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Lowell Brueckner

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Redeemed without Money


47. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 52

An awakening

When Israel became a sovereign state in 1948, the time began when Gentile rulers would no longer control the nation’s destiny. We are living in the time, when the scene is being set for Israel’s full restoration. Our expository study enters into Messianic chapters of prophecy that extend far beyond Isaiah’s time into the future to the first and second advent of Christ. Any fulfillment of this prophecy after the Babylonian captivity is only partial. The promise that the uncircumcised and unclean would no more enter into Zion can only belong to the Millennium.

“Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean” (v.1). In chapter 51:9, we first see God awakening to revival, a renewal of a demonstration of His power over Israel’s enemies. In 51:17, we have the call to Jerusalem to awaken to His work of comfort and restoration. Then, as we studied, we saw the severe results of God’s anger, often symbolized in the Bible as wine. Israel had drunken to the full and reeled uncontrollably without any human help possible. It is from this state that God calls, and the call is repeated, as our chapter begins. The time has come, prophetically speaking, for Israel to put off its weakness and the drunken rags and be clothed with divine strength and beautiful garments.

See the progression: Israel is to awaken to the spiritual reality of the blessing of God and to shake off the dust of cursing. It is to rise from off the ground, be seated and take full freedom from the former captivity (v.2). These chapters speak of a ransom, of the need for redemption and it is joined to the coming Messiah. He is the Redeemer of Israel. Chapter 49 tells of His calling, His purpose, His conception and His birth. He is the Servant of the Father, while despised by men. The deliverance that God will work (promised in 50:2) will come from Him through suffering: “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (50:6).

“You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money” (v.3). God freely gave them over to their captors. Jeremiah tells us, “Your wealth and your treasures I will give as spoil, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory” (Jer.15:13).

Verse 4 refers to two instances in Israel’s history, in which they were captives: First, in the beginning, they were slaves in Egypt, and then very recently in Isaiah’s day, Assyria oppressed and carried the 10 northern tribes into captivity. The Babylonians complete the total conquest by taking away the two southern tribes. Because of their defeat, the name of their God is despised by both the conqueror and the conquered. The victor does not give glory to the God of Israel for giving Israel into their hands and the people do not recognize their sins as the cause of their defeat. It is not at all, because God has failed them (v.5).  

Knowing the I AM

“Therefore my people shall know my name.” Whenever the Lord speaks of knowing His name, He is referring to far more than learning a title, which is applied to Him. He is telling of His essence and the attributes of His character. They will recognize the One, who speaks to them; they will know the God of the Word, who speaks to them. He is the God of Scripture.

In verse 6 also, He names Himself, as He did to Moses at the burning bush: “Here AM I. Here, present with them, is the I AM. Jesus clearly claims divinity, when He declares to the Jews, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn.8:58). This is the essence of Himself and the descriptions that follow are multiple: “I AM the way, the truth and the life… I AM the door… I AM the good shepherd… I AM the resurrection and the life… I AM alpha and omega, the beginning and the end” etc., etc. They are to have personal knowledge of Him through experiencing the manifestation of His personality.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns. Melody has brought verse 7 to the attention of multitudes. We sing it today in honor of missionary outreach, and we do well in singing it. It speaks of the triumphs of the gospel, the good news, carried to the sinfully oppressed, who know nothing of true peace, news of happiness or salvation. However, once again, the object, to which this word is addressed, is clearly Zion, and it will not be perfectly fulfilled until the Millennium.

A worthwhile study of Scripture will show that it is a source of many every-day expressions, given common use. We speak of those who see “eye-to-eye” as being perfectly agreed. Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the author of the phrase. “The voice of your watchmen – they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion” (v.8). Joy begins as a song in the heart of the prayerful watchmen, who see first the answer on its way… Christ returning to Zion to reign. I say that they are prayerful watchmen for two reasons. First of all, Jesus teaches us to “watch and pray”… we are to be watchmen. Secondly, they are seeing eye-to-eye: Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Mt.18:19). These have been unitedly waiting and watching, as they pray, “Thy Kingdom come”.

