Lesson 9: Isaiah 54 (Results of the Servant Songs)

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Today we will give one final look at the magnificent painting of Isaiah – this breathtaking mural of God’s activity in the world – by examining Isaiah 54.  And after today’s lesson I think you’ll agree with my assessment that Isaiah truly is a master painter. Because in this chapter, Isaiah is going to paint with his most vivid colors yet the results of what has unfolded in the previous chapters.

The last few weeks we studied Is. 52-53 and the person of the Ideal Servant, who sits squarely in the center of Isaiah’s painting. In those chapters we discovered that the means by which God restores his people to a relationship with himself comes through the innocent suffering of the Servant who willingly poured out his soul unto death. We called this concept substitutionary atonement. That’s a fancy way of saying the Servant is our substitute sacrifice; the Servant died in our place so that we might be declared the righteous servants of God.

But, Isaiah doesn’t stop working on his masterpiece with chapter 53. He doesn’t complete his painting with the final brush strokes of the cross. And he could have. What greater image is there of God’s love toward us? In fact, if you and I were to paint a portrait of our lives we might only paint the cross, because the event of the cross stands as the central image of our lives. And this is my point: the power and true nature of the cross often stops for us when we know our sins have been forgiven and we’ve received our entrance ticket into heaven.

If Isaiah’s mural stopped at Is. 53:12, then we would see the full implications of the cross in our everyday lives? We would know that our sins were forgiven. We would know that there was eternal glory awaiting us. But what about the ‘here and now?’ Life is still difficult, and that’s because the guilt from sin has been defeated, but sin itself still holds power in some measure on the earth.

God’s plan for the gospel is much larger than the forgiveness of sins for individuals (although that is a very important part). And so Isaiah continues to work on his painting to properly represent the magnitude of God’s plan for salvation.

And in Is. 54, you can almost see the artist excitedly bent over his painting, working feverishly to complete that story of the cross. What does the cross mean for our everyday lives? What does it mean for the ‘here and now?’ When we view Isaiah’s painting we are met with two images in Isaiah 54 – two primary results from the impact of the cross in our everyday lives: eternal love and eternal security.

I. ETERNAL LOVE (IS. 54:1-10)

Read Is. 54:1-10

This is one of my favorite chapters in Isaiah. Isaiah 54 is not as well-known as other passages in this great book, but I love it because it is a primer on the book of Genesis. As we read, did you hear motifs from that first and foundational book in the Bible? Did you catch the references to Abraham and Sarah. Did you catch the references to Noah?

And the book of Genesis is clear: God is eternally faithful to his promises. He promised to love his people,[1] and we see this love traced all through the Scriptures.

So, Isaiah lifts some of these very images of eternal love from the very pages of Genesis and places them on his canvas in Is. 54. And as we look at this final part of Isaiah’s painting, we’ll see God’s eternal love is revealed to his people in three ways:

  • a restored relationship,
  • restrained wrath; and
  • a renewed covenat

A. Restored Relationship – LOVE (Is. 54:1-8)

First, we see that God’s love manifests itself from the cross in the form of a restored relationship.

Repeatedly throughout Scripture, the analogy of marriage is used to describe the relationship between God and his people. In fact, God calls Israel his wife. And in this marriage arrangement, Israel was expected to be loyal in her heart’s affections toward her divine husband. This is why the prophets label the sin of idolatry as adultery, because when the bride of God worships another god, she is essentially giving her heart’s affections to another lover.

And in Is. 54:1-8, the relationship that is being described here is the relationship of a wife who is barren, either from natural conditions or because her husband has abandoned her. I would assume that Israel would have clung to this imagery while sitting in the midst of exile – sometimes accusing God of forsaking her or abandoning her the way a husband might abandon a wife.

i. God’s faithfulness to Patriarchs (Is. 54:1-2)

Yet, God is going to remind the people of his love for them – his love that results in the restoration of a relationship. And he is going to remind them of this great love by reminding them of God’s faithfulness to their forefathers.

Verse 1 says: “Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.”

