76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 63 - The Second Isaiah, the prophet of the exile.
July 21st, 1963
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
A survey of the Second Isaiah’s writings brings one to the Servant Songs, a revolution in religious thinking that was of major importance in shaping the basic doctrine of Christianity as a prototype of a faultless victim bearing the sins of mankind and thereby securing its salvation. These Servant Songs must be distinguished from the Song of Songs, written in the days of King Solomon, wherein is depicted, in descriptive language that seems at times entirely too graphic for a spiritual subject of this dimension, God’s Love for Israel, under the guise of a man’s love for his wife. You will remember that this also was Hosea’s concept, except that Gomer was an erring wife, and that Israel, as His wife or church, had deserted Him for pagan deities.
This erring wife could be redeemed if she abandoned her lovers and returned to her spouse, and Israel could be redeemed if she gave up her sins and returned to God. This had been the theme, constant and insistent, of the subsequent prophets. They saw in Israel a sinful wife facing disaster unless she returned to the ordinances of the moral code which gave her spiritual union with her husband. And when Jerusalem fell before Nebuchadnezzar, the prophets of the time felt that the predictions of Hosea, Amos and Isaiah (the first) had been fulfilled, and that Israel, the wife, had been cast away for her sins.
But Israel could be redeemed by a return to God and purification of the soul. Undoubtedly a considerable improvement in the moral level of the exiles took place in Babylonia, and the people accepted the teachings of the prophets, endured their hardships as sojourners in a foreign land, and sought to become more ethical and live by the Statutes of God, and retain faith in Him.
At the same time, however, the people could not achieve the level demanded of them by the prophets contemporary with the time of the exile. Jeremiah had been in despair because his admonitions had been in vain. He had wished he had never been born; he suffered immeasurably from the indifference of the people to his warnings, and their continual adherence to the material. His writings show with great dramatic power that Jeremiah was a servant of God, not only seeking desperately to bring the people back to God but suffering intensely in following out God’s Instructions. Jeremiah can truly be called a suffering servant of God.
Ezekiel, who, as is known, experienced the exile at first hand, lived among the people of Babylonia and predicted a return to a New Jerusalem and a restored Temple, also called himself a suffering servant of God. As a matter of fact, in the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 4, God lays upon the prophet the iniquity of the people of Israel, just as, later, in the Second Isaiah, the iniquity of the people is laid upon the suffering servant. In this Chapter 4, which I am explaining now since it helps to clear up the confusion as to the meaning of the Servant Songs, God instructs the prophet Ezekiel to act out the besieging of Jerusalem, as a sign to the people of Israel, both in the first exile of 597 B.C., and to the people of Jerusalem, to forgo their sinful behavior and pagan worship, and return to God in repentance and clear hearts. Ezekiel is instructed to lie first on one side, then on another, for a certain number of days, each representing a year during which time the prophet has taken upon himself the iniquity of the people. I thus show you that Ezekiel, on the Command of God, took upon himself the sins of his people, and this is exactly what the Second Isaiah wrote in the Servant Songs. It is the suffering Servant of God who has done so. I want you to read this passage from Ezekiel in Chapter 4, verses 4-6:
“Moreover lie thou upon thy left side and lay the iniquity of theHouse of Israel upon it; according to the number of the daysthat thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have appointed the years of their iniquity to be unto thee a number of days, even 390 days; so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the House of Israel. And again, when thou hast accomplished these, thou shalt lie on thy right side, and shalt bear the iniquity of the House of Judah; 40 days, each day for a year, have I appointed thee.”
Thus, in his obedience to the instructions of the Lord, Ezekiel was bearing the iniquity of the Hebrew people for 430 days, or representing 430 years of sinful behavior of the people. If I were to assume that this sinfulness ended in 586 B.C., with the total destruction of Jerusalem, this iniquity of the people began about the time of Saul’s monarchy, or when the people sought a human ruler instead of keeping God as their King. Again, 390 years represented the time from Jeroboam’s altar of golden calves to the captivity, Israel’s sin; and 40 years symbolized also the time from the broken treaty of Josiah’s reformation to the same captivity, Judah’s sin.
At any rate, the Second Isaiah, in his Servant Songs, has as justification for his use of his suffering servant of God a passage from the Old Testament itself, and Ezekiel, of course, had in mind for his suffering servant one whom you already suspect: none other than Jeremiah.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens