–12
1. To Prosperity
2..To Satisfaction
3..To Compensation

Alec Motyer has this insight on Isaiah 53:

“…consider the opening of verse 10: It was Yahweh’s pleasure to crush him.’…Consider, therefore, ‘the love the drew salvation’s plan’, finding pleasure in sending the beloved Son, finding pleasure too when ‘by the carefully planned intention and foreknowledge of God’ (Acts 2:23) he was ‘delivered’ into lawless hands to crucify and put to death. No, that is a love beyond ou possibility of experience, yet says John (1 John 4:9–10, 14), ‘this is what love is — he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for out sins’. It is not only God’s peace that is ‘past understanding’, beyond our powers of heart and mind; far more so his love. The hymn-writer asks, ‘Jesus, what didst thou find in me that thou has dealt so lovingly?’ Change the wording from ‘Jesus’ to ‘Father’. The answer remains the same — he loved us because he loved us because he is love. The response is…as Wesley should have written, that we should be ‘found in wonder, love and praise.’ In this place, too, we discover how marvellously secure we are in Christ. Through him as Mediator we come to the Father, and knowing partially, but terrifyinly, all that unfits us for his presence and fits us for his wrath, we find ourselves in the presence of love beyond anything known on earth, and the voice which says, ‘I was delighted when my Son died for you — and I am still delighted.'”6

This hymn by Philip Bliss, with its clear references to Isaiah 53, was first published in 1875 as, “Redemption.”7

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with his blood;
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Guilty, vile and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement” can it be?
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished,” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Crown of Thorns: Bedford Museum. Public Domain. White background added.
Great Isaiah Scroll, Chapter 53: Website of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Photography by Ardon Bar Hama. See The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls. Public Domain.
1,6Alec Motyer, Isaiah By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Scotland, U.K.: 2011) 258, 161.
5John MacArthur, Copyright 2012, Grace to You. All rights reserved.  Used by permission. This Grace to You sermon, “The Astonishing Servant of Jehovah,” originally appeared here. You can find more of his sermons on Isaiah 53 here.
3Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Messiah in the Old Testament (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI: 1995) 178.
4,5Robert D. Culver, The Sufferings and the Glory of the Lord’s Righteous Servant (Wipf and Stock Publishing, Eugene OR: 1958) preface, 19, 20, 24;13–16.
7“Man of Sorrows,” What a Name, More on this hymn and what it has meant to people at the link. Text from: Philip P. Bliss, “Hallelujah, what a Saviour!,” Worship and Service Hymnal For Church, School, and Home (Hope Publishing Company, Chicago: 1957) 56. Bliss also wrote the tune, Ville du Havre, for the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.”
Video: “Hallelujah, What A Savior” led by Joni Eareckson Tada at the Sing! Conference 2017. The fourth stanza is omitted. A video with all five verses from the album, “O Worship the King,” by Joni Eareckson Tada, John MacArthur and Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth, is here.

Further reading: J. Nicholas Reed, “The Servant Songs of Isaiah,” October 2019, Tabletalk. Ligonier. More resources from Lignoier on Isaiah 53 are here.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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