This image of a barren woman being asked to sing and shout for joy in light of God’s promise that she will indeed be fruitful evokes several images from Genesis – particularly the image of Sarah, who was told to have faith in God’s promise for a son at the age of 90. But you also sense the pain behind the stories of other barren women in Scripture (Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth – the mother of John the Baptist). These women felt real pain and shame in their barrenness.

This image of barrenness serves to point to God’s faithfulness, that God – in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles – is faithful to his promises of a seed for Abraham. The barren woman is called to sing praise even before the promise is fulfilled. And I love how John Oswalt puts it. He says: ‘It is cruel to ask a barren woman to sing unless you are able to offer her the only thing that will make her happy. And that is the very thing God offers his people.”[2]

God’s love is demonstrated in restoring his barren wife to himself and making her fruitful.

God’s promises of fertility continue in verse 2 where the barren woman is called to “enlarge” her tent. Verse 2: “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.”

This was a call to faith – a call to belief in the promises of God. The woman was to stretch out the walls of her tent and lengthen her rope presumably to make room for more children – children she did not have and could not imagine having. The barren, forsaken woman was called to sing praise, and she was called to act based on faith.

Turn to Jeremiah 10, because we’ll see that Jeremiah uses this same imagery of a woman’s tent. But instead of an image of fruitfulness, Jeremiah reverses this imagery to predict the exile of God’s wife to Babylon. In Jer. 10:18, the Lord says: “Behold, I will throw out at this time The inhabitants of the land, And will distress them, And Israel, as his wife will respond in verse 20 as a woman whose tent has fallen down. Listen to the words of verse 20: My tent is plundered, And all my cords are broken; My children have gone from me, And they are no more. There is no one to pitch my tent anymore, Or set up my curtains.”

While the people sat in shambles in Babylon, God’s promise to make Israel fruitful seemed as distant and elusive as the very stars in heaven.[3]

ii. God’s faithfulness in the Promised Land (Is. 54:3)

Yet, in verse 3 we see that God truly is faithful to his promises. He makes his wife so fruitful that her children seemingly explode in all directions. Verse 3 says: “For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.”

The word “expand” or “spread out” in the Hebrew conveys a violent explosion.[4] And it is the very same word used by God in Gen. 28:14 when he tells Abraham: “Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” And this is the idea: God will fulfill his promises with such magnitude that the people will literally “break forth” from under the tent that houses them.

God’s love compels him to be faithful to his promises. And God’s faithfulness in the past compels us to place our faith in him anew, like the barren woman who is called to sing praise and to enlarge her tent.

iii. God’s faithfulness in Exile (Is. 54:4-7)

And in verses 4-7 God answers the unspoken fears of God’s people – their fears of being abandoned by God’s love. And God tells them “Do not fear.” In these verses Isaiah uses the imagery of a barren wife who feels abandoned to convey the people’s sense of fear in exile. And he tells them ‘do not fear, because you will not be put to shame.”

Israel is a picture of this shame, as God withheld his presence from her, she found herself seemingly abandoned in Babylon without her husband to deliver her. But God is saying “do not fear, my beloved. The shame and disgrace of your barrenness is in the past! I am restoring our relationship so that you can once again experience the gift and blessing of my presence.”

There is a restoration of relationship here. In verse 5, Israel is restored to her husband. And look at the identity of the husband. Isaiah piles up these titles and names of God. Israel is married to:

  • her Maker;
  • the Lord of Hosts (Yahweh Sabaoth – the Lord Almighty)[5];
  • the Redeemer;
  • the Holy One of Israel;
  • the God of all the earth!

And then in verse 7 the husband says, our separation was only for a “moment.”[6] And then this Divine Husband says: “But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy[7] on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.” That word “kindness” is one of the richest words in the Hebrew Bible. It is the word hesed.

God’s hesed describes His gracious activity toward sinful men and women by making and keeping a covenant with them. That is what is so significant about this term: it is a relational term.

