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June 21: Isaiah 53
Deuteronomy 26; Psalms 117–118; Isaiah 53; Matthew 1
We now come to the last of Isaiah’s four “Servant Songs” - prophecies about God’s singular Servant. The chapter really begins in 52:13 (remember, the chapter divisions were added later), and it tell us how God can judge His people’s sin, and yet at the same time be merciful to us, and save us.
The chapter is structured in typical Hebrew fashion, with the main point in the middle, in verses 4-6. Note the rhythm: “he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (4). The point is substitution in bearing sin and guilt: “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (6). The Servant is Sin-Bearer.
Therefore he had to suffer greatly (1-3 and 7-9). Yet in his suffering, he was utterly victorious (52:13-15 and 53:10-12). Though he was “high and lifted up” (13) - on a cross - by his blood he sprinkled many nations, cleansing them of their sins (15).
And when he made his sacrifice for sin, he looked and was satisfied (11), because he saw his offspring (10). Though he never married, people from every tongue, tribe and nation will be born again, because they were accounted righteous (14), not by their own character or deed, but by what this Servant did.
It is no coincidence that first-century Christians paraphrased 52:13 as “Behold, my Servant, the Messiah,” for that is exactly who this Servant is.