Isaiah leaves some further thoughts from nature. Consider the “mountains, hills, trees and fields.” They will sing and clap their hands joyously for the captives who have been set free. This prophecy reveals that Israel will come out of 70 years of captivity in Babylon. She will be delivered and returned to her homeland. She will enjoy peace. O, how the creation of God will sing joyously for her.
This prophecy further says that “thorns and pesky nettles will be turned into beautiful flowered plants.” In the same way, the Gospel of peace has the power to change the hardest of sinners. There will be great rejoicing in heaven over every sinner who repents and turns to Jesus (Luke 15:7). God’s word has the power to change lives. My best response is to worship God giving thanks for the captives set free.
The natural world teaches me the efficacy of God’s word. Consider the rain and the snow that falls indiscriminately on every part of the earth. The winter snow blankets the earth, melts and waters the soil. In the Spring the rains fall, further watering the soil. We see the effects of these natural phenomenon when tiny buds appear at the end of a branch, or a stalk, or a vine. THERE IS LIFE !
In the same way God’s word goes out in every direction and soaks into the soil of men’s hearts. It waters and nourishes the dry thirsty soul. Then at the right time comes the budding of new life and renewal. God’s word has the power to change lives. Thank you Lord, for your word, which produces life-giving nourishment to every needy soul.
Man need look no further than nature and the universe to see the hand of God (Rom 1:20). No mere botanist could command the heavens on a world wide timetable to fertilize the earth for eons. No mere theologian could have divined such a marvelous plan of redemption for all the earth and all the men in it, time immemorial. In fact, they follow after the “a priori“ acts of God.
Men simply study to try and understand what God has already done and/or has spoken through his word. God has ordained all of nature, the universe and his word to honor his name and be an everlasting sign of his power and love. Everything works together to achieve God’s grand purposes. Lord, give me an open heart; this simple sentry cannot wrap his mind around so great a plan of redemption.
Who could grasp the inexplicable ways in which God thinks and acts. We may never understand the “why” or the “ways” in which God acts, on this side of eternity. But we are able to see “how” he acts and “what” he does. He has fully explained himself (all we need to know) in Christ Jesus.
Men find it hard, if not impossible, to forgive…to pardon the offenses of others. The multiplied number of offenses and the degree of offenses converge to make forgiveness impossible for all, all the time. But in God, men can find unlimited pardon. There is still time to humble ourselves and repent. Lord, give this crusty old sentry a humble repentance towards you, your will and your purposes.
For any who would take a solemn pause in their life of sin and rebellion; for those who would resolve to leave a life of sin and return to God, there is full pardon. True repentance will invoke the forgiveness of God.
Imagine a call to inmates in prison – “If you would like a pardon, please see the warden in his office now.“ What inmate would ignore such an invitation? None! The invitation from God has been made. Come now for forgiveness of sin. Lord, thank you for your pardon of my sins and transgressions. I am set free.
And so now we encounter some of the most familiar words in the Bible: “Seek Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.“ This does not imply that somehow God is not present or is hidden. But there are special times when his presence is more keenly felt.
There was a day when I had drifted far from God. But he had never left me. I drifted from him. He orchestrated circumstances, slowly working towards a flashpoint in my life. In that moment I was more keenly aware of God’s presence than ever. I had been brought close to him (not him to me); that I might see him, find him; that I might know him. Lord, you found me where I was and called me back to you. Thankfully I did not squander that moment in 1968.
Men may think that they must have fame, wealth and power to have influence. At times men may feel they deserve to be heard. That is pride and arrogance speaking. But when one comes to God, listens to God and follows God‘s counsel, that one, whether great or small, from humble beginnings or advantaged beginnings, may have great and godly influence.
Why is this so? Because God is the one who exalts the individual, in his way, in his time (1Pe 5:6). He does so in meager surroundings and in sufficient to substantial surroundings. For God, it is not about being the best IN the world. It is about being the best FOR the world. I must examine first the one standing in the one square foot of space I occupy.
Lord, you have allowed this old sentry opportunity for godly influence; first in my family, then in my circle of friends and associates; in my realms of life. I could ask for nothing more.
“Why spend your money on food that won’t give lasting nourishment?” We have to eat, but that is not what God is asking here. The real question is, “Why do we spend time, talent and treasure trying to purchase happiness?“ There is not enough money in the world to buy happiness.
