Isaiah 53:10-55:13

Isaiah 53‑55  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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Thus far this great prophecy of the sufferings and death of the humbled Servant of the Lord has dealt with them mainly from the human and visible side: it now proceeds to deeper things, outside the range of human sight. Verses 10-12 predict what Jehovah Himself wrought, and what He will yet accomplish by means of it.
The holy Servant was to endure bruising and grief, and even have His very soul made an offering for sin: and all this at the hands of Jehovah. What it all really involved must ever lie beyond the reach of our creature minds, even though they have been renewed by grace. And that “it pleased the Lord” to do this, may seem to us an astounding statement; yet the explanation lies in the latter part of the verse: since the results that should be achieved were to be of such surpassing worth and wonder. A parallel thought as regards the Lord Jesus Himself seems to lie in the words, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:22Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)).
What are the results as stated in verse 10? They are threefold. First, “He shall see His seed”. This carries our thoughts on to the Lord’s own words recorded in John 12:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24). Falling into the ground and dying, as the “corn of wheat”, He brings forth “much fruit”, which will be “after His kind”, if we may borrow and use the phrase which occurs ten times in Genesis 1. This will be seen in its fullness in a coming day when: —
God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts forever share
The unveiled mystery.
Every one in those radiant hosts will be “His seed”.
And in the second place, “He shall prolong His days”, in spite of the fact that He was to be “cut off out of the land of the living”, as verse 8 has told us. His resurrection is not stated in so many words, but it is clearly implied in this wonderful prophecy. In risen life His days are prolonged as the days of eternity. Raised from the dead, He “dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over Him” (Rom. 6:99Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. (Romans 6:9)). In this risen life His seed are associated with Him.
And the third thing is that in this risen life “the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” There have been devoted men who have served the Divine pleasure to a large extent, yet failing in many details. In the hands of the risen Servant all the pleasure of God will be fulfilled forever. We have to pass into the New Testament to discover what that pleasure is, and how it will reach its culmination in the new heaven and new earth of which Revelation 21 speaks. The old creation on its earthly side was placed in the hands of Adam, only to be completely marred. The new creation will abide in untarnished splendor in the hands of the risen Christ. The light of this shines into our hearts even now; for as we sometimes sing: —
The new creation’s stainless joy
Gleams through the present gloom.
Verse 11 gives us another great prediction. Not only is the risen Servant to fulfill all the pleasure of Jehovah, but He Himself is to be satisfied as He sees the full result established as the fruit of “the travail of His soul”. We are little creatures of small capacity, so that a very little will satisfy us. His capacity is infinite; yet the fruit of His soul’s travail will be so immeasurable as to satisfy Him. Do not our hearts greatly rejoice that so it is to be.
The latter part of verse 11 in Darby’s New Translation reads, “By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant instruct many in righteousness; and He shall bear their iniquities.” In these words “the many” are of course those who by faith belong to Him: such receive the twofold benefit both the instruction and the expiation. Neither can be dispensed with; and, thank God, both are ours in this day of grace, as is so plainly stated in Titus 2:11-1411For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11‑14). Grace not only saves but also teaches us effectively to live sober, righteous and godly lives. What is done for us today will be done also for a godly remnant of Israel in the days to come.
Now we reach the last verse of this great chapter. Note the first word— “Therefore”. Jehovah speaks, and declares that because of what Jesus accomplished in the day of His humiliation, He shall be assigned a great portion in the day of glory. Now the whole passage began by the statement that “My Servant” is to be greatly exalted, and this was followed by a challenge as to who believed that?— in view of His humiliation and rejection and sufferings. This last verse declares that instead of His sufferings being in any way contradictory of His exaltation, they are the secure basis on which His eternal fame and splendor will rest. And further, what He has won is not for Himself alone, for He will divide the spoil with others who are designated “the strong”. Our Lord’s words, recorded in Matthew 11:1212And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12), may be an allusion to this, for strength was needed to receive Him, when the rejection of Himself and His claims was rising like a tidal wave to sweep all before it. Nor is the opposition of the world really otherwise for those who receive Christ in faith today.
The chapter closes with one more prediction as to the efficacy of His atoning sacrifice, coupled with one more detail that had to be fulfilled in His death. It was fulfilled when they crucified Him between two thieves, as Mark 15:27-2827And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. (Mark 15:27‑28) records. It is remarkable how the soul of Christ in connection with His sacrifice is emphasized in this chapter, for we have the two statements— Jehovah made His soul an offering for sin, and also that He poured out His soul unto death. In Hebrew 10 the emphasis is placed upon His body, which was prepared for Him, and which He offered, as stated in verse 10 of that chapter. In each of the four Gospels His spirit comes into prominence. In John’s Gospel the record is, “He delivered up His spirit” (New Trans.). No wonder then that the sins of the “many” — those who believe on Him— have been borne and forever put away.
Closing the chapter, one asks oneself with wonder, How could Isaiah have written such words as these, some centuries before they were fulfilled in Christ, save by direct inspiration of the Spirit of God?