Isaiah 49-57: The Prince of Peace

Introduction

The ultimate gift God gives us is the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, Yashua/Yeshua/Jesus. Between Isaiah 49 and 57, Isaiah gives us a ton of prophecies, many of which deal with the Messiah. The most important prophecy concerning who Christ was (in my opinion) is Isaiah 53. Often referred to as "The Suffering Servant," the chapter gives a clear picture of the Messiah as a servant who must suffer at the hands of His own people to bring about salvation. This was the crucial prophecy that the Israelites neglected, as they expected the Messiah to be a triumphant warrior who would overthrow Rome instead of the servant described by Isaiah. Overall, however, these chapters paint the picture of the salvation brought by the Prince of Peace.

Calls to the People

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Pavan Trikutam
The first three chapters in this series deliver specific calls to God's people.

Called From the Womb

Isaiah recognizes that his calling came from the time he was in the womb. In fact, most of God's people were called before they took their first breath. Other examples include Samson and Samuel from the Old Testament, Jesus and John the Baptist from the New Testament. Isaiah explicitly states that his purpose is to call the people of God back to God. God tells Isaiah that this is a simple task, so He is also entrusting him with being a light for the Gentiles. Even during Isaiah's time, Israel was to be a light for the Gentile nations; it was never God's intent that they should stay in darkness. We know that the ultimate light that Israel brought into the world was the Messiah. How does that relate to Isaiah being called as a light to the Gentile nations? Well, someone compiled a list of 365 Messianic prophecies[1] (there are more, but this is a good sampling) and 133 of them are from the book of Isaiah. That's about 36%. The book in the Old Testament with the next largest number of Messianic prophecies is Psalms with 96. So while Jesus might be the ultimate Light God gave to the Gentiles, it is Isaiah that gives us the path to identify the light (the light switch, if you will).

Prophecies About Christ

In Isaiah 49:7, Isaiah jumps right in to Messianic prophecy as if to confirm that he has been given light to point us to the ultimate Light. First, he tells us that the Holy One of Israel (the Messiah), will be despised by men. If Christ's crucifixion does jump into mind as clear evidence of that, just scour message boards online today. There are many atheists or agnostics, who while tolerant of other religions, have a deep-seated hatred for Christ.

Isaiah goes on to tell us that Christ will be worshiped by kings and princes. Even the most powerful people in our world have to answer to Christ. In Christ's kingdom, everyone will come to bow down to Him and all will be provided for. As Isaiah explains this, he mentions a land called Sinim, which scholars believe is meant to reference a far off nation, likely China.[2]

As Isaiah continues to point out how God (and the Messiah) feel about the people, he lays out a third prophecy. God promises no to forget about His children, and points out that He has a mark in the palm of His hands to remind Him of us. That mark is from the crucifixion.[3]

Prophecy About Israel

Isaiah also prophesies the captivity and scattering of Israel. The people of Israel were driven from The Promised Land after the siege of Jerusalem in 70ad and have been intermingled with the Gentiles ever since. However, in the end the people who were tearing apart the families of God's people and who were mistreating them, will be bowing before them.

Called to Follow

In the beginning of Isaiah 50, we are presented with metaphorical questions about our relationship with God as our Father. God did not abandon His children, His children stopped following Him. When there is separation between us and Him, it is not because He "divorced our mother" or sold us, but be cause we have chosen sin over obedience.

The beauty in this situation is that God is the all powerful God. He can redeem us and reconect with us if we let Him. His choice is to deliver us from a fate of separation and disconnect, but we have to let Him. Throughout the Bible, it talks about people who have ears but can't hear, or eyes and can't see. We close our senses to God, and block His Spirit sometimes. When Isaiah chose to listen to God, God opened His hear that He might understand. When we choose to listen and see, God reveals Himself, wisdom, and His plan to us. The key, is that we have to choose to follow Him first.

Called to Action

If you make a decision, but you never act on it, what good is it? God gave us a law. If we are truly following Him, if we have truly surrendered to His Will, we will also do our best to follow this law. The Israelites often confused this concept by thinking that if the just did what God had specified in the law, they were doing good. However, just because you do what someone says doesn't mean you love or respect them. Obedience can also come from fear or habit. The key thing to remember is that we are compelled to follow the law because we love God, however following the law is not a means of salvation and is not the starting point of our relationship with Him.

Fear

Many times, when we are doing right, the people around us will try to discourage us. In a moment of peer pressure, we often deny Christ and the Father to appease a human. Peter did this when He denied Christ. God asks us think about why we afraid of people? They do not have power over their own lives and die just like us. Therefore their thoughts and opinions should have no power over us.