What will satisfy man’s deepest desire for real peace and joy? Only God can fill the voids in life. Real peace and joy are found in him. Listen to God. Act on what he says. Then you will know the perpetual favor of God. Receive, love and serve God and you will know the unfailing love of God. Lord, you have never failed to fulfill your promises to give true peace and joy in my life.
Isaiah Chapter 55 flows from Redemption‘s story (Ch 53) through the assurances of Redemption‘s victory (Ch 54) and into a grand and glorious invitation to Redemption‘s offer of God’s free gift of life everlasting (Ch 55). Isaiah says, “Anyone thirsty? Come drink freely. Are you hungry? The finest food is available, free.”
Jesus probably had these verses in mind when he said, “and from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water (Jhn 7:37,38).“ John the Apostle writes from exile, “He [who sits on the throne] said, ‘I will give water of life to the thirsty…freely’“ (Rev 21:6). So The thirsty soul may drink long and often from the well of perpetual life giving water (Jhn 4:13,14). Lord, there could be no clearer invitation in the Old Testament for this thirsty sentry to bring his unquenchable thirst/hunger to you. You will not fail to abundantly satisfy.
Just as God predicted and delivered Israel from 70 years of captivity in Babylon, he will deliver his church from the grip of this world. There will be a new world order when Christ returns. There will be a glorious new City of God, the New Jerusalem, from which he will reign.
The City of God will be constructed of precious stones. Children will learn and live in righteous peace under God’s tutelage. Any who take up arms against God’s people will be crushed. No weapon forged against his people can or will prevail against them. No charge will be brought against his people. God has said it. It shall be!
Lord, you have given even the weakest watchman the spiritual armor to stand against the evil one (Ephesians 6). No spiritual weapon used against me will succeed, because of your might.
I am often arrested by the imagery of Scripture. I am halted, at times for days, wondering the meaning of it all (turquoise, sapphire foundations, pearl & ruby gates, mortar made of precious jewels). What splendor for mere men to imagine. Many, smarter than I, have speculated their meaning.
What splendor there is for a shipped wrecked Israel as she repents and discovers again God‘s heart for her. What Splendor awaits the church triumphant in the millennium (Rev 21:9-21). But most of all, what splendor awaits my wandering heart when times of refreshing come to me. Thank you Lord, for your splendid gifts to my repentant heart.
It is true that Jehovah God briefly turned his back on Israel because of her unfaithfulness (vv7,8). But this brief moment is in contrast to his promise of everlasting love and mercy (vv9,10).
This is the solemn promise of God: he would never again turn his back on his people. They would see the grander of great mountains dissolve before their eyes (see pigs fly) before God would ever again turn on his people.
As it has been for Israel, so it is for his church. Persecution, calamity and troubles may come. But God’s fierce love and devotion for his people will never be, shall never be, derailed nor gone missing. Lord, you have never forsaken this elder sentry; been forever faithful to me.
Who is this loving overseer of Israel’s destiny? He is none other than the creator of all things, the Lord of Hosts is his name. He is Israel’s great provider and lover, the holy one of Israel and God of all the earth. He was the one who authored Israel’s genesis. He called her back to him
This is the same God who calls us back from our unfaithfulness, just as he called Israel, with compassion and tender mercies. With an everlasting love he compels a response of adoration, honor and respect. Lord you have loved me at my worst. My sincere humble obeisance is the least gift I can give.
Coming down out of the clouds of the “Suffering Servant” prophecy, Isaiah jubilantly exhorts Israel to break into triumphant songs of joy. She had been cut off for her unfaithfulness. Like a woman unable to have children she had been shamed. But now God would show her favor as a woman blessed with many children.
Israel’s mourning over captivity and shame would be changed to joyful singing. She would be set free. Her shame and unfaithfulness, she would remember no more. And so it has been for this old sentry. Lord, you have blessed me since my days of repentance – the sins of my youth have been forgotten and I exult in my Redeemer.
In these verses God explains clearly that his Servant, our Redeemer, will lay down his life as the final sacrifice for man’s sin (v10). As a result, many rebels will be made righteous because of his sacrifice (v11; Rom 10:9,10; 2Co 5:21; Eph 4:22–24).
