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Bible Search
The Sovereign Servant - Isaiah 53:10-12
God’s Servant
The Sovereign Servant
Isaiah 53:10-12
 
Although we are continuing our study of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah this evening, I don’t want to begin there.  Instead I want to look at Luke 24 for a moment. 
 
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke we find Jesus after the resurrection and He is traveling on the road to Emmaus with a couple of His disciples who are bemoaning the fact that He has died and have no knowledge of His resurrection.
 
verses 25-27
 
Now according to Jesus, His ministry falls into two categories, suffering and glory, humiliation and exaltation.  And further, they should have known that because the prophets revealed that Messiah’s career would include both. 
 
Later that same day, Jesus meets with the rest of the disciples. 
 
Verses 44-45
 
Those were the three sections of the Old Testament familiar to the Jews.  Then here it comes again
 
Verse 46
 
The glory, they understood.  But that suffering part was absent from their theology about the coming of Messiah.
They have no place in their theology for a suffering Messiah.  They understood that the Messiah would be a king and a great ruler.  They knew about kingdoms and thrones.  But they knew nothing about crosses and thorns. 
 
But there are two great realities of His work.  He suffers and dies and He rises and reigns.  And you cannot comprehend or understand the person and work of Jesus Christ apart from those two categories.  And you cannot miss them if you study the Bible, both Old and New Testament.  In fact, Jesus says they summarize the Old Testament, whether you are reading the Law, the Prophets or the Psalms.
 
Scattered throughout the Old Testament, you find statements and pictures and types and symbols of both His glory and His suffering, but nowhere do the two come together so clearly and with so much detail as they do in the passage before us in Isaiah 52 and 53.
 
Here is the most complete messianic prophecy in the Old Testament giving us specific details concerning the suffering and the glory of the Messiah 700 years before He arrives.
 
Tonight we come to the final of five stanzas in song about God’s Servant and here we meet the Servant again with a fresh emphasis. 
 
In stanza one, He was a startling, astonishing Servant; in stanza number two, a scorned Servant; in stanza number three, a substituted Servant; in stanza number four, a silent and slaughtered Servant. 
And in this final section, we see Him as the Sovereign Servant.
 
Verses 10-12
 
Now to understand the final section, we need to return to the beginning section and have it in our mind. 
 
Isaiah 52:13-15
 
Now that presents a messianic enigma to the Jew because here, we are introduced to the Messiah but He is described as a servant.  In fact, He is described more specifically as a slave. 
 
So in this one phrase we discover that He is divine.  He is God.  Verse 13 says, “He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high”.  All three verbs used here to Him are used to describe God Himself in Isaiah 6.  So we see here that the Messiah will, in fact, be as God, with the very essence of God. 
 
Now that fits the theology.  They had no problem with that part.  They had that in their theology of the Messiah.  He will startle many nations.  He will literally shut the mouths of monarchs and rulers and kings, who will be stunned at the majesty and glory of His presence. 
 
This all fits the Jewish messianic glory theology.  He is God.  He is exalted.  He succeeds.  He prospers.  He conquers the world.  He subdues the nations.  He says things and does things that have never been said and never been done as He exercises His majesty and His rule.
 
But in verse 14 the scene changes.  His appearance is marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.  He is God in verse 13, but here He is identified twice as a man.  And as God, He is highly exalted, but as man, He is disfigured and scarred and so badly marred He is unrecognizable as a man. 
 
But in verse 15 the scene changes again as He emerges from the disfigurement to ultimately be glorified.  Who is this and what does all this mean?  Well, we know what it means.  The Messiah will both be exalted and humbled.  This is Philippians 2.  He humbled Himself and God highly exalted Him.
 
And with that summary we are introduced to the details of chapter 53 as the Jews of some future day look back and make sense of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  And remember, their confession is our confession.   
 
They will look back and realize He wasn’t dying because of His own sins, but theirs.  He was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted for our transgressions and our iniquities and our well-being, and our healing spiritually. And the same is true for us.   
 
Jesus Christ is the only Savior.  He was the substitute.  He died as God’s chosen Lamb to take away the sin of the world and there is no salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus Christ.  There is no other confession, no other name that brings salvation. 
 
And with that we come to the final verses so let’s look at it. 
 