And in Is. 54:8, God is telling his abandoned, barren wife not to fear, because his hesed, his kindness, his covenant love toward her is eternal! And look at what God’s hesed – his covenant love – compels him to do? To restore their relationship and “gather” her back to him (Is. 54:7). God’s love means their relationship will be restored for the rest of eternity. That is certainly a good reason not to fear!

If you have offered up the soul of the Servant as a substitute sacrifice, then your relationship with God has been restored for all eternity – forever. You get to experience God’s love on a first-hand basis everyday in the here and now and then throughout eternity.

This means your restoration to God is eternally secured by His Love. Your relationship to God is NOT secured by your deeds, your “righteous acts.” Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, by equal measure, it means your relationship to God is NOT secured by your mistakes, your sins, your flubs, your moments of weakness. Your relationship to God is eternally secured by His love – His hesed – His activity towards you. God’s love toward you is secured in his perfectly holy and perfectly faithful character. It is not based on you. Now we can understand why the people were to avoid fear.

B. Restrained Wrath – SALVATION (Is. 54:9)

But, very quickly, we see that God’s eternal love also means that his people will experience God’s restrained wrath. Look at verse 9: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.”

God says that ‘this’ is like the days of Noah. This restored relationship I’m offering you is just like what I did with Noah. And in the days of Noah, the wickedness of men came up before the face of God and required he act in justice to destroy the wicked and his creation along with it. But God’s love compelled him to restrain his wrath. He could have easily wiped all life out of the cosmos at the time of the flood. If God had not restrained himself, we would have a very different historical timeline. In fact, we would have no timeline at all if God did not restrain his wrath, because God would not have demonstrated the pattern of saving a remnant of faithful servants through which to enact his plan of restoration.

God’s love restrained his judicious wrath and salvation was offered to a family of faith. We see this truth reflected in the work of the cross. God’s love compelled him to restrain his wrath in such a way that it was not only restrained from touching us, but it was directed toward the Servant.[8]

God’s eternal love is seen in his restrained wrath redirected towards the cross. Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God’s eternal love is demonstrated not only in restoring our relationship, but in restraining his wrath toward us and offering us salvation.

C. Renewed Covenant – PEACE (Is. 54:10)

But we also experience the eternality of God’s love in the cross through a renewed covenant. Read verse 10: For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.”

Verse 10 is beautiful, isn’t it?[9] God says there is no reason to fear, because even in the midst of difficult and trying circumstances, God covers us in peace. Even if your life seems to be falling down around you like a landslide from a mountain, God covers you in peace – “the peace of his covenant.

And remember, the word peace in the Hebrew is the word shalom – it refers not only the absence of hostilities, but more of a condition of harmony, well-being, prosperity.[10] In short, this is the life you and I were intended to live at the time of creation, and God grants us this peace a second time through His Ideal Servant.[11] God renews his covenant of peace with us through Christ.

Are you beginning to see that the work of the cross is not just about the forgiveness of sin and a ticket into heaven? The true nature of the cross is about much more. It is about a life enabled to live, rest, and serve God in peace. The work of the cross is about enabling me to be a true servant of the King, reflecting his hesed, his shalom toward others.

So the results of the cross in Is. 52-53 can be summed up as follows: instead of being the recipients of God’s wrath for our sin, we become the undeserved recipients of God’s peace.[12]

That is the eternal love of the Servant we saw painfully unfold in Is. 52-53. Isaiah doesn’t pen the so-called Servant Songs merely to prophesy about the coming Messiah and what he will do. Isaiah pens these Songs so that the world will know about the eternal love of God that is experiencing everyday of our lives. Love we see characterized as a relationship restored in great love (vs. 1-8); the restraint of God’s wrath against sinners and the offering of salvation (vs. 9); and finally, a new covenant of peace (v. 10).

And in using this analogy of a barren and forsaken wife, we see that the ultimate issue for Israel should not have been restoration to the land, but restoration to the loving glance of her husband – her Maker, the Lord of Hosts, the Holy One, the Redeemer.

This is what God’s loves means. Our restoration to God should invoke us to do three things:

(1) We are to sing. Just like the woman who is restored to her husband we are to sing out or praise God (vs. 1).