Most remarkable of all, he gave up his glory to become a man like me (Phi 2:7). He was subject to every sin and temptation, yet he himself was without sin (Heb 4:15,16). “He was counted among [identified with] the rebels (v12).“ He was like me but not me. He bore my sin and now as my Redeemer he is at the right hand of the Father advocating and interceding for me (Rom 8:34). He is my compassionate Prayer Sentry.
Isaiah 53:10–12 stands in sharp contrast and great relief to verses 1–9. Here it is revealed, as difficult as it is to absorb, that the plan of God all along had been to crush the Redeemer-Prince and cause him great anguish. However, it is important to note that the point of that anguish was not for the sake of anguish. It was for the sake of absolving man’s sin.
Does a parent take joy in punishing a child? No. It is for the sake of a future outcome. Just so, the Redeemer will see God‘s plan prosper and the redemption accomplished by his suffering. He will be satisfied at the future outcome. Many will come to wholeness out of sin. The Redeemer himself will be honored as a victorious soldier.
(Note Hebrews 12:2 “[Keep your] eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated [victorious] in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (NLT) )
The only adequate response of the duty sentry is to fall on the floor of the watchtower, weep tears of repentance, tears of joy and worship the victorious Redeemer.
The prophecy of Isaiah 53 continues here to describe the oppressive and unrighteous nature of the Redeemer’s shameful treatment and trial. Yet, this Redeemer, under great duress, said not a word of complaint. He surrendered as a lamb led to the slaughter, as a sheep before his shearers. He saw it through to the end.
The debt of sin, death, was called in. The Redeemer patiently, meekly and quietly suffered oppressive treatment and the unrighteous proceedings of incited leaders and an angry mob. He was charged for acts he never committed. He was cut down, sharply canceled out, before ever he might have a single heir in this earth (v10 informs us that he would ultimately have many spiritual heirs). For the sins of the people this righteous man, we now know as Jesus, The Christ, was struck down violently and suffered in our place.
The Redeemer, falsely accused, died a criminal’s death. The Jews would have buried him dishonorably along with the two thieves or the malevolent but sparred Barabbas. However, the Romans handed his body over to Joseph, the Aramathaean – a “rich man.” Why? Because according to the Scriptures, “His actions were [truly] prompted by pure love and his speech consisted of unclouded sincerity and truth.“* This honorable burial would inaugurate his glorification to come, noted in v10,12.
Barnes assesses this passage beautifully: “How strikingly and literally was this [prophecy] fulfilled in the life of [Christ]. It would seem almost as if it had been written after he had lived, and was history rather than prophecy. No other person ever so entirely accorded with the description of [Christ] by the prophet.“**
O how great is the enormity of this old sentry’s sin. How sufficient is the wonderful matchless grace of my Redeemer-Prince (Jesus the Messiah). He forgave all my sin and gave me life eternal. All he asks in return is that men would “believe the message” and trust in him (v1). The way I thank him and honor him is by believing and following him.
Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray [wandered], We have turned, each one, to his own way;” (AMP)
Two songs come to mind. One by 1960s pop star, Dion: “They call me the wanderer; Yeah, the wanderer. I roam around, around, around, around. I roam from town to town; And I’m as happy as a clown; I with my two fists of iron but I’m going nowhere. I roam around, around, around.” So typical of The Wanderer. Acting the “clown.” ‘Round and ‘round he/she goes, going nowhere. Just living a hedonist lifestyle.
Isaiah 53:6 continues, “But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] To fall on Him [instead of us].” (AMP)
The second song is by pastor & hymnodist, Robert Robinson. Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (1758): “Oh to grace how great a debtor; Daily I’m constrained to be. Let Thy grace now like a fetter; Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Unlike Dion’s Wanderer above, Robinson’s Wanderer has finally found peace and contentment, in the Great Shepherd-Redeemer.
Left to myself I am prone to wander. Yielded to Christ, The Good Shepherd, I am gathered into his fold. I am no longer “The Wanderer;” roamer, drifter, nomad. But abiding in his love and grace my heart is at rest and peacefully bound to him.
