Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
I can remember the first time I heard Isaiah 53. I probably had heard it many time before, but this was the first time I actually heard it. I attended a Bible conference at King’s Addition Baptist Church in South Shore, Kentucky and before the preaching began, we had the preliminary announcements, prayer requests, and stood for the singing of hymns (it’s near impossible to sit and sing, in my opinion) and remained standing for the reading of the Word. The pastor had us turn to Isaiah 53. I didn’t even turn, I just listened and as he read, I couldn’t believe what I heard. I was astonished. Never before had I perceived such a vivid description of the blessed Lord Jesus. Around 25 years have passed, and I still haven’t gotten over the stunning picture of Jesus in Isaiah’s prophecy.
After we sat down, I grabbed my Bible, found the passage and read it for myself over and again (sorry to whomever was preaching!) and could hardly contain my wonder over the Old Testament containing descriptions of Jesus. Isaiah prophesied from 739–681 BC, so that means around 700 years prior to the time of Jesus. The physical prophecies are profound, but what amazed me was the spiritual insight into the cross. Isaiah gives us a glimpse of the Son of Man from the perspective of the people, but he also tells us what transpired between the Father and the Son. Isaiah 53 is one of the great texts on the atonement and what Christ accomplished at Calvary.
The passage of Isaiah 53 actually starts in Isaiah 52:13 and gives a good example of why you should not assume the chapters in your Bible complete a thought. In novels, each chapter is its completes section. It may be a cliffhanger, but usually it ends a scene. This isn’t always the case in our Bibles. The chapters in our Bibles, as they are now, were added in the 1500’s to help us find passages in the Bible. You can think of chapter and verses like addresses. Imagine how difficult a task to find this section of Isaiah without verse numbers or chapters! I’m very thankful for that innovation, but we have to remember it’s not a perfect system and sometimes the chapter ends or starts in the middle of a thought, like we have here. The context shows us where our passage begins. Notice in 52:13, it starts with the word “behold”. Isaiah says “behold” to get our attention. Hey, listen up. Jehovah’s servant (the Messiah, Isaiah 42:1), will come and deal with man wisely (Isaiah 11:2) and in His great success will be highly exalted. Isaiah describes a glorious, holy, man who has come to do the work of God. Surely, such a man would be honored by all, which making the next verse we’ll study next week so shocking.