(2) We are to spread out. Just like the woman who is promised a fruitful relationship, we are to spread out – or act on faith (vs. 2).

(3) We are to surrender fear. Just like the woman who is promised the ‘hesed’ and covenant peace of God, we are to surrender our anxieties, our doubts, our fears regarding God’s faithfulness toward us (vs. 3-10).[13]

We are called to do these three things because of God’s unchanging and eternal love toward us.

II. ETERNAL SECURITY (IS. 54:11-17)

In verses 11-17 Isaiah outlines a second result from the work of the cross from Is. 52-53 – eternal security. Those who have been restored back to God by His eternal love have eternal security. And Isaiah continues to use figurative language to express this reality, but he switches metaphors. Whereas in verses 1-10, Isaiah uses the image of restored wife, in verses 11-17 Isaiah uses the metaphor of a restored city.

Read Is. 54:11-17.

Just like the imagery of a restored wife, this imagery of a restored city would have been very familiar to Isaiah’s original readers. Throughout her history, God’s promises to Israel centered on the blessing of a physical location in which to worship and dwell with their King. The presence of God was inextricably linked to the Promised Land. And so, you can imagine the terror at the thought of being ripped from their promised city (Jerusalem), being carried off to a foreign land void of the presence of God.  The promise of the restoration of a city then would have conveyed deep security to the Jews.

A. Premise for life (Is. 54:11-14a)

And look at how Isaiah opens this image in vs. 11. He describes the people as: “you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted.” In their current situation in exile, the Jews felt anything but secure, anything but loved. They felt afflicted, storm-tossed, fearful. And Isaiah is saying, ‘you have nothing to fear because God is going to restore you back to him again – back to his presence.’

And look at what sort of restoration the people can expect in vs. 11-12! A restoration of beauty, opulence. Isaiah describes the restored city in terms of colorful gems, sapphires, rubies, crystal, and all sorts of precious stones. But notice how these precious stones function. They are not intended merely for beauty, they are intended to convey security. The foundations are sapphires. The gates are of eternal shimmering crystal. And the walls are fortified with precious stones. This restored city is a beautiful city, yes, but for the purpose of being a fortified city.

Yet, Isaiah is speaking of a spiritual reality in these two verses. He is speaking of much more than the restoration of Jerusalem after the exile. He is speaking of a greater restoration to come that eclipses the restoration of the people to the Promised Land. But he is using language that would have resonated deeply in the hearts of the people.

How do we know Isaiah is speaking of a greater restoration? How do we make sure we aren’t just spiritualizing the text? Because we see this same opulent imagery echoed in the Apostle John’s vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from the heavens in Rev. 21:18-21. Listen to how it is constructed and the purpose the previous gems play: 18The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

Isaiah and John echo each other – not simply to line up facts of the restoration – but to point to the fact that God will fulfill his purposes on earth. This is the not the first time we’ve seen descriptions of a fortified city of God likened to precious stones. We see them first appear in God’s good garden – Eden (Gen. 2:12-14). God’s original design was good. And in this original design, man first related to God in love and security. It is this vision to which God is restoring the city– a place to enjoy his love and security forever. In this newly-restored city, the foundations, walls, gates are all secured by God; the people will be storm-tossed by life and sin no longer.

So, Isaiah is painting a picture of a greater, future restoration, and in verses 13-14, he’s includes details of what this life in this restored city looks like. Isaiah describes a three-fold premise for new life: a restored relationship, restored well-being, and restored righteousness.

i. Restored relationship (discipleship) (Is. 54:13a)

First Isaiah says that in this restored city there will be restored relationships. Verse 13 says: “All your children shall be taught by the LORD” So, the children of the city will be taught by the Lord Himself. That’s better than being taught by the “teacher of the year.” Imagine signing your kid up for Sunday School only to discover that “oh yeah, little Billy’s teacher is….the LORD

But when Isaiah says “your children shall be taught by the Lord” he really is conveying much more than simply good instruction in this verse. In the Ancient world, when you were taught by someone you became their disciple. And the teaching sessions took place over the course of years and through the course of a lifetime. “Being taught by the Lord,” refers to a lifestyle of obedience. We say in Is. 49 that the Ideal Servant was marked by such a lifestyle.