“By his stripes we are healed.“ Grasp the context here. Our Redeemer didn’t just represent man in redemption from sin. He literally took our sin AND all their consequences into his own being. All our weaknesses (the result of sin), all our sorrows, our troubles, our rebellion, our sickness and disease (all the results of sin, increasing his pain exponentially), he absorbed in his own body.
O, the anguish of our Redeemer’s soul. It was unspeakable, bearing ALL our sin and their consequences. His “stripes“ were literal. They painfully represent his horrible, unspeakable death. ALL that sin is and represents – the disease of certain and eternal death (were there NO redemption) – our Redeemer died for and provided for us complete wholeness and healing. We are healed, saved, from the curse of sin and ALL its consequences.
I am staggered and left without words, how to respond. The Lord tells me in verse one my only necessary response. Simply “BELIEVE the message,” receive and follow Jesus.
When I think of my fallen self and how desperately wicked can be my heart, I think of my risen Savior who has borne my sin and shame and redeemed me to himself.
The sin, which does so easily beset me, has its end in the cross of Calvary. It drives afresh the nails into my Savior’s hands and feet. My besetting sins do not go unaccounted for. These…
…my sins of commission – to lie, to lust, to speak ill/criticize, to waste time;
…my sins of omission – to disobey by not going when moved, not speaking when prompted, not helping when urged;
…my sins of disposition – envy, pride, anger, evil desire;
All these my sins, and more, go painfully under the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
My unmerited righteousness in Christ does not come without a price. I cannot flee the failure of sins committed, but I can, in Christ, flee from the sin not yet committed before it besets me. AND EVERY SIN FROM WHICH I FLEE IS THAT MUCH PAIN RELIEVED IN MY SAVIOR’S BODY. FOR EVERY SIN RESISTED IS A SIN FOR WHICH HE DID NOT HAVE TO DIE.
Where sin has abounded in my heart without confession, my precious Savior is left to suffer. For lack of confession is unbelief in his atoning sacrifice, his faithfulness to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9). My confession acknowledges and accepts his sacrifice.
If he did not want to forgive us he would not have died so horrible a death. So believe. Do not carry your burden of sin. He has borne it.
Confess it and do not mourn any longer. You are forgiven and accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6).
(Note: the following is from Valley Of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers)
“…if I sin not I should thank thee for it;
“…if I do sin I should be humbled daily under it;
“…I should mourn for sin more than other men do, for when I see I shall die because of sin, that makes me mourn; when I see how sin strikes at thee, that makes me mourn; when I see that sin caused Christ’s death, that makes me mourn;”
“…Thou has taught me that faith is nothing else than receiving thy kindness; that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him, a love clinging to him as a branch to the tree, to seek life and vigor from him.” [To mourn no longer]
“…I thank thee for showing me the vast difference between knowing things by reason, and knowing them by the spirit of faith. [Job 42:5,6]
“…By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it is.
“…I have seen thee by reason [head knowledge] and have not been amazed.
“…I have seen thee as thou are in the Son [by faith] and HAVE BEEN RAVISHED TO BEHOLD THEE…
“…I bless thee that I am thine in my Savior, Jesus.” [Mourn no longer]
The painful reality is that our Redeemer-prince, who is here spoken of, suffered excruciatingly for our sin. He was treated as lower than the lowest in society. He took upon himself the grief and agonies of men. He was our substitute. Men interpreted his calamities as punishment for his own sin. But, NO! It was for our sin, my sin, that he took such punishment.
Jesus was my substitute. He was crushed for my sins, whipped so I could be healed (made whole). It was I for whom my Savior bled and died. He was my substitute. The Lord – God laid upon him all the sins of every man, past and present. He was my substitute; the sinless servant suffered punishment for my sin. No other could have stood in for me and borne the penalty for my sin? No one! Lord, may the love and devotion of this old sentry for you, deepen with every passing day.
Reading Isaiah 53 reminds me of one of the great irrefutable evidences of the veracity of God’s word: the fulfillment of prophecy. We see in the life of Christ and his suffering on the cross for the sins of mankind the fulfillment of Isaiah 53.
Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies. There are still some yet to be fulfilled… That is, those related to Christ’s return. Fulfilled prophecy is just one evidence of the inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture. Lord, This aged sentry has fully trusted in your word for many years. Your Word has never failed me.