Isaiah 52


‘Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendour, Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.’ Isaiah 52:1-2

This chapter tells us that Jerusalem exchanges her bondage for freedom.

Young, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Here is set forth the future glory of God’s people in comparison with their past state, a captivity, from which they are commanded to flee.’

Israel’s call in Isaiah 51:9, which is addressed to God’s arm as though it were a sleeping state, is now turned upon itself.

Pledge, in his commentary, says the following.

‘She is pictured in chapter 51 as lying on the ground stupefied by God’s wrath and exhausted with her grief. She is now told to clothe herself and arise from her degraded captivity.’

Israel is pictured as awaking and putting on beautiful new garments. The unbelievers will never again strip Israel naked and humiliate her before the nations. The captives will now be seated for honour.

‘For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “At first my people went down to Egypt to live; lately, Assyria has oppressed them. “And now what do I have here?” declares the LORD. “For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock,” declares the LORD. “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.” Isaiah 52:3-6

Here we read of a promise that is filled with reflection on the treatment given God’s people.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There is no way that Babylon could have been induced to surrender Israel, therefore God designed to raise up Cyrus, a mild, just and equitable prince; and to induce him to let the exiles depart, and to aid them in their return to their own land. Thus they were rescued without money and without price.’

God’s people had suffered many things at the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. But, just as surely as God predicted their captivity, so He promised their return. Therefore, He would give His people deliverance and they would know that it was God who spoke.

‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.’ Isaiah 52:7-10

The salvation which is being carried into effect is exalted. Isaiah sees the tidings of redemption carried over the mountains of Judah to Jerusalem.

The apostle Paul applies this passage to the preaching of the Gospel in Romans 10:14-15. The Gospel age is the body of which Israel’s restoration was but a shadow.

The prophets will rejoice when they see with the natural eye what they have seen in the vision. Zion is restored when God delivers His people and the city rises out of her ruins with jubilant shouting.

God’s hand in Israel’s salvation is seen by the whole world. What all the nations thought was impossible, that Israel would again become a nation, God was able to do, Daniel 4:25.

‘Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the articles of the LORD’s house. But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.’ Isaiah 52:11-12

Israel was to sanctify herself and go back in an orderly and courageous fashion because God would still be with her.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning ‘the articles of the Lord’s house’.

‘From this, we must understand those vessels which Nebuchadnezzar carried off from the temple, 2 Kings 25:14-16 / Daniel 5:1-4, and which the Jews received upon their return from Babylon when the vessels were restored to them by Cyrus.’

They would go forth from captivity in peace in order to establish again the nationhood of the people. The call was for them to come out of captivity. The scattered Jews would be the evangelism medium through whom the Gospel would go into all the world, Isaiah 2:1-4 / Acts 2.

The Suffering And Glory Of The Servant

‘See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.’ Isaiah 52:13-15

From these verses through to chapter 53:12, we read that the Messiah is exalted out of deep humiliation.

Pledge, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Isaiah reaches the peak of his prophecy in this Messianic prophecy and presents what could well be termed some of the most profound ideas to be found in the Bible. This prophecy poses a grave difficulty to the Jew and all others who reject the Messiahship of Jesus. As the eunuch of Acts 8 asks, ‘Who is the servant? Was Isaiah speaking of himself or did he speak of another?’ Of course, for Christians, the New Testament interpretation is sufficient, Acts 8 and numerous other passages elucidate this prophecy.’

The words describing the exaltation of the Messiah all stem from His action, He shall act wisely. It was because of this in every New Testament reference that he was exalted, Philippians 2:5-11.

The humiliation which the Messiah suffers is so deep that none have ever witnessed the like before. The antithesis of verse 15 shows the state of glory into which the state of humiliation has passed.

Kelley, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This Servant Song has been described as the most influential poem in any literature, the highest peak of Old Testament revelation, and the heart of the Old Testament. If it were to be taken out of the Old Testament, it could be almost completely reconstructed from the quotations taken from it in the New Testament.’

Some commentators suggest that the word ‘sprinkle’ is used here in the sense of ‘startle’. Others see the word as a reference to the sprinkling of blood in reference to atonement, and water as a sign of purification, Leviticus 14:7, so here the Servant would sprinkle nations in reference to expiation and sanctification.

Reference is to the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, the conversion of the Gentiles and both Jew and Gentile becoming one new man in Christ, Galatians 3:17 / Galatians 3:28 / Hebrews 9:22.

The social impact the wounded Servant will have on the history of mankind will astound even those who are in high offices, that is, kings. As many were astonished at His humiliation, now all nations literally gaze in amazement at his glory and the kings of the earth all are struck dumb.

Go To Isaiah 53