Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Question: What did you discover about the structure of the song?
- Isaiah 52:13-15 is the prologue. It summarizes the main themes of the song. What are those themes?
- Isaiah 53:1-3 is a description of facts – declares what will happen to Jesus in the future.
- Isaiah 53:4-6 is an interpretation of what happened to Jesus.
- Isaiah 53:7-9 states more historical facts
- Isaiah 53:10-12 is an interpretation of these.
- Isaiah 53:12 includes repetition of the opening theme – total victory and supreme success.
Note: The structure of Hebrew poetry is based on parallelism. There are 3 types of parallelism.
- Synonymous – repeating the first part of the verse in the second part using different words but the same idea.
- Synthetic – where the second part of the verse completes the idea in the first part.
- Antithetical – where the first part of the verse is in contrast to the second part.
Find examples in this song of each type of parallelism and note the references.
A Study of the Text of the Stanzas
- Isaiah 52:13-15
- This stanza is a summary of the text of the whole song. It deals with the subjects of servanthood, success and the nations. It is about suffering and vindication.
- Isaiah 53:1-3
- Facts about the life of Jesus are predicted here.
- There was nothing in Nazareth that would suggest that he would come from there. He was, indeed, "a root out of dry ground".
- He was despised and rejected. Look up John 1:11. He came to his own people – also to his own town and the people rejected him.
- He was humbled by shameful suffering.
- He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He wept over Jerusalem. He wept for human sin, human sorrow and human stubbornness. Look up Hebrews 5:7-8.
- He was despised and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53:3). Look up Luke 8:53.
- Isaiah 53:4-6
- What is the real cause of Jesus' death?
- "By his stripes we are healed". The German Pastor Bonhoeffer chose to preach on these words on the day of his execution by the Nazis in April 1945. By Jesus' stripes we are healed:
- from our sins.
- from our sicknesses sometimes.
- from our sicknesses finally as death is the final healing.
- Isaiah 53:7-9
- In this stanza Isaiah gives headings, not actual examples, of the suffering of Jesus. The passage includes forensic vocabulary taken from the law courts. Jesus was tried three times – by Pontius Pilate the Governor, by Herod King of the Jews, and by Caiaphas the High Priest. He was a victim of a miscarriage of justice. He was cut off from his people. In the time of Jesus people were ostracized for being criminals or lepers. Jesus as the Lamb of God was the ideal fulfillment of the Passover Iamb of the Old Testament. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). This was part of God's eternal plan. Look up Revelation 5:6.
- Isaiah 53:10-12
- Some note that in this last stanza there is no reference to the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah goes from talking about Jesus' sacrificial death to talking about his victory without saying how he passed from death to victory. The resurrection is implied but not mentioned.
- Make a list of the 7 sentences (with references) in this song that tell us that the suffering servant of God (Jesus) bore our sins.
- Study the suffering servant's ministry as prophet, king and priest in this song. In the Old Testament prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil for ministry.
- Prophet: like other prophets Jesus was rejected and despised but he suffered more than any. See Isaiah 53:10.He was greater than a prophet. He was also a king
- King: see Isaiah 53:12. Kings will divide spoil after battle. Compare Isaiah 53:2 with Isaiah 11:1. These are both references to the Messianic King. Jesus was also a priest.
- Priest: in this servant song we see some of Jesus' priestly functions. Isaiah 52:15 can be translated "he sprinkled with his blood many nations". "He made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12). Compare this with Hebrews 7:23-25. "He makes himself an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10). He is the priest because he offers the sacrifice. He is the sacrifice because he offers himself.
Jesus is God's Messiah – the anointed one – anointed prophet, anointed priest and anointed king. Through his death and glorious resurrection he has made us kings and priests unto God. Finally read Revelation 1:4-6 and spend a few minutes praising God.