Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament some eighty-five times primarily because of the many prophecies about our Lord Jesus Christ contained in the book. Much more is written about our Lord that is not included in the NT. Isaiah 50, the text for this article, has extraordinary prophecies part of which is included in the NT and part found only in Isaiah.
Isaiah 50:1 Thus says Yahweh, “Where is the certificate of divorce, by which I have sent your mother away? Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you? Behold, you were sold for your iniquities, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
God did not divorce Israel causing separation from Him, nor did He sell them into slavery because of their debt. The rhetorical questions placed emphasis on the truth at hand. Their iniquities and transgressions caused the separation and bondage they experienced. God reached out to them, but no one responded.
Isaiah 50:2-3 “Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; Their fish stink for lack of water, and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.”
Yahweh frequently endeavored to help them, but no one wanted His help so He asked the question, “Is my hand so short that it cannot ransom?” The figurative phrase literally stated asks, “Have I no power to deliver?” He reminds them of their exodus from Egypt when He divided the Red Sea and put a cloud between the Egyptians and the Israelites. Due to God’s loving concern, Israel was freed from slavery and drawn close to Yahweh. If He did it then, He can do it now.
From these opening thoughts, Isaiah catapults into the ultimate deliverance that will come with the sacrifice of God’s servant whom we now know to be Jesus. Holding the introduction in mind is important to understand the verses that follow. The chapter switches from Yahweh speaking to His servant speaking. As you read, consider how Jesus must have felt when he read these verses knowing they were about him.
Isaiah 50:4-5 The Lord God [Yahweh] has given Me [Jesus] the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back.
Quite astounding that hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah writes about him in the past tense. Herein we gain information about our Lord not written in the New Testament. He was a disciple trained by God to carry out his ministry. God enabled Jesus to listen and learn like a disciple, and he was obedient.
Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Instead of saying “the men beat me,” it says, “I gave my back to those who strike me,” clearly stating that Jesus must allow the beatings to happen. He was to voluntarily yield himself to the floggings. Plucking of the beard would be a degrading insult and a heinous act causing great physical pain. The culture at the time regarded the bread as a sign of freedom and respect. Jesus was to allow the humiliation and spitting without resistance. Reading this section and others like it, we can understand why Jesus prayed three times not to have to experience this suffering. He knew what was going to happen.
Isaiah 50:7-8 For the Lord God helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
He who vindicates Me is near; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me.
When these things happened to Jesus, the world “esteemed him stricken, smitten of God.” They thought his suffering was punishment from God because of his own sinfulness, but Jesus knew the truth stated above. “Like a flint” indicates obedience to God’s will was paramount in his determination. He would suffer all and not give in because God who vindicates was with him.
Isaiah 50:9 Behold, the Lord God helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them.
Jesus knew that his enemies would own the day, but eternal destruction was their end. The chapter takes another turn regressing back to the beginning with the exhortation to trust Yahweh in view of what His servant would do.
Isaiah 50:10 Who is among you that fears Yahweh, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of Yahweh and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, Walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand; and you will lie down in torment.
Stop walking by your meager sparks, and turn to Yahweh for your salvation, or you will lie down in torment.