Isaiah (Part 62): Glorying Offspring - Part 1 (Ch 54)

04/19/2013 07:39


The suffering is over. The victory is won. The triumph is complete. Isaiah 54 presents a picture of the blessing realized from the accomplished mission of the Servant. In the chapter, God speaks to the Servant, not about him. It is written in 2nd Person. But taken as a whole, we may think some of the statements odd if referring to the Servant. Down in verse 11, God metaphorically addresses “poor Jerusalem.” The Servant as Jerusalem? That’s new. And back up in verse 9 God tells – the Servant? – that he “will not be angry with you or rebuke you.” Why would God have felt the need to rebuke the perfect, obedient, faithful Servant?

But surely it is the Servant addressed in this chapter. Verse 1 speaks of the Servant as the “forsaken one.” And chapter 53 had just told us how much the Suffering Servant had been forsaken. Yet again, verse 1 also speaks of this forsaken one being a childless one—a concept we first came across in Isaiah 49 when the childless one was God’s purpose—Zion—fretting over the abandonment of the covenant nation.

There is purpose in even the address of chapter 54. The Servant came to the world, not merely to suffer and be faithful, but to suffer and follow God faithfully for the purpose of rescue. That rescuer, though God, came in the covenantal promise to Abraham. That rescuing Servant was, Paul tells us, a second Adam. The first Adam sinned, and because he represented all those born from him, all his children took part in his sin and its consequence. The second Adam has come without sin so that all those born in him (all those he represents) take part in his covenant faithfulness. Therefore, when God speaks to the Servant in chapter 54, God is also speaking to those whom the Servant represents—Israel in its most complete and truest sense—Christ AND his offspring. Thus, those offspring, we may understand, are those whom God would no longer rebuke. And that former rebuke is what we saw pictured in the crushing of the Servant on the cross. Christ was a substitution, and we see his representation of his offspring in his death. Therefore in the triumph, we also see God’s recognition of Christ and his offspring together.

As we remember that the Servant came in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, we ought to expect to see the promised Abrahamic blessings fulfilled. Isaiah 54:1-3 shows us exactly that. But in keeping with the grander promise of Genesis 17 (everlasting benefits through the Messiah) over the possibly temporal expression in Genesis 15, these blessings shown in Isaiah 54 also go beyond the initial promise. God had promised offspring to Abraham. But the offspring of the Servant realized in 54:1 are “more than the children of the married woman.” The land (location of God’s presence and provision) must be enlarged (54:2). And the nations are not only blessed, but the descendants of the Servant actually dispossess the nations (54:3). Thus, the Abrahamic covenant blessings not only come in with the Servant’s victory, but they also go beyond the terms of the initial promise.

Therefore, we see the Abrahamic covenant fulfilled. Although we have talked of this before, it is worth repeating. The Abrahamic covenant was not to be fulfilled through the nation of Israel. The line of fulfillment goes to Christ and then to his offspring. And that line went from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah and to the rest of that line through to Jesus. The other children of Jacob, although having covenant connection to God initially through the Genesis 15 promises but solidified in the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai, did not become the Abrahamic fulfillment of everlasting blessing but rather were to be a nation of priests that pointed to the Abrahamic fulfillment in Christ. When Christ came, the Mosaic Covenant purpose was then also fulfilled in that they were no longer needed to point to the Messiah. Thus, as John the Baptist faded when Christ came, the Mosaic Covenant faded as the Abrahamic covenant triumph was revealed.