The Book of Isaiah


12/15/13 Isaiah 52 SCC


52:1: God called Israel to awake and to be strong. The Lord called the people of Zion to put on the beautiful garments of salvation that God would provide for them. God saw His people as composing a holy city, and they needed to view themselves that way too, as holy people. The Lord would forbid any uncommitted and unclean people from having a part in His future for them. So live and conduct your life anticipating your deliverance. The NT says to walk in a manner worthy of your salvation.

52:2: Israel could not deliver herself, but she needed to rise up from her humiliated and bound condition and respond to the Lordís deliverance of her. Salvation is not by works of righteousness, but does require faith. Humans canít break the chains that bind us, but we must remove them, with His help, when God has promised that He will break them. So recognize that your dire circumstances should not control you.

52:3: The Lord announced that since no one forced God to sell Israel into slavery neither would anyone force Him to redeem her. He would free her of His own free will as He had sent her into captivity of His own free will. There was, therefore, no impediment to His redeeming her. So God is in charge of your salvation.

52:4: The Sovereign Lord further declared that the Israelites had gone down to Egypt of their own volition in the days of Jacob. Later the Assyrians had taken them captive against their will. These earliest and most recent oppressions represented all of them that Israel had undergone. The implication is that since God can freely liberate He could redeem His people from enemy-imposed captivity as easily as He could redeem them from self-imposed captivity. So God is able to deliver you from consequences of your own sin.

52:5: The Lord reflected on the present situation: What have we here? Israel was in captivity but not because God had to give her over to a superior person. Furthermore, Israelís leaders wailed because of the shame of their defeat. Finally, the victors held the Lordís name in contempt because they concluded He was weaker than stronger gods for not being able to keep His people from captivity! So the need for deliverance puts Gods reputation is at stake.

52:6: The Lordís conclusion to the situation was twofold. First, He would so deliver His people that there would be no question in their minds that He was the only true God. Second, He would prove that He is who He claimed to be by fulfilling what He had predicted He would do. So ďIn that dayĒ anticipates a time yet future in which God would act decisively for His people to vindicate His name.

52:7: The news of impending deliverance had reached His people through a messenger whom the prophet pictured as running across mountains with his message. The messengerís feet were beautiful because they carried him and his message of peace, happiness, and salvation (Rom 10:15). His message is that the Lord is the only true God and that He reigns as the sovereign over the universe and all supposed gods. So Gods salvation is good news to broadcast.

52:8: Watchmen along the walls of Jerusalem saw the messenger coming, and they joined in the rejoicing as they realized that he brought a message of the Lordís approaching victory for Zion. The phrase 'eye to eye' means 'close at handí like being so near you can see the whites of the eye of the person approaching. So salvation deliverance is to be anticipated during the years we live.

52:9: Now all the people of Jerusalem, even the downtrodden, joined the chorus and praised God for coming to comfort and redeem His people. So to give thanks in advance is the highest form of faith. The person praising God for what he or she does not yet possess is the person who truly believes the promises of God. So our salvation is worth shouting about and rejoicing in.

52:10: God would display His power (roll up His sleeves) before all the nations by redeeming His people. By God delivering Israel from captivity, first Egypt, then Assyria, and now Babylon, all the peoples of the earth will see God's power, love, and blessing. Godís power is holy in that it is perfect and transcendent, and it is also for a holy purpose, namely, the salvation of His people. So His salvation would become visible to the whole world. His character put on display for all to see.

52:11: In view of this salvation, the redeemed should depart from the unclean place where they had been and purify themselves. The Babylonian exiles, who would be set free, should return to Jerusalem to reestablish their holy lives in a holy city in a holy land. The decision of many Israelites to remain in Babylon rather than returning with Zerubbabel, Ezra, or Nehemiah was sinful rebellion against Godís revealed will for them by living lives separated from sin unto God. The vessels in view are those things needed to worship God they brought back from Babylon that were looted when the Temple was destroyed. So our salvation requires that we are set apart to God pursuing holy living.

52:12: The redeemed would not need to run away from their former captor as fast as they could or to depart as fugitives, as they had left Egypt in the Exodus. They were completely free. The Lord would go before to lead them and behind to protect them as they journeyed to their Promised Land. Release to return to the land would give the opportunity to return to the Lord through spiritual redemption. God would deal with the result in Israelís case, captivity, but He would also and more importantly deal with the cause, sin. So deliverance is possible because the one thing preventing it God has resolvedóour sin.


The reader of the promises that God would redeem His people with His mighty power could reasonably expect that redemption to come with a great display of overwhelming power. But the careful reader has so far picked up some hints that the Servant would not fit the mold of the traditional action hero. In this passage Isaiah filled out the previously sketchy picture of the Servant with more detail concerning His work, character, and nature.

52:13: ĎBehold, My Servantí calls the reader to fix his or her attention carefully on the Servant. The Servant would prosper in the sense of fulfilling the purpose to which God called Him. In view of this success, He would be high, lifted up, and greatly exalted. Thus the Servant would take a place of equality with God. So this could in no way refer to Israel, the remnant in Israel, or any merely human person.

52:14: The exaltation follows humiliation. Earlier, many were aghast at him. They were astonished because his form and his visage was so marred. "Marred" is mild. The term used describes a spoiling, a destruction, an appearance-changing affliction. The details of this theme will be discovered in 53:1-9. The Servant would experience the same humiliation and degradation that had marked the Israelites. Rather than appearing to be the strongest and most attractive representative of the Lord, the Servant would appear extremely weak and unattractive to people. So the deliverer would suffer tremendously in many ways to bring salvation.

NB: Jesus did not impress people as being the best looking, the most brilliant, the most socially engaging, or the most pious individual they had ever met, according to the Gospels. In His trials and crucifixion, Jesusí underwent beatings that marred His physical appearance, but far more than that is in view in this description of Him.

52:15: ĎSprinkleí possibly refers to his role as Priest when he sheds his blood for sin. But more so, Kings mouths will be shut astonished that He, of all people, should be so exalted. The contrast is staggering--He will startle kings. What they had not known was that Israelís redeemer would be a humble Servant. They had never heard that one who took such a lowly place could ever sit on the throne of God. When they see God's plan work out, when they look on Him whom they pierced, they shall see what they had not been told, they shall understand what they had not heard. So salvation comes in the most unlikely of ways.


1. It is important that we anticipate our deliverance. We should not live as if it is far away destined to arrive someday. Our salvation deliverance ought to mark the way we live, we think, we respond, we work, and we hope, today. Our eternal deliverance is our destiny and as such requires our full resolve to act out on it.

2. People need to understand that this deliverance is only possible by faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other alternative even though the spirit of the age piles tolerance on peopleís backs. This is the greatest deception because the consequences are eternal. You cannot force something to be correct just because you want it to be. The world, like these kings, cannot comprehend that Jesus Christ is the only way, truth, and the life.

3. Pain, in God's service, shall lead to glory. It is this that is at odds with the world.  What is success with God is often failure in the eyes of the world.  Success with God may not include fame and fortune, health and happiness--as the world knows them.  What is success?  Success is knowing the will of God and doing it.  The Servant, Jesus, knows that suffering is in God's plan the way to glory. The Apostle Paul applied this verse to the preaching of the gospel in virgin and largely Gentile territory, and the gospel includes both the sufferings and glory of Messiah (Rom 15:21).