Isaiah 52:12-53:15 The Making of a Godly Leader (4th Servant Song) ADT

The Making of a Godly Leader

by Rev. Paul J. Bucknell


1.) The Godly Leader Accepts God’s Design for His Life

Isaiah 52:13-15

Note: This is the first of three parts of a leadership training series (ADT). Isaiah 52:13-53:12 has five stanzas. This first part is comprised of stanza #1 (Isaiah 52:13-15) entitled, The Godly Leader Accepts God’s Design for His Life.” Each of these stanzas are represented separately in its own web page. (Click to see a ADT Isaiah 53 weekly schedule.)


Understand the overall process God trains His people through difficult times. We are able to get a great overview of our whole lives and ministries so that we will not get locked into a sinful mindset that weighs down upon us. The vision God has for our lives is through faith lifted up and so enables us to live above life’s difficulties.


Confusion and then despair often arise in ministry because we do not understand the whole process by which God works in our lives. God has delineated a commonly repeated pattern of life and ministry experiences by helping us observe many such examples in the scriptures. This includes what we would call great men: Joseph, Job, Daniel and of course our Lord Jesus’ own example. If we were more attentive to this whole cycle, then we would not fall so often into the ‘pit holes’ of ministry but recognize that these are special training times for us to show our constant lov e to God by making the right decisions in difficult times.
Table of Contexts: Isaiah 52:13-15

Let me give you an example how those in ministry often get confused. When young, motivated and dedicated, many young men give up their normal course of life due to the great things that the Lord has done for them. They are burdened for His work and set their lives to serve Him full-time. But what happens? After a period of working so hard to start a church or develop some ministry, they face one or more discouraging problems. Perhaps because they are tenacious, they plug on. They are convinced that because they are dedicated, they will overcome this problem. But even as they keep moving on, deep down they are very discouraged. Their faith wavers. They wonder, “Why is it that the Lord is not giving success? Has He not called him?”

Now of course, if we are being lazy or immoral, we should know the answer to this question. We should repent from such behavior. But what often goes unseen is the silent struggles of the faithful. Deep in their hearts they are wondering if they rightly understand the Bible. They question whether they really are doing God’s will. They search long and hard to find out if they are missing some special truth or spiritual experience.

We need to recognize that this is not our singular problem. In fact, it is a pattern that happens throughout the scriptures. When we get an overview of this process, we find that not only do we guard ourselves from temptations but also are able to learn all the lessons of the Lord in a much better positive attitude. Let’s now look carefully at the life of Jesus Christ to see what this overview is. We find it outlined for us in this first of five stanzas of the fourth Servant Song, Isaiah 52:13-15.

13) Behold, my Servant will act wisely; He will rise up, be lifted up, he will be exalted on high.

14) Just as many were astonished at you,– so his appearance was disfigured so to lose resemblance with man, so his form was marred beyond recognition as a man.

15) Just so he will sprinkle many nations; and kings will shut their mouths because of him; for that which they were not told, they will see; and that which they have not heard, they will understand. (cf. Romans 5:21)


1.) The Success of the Servant (Isaiah 52:13)

13) Behold, my Servant will act wisely; He will rise up, be lifted up, he will be exalted on high.

Isaiah 52:13 points out the success of the Servant. Many of us love to identify with this kind of success. It speaks to our dreams, hopes and joys. Isn’t this how each of us were called into the ministry? Somehow God lodged within us such a seed of hope through the way He would work through our lives that we left our old occupations and took on the more rugged, often much less pay and little thanked-for job?

Success is a great word that summarizes the good results that come from some good purposed work. This is what happened with the Servant. This verse expresses this success in a very interesting way. Three verbs are used to describe the three steps of exaltation for His Servant: rise up, lifted up and exalted on high. Three poignant synonyms are used in this verse, “He will be raised and lifted and highly exalted(NIV). Some see these three verbs to be merely three synonyms emphasizing the surety of the Servant's exalted stage. They however seem to better act as three successive stages of exaltation from the depths He had first descended (Acts 2:33; 5:31; Philippians 2:9). The Septuagint and the Old Latin translations strip away this emphasis by using only two verbs.

In Isaiah chapter 52, we have just seen the success of the church. “The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God” (52:10). The reason for her success is given in this following section–the Servant Song. The church’s success originates from her relationship to Yahweh’s servant. The first word, “Behold” draws the attention away from the church and onto “My Servant.” Isaiah commonly uses “behold” to bring attention to a surprising idea (Isaiah 7:14, 42:1, 43:19). The chapter should have started at this point. We do not need to be concerned about the artificial chapter division.

The word “to act wise” combines the two ideas of wise action and success (Jeremiah 23:5).  As the available servant He chose to do His Father’s will. In the end He was greatly rewarded.

Of course, we like to hear such steps to honor. We like to think that this one verse summarizes our whole lives. God gives us this great hope at the beginning of our ministry that launches us into the depth of ministry. What good is the hope if there is no success? Part of the problem is that ministry hardly ever works out into such an easy equation here on earth. There are several reasons for this but among the chief reasons is the training and proving of our own hearts. If success would come as suggested in verse 13, so would pride and self-confidence. The Lord cannot trust His full anointing to our lives because we have not been proved. We need to train a horse before we would allow our child to ride it.

In many cases we often attach our values to the fulfillment of our goals rather than faithful service. Let me explain. One of the reasons we get so desperate looking for success is that the success has become our chief life goal. The goal entices us forward. But if this really is the case with us, then we will be willing to make compromises to reach that goal. A compromise is the willingness to use a method other than the Lord our Master desires. Our ambition is focused more on the glow around the success rather than simply doing what our Lord desires. This is what made the Servant so different.

He made the right decisions. He did gain success but because He focused on obedience rather than the success He was able to endure the great strain upon His life. This is one reason we need to focus on being available like the Servant rather than on the results of faithful service. Once our eyes are on the success, we take them off the Lord and terribly fail. But if we are content to serve the Lord doing whatever He asks, go wherever He sends, respond to what He desires, then our pleasure is in faithful service. This attitude works wonders even in the most desperate situations. Let us think a little more about the word ‘act wisely.’

As said above, the word means both wise and successful. Most people are willing to separate these two meanings today. They are quite happy to pursue a successful life. They think one can be successful without wisdom. This  is the beginning of foolishness and always ends in a horrible ending. What occurs is that one is willing to take shortcuts. These shortcuts or compromises are always temptations. Jesus refused to listen to Satan’s ‘easy’ suggestion to rule the world and instead set his ear to listen to the Father’s will (Matthew 4:8-10). He was not willing to bypass the tragic hill named Golgotha in order to be successful. If His goal was mere success, He would have succumbed to the temptation. But His overall goal was to make Himself totally available to the Father.

If our goal is success, then we will sin in pursuit of this goal.

If our goal is obedience, then we will find success as a result of the right decisions.

When His Father asked Him to die on the cross, we know it caused great consternation to Jesus. He anguished in prayer at Gethsemane. But do you remember what He said in the end? “Not my will but thine be done.” He not only said He was available but made Himself available. This was the opportunity to show His earnestness to God. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” In one sense we have these decisions before us each day. We no doubt plow through most of them without thinking, but some them cause us to wrestle with the consequences of obedience. These trials are used to train us to live holy.

A godly leader chooses to focus on doing God’s will rather than having success. He will gain success but because of his focus will not get distracted from the chief goal of observing God’s will. Notice how Peter caught himself thinking reflecting on his own decision process..

 31 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED. But Peter answered and said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:31,33-35).

Peter was so conscious of his thoughts of success that he couldn’t take in the warning. When it came to the real testing, he fell away. Why? Well, he didn’t apply the spiritual disciplines he needed- pray as Jesus did. But he also thought he could endure on his own. But when he faced the pain and thought of losing all, he denied Jesus.

Exercise: What strenuous decisions have you faced? What were the two options? Which did you choose? It is very possible that those decisions where we have failed to make ourselves totally available are ones that God will require us to go through again and again until we successfully pass through. If we do make the right decisions, it doesn’t mean that things will necessarily go easy or that we will see the great results of our decision right away. But we can be confident of His future reward. Do you see some good results issuing from your obedience?  Explain.

Let’s now go on and look at the next verse. It is here that we see the unexpected turn of events.

2.) The Suffering of the Servant (Isaiah 52:14)

14) Just as many were astonished at you,– so his appearance was disfigured so to lose resemblance with man, so his form was marred beyond recognition as a man.

Suffering can be a rude awakening to our dreams. We like gazing at our upcoming success and joy. They are desirable and easily identifiable when things are going well. But not many people speak about the difficulty that we will face due to our ministries.[1]  We might hear of the success of a certain brother’s ministry, but we often will not hear about the labor that went into it. Let’s take a look at the contrast between verses 13 and 14. People only want to hear the good side of life (v.13). But for those who are going through the difficult side os things certainly appreciate hearing how others persevere and make it through the hard times.

Verse 13 only speaks about an increasing success, but verse 14 takes us in a whole different path. They were astonished and shocked at the treatment of this righteous one. In fact the shock is all the more disturbing because it is totally unexpected from the setting of the previous verse. Why would one be lifted up and praised and yet in the very next sentence be so horribly described? Let’s see what the verse says.

The servant was severely disfigured. He didn’t even look like a human anymore. ‘His appearance was disfigured so to lose resemblance with man.’ He didn’t even look human. And so every onlooker was in total shock. Perhaps it was like the nice Egyptian resort that was so beautiful one moment but then due to a bombing became an absolute tragic sight. No one wants to look at the building anymore. The distortion, deterioration, death and present disdain make it so that people do not want to see or even hear about the tragedy anymore.

Do we remember how Christ suffered? He was brutally beaten. A thorn crown was pressed into His skull until blood squirted out.  Like a orange that has been placed into a grating machine, Jesus Christ was turned into unrecognizable pulp. He no longer looked like a man when He hung on that cross. We can see that the stress on His body was so great that His heart ‘broke.’[2] His legs did not need to be broken because Jesus’ body couldn’t tolerate the abuse any longer; He finally died.

Suffering can enter into our lives at any point. God does not promise to warn us or first ask our permission. Job was doing so well when everything turned so radically against him. This element of shock can throw our minds off kilter and produce enough fog so that we are not able to discern our own situation. If we are not careful at this point, we can make some radically wrong decisions. We will not be asked to suffer to the degree of Christ, but sudden changes for the worse can certainly cause us to revaluate things.

Jesus didn’t deserve to suffer, but we do. He didn’t deserve one ounce of suffering. We are the ones who rebelled against God; He was the faithful and true One. To make matters much worse His disciples at the most needed time abandoned their faithfulness and loyalty. This verse repeats His disfiguring to ensure that we get a good look at the one we would otherwise avoid looking at.  The contrast between verse 13 and             14 cause us to start wondering why such a faithful One would suffer so. It induces us to wonder who it is and why He suffered. The author is preparing our minds by increasing our inquisitiveness.


Let’s think for a moment. How can God have His faithful Servant with such wonderful plans of success end with such a horrible ending? Something is wrong. If we stop here in the midst of this agony, then the picture will end up totally wrong. I remember once starting a church with a brother. He just graduated from Bible College. This young couple served so zealously. God’s love was so apparent. But then the wife was hit by a car and entered a vegetable state. She just kept on living but could no longer recognize anyone.

How would you respond to this tragic situation? Such promise mixed with such agony are very difficult situations. It tests what is in our heart. Our response proves what our goal really is. In this case the husband made a terrible decision. He left his wife, the church and remarried far away in another city. He just left the ministry. He had no place for suffering in his life. He only wanted success.