And so, in this new city, there is a premise for new life. Israel’s children will truly become disciples of the Lord – a title they could never hold on their own. This means they have a restored relationship to God; they are living a lifestyle of obedient interaction that God intended for their relationship from the very beginning. This new premise for life means the city’s inhabitants will be restored in their relationship with the Lord.

ii. Restored well-being (purpose/fruitfulness) (Is. 54:13b)

Second, Isaiah says the children will have “great peace.” We’ve already talked at great length about the Hebrew concept of peace. And so when Isaiah says your “children will have great peace,” he is saying they will dwell in harmony with God and with each other. But, most importantly, he is also speaking of the restoration of God’s good purposes for his people.

So, Israel’s children will be restored to peace, meaning they will live their lives the way God intended them to be lived from the very beginning.

This new premise for life means the city’s inhabitants will be restored to their purpose as God’s disciples and bear much fruit. That is true well-being – not simply a life free of strife – but a life of well-being, harmony, and fruitfulness.

iii. Restored righteousness (sharing God’s character) (Is. 54:14a)

Lastly, life in this newly-restored city will include a restoration of righteousness. God says in verse 14: “In righteousness you shall be established.”

This is the result of the work of the Servant, that through the sacrifice of the Servant, the people are given the very righteousness of God. God has always desired to share his righteousness with us. And the significance of this concept is this: if God’s righteousness is eternal, and he shares his eternal character with me, then I am secure in my trust in Him. God has established me in his eternal righteousness; therefore, I can be confident that my hope is secure in him.

Do you see how earth-shattering this vision would have been to the Israelites who experienced their worst nightmare in exile? They were stripped from their city, stripped from the presence of God, and stripped of their title as his servants. And in Is. 54:13-14, God promises them a new life in a new city.

This new life spoken of in Is. 53:13-14, is even better than what the people experienced with God in the Promised Land, because this time the vision is eternally secured.

B. Prescription against fear (Is. 54:14b-16)

This eternal security is why God gives the people a second prescription against fear in verses 14-16. And this prescription against fear is very unusual. God says in verse 14: “You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you.”

God says “you shall be far from oppression.” In the Hebrew this is a command – and a very difficult one at that considering the people were living at the mercy of Babylonian oppressors.

i. Trusting God in the midst of trouble (Is. 54:14b-15)

But in this new city, the people need not fear oppression or terror. Notice what this text is NOT saying. It is NOT saying that you will NEVER experience terror or oppression. Look at verse 15: “Indeed they (oppressors) shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.

So, in saying “terror and oppression will be far from you,” Isaiah is simply employing a figure of speech. What Isaiah means is the trouble you DO encounter in life will be colored by your secure standing before the Lord. Your trouble and terror do not alter the security of your eternal hope before the Lord.

Because of this the people were to trust in God in the midst of their trouble, knowing that they are eternally secure in Him (Ps. 91:9-16).[14] Ironically, this is what Isaiah has been trying to get us to do throughout his whole book – trust in the King who should rule our hearts alone. Isaiah told us all people had a worship disorder (Is. 40). Instead of trusting in the Creator King, we trust in other things – usually ourselves.

And directly after we learn of all the Ideal Servant has accomplished on our behalf (Is. 52-53), we hear another call for the people to trust.

ii. Training your perceptions (Is. 54:15-16)

But how do you trust? Isn’t it easier said than done? Isaiah gives us one practical application of how to demonstrate trust. The people were to train their perceptions by reflecting on God’s nature.

Re-read verse 15: “Indeed they (oppressors) shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake…”

In these verses Isaiah reminds us that God is sovereign over history. Even those who intend to do us harm will in the end only serve God’s good purposes “Whoever assembles against you shall fall…” And we’ve seen this happen time and time again in the biblical narratives. The story of Joseph – what Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God intended for good (Gen. 15:20). All the nations, rulers, kings are subject to the King of history.[15]

So, be careful how you perceive your troubles. Because if we are not careful, we can cultivate a tendency to look inward when we experience difficulty, fear, and terror. It is very easy to cultivate a ‘woe is me’ personality, focusing on your trouble, circumstance, injustices.

