Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord- Part 1

This past Lord's Day, I had such a blessed time worshipping with God's people! In a generation that esteems popularity and worldly ease, I am thankful to be part of a church that is committed to teaching the whole counsel of God and seeks to grow disciples, not statistics. I am also thankful for the other churches that are similarly seeking to obey the Word of God, not being those who would "starve us, amuse us, and lull us to sleep" to quote one of my favorite Christian artists.

In Sunday School, the lesson was on Isaiah 52:13-53:12. There is so much in this passage! One could easily spend a month or more on this part of Scripture. Here Isaiah prophesies Christ the suffering servant. The liberals say that the Gospel writers tried to make Christ's life fit this passage, for certainly this could never be prophesied, and, besides, substitutionary atonement is so obscene. The Jews say this certainly is not about the Messiah that would save Israel but rather probably about Israel in general. But to those that the Father has revealed the Son to, this passage shows us the beauty of Christ's mercy and grace toward the vile sinners for which He died:

13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 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.

We looked at this passage from three main vantage points. Again, we didn't even attempt to plumb the depths of the passage.

1. man's relationship to God:
- man is characterized by transgression and iniquity (53:5)
- we are sheep who have gone astray (53:6)
- we each go our own way (53:6)
- we deserve punishment (53:8)

2. the Servant's relationship to man:
- He will startle many nations (even if one does not choose to translate the Hebrew in 5:15 as "startle" rather than "sprinkle," the idea is still there)
- kings will shut their mouths on account of Him (52:15)
- the majority would forsake Him (53:3)
- He bore our griefs and sorrows (53:4)
- we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (53:4)- the world thinks He died for His own sins, but we who are the redeemed know that He died for our sins (53:5)
- He was with rich and poor men in His death (53:9)
- He would justify the many and bear their iniquities (53:11)
- He bore the sins of many and intercedes for them (53:12)

3. God's relationship to the Servant
- He will startle the nations (52:15)
- He caused our iniquity to fall on Christ (53:6)
- He was pleased to crush Him (53:10)
- the Servant was a guilt offering (53:10)
- He would allot Him a portion with the great (53:12)

This wasn't some feeble attempt by God to fix some plan gone wrong. This wasn't some man-made folklore. This was God sending forth His Son to die for a people and show forth His arm mighty in salvation, just as promised all throughout Isaiah and the rest of the Old Testament.

(I will post the sermon notes and several other things on tomorrow's blog!)

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