I concluded yesterday’s Daily Reader by pointing out that the prophet’s eye seems to be fixed on something beyond the immediate. “From this time forth,” the LORD declares in chapter 48, “I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.” The prophet foresees a day when “My salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.” This day, and the Servant who will inaugurate it, are the subjects of today’s reading.
The passage is bookended by a rebuke of Israel’s leaders, who despise the name of the LORD “continually all the day,” and act as shepherds but “who have no understanding,” for “they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain...” But in between these reprimands the LORD introduces the Servant, one who “will act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted…”
However, chapter 53 sets a key contrast between this servant and those who turn to their own gain. His lot will be to suffer: “despised and rejected by men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities…” This the servant will give willingly, for “it was the will of the LORD to crush him… by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous…”
And the recipients of this salvation will not simply be of Israel, for the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares: “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” Therefore, “Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely separate me from His people…”
As you listen today, pay attention to words and ideas that would have caused comfort to the oppressed in Jerusalem, to the exiled in Assyria and Babylon. Listen also for those which strain credulity, about the promised servant, about how he would reign, and about what that reign would represent.
Our verse for this week is Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Isaiah 52 through 56. Now let’s read it!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”