Verse 10
 
The ones who are speaking have now come to a
 
1. A Full Understanding of Salvation
 
It was God Who initiated the death of His Messiah.  And He did it on our behalf.  They get it.  But they also have insight into another characteristic of His death that is often missed and it’s found in the phrase, “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him”. 
 
That Jesus died for our sins, we can understand.  But why was God pleased with that?  His pleasure was not in the pian, but in the purpose.  It was not in His agony; it was in His accomplishment.  It was not in His suffering; it was in His salvation.  And that’s what it says. 
 
Why was the Lord pleased to bruise Him and put Him through the grief of the crucifixion?  It is because He would give His life to save sinners.  It was the outcome that pleased God.  The pain and the agony were necessary.  He had to die under the full, weight of the penalty for sin. And when the price was paid, God was pleased or satisfied. 
 
And the Jews understand it.  He was the offering for sin.  More specifically the Hebrew says He was a guilt offering.  Why would they say that?  Why would the Holy Spirit instruct Isaiah to write those particular words?  I’ll tell you why. 
 
According to Leviticus, the Jews were responsible to give five different offerings.   There was the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering. 
Three of those were sacrifices of animals.  The first one, the burnt offering, and the fourth and fifth the sin offering and the guilt offering, were animal sacrifices.  The other two, grain and peace, were not.
 
The three that were animal sacrifices were pictures of the deadly results of sin and that sin produces death.  But also they were hopeful in that God would allow a substitute to die in the sinner’s place.  And the sacrifice of an animal pictured the fact that God would allow a substitute.  Everyone one of them looked forward to the coming of Christ. 
 
Of those three offerings where you have animals involved, that final one, the guilt offering,  is the most comprehensive one in that it adds a dimension that the others don’t have.
 
The characteristic of the guilt offering, or sometimes called the trespass offering was that this one added the dimension of restitution, or satisfaction or propitiation, which is a verb that means to be satisfied. 
 
With the guilt offering, the whole animal was put on the altar and it provided the picture of complete satisfaction. 
 
And what the Jews are saying is, “When God gave Jesus for us, He not only became our substitute, but God was completely satisfied with what He did.”  Or in the language of Isaiah, “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him”. 
 
 
 
It provided full satisfaction, full restitution, full propitiation and the satisfaction of God’s justice is demonstrated in the wholeness of that sacrifice.  The debt is fully paid and the sinner free.  But they don’t stop there.  There’s more to their confession. 
 
verse 10b
 
Wait a minute.  He’s dead.  How could He witness all that we find here?  He would have to be alive to see all of that happen wouldn’t He?  That’s exactly right, and what we have here is a testimony to the resurrection.  And not only is a testimony to His resurrection, it is a testimony to His eternality. 
 
If you are going to see the generations to come, then you’re going to have to live a long, long time!
And He will.  He will prolong His days.  He will see His posterity; He will see the generations in the future; He will see all of them because He’s alive.
 
And they have a final word in their confession in
 
verse 11
 
What is it He will He see?  He’ll see the plan to its completion.  He will see the good pleasure of the Lord succeed.  He will see His spiritual offspring.  He will see the redeemed gathered in.
 
God is satisfied by the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and Christ is equally satisfied by seeing all His children gathered around His throne forever. 
 
And with that the confession of the Jews concludes.  But that isn’t the end of the story.
 The remaining verse and a half give us God’s view of the death and resurrection of Christ.   Starting in the middle of verse 11, God speaks.  The pronouns all change.  They go from being plural to singular.  The verbs go from being past tense to future.  It goes from the Jews as a nation, looking back to the cross, to God speaking, looking forward to the cross.  And what is God’s view? 
 
2.  God’s Affirmation of Salvation
 
Verse 11b-12
 
Those are the very words of God and they complete the story that begins in chapter 52, verse 13.  How can God’s Servant be both exalted and humiliated?  God says, “Here’s how.”
 
First, God affirms the deity of His servant
 
In verse 11 He identifies Him as the Righteous One.  Then He affirms His humanity when He speaks of Him pouring out Himself to death and being included among the transgressors. 
 
Then He affirms His substitutionary, sacrificial atonement when He says in verse 11, “He will bear their iniquities,” and in verse 12, “He bore the sin of many.”   And He even affirms His resurrection because “He will divide Him a portion with the great and divide the spoil with the strong.”  And finally He affirms His intercession in the last line. 
 
So here is a word from God Himself regarding salvation.  How can a sinner be forgiven?  How do we miss hell and go to heaven?  Here’s what God says about it. 
Let’s look more closely at it.  Now keep in mind that God is the speaker and He re-introduces us to His Servant.
 
This time He adds an adjective and calls Him the Righteous Servant.  There is only One who could bear that title.  That was an Old Testament designation of the Messiah that was very familiar to the New Testament believers who knew the Old Testament. 
 
Peter used it preaching at Solomon’s Porch in Acts 3. 
Just before Stephen was killed, He talked about Jesus as the Righteous One.  Later in Acts, Paul reiterates his testimony about the Damascus Road and he says, “I went to the house of Ananias, and Ananias spoke to me about the Righteous One.” 
 
So here is God speaking of His Son, His Servant as the Righteous One, and He says, “By His knowledge He will justify many”.  Now the “many” are those who will believe.  You and I are included in that reference.  He did what He did on our behalf.  That is the doctrine of justification.  He took our sin; we get His righteousness. 
 
That part is pretty clear.  But what about the phrase “by His knowledge”?  Whose knowledge are we talking about there?  It can go either way in Hebrew.  It could be “by His knowledge” and be referencing Jesus.
That would mean the Servant, the Righteous One, He will justify many.  In that case it would be referring to His knowledge of God’s plan, His understanding of God’s plan, the perfect wisdom that He possessed.
 
The problem with that is it wasn’t by His knowledge that He justifies us.  It was by His death. I think a better way to handle the verse is to read it like this: 
 
 “By the knowledge of Him, the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many.”  Justification will come to those who come to know Him.  In this case it would be our knowledge of Him, of His person, of His work, of His provision in His death and resurrection, the gospel that brings us to salvation. 
 
If I’m right, then that means in this section of Scripture we not only have the full salvation story including arrest, scourging, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection, we also have the Great Commission. 
 
And here God says that He will justify the many who have the knowledge of Him.  As Paul wrote the letter of Romans, it is clear His mind is hovering around the book of Isaiah.  He makes reference to several portions as he writes. 
 
When He gets to Romans 10, Paul says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  But then he says, “How will they call on Him whom they don’t believe?”  They can’t.  Then he says, “How will they believe on Him whom they have not heard?”  And then he says, “How will they hear without a preacher?  And how will they preach unless they’re sent?”  And then that wonderful statement:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” 
 
It’s only the ones who know Him who can be saved.  And that’s what it’s saying, by the knowledge of Him, “the Righteous One, My servant, will justify many.”  That’s why we go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.  That’s why we preach to every creature.  There’s no other way for them to be saved.  Israel is not saved because they’re Jewish.  They are saved, just like anyone else, by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. 
 
And what we find here in verse 11 is God’s testimony to the urgency of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.   And then God says this:  Knowing Him in a saving way, will justify the many.  So how can that happen?  It is because He will bear their iniquities. 
 
He continues that though at the end of verse 12.  He poured out His soul unto death.  Literally, it means He handed His soul over to death.  God is simply affirming the confession of the Jews in verse 7.
 
He handed Himself over to death.  Then this wonderful statement:  “He was numbered with the transgressors.”  Literally, in the Hebrew it means He let Himself be included among transgressors.  In fact, Jesus quotes these very words in Luke 22:37 before He got to the cross. 
 
This verse is not about His death with criminals.  It is a reference to His incarnation.  He was a full-blown, sure-enough, 100% human.  He lived among transgressors.  He mingled in this world.  And from a visual standpoint, He didn’t look any different than anybody else.  There was no halo.  He didn’t move two feet off the ground.  He had no stately form or majesty.  Nothing about His appearance made Him attractive.  He looked like every other man.  He walked like every other man.
 He spoke in a voice like every other man’s voice, he ate.  He did what men do.   There was nothing about Him that drew them to the conclusion that He was supernatural.  That was part of the problem when He did miracles.  There was such a disconnect between what He appeared to be and the power that He had, that they decided in their unbelief that that was the power of Satan somehow operating through Him. 
 
But here God affirms the incarnation.  Here God Himself, in His own words, says He came down and let Himself be embedded in the world of fallen men. 
He is the Righteous One embedded in humanity.
 
