… chapter by chapter context clues continued. Chapters 49-50 demonstrate the connection between Sion and the Servant.
Recap: Descriptors of Faithful Israel
The purpose of the last several posts is to determine from previous context in Isaiah who the “barren” woman of Isaiah 54:1 might be.
1 Rejoice, you barren that bear not; break forth and cry, you that do not travail: for more are the children of the desolate than of her that has a husband: (Isaiah 54:1 Septuagint)
Chapter 49 makes fairly clear that the barren woman is Sion. (See Septuagint Isaiah Devotional 2.64.) We will continue examining the chapters previous to chapter 54 for contextual clues that might indicate more about the metaphorical woman Isaiah introduces in 54:1.
RECAP OF CONTEXT
Chapter 49 opens with the Second Servant Song. Isaiah’s content then flows unbroken through all of chapter 50. In this portion of the book of Isaiah (Volume 2, which begins with chapter 40), the text reveals that God’s Servant takes a more and more central position in the plans and purposes of God for Israel and the world. Readers will find that God blesses Israel through his Servant. Additionally, each time the text mentions the Servant, it also mentions both God’s and the Servant’s call to Gentiles. The Second Servant Song and beyond exemplifies the prior statement (Septuagint Isaiah 49:1-6 and 7-13).
Nevertheless, in spite of the joy Isaiah the prophet expresses in 49:13, Sion complains in 49:14 that God has abandoned her. God answers Sion’s complaint with two main points: 1) He loves Sion and has wonderful plans of blessing and growth for her (49:15-26), and 2) Sion brought the hand of God’s discipline upon herself, on account of her unfaithfulness to him (50:1-3).
MOVING FORWARD IN CHAPTER 50
Having dealt with Sion’s complaint, the text returns to its main theme at this point, which is God’s Servant (50:4-10). The Servant speaks in Septuagint Isaiah 50:4-9. Readers over the years have assigned this passage the title, Third Servant Song. One notable point about this song is that the Servant hears God speak to him and neither disobeys nor disputes (50:5). In this, the Servant is quite unlike Sion in the previous verses.
VERSES 10 AND 11
In verses 10 and 11, Isaiah the narrator breaks in after the Servant’s speech. These verses intrigue. They appear to be directed toward two distinct audiences.
1. Verse 10 addresses you who “fears the Lord.” Isaiah exhorts those who fear the Lord to listen “to the voice of his servant.” He further encourages those who “walk in darkness, and have no light” to “trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon God.” Jesus’s statement in John 7:17 resembles the principle Isaiah gives in 50:10. God fully stands behind his Servant. Clearly, God wants to bless those who fear him through the voice of his Servant. (See also John 14:1.)
2. But Verse 11 addresses those in Sion who worship idols. These are they whom God admonishes in Septuagint Isaiah 50:1-3. Their end is that they “shall lie down in sorrow.”
CONCLUSIONS FROM CHAPTERS 49-50
1. God intends to bless Sion.
2. He connects his blessing upon Sion to his call upon Gentiles.
3. Those who obey God will receive his blessing.
4. The ones who continue to worship idols will not.
5. God’s blessings upon Sion proceed from the work of his Servant.
… to be continued with Chapter 51