The second message (verses Isaiah 52:1-6) calls on Zion to awake and put on her strength and her beautiful garments, because she is to be cleansed of all internal defilement. Though she had been sold into slavery for naught, her redemption is determined on, and she is to know Jehovah as the name of Him who is able to accomplish His purpose.
The third (verses Isaiah 52:7-12) describes the return of Jehovah to His people. It is announced by runners and watchmen, and results in an outburst of song. In view of the certainty of this return the prophet calls on the people to cleanse themselves; and finally announces that Jehovah will go before, and the God of Israel will be the rearward.
We begin our reading here because the last three verses of chapter 52 so evidently belong to chapter 53. In this section the prophet describes the completion and issue of the suffering of the Servant of God. He is first seen as exalted and lifted up, and this exaltation is put into contrast with the day of humiliation (Isaiah 52:13-15).
A description of the pathway of suffering (Isaiah 53:1-9) follows. First, the rejected ministry: the Messenger is despised, and His report is not believed. Second, the vicarious suffering, which men looked on as a visitation of God, whereas it was the mystery in which He bore the sins of the people. Finally, the atoning death, in which the Messenger humbled Himself, and was "cut off out of the land of the living," although He was the sinless One who "had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth."
The description ends with another declaration of His ultimate triumph, which clearly reveals the fact that it is based on the suffering which has been described. The Servant of God is seen passing through pain to prosperity, through travail to triumph, through humbling to exaltation. This whole description is absolutely without fulfilment save in the person of the Son of God, for whom the ultimate triumph has not yet been won.
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24