Description
This chapter describes the end-time conversion of Israel after the Jews recognise Jesus as their deliverer and Messiah and come to understand the truth about his death and resurrection from the dead.
Commentary
The previous chapter describes the liberation of Jerusalem after Jesus' victory at Armageddon, and the shocked reaction of both Israel and the kings of the nations, when they recognise who their liberator is, and witness his extreme exaltation.

This chapter continues seamlessly in the same context as that just established by the previous chapter. It begins with Israel's repentant confession before God the Father (v1-9) when they recognise who Jesus really is and what the Cross was really about. Isaiah then briefly prophesies about his resurrection (v10-11a). Finally God the Father speaks (v11b-12), prophesying the success of his servant's mission, and of him being honoured with the spoils of victory. This chapter is the core of the Gospel of Jesus according to the Prophet Isaiah, and is arguably the clearest explanation of the cross anywhere in scripture. Given the incredible detail and insight revealed in this prophecy, it is also a perfect demonstration of the claim that the Book of Isaiah makes repeatedly - God is unique among the 'gods' in that he alone accurately reveals the future before it comes to pass.

In verse 1, the Jews and the rulers of nations (see 52:15) express their utter amazement at what they have just heard. They ask "When was the arm of the Lord revealed through him?" The arm of the Lord is a metaphorical picture of God as a warrior, baring his arm, taking up his weapons and crushing his enemies. It is most often associated with God's crushing defeat of Pharaoh at the Red Sea crossing. When did they ever see Jesus portrayed in this way? In verses 2 to 3 they describe the portrayal of Jesus that they had been taught, and it was the total opposite of what they now see in his exaltation - he was someone of humble upbringing with nothing majestic about his appearance that should catch their attention. He was someone despised and rejected, someone who seemed insignificant.

In verses 4 to 5, the light has now been switched on, so to speak, and they recognise what his healing ministry (see Matthew 8:14-17) and crucifixion were really all about. They had thought he was being punished by God for some crime he had committed, but actually he was receiving the punishment they deserved for their sins, in order that they might be healed. This is Israel describing her conversion experience.

In verses 6 to 7 they confess the truth about their sinfulness. In doing so, they speak not just for Israel, but for all of humanity. All of us are like sheep who have wandered off, choosing a path of sin instead of God's path of righteousness. A sheep that strays from the shepherd is vulnerable to attack by wild animals, but instead of leaving us to the fate we deserve, Jesus stepped in like a lamb and allowed himself to be led silently to the slaughter. When a predator attacks a flock of sheep, it tends to pick off the lambs who are the most vulnerable. Jesus willingly made himself the most vulnerable so that he would be attacked and we could escape. Verse 8 describes his unjust trial and subsequent execution. He was wounded (stricken) and cut off (killed) for the rebellion of his people (literally 'my people', but given that it is a Jew speaking in this verse, this refers primarily to the Jewish people). Verse 9 describes his burial in a rich man's tomb (Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea), because this rich man recognised correctly that Jesus had committed no violent deeds.

In verses 10 to 11a, the speaker appears to have switched to Isaiah, now speaking prophetically about future events from his 7th century BC perspective. Although it was God's will to crush Jesus so that restitution might be made (the sins of the world be paid for), Jesus will see long life and God's purposes will continue to be accomplished through him. Given that verses 8 and 9 have clearly described his death and burial (he really died), Isaiah is now clearly prophesying Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Jesus will look back on his suffering (which includes his death) and be satisfied with what he accomplished.

In verses 11b to 12, the speaker now switches to God the Father, who continues to prophesy about his servant's future work, from a 7th century BC perspective. He will acquit many, for he will carry their sins (v11). So God will reward him with a portion of the spoils of victory, which he will divide among the powerful. This is a metaphorical picture of Jesus as a victorious conqueror being rewarded and honoured by his emperor, so that he can divide up his conquests among his generals. In Luke 19:17, Jesus spoke about this division of his kingdom in the parable of the minas, "Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities." God gives Jesus the honour of dividing the spoils like this because he willingly submitted to death when he intervened on behalf of sinners and took up their sins (v12).
Tags
Places: Israel
Symbols: Sheep gone astray, Sacrificial lamb, Arm of the Lord, Spoils of war
Tags: Arm of the Lord, Israel accepts Jesus as Messiah, Nations shocked by the exaltation of Jesus, Israel repents, Conversion of Israel, Jesus on the Cross, Explanation of the Cross, Death and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus establishes his kingdom, Jesus distributes spoils of war, Jesus exalted over the nations, Jesus as a mighty warrior, Jesus as a victorious conqueror, Jesus as a lamb, Jesus as the servant, Jesus carried our sins, Jesus took our punishment, Fourth servant song
1 Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?
2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
3 He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
4 But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.
6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
7 He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.
8 He was led away after an unjust trial – but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
9 They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.
10 Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.
12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”
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