The song is picked up by those who hear their proclamation and spreads to the waste places of Jerusalem, to those who most appreciate it. They, also and especially, are comforted by the words. Full redemption has come from Zion to all of Jerusalem (v.9). Still it extends: “The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (v.10). This is what He promised in verse 6, in answer to those who had dishonored Him, and the whole earth will see the vindication of His name.


The Lord passionately commands His people to leave literal Babylon: “Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing” (v.11). They are carrying back the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken to Babylon and that Belshazzar had used in his pagan feast. They and their vessels are to be re-consecrated. There was a limited return to Israel in the time of Cyrus, but in the year 1,000, there were still more Jews living in the Babylonian territory than any other part of the world.

Paul gives the spiritual application to the Corinthian church: “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?... Therefore go out from their midst and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing…” (2 Co.6:16-17) God’s people, Jew or Gentile, must always be a separated people. The apostle John echoes the command concerning another Babylon in the book of Revelation: “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Rev.18:4). Hundreds of thousands return from many exiled lands around the world.

They are to go out immediately, but not hastily, knowing that God’s presence goes with them. His presence does not foster panic, but confidence. “For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (v.12). Even at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army nearing, there was no reason for undue rush. There was time to wait throughout the night, as a strong wind drove the sea back, because the Angel of God stood behind them, as a pillar of cloud, separating them from the Egyptians.

The Redeeming Servant

“My servant shall act wisely.” Christ was there, the Angel of the Lord, acting wisely to bring about their deliverance. He again enters this prophecy, as the Servant of the Lord, to carry out Israel’s redemption through His wisdom. The prophecy begins to reveal the secrets of redemption. In the last chapter of the book of Ruth, we have a wonderful example. Deep in the history of the Old Testament, during the time of the Judges, the Holy Spirit showed us a redeemer, who became a bridegroom (For your enrichment, study Ruth 4). The Messiah will be a near kinsman; He becomes man (a Jew, in fact), “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (He.4:15), who redeems His bride.

We want to look back at verse 3 and the fact that Israel was carried into captivity at no cost to the captors. No money is given to the captors in order to release their slaves; to the contrary, the oppressors were destroyed. However, a terrible price must be paid for the sin, which brought about their captivity, a price which Israel will not and cannot pay. For carrying out the work of redemption, the Servant “shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (v.13).  Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (Jn.12:32-33).   

“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind” (v.14). This is a matter of astonishment in every respect, far beyond the astonishment of gazing at a badly beaten man. The astonishment lies more in the fact that God would use these means to “to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Ro.3:26). The cross is an astonishing, brutal, and terrible picture of the perfect righteousness of God in dealing with sin. Isaiah shows us the price that He paid to redeem us and Israel. He was beaten so badly, the blows to his face and head coming from palms, fists and finally a rod, so that He was beyond recognition.

He received the righteous penalty, issued against us, due to our sins. “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” The Day of Atonement was the one day during the entire year that the high priest entered the Holy of Holies. A sin sacrifice was offered for all the people, and the blood of the sacrifice was taken into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the front of the mercy seat. It was sprinkled upon the altar and upon the tabernacle in general. The Servant of the Lord became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and His blood is accepted in the Holy of Holies. That precious blood sprinkles the nations. Those, who come under the blood, are cleansed by His grace, the price of the penalty for their sins is paid, and they are redeemed freely by the blood of the Lamb.

“Kings shall shut their mouths because of him” (v.15).The feet of the Apostle Paul carried the astonishingly good news into lands, which had never heard the story before (Ro.15:21). No story is its equal. It is the gospel that teaches that people are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. In all the literature ever written and of all the plots ever imagined throughout the history of literature, nothing comes close. The mouths of the most learned and noble are shut, when the Spirit of God opens their understanding. But, when the Carpenter of Nazareth, despised, rejected and crucified, is exalted to take the throne of David and reign over the nations, awe will shut every mouth and every knee shall bow before Him.  


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