Endtime Prophecy

In Isaiah 51:6, Isaiah prophesies that Heaven and Earth will be demolished and rebuilt during the final judgment. During this time, all who did not follow the Lord will perish. This prophecy is echoed in the New Testament (2 Peter 3:10-13 and Revelation 21:1).

Awakening

God makes a plea for Israel to wake up. It is time for them to return to our Father, to open our ears and heart. The devision to follow should always be followed with the action of following. This consists of opening our hears and eyes, just as Isaiah did. If we don't, we suffer the same fate as the pagan nations.

The Suffering Servant

If you weren't sure that Jesus is the Messiah, Isaiah 53 is the scripture you need to read. I have read that this chapter is intentionally glossed over or "forbidden" in Jewish synagogues for exactly this reason.[4]

Isaiah prophesies about a suffering servant, the prophecy really begins at the end of Isaiah 52, where we are told that this person would become disfigured for us. The disfiguring Isaiah references is the punishment Jesus endured before and on the cross. As we continue into Isaiah 53, we learn that despite suffering for us, people would reject him (obviously fulfilled both by the Jews rejecting Him and choosing to crucify Him, as well as the continued rejection of His gift by people throughout time). Isaiah tells us that the Messiah would be brought to "slaughter like a lamb" indicating that he understood that the purpose of this sacrifice was to fulfill the required sacrifices once and for all. Take note that while God is pleased with the suffering of the Messiah, it is not because He enjoys seeing the Messiah suffer. God is pleased because this suffering allows Him to intercede for all of God's children. It is only though His suffering that the rest of us can ever be reunited with God. It is also through Him that Satan will eventually be defeated. This is what pleases God.

The Deception

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good,Isaiah 55:2 KJV
The business model of the world matches the battle plan of Satan: create a problem that doesn't exist and sell the solution. If you were around in the early 2000s, you remember black and white flip phones that barely had the ability to text. Of course, if you grew up during my parent's era, you remember when we didn't have cell phones at all. If you grew up in my grandparents' era, you remember when phones were a luxury. If you grew up before then, you would remember when phoned didn't exist. For the majority of our existence, people lived just fine without them. Now, kids are getting them at 5 and 6 years old! People have been convinced that a child needs a $400 - $1000 object. How? Why?

In the beginning of Isaiah 55, it is point out that we chase things that don't benefit us. We spend money on things that are not in our best interest, and work hard for things the world tells us we need, but they don't fill the empty void that is meant to be filled with God. We will work extra hours to have extra money to see the latest concert or movie, to buy the latest trends, etc., but we don't invest that money in God's people— remember the bread is His body; God's body is the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12–14) and we aren't investing in the people of the church. I don't mean building funds and jet planes for pastors. I mean supporting single parents. I mean supporting the poor. I mean taking care of the elderly. Consume the Bread of Life (the Word of God) and actively engaging in the work of God is what will satisfy our soul. The things of this world only bring us distraction. They keep us busy, but we never find that contentment that God has for us.

A Futile Effort

Isaiah 55 follows the famous quote "no weapon formed against you shall prosper." Even though it's the last verse of Isaiah 54, it summarizes the whole of both chapters' point. God has made a covenant with His people so for as long as we have (be it our death or the death of this world), we can seek Him out. However, we see in God's call to seek Him while He can be found that this timeline is finite; there will come a point where we've lost our chance (because we're dead, or the judgement has arrived). Once we seek Him out, we're on the winning side. God will stand for His people, and He is the creator of even the smallest molecules men use to build weapons. There is nothing a man can create that does not have to obey God first. Thus, the only power our enemies have over us is convincing us not to rely on God.

God's Thoughts and Ways

The end of Isaiah 55 could easily be paired with the concept of growing from thinking and speaking like a child, to thinking and speaking as an adult. It is a reminder that although we grow up and learn more, we can't fully comprehend God. My dad has a saying about understanding crazy people; he said if you can understand the thought process of serial killers, or racists, or whomever, that means you think like them and you're crazy too. You have to be tuned in to the same frequency to understand and empathize with those feelings. Similarly, if any of us could fully comprehend God, we'd have to be God.

I used to wonder if sin was the culprit of why we can't understand. After all, sin is a degenerative disease. However, when I started thinking about the angels, I realized that they must not be able to fully comprehend God either. If so, Lucifer never would have rebelled. He would have understood the perfect order God created and abided in it. Not only that, but other angels wouldn't have sided with him. It proves that like us, they only know so much.

God's Word is Never Void: A Sign

11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
12For ye shall go out with joy,
and be led forth with peace:
the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree,
and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree:
and it shall be to the Lord for a name,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.Isaiah 55:11-13 KJV
God's Word is powerful. Unlike us, He doesn't say things casually or without thought, so everything He tells us will come to pass. This is great news for those who surrender to Him and horrible news for those who rebel.

I spent quite a while on this particular passage, trying to figure out what the everlasting sign would be. Some commentators suggest a bountiful Earth, some suggested fertility, and others suggested the actual Word of God.[8] I can see how all three of these are possible, and actually are intertwined. To have high fertility rates, the people must be eating well and consuming the proper nutrients, therefore the Earth must be bountiful. The only way for the Earth to be bountiful is that the people have found favor in the eyes of God, and that will only happen when we surrender to His Word.

Preservation of Justice

God's people will have God's desire for justice. This means that in a kingdom that truly serves Him, the people in charge will actively seek justice. They will not be taking advantage of people, or favoring this group over that group. God's people will do the best they can to wield honest, appropriate, and merciful judgements so that justice prevails.

Sabbath

In Isaiah 56:6 brings the attention of the Israelites to the importance of keeping the Sabbath without defiling it. Note that there were two types of Sabbaths prescribed by God. The original Sabbath (referred to as the Sabbath) was instituted in the very beginning, to end the creation week. After the fall and when God established Israel, He instituted holy days (where we get thee word holiday), some of which were to be observed in the same manner as the Sabbath. These became knows as sabbaths or sabbath days (plural). Because God is referred to a singular Sabbath, we know He is referencing the one from creation.

Saved Against the Odds

The Israelites, as well as modern Christians, are quick to judge who can and can't be saved, but that judgement is reserved for God. In Isaiah 56, we see God explicitly make provisions for the salvation of two groups of people you wouldn't expect: foreigners and eunuchs.

Foreigners

The Israelites are God's chosen people, everybody else (at the time) was pagan. The Israelites were constantly told to set themselves apart and not to intermarry with these people. So it's easy to develop the opinion that those people were hopeless and unable to gain salvation. However, that was never the case. From the beginning, anyone who was willing to submit to God, could join Israel and become part of God's people. In Isaiah 56, God reiterates this point. Today, we should remember that "foreigner" can apply to people of the same nationality and/or race, but of a different religion. We have to remember that all it takes it repentance and submission to God for a person to be saved, regardless of their background.

Eunuchs

Eunuchs were men who had been castrated. Since this would be considered a deformity, it was regarded as unclean in Israel; thus, eunuchs were not well received. The Israelites would have been shocked to hear this message.

I've seen many quote this verse along with Matthew 19:12 to support LGBT community, so I want to clarify.[7] Matthew 19:12 identify 3 types of eunuchs: those who were forcefully castrated, those who were born that way, and those who chose to be.

The reason men were forcefully castrated was—aside from being a grotesque show of power—to provide "trustworthy" protection for the queen and concubines of the king.[5] The women (and children) required guards, but an able bodied solider was a threat to the king. Remember, these marriages were not based on love and most kings had many wives, so there was plenty of spare time for the wives to get distracted. Also, since DNA testing wasn't a thing back then (that we know of), the king would have felt obligated to protect the throne from illegitimate heirs. So, to ensure that soldiers tasked with keeping the women safe did not betray the king by sleeping with the women, the king had them castrated. Note, this didn't mean that the men became women and/or began living their lives as women. It also doesn't mean they were gay.

The men who were "born that way" were men who were born with out a penis; this condition is called Penile Agenesis. They still have a male physiology and are considered men, they are just unable to have sex.[6] Once again, there is no Biblical or historical evidence that these men behaved as women or engaged in homosexual relationships. (In fact, they would have had the same dilemma in trying to have a homosexual relationship as they would having a heterosexual one).

The final group of eunuchs mentioned in Matthew 19:12 are those who chose that life. These men were not born that way, nor were they forced into the predicament. Because the passage in Matthew 19:12 is talking about marriage, I don't think it's meant that the literally disfigured themselves, but rather they chose not to get married—like Paul. If anything these men would have been considered asexual.

References

  1. 365 Messianic Prophecies". Bible Probe; visited May 2019
  2. "Sinim, Land Of. Bible Study Tools; visited May 2019
  3. "When Jesus was nailed to the cross, did the nails go through His hands or His wrists?". GotQuestions.org; visited May 2019
  4. "Forbidden Chapter of the Tanakh". Jewish Voice. June 2, 2016
  5. "Eunuch". Encyclopædia Britannica. February 11, 2019
  6. Aeron Charline. "Penile Agenesis and Testicular Agenesis". October 25, 2011
  7. Matt Slick. "In Matthew 19:12, is being born as a eunuch a support for homosexuality?". Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry; visited May 2019
  8. "Isaiah 55:13". Bible Hub; visited May 2019

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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