Sometimes God allows us to escape a lot of suffering, but at other times we are like Paul who faced all sorts of problems throughout his ministry. This is where keeping an overview of our ministry is critical.  We must not view life as if it is removed from suffering. God does not promise His servants, even if they are faithful, to be able to avoid suffering. When we are counseling our members, we must help them to get a picture of life that includes suffering. You and I know that many people seek God to escape suffering. Many popular religions are trying to understand suffering and crisis. Hinduism does it by largely denying reality and the body. They emphasize the spirit. Modernism accompanied by wealth focuses on the body and rejects the spirit. They live a life beyond problems. But  in fact only a biblical understanding provides us with this understanding that God sometimes allows suffering for a greater purpose.

By making this contrast between verse 13 and 14, the prophet brings before us the two extremes of life. We can see some who are wonderfully successful in life and see some who are totally unsuccessful. But who dares bring them together except the Almighty God? This situation painted before our eyes is even more awesome because this is the faithful and good servant who alone deserves exaltation but in fact singularly tastes the bitter sufferings of death. I do not know what suffering you have seen or experienced. I only know that if we only dream of success and cannot accept suffering as part of the reward, then we cannot follow Christ. In the end we will follow our own desires. 

Exercise: What tragic situations among faithful people have you seen in life? How did that person respond? If you find someone that has endured great hardship, ask them, “How did you make it through without getting critical?” What if something good was suddenly taken away from your life? How might you respond?

The overview is not yet complete but it will be with verse 15. Although verse 15 answers our questions to a degree, at the same time it makes the riddle even more complicated and intriguing.

3. The Purpose of the Servant’s Suffering (Isaiah 52:15)

15) Just so he will sprinkle[3] many nations; and kings will shut their mouths because of him; for that which they were not told, they will see; and that which they have not heard, they will understand.

15) So shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they perceive. (JPS)

Isaiah 52:13 reminds us that God Himself gives us the hope for wonderful results from our ministries. We might have given up hope because of discouragement, but because of God’s design to work through our faithful ministries, we should anticipate wonderful results from our wise decisions. We only must not assert when these blessings might come or how they will come. God’s purpose is greater than ours. We simply sow in hope.

Isaiah 52:14 reminds us that although God might be very pleased with our faithfulness, sometimes we will suffer great difficulty in our ministries. In a sense this is all typical, but we should never compare ourselves with another brother and what he does or does not need to endure. Peter asked about what would happen to John.  “Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"” (John 21:22). God has His own design for our own lives.

We all face suffering of one sort or another. Suffering is embedded in this sin-infected world. But here the redemptive work of Christ shown in verse 15 joins together verses 13 and 14.

There is a purpose for suffering. If God was not absolutely sovereign, then He could not use suffering for His greater purposes. Suffering is not a wild card that accidentally pops up among the saints, but always carefully monitored under the absolutely wise, loving and good God.  “In Him there is no darkness whatsoever (1 John 1:5).” He is able to use the worst circumstances to accomplish the greatest things. He shows this through sending His own Son.

We must slow way down for a moment as we discuss this passage. Most Bible versions have this rightly translated but others wrongly. The word preferred here in 52:15 is ‘sprinkle’ rather than ‘marvel.’

There are not many times one needs to understand the original Bible languages (Hebrew for Old Testament and Greek for New Testament), but this is one of the exceptions. Actually if you do good word studies, then this is not a problem. Study the Hebrew word used here and one will find it regularly means to sprinkle and connected to a ceremony of cleansing.[4]

And thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them,... and they shall be clean (Numbers 8:7).

Although this preferred reading,  “Just so he will sprinkle many nations” is not always used, it is very consistent with the other word usages. Perhaps the reason some instead wrote ‘marveling over’ rather than ‘sprinkling the nations’ is the quandary over its meaning. In a real sense the puzzle is not fully solved but made more difficult. The question is asked, “How can something so defiled and abused bring healing to others?”