The final word from the Father about His death and His resurrection is “He made intercession for the transgressors.”  The word “intercession “means mediated.  He was the go-between.  God says to lost humanity, “Christ is the One who brought us together.”  He is the One who pleads our case.  He is the One who is the bridge to God. He made the required mediation possible through His death.
 
There is an interesting distinction found in this word as opposed to the other verbs in the verse.  All the previous verbs indicate a completed action.  If you go back three verbs, “He poured out His soul unto death,” that’s completed.  He did that once. 
 
“He was numbered with the transgressors,” that’s His incarnation. He did that once.  “He bore the sin of many”. That was accomplished on the cross and will never to be repeated.  Those are completed actions.  But His intercession or mediation requires a different verb.  The word here speaks of a continuing action.  That is, His intercession goes on or continues. 
What does the writer of Hebrews tell us?  “He ever lives to make intercession for us.”  He’s ever our defender.  He’s ever our intercessor.  He’s forever and always our mediator until we finally get to heaven. 
 
That brings us to the final thought of the evening and it is found at the beginning of verse 12.  We have looked at the startling servant, the scorned servant, the substituted servant, the silent servant, the slaughtered servant, and here we see the sovereign servant. 
 
verse 12
 
Now obviously the resurrection comes to mind because now He is going to be rewarded.  After the suffering comes the satisfaction.  After the sorrow, the salvation.  After the death, the deliverance.  After the gore, the glory.  After the pain, the pleasure.  After the thorns, the throne. 
After the cross, the crown.  The first coming in humiliation; the Second Coming in exaltation.
 
So the text ends at the second coming.  The text ends where it began, in 52:13.  He will prosper, be high, lifted up, greatly exalted, startling nations, silencing kings.  The text ends with a triumph and victory parade, as the Lord God Himself sets His servant on the throne and rewards Him with all the spoils of His conquering triumph.  He is exalted, He is all-glorious, He is set on a throne. 
 
This is Revelation 11, when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.
 
 This is Revelation 19, when He comes on a white horse with all the saints to judge and make war against the ungodly and then to establish His glorious Kingdom on earth for a thousand years, followed by the eternal new heavens and new earth in which He reigns and is forever exalted. 
 
This is powerful, royal imagery.  This is the image of a conquering hero who returns with all the spoils of His triumph.  Having overpowered all the hostile forces and embarrassed all the petty kings, He comes triumphant.
 
And God declares two things about Him:  “I’ll divide Him a portion with the great” and “I’ll divide the spoil with the strong.” 
 
That is a little bit surprising.  We would understand it if He said, “I’ll give Him everything,” and He will give Him everything, but that’s not the emphasis here. 
The emphasis here is about sharing.  “I will divide Him a portion with the great, divide the spoil with the strong.”  So who are the great and the strong? 
 
Well, that’s us.  In fact, the word for “great” is the same word used for “many” in verse 11 where many are justified. 
 
So why does the translator take it from the many to great?  Because by that time, we will have been made great.  You say, “Are we going to be exalted?”  We are.  We’re going to become heirs of God – Romans 8:17 – and joint heirs with Christ.  Everything He possesses, we will possess. 
 
 
That is the ultimate provision of grace.  We don’t sit in poverty in eternity hiding in a corner, watching Christ enjoy all the rewards.  Everything He possesses, He shares with us. 
 
And He divides the spoils with the strong.  Who are the strong?  Again, that’s us.  They are the weak made strong.  We are the many made great and we are the weak made strong. 
 
And all that He possesses of the eternal glories of the new heaven and the new earth will be our possession as well.  We will reign on earth in the millennial kingdom with Him.  We will sit on thrones with Him.  And we will reign forever and ever with Him in the glories of the new heaven and the new earth.  And everything that is His will be ours.
 
So the promise of Isaiah is a future generation of Israel will be saved finally in the end, and this will be their confession.  And God Himself affirms that this confession is a true understanding of the work of Christ on the cross. 
 
But this confession must be your confession.  To repent of your sin, to know what Christ has done, to embrace Him in faith as the substitute who took your place, to confess Him as risen Lord is to be saved. 
 
Whoever calls on His name will be saved and escape eternal hell and enter eternal heaven.  This is the only question that has an answer that affects you forever. 
 
Let’s pray.
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