Crown Jewel of Bible Prophecy (Is. 52:13-53:12) :: By Donald Whitchard

“BEHOLD, My Servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men, so shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths at Him, for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.

“Who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness. When we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

“Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Yet, we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone to his own way, and the LORD has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not His mouth.

“He was taken from prison and from judgment. Who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people, He was stricken. They made His grave with the wicked -but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief, when You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong HIs days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

“He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors. He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 52:13-53:12, NKJV).

Chapters 52 and 53 of the book of Isaiah describe someone who is unique in the history of Israel. Our attention is turned to the One called the Servant of Yahweh. These Scriptures describe the ministry and mission of One who will bear the sins of the people. These verses clearly describe the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapters 52 and 53 form a complete narrative concerning the work of God’s Promised Messiah. These passages have been used to open the eyes of many people as the direct prophecy of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. I chose to present an outline of these passages to show the unique personality and purpose of God’s Servant.

Chapter 52:13-15: The Sin-Bearing Servant of Yahweh

The Glory that Will Be with the Servant (v.13) – He shall be prudent. He will deal with all things with a sense of order and dignity. Nothing will escape His attention. The Messiah’s reign will be exalted by all people under His eternal reign. His people will gladly obey Him in the eternal state. His majesty will be exalted in every aspect. He is the glorious king for all eternity. His time of ruling and reigning will come to pass at His pleasure.

The Astonishing View of the Servant (v.14) – The sight of the Servant will astonish the people. No one will expect his looks to be less than wondrous. The Servant will be wounded to the point where He is unrecognizable. His appearance will be more marred than any other person in the world. The Servant’s looks will turn people away. It is the mission that is of first priority.

The Work of the Servant in the Future (v.15) – The Servant’s rule will be absolute over His elect nation. The rulers of the earth will be silent before Him, such is His majesty. The rulers will be witness to the glorifying work of God. The rulers will consider and meditate upon what has been revealed by the Servant, who is the Promised King of His people. These verses show the ultimate rule of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 53:1-3: The Amazing Servant of Yahweh

With this chapter, we begin to see the mission and purpose of God’s Messiah. An objective reader of Scripture will conclude that the One mentioned here is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this chapter that was read by the Ethiopian official and explained to him by the evangelist Philip, leading to the official’s salvation (Acts 8:26-46). It is a witness to both Jew and Gentile. There are observations to be made in these beginning verses that detail what the Servant of Yahweh is like.

The Amazing News is Rejected (v.1) – Isaiah asks who will believe what is presented here. It is a reference to what he would face in his time as a spokesman for God (Isaiah 6:9-10). Jesus prophesied about the consequences of not heeding His Word (Matthew 23:38; Luke 10:13-16). The nation’s hardness of heart meant that others would hear and receive the message (Acts 13:46-48).

The Amazing Appearance is Rejected (v.2) – The Servant comes from a lineage that appears to be dried up. This is a reference to the royal line of David (2 Samuel 7:16). The Servant comes from a humble background. He wears nothing formal, nor does He have the appearance of a warrior-king (John 1:43-51). He bears no beauty. He looks like an average man with no outstanding characteristics (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:7-8).

The Amazing Attitude of the Nation (v.3) – The nation would despise and reject Him (Matthew 27:32-44). The Servant will be a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He identifies with the people (John 12:27, 33; Hebrews 4:14-16). The nation would turn its back on Him, despising and holding Him in low esteem. This is seen in the ministry of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:1, 9-13; Mark 3:1-6). This is also an apt description of the world (Matthew 13:15; Romans 1:28; 2 Peter 3:5). The consequences of this rejection are horrid and eternal (Revelation 21:11-15).

Chapter 53:4-6: The Salvation Mission of the Servant

Here, we get into the heart of why the Servant has come. It is a forerunner to the end of the sacrificial system that Israel has known for generations (Jeremiah 31:31-34). His mission is not just of sacrifice but of redemption for a rebellious nation. This is a glorious passage that describes the salvation not only for the Jews but for all people.

The Burden of the Servant (v.4) – Isaiah presents the fact that God puts these burdens on His Servant. The Servant will bear our griefs and sorrows (Matthew 11:28-30). God Himself strikes and afflicts the Servant (Psalm 22:1-2, 6-6, 16-18). The question is, “Why?”

The Purpose of the Suffering Servant (v.5) – He is wounded for our sins and transgressions (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5;21; Galatians 3:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is bruised for the sake of our iniquities. His chastisement is for the sake of our eternal salvation, and we are healed spiritually because of His wounds and beatings.

The Portrait of a Rebellious People (v.6) – We are lost sheep without a shepherd (Jeremiah 30:6; Ezekiel 34:6; John 10:11). We all go our own direction with no one to guide us (1 Peter 2:25). God Himself lays our sins upon His Servant (John 3:6; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24). Christ, the Suffering Servant, came to die for our sins and rescue us from our iniquities. Let us give Him thanks and praise for His love and compassion (Romans 5:6-11).

Chapter 53:7-9: The Continuity of The Servant’s Mission

We are continuing our look at the redeeming work of God’s Servant, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have examined His purposes, His rejection by the people, His wounds, and the fact that we are like lost sheep, ignorant of our destination and our need for a shepherd.

The Peaceful Character of the Servant (v.7) – The suffering placed upon God’s Servant was foreordained (Isaiah 50:6; Zechariah 13:6). He never opened His mouth to defend Himself (Isaiah 42:2; Matthew 26:62-63, 27:14; Mark 15:3; Luke 23:9). He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29-34).

The Servant’s Judgment for Sin (v.8) – He was judged by Pontius Pilate and found not guilty. He asked His enemies if they had ever seen Him commit a sin (John 8:46). His death was for the transgression of the people.

The Sinlessness of the Servant (v.9) – When He died, there was no place to bury Him. He was placed in the tomb of a wealthy man. He was without vice or deceit (Luke 23:41; 2 Corinthians 5:21). His redemptive mission was complete (John 19:30).

Chapter 53:10-12: The Victorious Servant of Yahweh

The mission of God’s Servant has come to a wonderful and glorious conclusion. He has redeemed the people from their sins and transgressions. Isaiah wraps up this section of his prophecy with a declaration of the saving work of the Servant to be complete, glorifying the LORD. The redeeming mission of the Servant pleased God. No other sacrifices or work need to be added.

The Wondrous Reward of the Servant (v.10) – God is pleased with the Servant after He had been bruised for our iniquities, which is a reference to the Atonement, the doctrine of covering over and eradicating sin, accomplished by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Servant will see the fruit of His labors (Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 7:9-10). His finished work produces a rich harvest (1 Timothy 1:15-17).

The Finished Work of the Servant (v.11) – He will see His work prosper. His sacrificial mission bears good results (Acts 15:11; Romans 5:9). His work has brought salvation to many people (Romans 9:15-18; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:1-2). He has born our iniquities in order that we do not have to (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18).

The Just Reward of the Servant (v.12) – The Servant is victorious in His mission. The reward of redemption is to be shared with His people (1 Corinthians 15:24). He poured out His soul and died for us. He identified with the transgressors (all of us). He bore our sins and interceded on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14). No one else fits this description except the Lord Jesus Christ. Glory be to His name. This should have you both convinced and convicted about the person and work of the Lord Jesus. His love for you and me is demonstrated all throughout the Word of God. If you do not know Him, now is the time to get that settled (Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6-11, 6:23, 10:9-10).