In India hands are used to eat. It is important to clean ones hand before he eats. Normally one pours some water over one’s right hand so he can clean it and later eat. But how would you like it if you saw someone quite willing to help you take the pitcher, dip it into the gutter and then pour it over your hand? Would you then eat? This I believe is the scene that we find here. The idea of ‘sprinkling’ has to do with ceremonial cleansing. The one who is described in 52:13-14 is used to cleanse the nations.

 The word “Thus” of verse 15 depicts the result of His humiliation mentioned in verse 14. The word ‘sprinkle’ speaks of His atoning work. This idea of “sprinkling of many nations” is mirrored in 1 Peter 1:1-2.

"... that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. (1 Peter 1:2)

We have the holy, pure and blameless sacrifice being given in order to create purification for others. In this case, although it seems He is unholy because the condition of His body, but because we now know that Christ was wholly righteous, we can understand why His body was brutally treated. It was because He bore our sins. This will be explained in the following verses.  When we assemble verses 14 and 15 together, we see how 52:14’s ‘just as’ is completed by 52:15’s ‘so.’  So we see the line of thought as:

“Just as many were astonished (or shocked) at you...

so he will sprinkle (or purify) the many nations.”

The steps to exaltation required the Servant first go through extreme humiliation so that He might help many. Christ died for the world and not just for the Jews. His death was used to bring about a much greater good. It is this that has not been understood. We think of the Ethiopian eunuch asking who this passage refers to. Philip then eagerly told him that this describes what just happened in Jerusalem when Jesus the Messiah died on the cross. This indeed is our ministry too. We are telling others of this wonderful work. Who would think that we would preach the horrible crucifixion of One in the mountains of India or on the high plateaus of China? But it is happening. There is something very special to all of this. We will look more into it later, but we now need to return to our overview and application.

We need to mention one more aspect of this verse before we go on. The last part of 52:15 forms Paul’s goal in life. He would start churches where there were none. It comes from God’s Word in Romans 15:21.

And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation; but as it is written, "THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE, AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND." (Romans 15:20-21).

Paul’s work as an apostle is based on the work of Christ. The success of Paul is also a result of Christ’s work. It seems it is for this reason Paul spoke so much about sharing the suffering of Christ. He saw the U - pattern. He saw that the way he would bear fruit is through such suffering. “For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake" (Acts 9:16). He considered it normal. Notice how the apostle summarizes this whole process in Romans 8:17.

If children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

The glory that we share with Him is gained from our suffering with Him. Our own  ministries all are a result form Christ’s own work. We will discuss this more later on.

Exercise: We cannot always see the final results of our suffering for righteous sake. But Jesus’ example and these verses confirm this is the way God intends to use such sufferings. Romans 8:28 is often rightly quoted to support those going through such difficulties. See if you can discern God’s greater purposes for your sufferings. Or ask another more mature Christians how God has used such trials to accomplish His greater purposes in their lives. One might ask a suffering Christian, “What do you think God might be doing through this time?”

We can not understand suffering if we do not understand its purpose. We need to just accept it in faith. This suffering is not to gain God’s approval, though ones obedience indeed is sweet. Suffering is used for several reasons, one of which is to test our hearts. But it is also strategically used to display the wonderful love of God. What is the end result here? It is clear that greater blessings will result. We are not going to get to the details of how this Righteous One was richly rewarded yet, but can you accept the purpose of suffering in your life? Can you trust God that He always has a greater purpose in suffering that makes the suffering worth it?


The Pattern of Successful Ministry

The Pattern of Faithful Ministry - "U"Having discussed the three verses (52:13-15), we are now ready to discuss the overview. Draw a big ‘U.’ Put three X’s on the ‘U’, two at the top arms and one at the lower bend. Then number them from the left. Each ‘X’ will represent a verse. 52:13 is on the top left. It is the hope of success that God instills in us. The second ‘X’ is at the bottom and of course represents the suffering of Christ, the trial, in 52:14. 52:15 is the last mark at the top right. This blessing is the results of the faithful service of His righteous servant. Christ went through this valley and was greatly rewarded.

We will use this chart to summarize all that was said today in this study. Firstly, we know 52:13 brought promise to our lives. He places a seed of hope in each of Servant’s hearts. This is often closely associated with the minister’s call into ministry. Some people have overly focused on a person’s dreams, but when a person is called, a hope is instilled within that person. It is this dream that orients our lives so that we can take concrete steps of action in an otherwise very large world. He desires our success and readies us for it. It is our race, so to speak (cf. Hebrews 12:1-2).

The first temptation is to make this goal that comes from God’s promise our goal in life. Many fall into sin because of this. They think the goal is their objective when it is not. If they are successful, they become prideful over their accomplishments.  They gloat over how they are doing in comparison to others. They are living in the eyes of success. In these cases they often confuse significance with productivity or assumed productivity. This group loves to discuss what they have done or what they will do. The end result is as the Lord has promised, “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

The only way to avoid such a temptation is to humble oneself and refuse to think oneself on such a prideful level . The way to do this is to make ones chief objective of life is to be like the faithful Servant, available to do God’s will. The promise seeded in their heart is only to guide them in their lives through extending their vision and making them passionate, but it should never become our goal.  This is even more obvious when we look at the second temptation, the Trial.

Some have met success in the eyes and then everything has been taken from them. Joseph with his dreams is the great example here. All the hope that he had was stripped from him. The question is how would he trust the Lord with the catastrophic events that occurred. If we trust Him to work out His love through His sovereign hand on earthly events, then we will have no problem. The temptation here is to wallow about in self-pity, unbelief and finally to give up. We get so discouraged that we take our eyes away from the hope that the Lord had given us. Discouragement will lead to depression if not caught in time.

What happens is someone that senses control of his circumstances sees how his dreams can be fulfilled. It might be over a great number of years, but in the end he sees how he can fulfill them. Of course this is largely without the Lord’s help. But when these trials come, such as being left without a ministry or resources, he is becomes powerless. He has not learned how to dream with God and so at this critical stage, he gets discouraged thinking that his dream will never be fulfilled. Before significance came from the illusion that he could do something but now it is quite apparent that apart from God’s intervention, nothing will happen. And this he has no hope for.

The Temptations of MinistryOften during these times we see people getting bitter and upset. Sometimes this happens in their old age, but it also happens at different points in our lives. The promise is a means by which we can fortify our faith when everything around us makes our hope look ridiculous.  These difficult times are part of God’s plan for our lives, though we need to remember it is the evil one that actually brings the difficulty upon our lives (cf. Job). The Biblical terminology for this period is called ‘waiting upon the Lord.’ Jesus overcame this doubt by setting ‘His heart to go up to Jerusalem’ (Luke 18:31-34). He was willing to step into a no-win and lose-all situation. He trusted Himself into His Father’s hand.

The third temptation has to do with success. This most unfortunate pattern is revealed again and again in the scriptures. After victory comes, we forget through whom we have gained the success. We get self-confident and then start making our decisions based on our selves rather than the Lord. Note how after the battle of Jericho, Joshua did not seek the Lord in the battle of Ai and loss men at war because of it.  The Book of Judges emphasizes this dangers of self-confidence the most. Again and again the whole downward cycle is repeated starting with forgetting the Lord’s grace to them. Of course the solution comes from remembering God’s place in making us successful. Wealth has ruined many a person because they then became confident upon their own abilities. They simply had forgotten what the Lord has done for them. True success, however, is built on the work of Christ. Paul’s persistent identification with Christ’s work in Him helped him remember it was after all Christ’s work.

