After King Ahaz hears about Assyria coming to attack his country, he starts running around in a panic. So God sends Isaiah and his son to remind Ahaz to trust in the Lord, like a tiny, dependent child. But after Ahaz refuses, God promises him a sign anyway: a child born of a virgin, named Immanuel, who would be “God with us,” ultimately fulfilled in the Christmas message, in the birth of Jesus Christ.
As mentioned in last weeks study, this final section of Isaiah paints a picture of where God is taking the world. Last week we looked at the trajectory God was taking His people on and towards, and this week we get a picture of what the new creation he’s taking them towards will look like.
In the last part of Isaiah’s vision he pictures the final piece of God’s solution to the problems in the world. Not only a spiritual solution, but a physical solution that removes the pain and hurt we experience now.
The last 11 chapters of Isaiah is God’s picture of the trajectory God is taking His people and His world. Whereas at the start of this vision (Isaiah 1-12) we saw a picture of what was wrong with the city, the people and the leadership – at the end of the vision we’re seeing a restored city, a restored people because of a unique leader, the Servant.
One of the issues in Israel as outlined in the first half of the book is that injustice & unrighteousness were rife. But in the last 10 chapters we see the new people that God is creating – new people with new hearts.
The idea of freezing hedgehogs has been used to describe human interactions. The hedgehogs huddle together for warmth. But the closer they get the more they spike one another. So they move further away…but get cold…so move closer together…but get spiked. The idea has been used to describe how humans long for relationship (or are put in places of relationship) but these context provide conflict which drives us away…so we tend to find a happy medium where we can connect…but not be hurt.
After Isaiah 53 where we’ve seen the work of the servant – that he would bear away the sin of the people – what does it look like to live in a relationship with God without the sin coming between us? That’s what the invitation is to in Isaiah 54-55.
Isaiah 53 is one of the most famous passages in Isaiah, in fact in the whole of the Old Testament. Because of it’s clarity in painting the one who would come to bear sin (the person we know as Jesus) and because of the time it was written (hundreds of years before Jesus) it’s the go-to passage in the Old Testament for Christians.
But the problem with familiarity is that we lose the shock and beauty of the picture Isaiah paints of the one God was going to send. The Servant here isn’t anything like Israel expected God’s deliverer to be like, and doesn’t do what Israel expected God’s deliverer to do. So to feel the impact Isaiah 53 would have had on the Jews who first heard and read it, and to feel once again the uniqueness of Jesus a swell as understanding what his primary mission was, we need to go back to basics with this person Isaiah calls “The Servant”.
This week we start looking at the second half of Isaiah. If the first half of Isaiah was characterised by the idea of judgement, the second half of Isaiah is characterised by hope.
Discuss what differences and similarities you see between the ideas of “comfort” and “rest”. How can you have one without the other?
After 39 Chapters of judgement, with only glimmers of hope, we now see God turning to his people who have lost everything to tell them of the comfort he offers and the comfort to come in Jesus.