Or you can do the opposite when you experience those times of trouble, consciously choosing to look outward. If we properly perceive of God as sovereign over history, then we must place our trust in him in the midst of our troubles.

But Isaiah also gives us another tip for training our eyes – training our perceptions. Not only should we remember that God is sovereign over history, but Isaiah tells us to remember that God is sovereign over creation. He is the Creator. God says in verse 16: 16“Behold, I have created the blacksmith Who blows the coals in the fire, Who brings forth an instrument for his work; And I have created the spoiler to destroy.”

Isaiah is telling you to train your mind to perceive of God’s greatness as the Creator. He says, not only did God create the one who seeks to destroy you, but he even created his weapon. And not only did he create his weapon, but he created the craftsman (the ironsmith) who blows on the coals of the fire that was used to assemble the weapon of destruction. And the emphasis is that God is Lord over everything: nothing escapes the rule of his hand.

The benefits of the work of the Servant – eternal love and eternal security – come from the hand of the eternal God who is sovereign over both history and creation. Now, that’s some eternal security, right?

Ladies, train your perceptions. Instead of looking inward (to our own resources) in the midst of trouble, look outward, reflecting on the God of history and the God of creation. This is how we win the battle of fear and anxiety. We trust in God’s very nature.

C. Promise of a ‘new’ inheritance (Is. 54:17)

And lastly, the result of eternal security wrought by the Servant is a promise of a ‘new’ inheritance. Look at verse 17: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD.

In this verse, God promises the people more than just mere survival against weapons or wagging tongues (17a), he promises them a ‘new’ inheritance (17b).[16] And this “heritage of the servants of the Lord” is a relational inheritance.[17]

So, what is that inheritance? God’s Righteousness! We are not saved, because we somehow have become righteous – we’ve said our prayers, we’ve been blessed by a priest, we’ve been baptized, dunked or sprinkled, or anointed, or given a million dollars away to starving kids in Africa. Rather, according to Isaiah 52, 53, and 54, this is the sequence of the cross. We are saved, THEN we receive an inheritance of righteousness. God SHARES his righteous nature with us.

This is the whole emphasis to which Isaiah has been driving since chapter 40. In our studies of Isaiah we learned that God called his servants to be a light to the nations, but their sin and worship disorder prevented them from fulfilling that role. So, God sent an Ideal Servant to bear the iniquities of the people by serving as a righteous sacrifice on their behalf.

And today, the truth of Is. 54 reveals to us results of the work of the Servant. You and I are given God’s own righteousness, so that we might finally fulfill our role as his servants.

So, our restoration to God means our lives will be marked by characteristics from God’ own life. Characteristics that we’ve talked about today in verses 11-17, but also characteristics that Isaiah has sketched out for us beginning in Is. 40:

  • Our restoration to God means our lives will reflect a relationship – we will live out a lifestyle of discipleship and obedient interaction. This was the lifestyle demonstrated by the Ideal Servant in Is. 50:4-5. Remember, as a disciple of the Lord, he possessed both “a learned tongue” and “a learned ear”.)

  • Our restoration to God means our lives will reflect peace – we will live out a lifestyle of wellbeing and fruitfulness, being restored back to our original purpose. This was the lifestyle of peace made possible by the Ideal Servant in Is. 53:6. Remember, as our substitute sacrifice, he possessed the unique ability to bear “the chastisement for our peace.”

  • Our restoration to God means our lives will reflect righteousness – we will live out a lifestyle that reflects the righteousness we’ve been given.[18] This was the lifestyle demonstrated by the Ideal Servant – who in Is. 42:6 was “called in righteousness,” who in Is. 53:6 was righteous having “no deceit in his mouth,” and who in Is. 61:3 makes us into “trees of righteousness.”

