March 1, 2019

Help Please!

By: Larry Shaffer

Leigh and I are heading to Cabo today for some R&R!

Help Please! 

Isaiah 53, post # 3

2000 years ago, there was a man who needed some help reading Isaiah 53. Just like us today! 

Our current scenario of considering Isaiah 53 is a little like the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8…except we’re not from Ethiopia and we’re not eunuchs. Besides this small point of distinction, we are in the same situation as him as we sit before Isaiah 53 today. 

But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza. So, he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he came to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, ‘Do you understanding what you are reading?’  

And he said, ‘How could I unless someone guides me?’ and he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of scripture which he was reading was this: 

He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He does not open His mouth. In humiliation His judgment was taken away; who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth. (Isaiah 53:8) 

The eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘Please tell me, of whom does the prophet says this? Of himself or of someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.  

When one reads Isaiah 53 the first several times, it’s natural to feel the same way: 

How can I understand unless someone tells me? Please tell me! 

We need to spend just a little time on the topic of tools for understanding Isaiah 53. Yes, this may seem more like a classroom than a devotional, but a little time of preparation will make your understanding much richer. 

First, the person speaking is not always the same person. Of course, Isaiah the prophet is writing it but ask the question throughout the passage; Who is speaking? Sometimes, God is speaking and sometimes, the Jewish nation, is speaking. 

Next, consider chronology: it doesn’t follow a pattern of chronology or accurate historical sequence. There are two potential times periods written about: 

  • The First Coming when Jesus is represented as a Servant who is suffering and rejected. 
  • The Second Coming when Jesus is represented as the King, exalted and reigning. 

Isaiah 53 is written to and about the Jews and their relationship with Jesus. ‘But overall as a nation’, you might say, ‘the Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah’. True, but that’s kinda the point. As Christians, most of us non-Jews, living between the first and second coming of Jesus, there is much we will learn from this passage. But realize, it was written for the Jews. 

Now this is important:  

  • When God speaks, we have to determine if He is speaking about the first coming of Jesus or His second coming. 
  • When the Jews are speaking, they are speaking in the past tense. It’s as if they are in the time period of the second coming of Jesus, looking back and speaking of the first coming of Jesus. 

So, Isaiah 53 is prophetically written in 700BC about events that will take place in 30AD but it is spoken by the Jews (at the period of the second coming) as if they are looking back over 2000 years in time at the life of Jesus. What I just said, it really important but I’ll point it out again when we get to the sections when the Jews are speaking. 

Lord, give us ears to hear and eyes to see the wonders of this section of Your scripture. It is so rich and wonderous, but we need Your enlightenment. We ask for wisdom and keen awareness of the work of Your Spirit in our hearts and souls, as we pour over the message about our precious Savior and Messiah, Jesus.