Having prefaced his words to the nation Israel with a call to believe the message from God, Isaiah set in order the events that would transpire with the coming of Messiah. His message can be viewed as a portrait, and previous articles of Sharing the Word have taken that approach.
In his gospel, called as such, since it presents the good news of a Savior who would enter the human history for the purpose of going to the Cross, God’s prophet would have to differentiate between the revelation of Messiah as the Suffering Servant and that of King. As if to frame his message with bookends, he begins and ends the narrative with exaltation. It is, as if to anticipate with confident expectation that the end result of Messiah’s humiliation would bring even greater value to His exaltation. Thus Isaiah begins his gospel by announcing the Divine promise … “Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted” (Isa 52:13 NIV).
He then fittingly brings his message to a close citing God’s fulfillment of that promise … "Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12 NIV). Thus, the divinely inspired message assured that both the promise and its fulfillment would occur. Therefore, the accuracy and fulfillment of that which occurred in-between the bookends would be certain.
Note that in both ends of the message were references to what must transpire prior to the exaltation. The Work of the Servant was vividly described with words very familiar to the Jewish people i.e. … high and lifted up (Isa 52:11), a guilt offering (Isa 53:10). In accomplishing His work as a Servant He would willingly submit His will to that of the Father’s. Even the thought of the Cross meant great anguish of soul. Dr. Luke wrote … “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NIV). The prophet’s message spoke of this … “as a result of the anguish of His soul” (Isa 53:11a NIV). Nevertheless, to release mankind from spiritual death and eternal separation from God, the debt of sin before a righteous God had to be paid in full. Anguish of soul had to reach its zenith as the sinless Son of God willingly took upon Himself the sins of mankind. Scripture reveals the divine purpose of the Cross … “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa 53:10 NIV).
The humanity of Christ became that offering for the guilt of mankind. However there is sadness in Isaiah’s words as he notes its rejection by the people. Unwillingness to believe God’s message would result in the people making wrong assumptions upon hearing the prophet’s words. Upon the Cross the Suffering servant was bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows, yet because of unbelief, the people erroneously concluded Him a sinner and thus deserving of punishment … “yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4 NIV).
Because that which was perceived lacked the essential ingredient of faith, Israel as a nation, could not comprehend the spiritual significance of the Cross. Hundreds of prophetic statements from Israel's messengers concerning the coming Messiah were ignored by the majority of the people ... “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10-11). However some did and do today respond to Isaiah’s gospel … “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12a NIV).