76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 66 - Jesus further explains Isaiah’s songs.
July 21st, 1963
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
The second song is found in Isaiah 49: 1 - 6:
“The Lord hath called me from the womb, From the bowels of my mother, hath He made mention my name; And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand hath He hid me; … And He said unto me: Thou art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
The meaning here is that God had spotted Israel to make known His Name and worship to the people from the very ancient times when Abraham had come to Palestine and when the Hibiri tribes had been nomads in the desert. The language here is, of course, very figurative and employed by other prophets with the same intent. In the third song, God Himself speaks (Isaiah 52: 13 - 15):
“Behold, My servant shall prosper, He shall be exalted and extolled. Many were astonished at him because his face was so marred, It was no longer like that of a man. Therefore many nations will marvel; kings will keep quiet before him, For what had not been told them, they shall see, And shall consider what they had not heard.”
This did not refer to the Christ, as the Messiah stricken on the cross, as many orthodox Christians have been taught to believe erroneously, but to the people of Israel who, in the words of the Lord caught by the Second Isaiah, would be so transformed from the suffering, woebegone, desolate image presented by the Babylonian captivity, that many nations would be startled by the great change wrought by God in their return to their homeland, and even kings would remain dumbfounded by the transfiguration - God’s redemption of Israel.
That this is so may be seen more clearly from Chapter 51, verses 17 - 23, where Isaiah speaks and then quotes God Himself to that effect. These verses begin:
“Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk At the hand of the Lord the cup of His fury; …. Therefore, hear now this, thou afflicted …. Thus saith the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause Of His people; behold I have taken out of thy hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; Thou shalt no more drink it again. But I will put it into the hand that afflicts thee ….”
And following this, in Chapter 52, verse 7, is that magnificent verse, which thrilled my heart, beginning:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that Bringeth good tidings, that publishes peace (Love). That bringeth good tidings of good (soul satisfaction); That publishes salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
So you see that the third Servant Song refers to Israel, the people, the return to Jerusalem, and redemption through God’s Love.
But the most controversial of these Servant Songs is the extraordinary Chapter 53, which I wish to explain in detail. The chapter begins:
“Who hath believed our report? (what we heard), And to whom was the arm of God revealed?”
The meaning is: who could believe the report that Cyrus had permitted repatriation of the Hebrews? And to whom did God reveal His arms (give military power) in order to liberate them? Not even to the Jews themselves, but to Cyrus.
The chapter continues - and here we have the Second Isaiah give the astonishment of the Babylonians themselves, who, as I now interpret the poetry, declare:
“For Israel grew up before His God a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. Israel had no beauty or culture, that we Babylonians should be attracted to him.
He was despised and forsaken by other nations, (weak vassals to our might)
A nation ailing and feeble and acquainted with sickness in body.
And as one from whom others hide their face,
He was despised, and we in our own power had no use for this weakling.”
In short, to the Chaldeans, Israel was a weak herb planted by his god without a proper firmness to withstand storms and adversity. He had no strong virility, neither works of art nor architecture, (naturally, because the Hebrews were forbidden to make graven images), and because of his enslaved position. Without government or organized army of his own, he was weak and diseased in structure as a nation, and therefore the other pagan nations looked at this beaten Israel with scorn. He was forsaken by the other countries of that area of the world, and suffered because he was an outcast among the other powers.
The Second Isaiah then goes on to have the Babylonians explain the meaning of Israel’s suffering, although as a poet he inherited from Ezekiel the art of projection: he could make the same verses mean two things at the same time. Here he does this by deliberately refraining from identifying the subject. Therefore it is possible to regard the following verses not only from a Chaldean view but also as a reference to Israel as a people, and the stricken one as a prophet of the people whom we can identify not as one single person, but as a combination of Ezekiel, in a literary sense, as I have said, and as Jeremiah from the standpoint of actual suffering. Never did the Second Isaiah have any thought in his mind as to an actual Messiah, atoning for the sins of his people, through a redemptive death, but to the religious rites of the Babylonians, who, as the speakers of the following lines, interpret the suffering Israel in accordance with their own religious beliefs in a dying and resurrected fertility deity.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens