Isaiah 52

Isaiah 52  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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Then it is that Zion and Jerusalem not only will awake but also will put on strength, as the first verse of chapter 52 Says. The language is figurative but quite clear in its import. At last holiness will mark the city and all that defiles be outside. It will be like a resurrection from the dust of death, and a release from the bands of captivity. They had sold themselves by their idolatry and sin, and gained nothing by it. Now they are to know redemption, but not by a money payment, as was customary in the days of slavery. The price of their redemption is unfolded when we come to chapter 53.
In verse 4, Egypt and Assyria are mentioned. In Daniel 11 These are referred to as “the king of the south” and “the king of the north”, and at the present time these two powers are coming into prominence. They are noted by God, and from them Israel will be redeemed; but only when the prediction of verse 6 comes to pass.
When owned as “My people”, they will have come really to know Jehovah. He will present Himself to them as “I am He... behold it is I.” Darby’s New Translation informs us that we have here the same expression as in chapter 41:4, and it might be translated “I the Same.” All their long centuries of sin and defection have not altered His nature and character in the slightest degree. What He was to them at the outset, that He is to them still.
They will discover too that the Messiah, whom they crucified, is “the SAME, yesterday, and today, and forever”; and then the glorious tidings of verse 7 will be announced. To Zion it will be said, “Thy God reigneth”, and in the light of the New Testament we well know the Person in the Godhead who will actually ascend the throne. Then at last there will be the peace, the good, the salvation, of which this verse speaks. The feet of him who shall herald such news will be beautiful indeed. As Christians we know these things already in a spiritual way, and the heavenly regions, rather than Jerusalem and its mountains, are our place. But though that is so, let us rejoice in the coming deliverance of Zion, and the beauty of the One who is going to accomplish it.
The verses that follow state the happy effects that will be seen when in the Person of the once rejected Messiah God is reigning in Zion. Watchmen usually lift up the voice to warn but now it will be to sing, and moreover there will be no disharmony for they will agree in what they see. And indeed the joyful song will be universal, breaking forth even in “waste places of Jerusalem”. It will be a song based upon the redemption wrought for them by the Lord.
It is remarkable how throughout the Scriptures singing is recorded as the response to redemption. Though songs are mentioned as something that might have taken place, in Genesis 31:2727Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? (Genesis 31:27), the first actual record of singing is in Exodus 15, when Israel had been redeemed out of Egypt. Then in Psalm 22, where the death of Christ for our redemption is prophesied, the first result mentioned is a song, though the word does not actually occur in the Psalm. It does occur however in Hebrews 2:1212Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. (Hebrews 2:12), where the Psalm is quoted. Again, just after the verses before us, we get the wonderful prophecy of the death of Christ in Isaiah 53; and the very first word of chapter 54 is, “Sing”.
In verse 9 of chapter 51, the Arm of the Lord was called upon to awake: in verse 10 of our chapter it has awakened, and the mighty effect of the awakening has been unveiled in the eyes of all the nations. Not only Israel but all men will see the salvation of God come to pass.
Verses 11 and 12 stand by themselves and reveal another effect of this great work of God. Hitherto defilement had marked the people, whether personal or caused by lack of separation from defiling things. The double cry of “Depart”, indicates urgency. Neither Israel nor we who are Christians are to traffic in unholy things. Separation is essential, for as Titus 2:1414Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14) tells us, Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity”. This we have to learn, and Israel too will learn it in the coming day.
And if they or we should feel that to depart thus from iniquity is sure to cost us much, we need nevertheless have no fear about it. In our passage verse 12 gives Israel the needed assurance. God will be their Defender, and cover their rear as they depart from the evil. A similar assurance is given to us in 2 Cor. 6:17-1817Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17‑18), where God in His Almightiness and Majesty declares He will own as His sons and daughters the saints who are separate from the world and its evils.
With verse 13 there begins the central chapter of the last 27. As before pointed out, the 27 divide into three sections of 9 chapters; each section ending with solemn judgment upon the wicked 48:22; 57:21; 66:24. In this central chapter of the central section we reach the supreme height of the prophecy, and are at once confronted with one of the greatest of the Divine paradoxes, since at the same time we touch the deepest depths into which the Messiah descended for our sakes.
In chapter 49 Jehovah’s Servant was presented as apparently failing in His mission to Israel, and yet glorious in the eyes of God. Now His public exaltation and glory are declared, since He has acted with such great prudence, or wisdom; and in 1 Corinthians 1:23-2423But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23‑24), we are told that “Christ crucified” is not only the power but also “the wisdom of God.” His exaltation shall be definitely related to His previous humiliation. “As many were astonished” at the depth of His suffering and degradation; “SO... the kings shall shut their mouths at Him”, silent and ashamed. Some translate “astonish” instead of “sprinkle”. If, however, the word “sprinkle” be retained, we should connect it with the use of that word in Ezekiel 36:2525Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (Ezekiel 36:25), where it clearly has the force of an act of blessing toward Israel.
The general force of these three verses that conclude our chapter 52 is perfectly clear. This meek and lowly Servant of Jehovah, who descended to such unheard of depths of humiliation, is going to come forth in a power and splendor that will astonish all mankind. His exaltation in the heights shall be commensurate with the depths into which He went. Now, who believes that?