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The Suffering Servant- Isaiah 52:13

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Isaiah has been speaking to the people about the restoration that will occur after the exile. He has revealed the problem of Israel’s estrangement from God because of their sins. However, God is insisting that he will restore Israel to himself.

“He says, ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:6; ESV). Chapters 49-52 of Isaiah reveal God’s promises for restoring the people. The people are called upon to believe in the arm of the Lord, the power to redeem and deliver the people.

“Why, when I came, was there no man; why, when I called, was there no one to answer? Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, by my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert; their fish stink for lack of water and die of thirst.” (Isaiah 50:2; ESV)

“Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon?” (Isaiah 51:9; ESV)

“The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10; ESV)

Come home and look for the Messiah to be revealed. In talking about the redemption of Israel as the arm of the Lord will be revealed to deliver the people, Isaiah begins to prophesy about the suffering servant in Isaiah 52:13. We often begin the reading of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:1. But we only do this because of the arbitrary chapter break. If the chapter break began at Isaiah 52:13, then we would read the whole description of the suffering servant. So, we need to understand the description of the suffering servant begins here in Isaiah 52:13.

Examining The Suffering Servant

“See, My servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted” (52:13; HCSB).

The idea behind Isaiah’s words is that the servant will act with such wisdom that his efforts would be successful. This is why some translations say that the servant will prosper. The Hebrew literally is “to act wisely” but with the idea of success coming because of the wise actions. The servant redeemer was not going to be a bumbling fool. He would not discredit himself by his actions. Wisdom would exude from him. Jesus was not only known for the miracles he accomplished.

When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom given to Him, and how are these miracles performed by His hands?” (Mark 6:2; HCSB)

The rest of the description is also fascinating. He will be raised, lifted up, and greatly exalted. This description points to a person of great importance, emphasizing the degree of the exaltation he will receive. However, the exaltation came through unexpected means. Read John 12:23-33. Notice that the glorification that Jesus speaks of being lifted up from the earth on the cross. This reveals more about the temptation of Jesus from Satan. Satan offered glorification if Jesus would bow down and worship Satan (Luke 4:6- “To you I will give all this authority and their glory…”) But glorification was to come through death on the cross.