Isaiah 49-53: Servant Poems

The chapters you are going to read today and tomorrow have been cited uses many different names over the years.  The Servant Songs, the Servant Poems, the Gospel according to Isaiah (OK, I made that one up). Isaiah 49-57 are probably the most comprehensive picture of God’s Messiah we have outside of the person of Jesus Christ we encounter in the Gospels. These chapters paint many pictures for us both of who Messiah would be (Saviour, Redeemer, Sovereign), and of what the Messiah would do (be crushed for us, extend God’s love to the Gentiles).

Two quick things to comment on. First, pay attention to the scope of the Messiah’s ministry. Notice that right off the bat God reveals to Isaiah that this chosen one will also be a light to the nations, his salvation to the ends of the earth (49:6). Up till now, God’s focus has seemed to be very much on Israel (although I have pointed out several occasions where God’s interest in others nations is apparent), but here we have stated clearly that the role of God’s coming Servant would be universal in nature. This is especially important when we look at how Israel responded to Jesus. Israel was so focused on a Saviour that was solely for them that they were unable to comprehend Jesus as the Messiah for the whole world.

Second spend some time in Isaiah 53.  Old Testament scholar Dr. Kyle Yates wrote of Isaiah 52:134-53:12: “These five matchless stanzas of the fourth Servant poem are the Mount Everest of messianic prophesy.” Like the literal Everest takes time and attention to climb, so this section of scripture deserves special time and attention. Watch especially the journey described by Isaiah, from ugly reject, to humiliation, to silent suffering, to vindication and victory. Of course we know, or should know, that these verses are clearly prophetic of what Jesus endured for us on Calvary. But I wonder how many of us take time to unpack these verses on their own.

The real key though comes in Isaiah 53;11 “My righteous servant will justify many and He will carry their iniquities.”

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 54-58

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