I’ve been preaching a series on the book of Isaiah. I’ve taken a detailed look at some of the passages covered in today’s sermon, and Lord willing will carry on and cover the others in coming weeks.
Isaiah, more than any other prophet, is the prophet of the Messiah. The entire Old Testament points to Christ, of course, but Isaiah has more specific prophecies of the Lord Jesus Christ, His first and second coming, than any other prophet. Today, rather than focusing on individual passages in depth, I decided to look at a broad span of Isaiah’s prophecies of our Lord — certainly not of all of them, but some of the highlights. I’ll just briefly comment on them here.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
This direct prediction of a miraculous birth is a message of hope to God’s people, and a message of judgment to wicked Ahaz. He could not count on being the heir of David, for Messiah was not going to be born in the normal way, but miraculously.
This is also a prophecy of the nature of Messiah — He would not merely be a great and godly man, He would be “God with us” (the meaning of Immanuel).
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
The context of the end of the prior chapter helps us understand what is meant by the darkness — sin and unbelief, and the trouble that comes from that rebellion. Here we have a prophecy that Messiah would be one who would bring spiritual light into a spiritually dark world. His light would bring hope even in the shadow of death.
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
This Messiah, this Son who will be born, is a Ruler, who will govern and establish His kingdom forever. He is God, the everlasting Father — and He is the Prince of Peace.
He will bring in peace, but not as the world brings peace. In this world, peace is usually purchased with appeasement or by crushing one’s enemies, which often ends in oppression. Messiah will bring in a government of peace which will be established, not in oppression or appeasement of evil, but in justice.
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Messiah is the One who brings comfort to His people. Verse two has in partial view the deliverance of the Jews from the captivity prophesied in the preceding chapter, but it also looks forward to the time when a messenger would proclaim the arrival of Messiah. This Messiah would be the One who would reveal the glory of the Lord.
9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
When Messiah, the Lord GOD, comes with strong hand, He will be the shepherd who gathers, carries, and gently leads His flock. Here we see His strength in His ability to gather His flock, His love in seeking and finding them, and His tender care and providence in watching over us in our weakness and leading us in ways we are able to follow.
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Messiah would not be spectacular in the eyes of men, and they would reject Him, but He would take our sins on Himself. In our own eyes, we might not be that much worse than others, but in God’s eyes, we have turned every one to our own way, rather than following in God’s way. But Messiah would provide for this, for He would take “the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah told that Messiah would die (“cut off out of the land of the living”) for the sins of others, and that God would “be satisfied” with His death on our behalf.
King of Light, King of the Nations
1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
This passage tells that Messiah will bring light in the darkness and be one who the Gentiles will seek and worship. Some see this passage, especially verses 3 and 6, as having a partial fulfillment in the coming of the wise men, and it is from these verses (and the value of the gifts they brought) that some have concluded that they were kings (though if so, the Scripture does not make that at all clear).
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD….
Isaiah’s Messiah is a Healer, of broken lives and broken hearts, a Deliverer of slaves and captives, a Proclaimer of the glorious Gospel of peace. He came not to condemn the world, but to seek and to save, not to crush but to restore.
I stopped verse 2 in the middle because that is where Jesus stopped reading, and closed the book of Isaiah, when He was in Nazareth (Luke 4). He had come to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, but the next words of Isaiah referred to something that had not yet come, was not yet to be fully unfolded.
…and the day of vengeance of our God….
Isaiah’s Messiah is also a Judge, One who certainly will proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. But that is yet to come, there is still time to come to the Healer of broken hearts.
1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
Messiah will avenge His people, and judge the earth for its great wickedness. He is mighty to save — and mighty to avenge. When His judgment comes, it will be terrible, for the wicked of this earth have rebelled against their Maker, mocked His holy Name, and rejected His only begotten Son. Their Lord came and died, and they turned their back and followed their sin.
But still, this is not yet. Still it is the acceptable year of the Lord, as He gathers His flock to Himself. Still there is time, still there is mercy.