So, in closing our studies of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, we see that through the Servant we are promised a new inheritance. And Isaiah sketched out this inheritance for us in two separate images. Our new inheritance is likened to the picture of a restored wife who was once barren, but made fruitful beyond imagination by the love of God. But Isaiah also paints a picture of a restored city that was once desolate and filled with terror, but made secure by the sovereign hand of God. And that city is full of disciples of God, full of the peace of God, and full of the righteousness of God.

And in using these two images, Isaiah is trying to convey to us two key results that stem from the person and work of the Ideal Servant. These two results are eternal love and eternal security.

And these two results bear real meaning on our everyday lives – that part of our lives that begins after we have offered up the soul of the Servant as our substitute sacrifice for our sins (Is. 53:10). Because it is only after the power of the cross is appropriated in our lives that the real work begins. And Isaiah tells us we are called to live out our faith in a fallen world until that time when all creation is re-created anew (see Is. 65-66).

And living out that faith means more than simply following the rules. Isaiah tells us our faith is demonstrated in the trust we place in our Creator-King.

I hope this study of “Isaiah’s Suffering Servant” has helped you understand that the book of Isaiah conveys much more than simply age-old prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. I trust you have marveled at Isaiah’s depiction of the big picture of God’s activity and purposes in the world, just as I have. But mostly, I hope this study had given you some biblical tools to rightly order your worship so you can live out your faith in beauty and righteousness.

My prayer is that when those last days of Is. 61 come, you will find your place among the beautiful and fruitful women of Is. 61:3, who through the work of the Ideal Servant have been transformed into “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”


[1] See examples of God’s lovingkindness (hesed) toward his people in Genesis:  Gen. 24:12; 24:27; 32:9-10.

[2] John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), pg.  410. Oswalt is quoting Claus Westernmann.

[3] But behind this verse we see the dry season Israel experienced in the wilderness after fleeing Egypt. God promised to make Israel (his wife) into a great nation with seed as numerous as the stars (Gen. 15). Yet in the wilderness God’s people were struggling to survive and greatness seemed as far as those stars in the heaven. Yet they were called to faith in God’s promises.

[4] פרץ parats

[5] Charles Brand, ed., Broadman Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003) pg.  1172.

[6] See Gary Smith, The New American Commentary: Isaiah 40-66 (Broadman & Holman 2009), 483. Smith says this coveys the sense that Israel needed to hide herself from God’s wrath for a moment and links it grammatically to Is. 26:20. Oswalt says ‘hiding of the face of God’ means withholding His presence from the people.  The exile and tragedies that occurred in the life of Israel, then, occurred because the Lord “refused to look at them.” This ties into the “strained, narrow” eyes of the forsaken wife and the dancing eyes of the youthful wife in vs. 6. When the people are restored, they are restored to the “loving glance” of her husband. See Oswalt, 421.

[7] ~xr Racham – word means “mercies” or “compassion.” Smith says the root word for ‘compassion’ is related to the word ‘womb’, expressing a maternal compassion as a mother has for her child. Also used in Is. 49:13 and 55:7. See Smith, 484.

[8] Oswalt, 433. “The eternity of his love is particularly seen in his willingness to reconcile himself to his people through the Servant even before they are willing to seek that reconciliation.”

[9] Ps. 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”

[10] Brand, 1261.

[11] Oswalt, 423.

[12] “ ’Covenant of peace’ expresses God’s commitment both to be at peace with his people and to secure the peace of his people.” See Oswalt, 423.

[13] Oswalt, 415.

[14] See also Is. 8:12; 1 Pet. 3:14.

[15] Cf. Dan. 2:20; Is. 41:2; Is. 52:13-15; John 19:10-11; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Pet. 2:13-17.

[16] This isn’t the first time one of God had promised the people an inheritance. But up until now, the people had understood their inheritance with reference to the land – the Promised Land of Canaan. And you could see how, as the people were under bondage in a foreign city, how the promise of being restored to the land could have been the best thing they could have imagined.

[17] Oswalt, 431.

[18] Oswalt, 423.

About the Author

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.