Isaiah 53 The Fourth Servant Song CycleSummary

It would be nice to have a picture of what our life would look like before it happened. We could just follow what the picture shows.  But this is not how the Lord has guided us. Instead we find in the humble example of the Servant Jesus Christ a pattern. Like a sign in the road reveals the curve of the dangerous road ahead, Christ’s faithful life encourages us by His faithful example. Once we see this pattern, then we do not need to doubt God’s intentions any longer. We can put off our pursuits of this world and wholeheartedly seek the Lord and His will. Our Lord Jesus set the pattern. We are not like John to ask, "Lord, and what about this man?"  We instead are to focus on the author and perfecter of our faith. It is in this way that our service pleases our Father and brings the greatest blessings to those around us. It is this way that we are best able to glorify our Father in heaven.

When I was small my father would take my brother and I hiking. We would go through the New Hampshire mountains. Sometimes we would get to one vantage point. We would get so excited. It was hard to get a decent view. He would point out where we were going. It didn’t look far. It was right across the valley. We were already excited about going over and ‘conquering’ that next mountain. It didn’t take long, though, to take our joy away. We had to go down before we were to go up. And when we were down, it was very hot at times and the black flies would swarm all over us. We could agree on one thing. It was so nice to finally reach the upward trail and climb that mountain where we were going. No one likes going down but sometimes it is the only way to get there!

Exercise: Go through your life and see if you can identify one or more times when you faced these three temptations mentioned above. How did you respond each time? Especially pay attention if you tend not to faithfully follow the Lord at one or more points. Ready yourself for the next opportunity! How do you do it? Focus on your simple goal to be like Jesus, that is, you have dedicated yourself as God’s available servant.

Further Study:

•   Study the suffering of the righteous.

Study suffering of the righteous throughout the scriptures. See if you can identify the ‘U’ pattern. Start with those like Joseph and Abraham.

•   Examine Paul’s concept of sharing Christ’s suffering.

For further theological study, examine Paul’s concept of sharing Christ’s suffering. What is his concept of suffering? What is his hope? You might start with going through the Book of 2 Corinthians.


Questions for Transformation

A. The Significance of Jesus' Life (His call) (Isaiah 52:13-15)

1. What is the hope given in verse 13?

2. Who is this blessing given to?

3. Compare verses 13 and 14. Why are they so different?

4. List the ways Jesus Christ’s person was inhumanly treated.

5. What does the first line of 15c say that this one will do?

6. What is the significance of this word ‘sprinkle?’

7. Why were the kings stupefied? (See 52:15 c,d)

8. How well does this passage predict what happened in Jesus’ life? Is Jesus the Messiah (Christ)? What is your response to Him? Do you tell others of this One?

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

The NAS Bible is used unless otherwise mentioned.

[1] Actually this training extends into the personal growth aspect of the Christian, but will focus on ministry because it is even more evident.

[2] John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” One commentator has said that the mix of blood and water shows that Jesus’ heart burst.

[3] A purposeful contrast is brought forward at the beginning of 52:14. Before the Servant was said to be exalted; now the Servant is disfigured. The “just as” clause introduces an enigma with no easy solution. The difficulty arises when one tries to find the object with which the comparison is against (just as ... even so...). Most agree that 14b,c form a parenthesis of thought explaining the reason for the astonishment. This leaves the first clause of 52:15 to be the object compared to, i.e. “will sprinkle.”

There are other interpretations here. Some hold that the Hebrew word for “sprinkle” ought to be translated “to startle.” It means to “sprinkle with the fingers” as against “sprinkle with the hands.” It is used 24 times in the OT.  The usage is very clear. The word “amazed” or ‘astonished’ never is used in the Bible for this word. The Hihil verb form is used twenty times such as in 52:15. The liquid is always sprinkled by the finger so one can more carefully detect the amount being sprinkled. Blood is the most commonly used sprinkled liquid, but water and oil are also used.

The Arabic NAZA verb, on the other hand, is found outside the Bible in contexts in which it maybe applied to the springing or leaping of living beings caused by excessive emotions. Those who prefer “startle” point out that “sprinkle” takes an object with a preposition and without one here in this context, suggests the word “startle.”

[4] Here are two other examples: Le 16:19 "And with his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times, and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it. Nu 19:19 ‘Then the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him from uncleanness.