This study comes from Reading Plan week 59, Isaiah 49-57.
Other studies from this week's reading:
We will look at several passages in Isaiah that repeat a theme of teaching concerning the specific role of Israel in God’s overall plans for mankind, as well as the example that they have and continue to serve to everyone.
1Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops
Their images are consigned to the
The things that you carry are
A load for the weary beast.
2They stooped over, they have
They could not rescue the burden,
But have themselves gone into
Q: What is this a picture of and why?A: This is a picture of the spiritual weight of idolatry on our lives, that the weight is as much as the real, physical weight of those idols on our shoulders. Note the words “bowed down”, “stoops over”, “burdensome”, “a load”, etc.
3“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of
You who have been borne by Me from
And have been carried from the
4Even to your old age I will be the
And even to your graying years I
I have done it, and I will carry you;
And I will bear you and I will deliver
Q: What is the contrast of the One True God to all the false gods?A: God’s willingness to not be a spiritual burden on us, but in fact to actually bear the burden Himself. Note the words “borne”, “carried”, “I will bear you”, “I will carry you”, “I will deliver you.”
|1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.||
[Read Matthew 23:1-4]
Q: To what does Jesus liken the Pharisees’ implementation of religion?
A: (v.4) “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders...” It’s the same effect as idolatry.
Application: How do we free ourselves from the spiritual burdens that keep us from truly worshiping and serving Christ? [Hint: See verse 3]
Point: Only when we return to Him can the burdens of our life—our sin—be relieved so that we can be restored to Him.
6He says, “It is too small a thing that
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to
I will also make You a light of the
So that My salvation may reach to the
Q: What does the reference in v.6 to “My Servant” mean?
A: The work of God to be fulfilled through Israel will come through the Messiah.
Q: What are the 3 things to be fulfilled by the Messiah through Israel?
Q: Have these all been accomplished? Is God’s work through the Messiah completed?A: No. Parts of these began with Jesus’ First Coming, but they are yet to be completed, particularly the “resurrection”, so to speak, of Israel.
14But Zion said, “The Lord has
And the Lord has forgotten me.”
15“Can a woman forget her nursing
And have no compassion on the son
Even these may forget, but I will not
16Behold, I have inscribed you on the
Your walls are continually before Me.
Q: During what times might Israel come to believe that God has forsaken them?
A: During the times of God’s judgment when they’ve been dispersed from the land of Israel, such as the Babylonian captivity and the dispersion that began during the Roman Empire and continues to this day.
Q: Why would they think like that? Is there any basis on which they would draw that conclusion?
A: If we study judgments rendered by God on other nations/peoples, they very rarely survive. For instance, during Israel’s 490 years of captivity in Egypt, God provided the nations of Canaan the opportunity to repent and reconcile with Him. But because they completely rejected Him for false gods, He devoted them to complete destruction. It’s a very common result of idolatry, which is the major crime for which Israel is being punished.
Q: What does the reference mean in v.16, “I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands”?
A: It’s probably a reference to Exodus 13:9:
“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.”
They were supposed to inscribe God’s Word on their own self as a reminder and act of faithfulness to Him. Here God is using their own terms to describe HIS faithfulness and remembrance of His own Word to restore them, a very powerful object lesson of God’s love and grace in contrast to their unfaithfulness.
22Thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I will lift up My hand to the
And set up My standard to the
And they will bring your sons in
And your daughters will be carried
23Kings will be your guardians,
And their princesses your nurses.
They will bow down to you with
And lick the dust of your feet;
And you will know that I am the
Those who hopefully wait for Me will
24“Can the prey be taken from the
Or the captives of a tyrant be
25Surely, thus says the Lord,
“Even the captives of the mighty
And the prey of the tyrant will be
For I will contend with the one
And I will save your sons.
26I will feed your oppressors with
And they will become drunk with
And all flesh will know that I, the
And your Redeemer, the Mighty
Q: If Israel has been removed from the Promised Land and for so long been held in captivity that it has lost hope in God, what do they represent spiritually?
A: Israel is a type of resurrection.
Q: What is the stated purpose of this work?
A: (v.26) “And all flesh will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer...” The power of the resurrection reveals the Source of the power.
Point: God’s repeated “resurrection” of Israel is a precursor as well as testimony to the resurrection of Christ, and the power and work of the resurrection in those who follow Him.
7How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings
Who announces peace
And brings good news of
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God
8Listen! Your watchmen lift up
They shout joyfully together;
For they will see with their own
When the Lord restores Zion.
9Break forth, shout joyfully
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For the Lord has comforted
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10The Lord has bared His holy
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth
The salvation of our God.
Q: To what does this passage speak?
A: The restoration—or resurrection, if you will—of Israel.
Q: Why will God do this?A: According to v.10, “That all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.”
13Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and
14Just as many were astonished at
So His appearance was marred
And His form more than the sons
15Thus He will sprinkle many
Kings will shut their mouths on
For what had not been told them
And what they had not heard
Q: To what does this passage speak?
A: The resurrection of the Messiah
Q: Why will/did God do this?
A: (v.15) “...He will sprinkle many nations...”
Q: What does it mean to “sprinkle”?
A: It’s the Old Testament ritual of making something pure by the sprinkling of blood, in this case Christ’s blood.
Point: The Messiah came through Israel and initiated a work that is still to be completed through Israel. This is why we cannot simply dismiss God’s work in Israel and the associated prophecies; they are the very real and visible evidence of the existence of God and His work on this planet to this day and for the future.
9“For this is like the days of
When I swore that the waters
Would not flood the earth again;
So I have sworn that I will not be
Nor will I rebuke you.
10For the mountains may be
But My lovingkindness will not be
And My covenant of peace will not
Says the Lord who has
Q: What awaits God’s people on the other side of judgment when they return to Him?
A: Grace, peace, compassion.