Fourth Servant Song: Isaiah Devotional 2.48

The “Fourth Servant Song: Isaiah Devotional 2.48” discusses the report of Isaiah 53:2.

Content: Part Two

2 We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonored, and not esteemed. (Isaiah 53:2-3 LXE)

Similarities with the Gospels

The beginning of the “Gospel of Isaiah” resembles the gospels of the New Testament. Isaiah 53:1 LXE mentions “a report.” Verses 2 and 3a present the first aspect of the content of the report.

Outward Appearance

I. THE REPORT

The report, or “announcement,” (from the Greek ἀναγγέλλω – ana-gel-low) concerns “a child” who grew up “before” God (him), or in his presence.

  • Likewise, the Gospel of John (“gospel” is also from the Greek εὐαγγέλιον ev-ang-gel-i-on) opens with a description of the Word’s eternal abiding in the presence of God. The text states that the Word was “with” God, or face to face with God (John 1:1).
  • Luke adds to this a lengthy description of the birth (Luke 1:5-2:39 ESV) of Jesus. He follows this with a short description of Jesus’s childhood (Luke 2:40-52 ESV). Luke’s narrative demonstrates the reverent nature of Jesus’s family. He also displays Jesus’s own intense interest in the teachings of God at an early age.

II. A ROOT IN A THIRSTY LAND

Isaiah describes the Servant child as someone who grows in an environment of adversity. He resembles a bare root in dry ground.

  • Likewise, the Messiah Jesus’s family’s status and upbringing offered little by way of social and religious training and opportunity. His father was a carpenter, and Mary his mother was not a young woman of any social standing. Together, they represented the lower economic working class.
  • Metaphorically, the land of Israel at the time of the Servant Jesus’s birth was indeed “thirsty.” The people had not heard a prophetic word from their God for several centuries. Their religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers followed a legalistic, somewhat cruel interpretation of the law that displayed little mercy (Luke 11:46). The people thirsted for a word of blessing from their God.

III. NO FORM NOR COMELINESS

2… he has no form nor comeliness… but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; (Isaiah 53:2-3 LXE)

Fred Miller offers a better translation from the Septuagint Greek of these verses. He brings out the strong force of the series of negatives the Greek contains.

2 … There is no form to him nor glory when we see him and he has neither form nor beauty 3. But his form is without honor lacking less than all men (Fred Miller) [emphasis added]

  • The Greek reads, “οὐκ… οὐδὲ… οὐκ… οὐδὲ,” or “no… and not… no… and not.” In other words, the Greek expresses everything that represents the opposite of what people would expect in a great leader who would “understand… be exalted… and glorified exceedingly” (Isaiah 52:13 LXE).
  • The Gospel of John bears witness to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. John the Baptist and Jesus were related (Luke 1:36). Further, the Old Testament prophesied John’s role and message as the forerunner of Messiah (Isaiah 40:3 and context; Matthew 3:3; Malachi 3:1). Yet, John writes in his gospel three times that neither he nor the religious leaders could recognize Messiah the Servant Jesus by means of his outward appearance among them (John 1:26, 31, and 33). God needed to provide a miraculous, foretold “sign” in order for John to specifically be able to identify Jesus as the One. The Spirit of God descended as a dove upon Jesus at his baptism. This is the sign of recognition that God gave John (John 1:32-34).

IV. WE SAW HIM

  • The Isaiah text reads, “… and we saw him. (See above Isaiah 53:2 LXE.)
  • John the Apostle everywhere emphasizes the fact that John the Baptist, he himself, and other disciples “saw” the Servant Jesus as he performed his miraculous signs.

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him… 32… “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33… He on whom you seethe Spirit descend and remain 34… And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (ESV)    

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–
2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it… 3 that which we have seen and heard… (ESV)

Concluding Comment

Truly, God in his Word wastes none of the details he gave Isaiah his prophet.

To be continued… Content: Part Three

Love to Hear from You