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Notes on Isaiah 53 and the City of Zion

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Jan 22, 2024.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    An interesting fact about the last half of Isaiah concerns the twenty occurrences of the word “Jerusalem”:


    There are ten in chapters 40 through 52.

    None in the more explicitly Messianic section and following chapters, 53 – 61.

    And ten again in chapters 62 through 66.

    Here we come to the section of Isaiah that has no mention of Jerusalem or Zion at all (the next mentions of “Zion” being 59:20 and 60:14, the next “Jerusalem occurs at 62:1).

    What are we to make of this? God sweeps aside the motifs of city and temple and reveals to us the real cause of our salvation, the astonishing mission, life and death of our Messiah. All of the types, prophecies, parables, and many of the historical incidents, even, of the Old Testament point to our Christ Jesus. He is the foundation of the city, as well as it’s light and life.

    But it is as our sin-substitute that He has given us life. Who could have guessed – certainly prophets and angels, even, weren’t able to understand this – that the Messiah was first to die, and in such a horrible, shameful, cursed way!

    A cursed and blessed foundation
    Now here is a strange irony: God pronounced the act of killing the firstborn for the setting up of the city of Jericho one of those abominations that brought judgment. Yet God does this to His own Son. The death of Christ is the foundation of the Heavenly Jerusalem. We are saved through His death.

    Even though there is no explicit mention of Jerusalem or Zion in this section of Isaiah it is certainly here in the truer, deeper sense. Chapter 53 is the key to understanding Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.



    How is this true? Consider the following verses:

    Abraham “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God”. - Heb. 11:10

    Peter also, quoting Isaiah 28:16, reveals who the builder and maker of Zion is:

    “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

    “Behold, I lay in Zion
    A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
    And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
    - 1 Peter 2:5-6

    Christ is this Cornerstone of Zion. That is to say, the Foundation of the Heavenly City. [Note]



    The Greatest City in the World - has only one Door.
    Christ is not only the foundation. He is also the door, the only door to the sheepfold. He said

    I am the door of the sheep”, John 10:7.

    He is the Door who, throughout this age of exercising grace, people are straining to get into this great city - all through this one Door! Yes, regeneration is the work of a single believing instant, but the evidence of that regeneration is seen in the obedience of faith, “press[ing] toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”, Phil. 3:14. Peter speaks of Christ as both Door and Foundation in Acts 4:11- 12:

    This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone [that is, “foundation stone”].

    “Nor is there salvation in any other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”


    When God provided them their own Messiah that they professed to be waiting for, the unbelieving builders looked around for other building materials, like their ancient fathers in Egypt, seeking to add strawy chaff to their useless bricks.


    Crucial and carefully hidden Isaiah 53
    It is with this same attitude that the majority of the Jews treated this Messianic portion of Isaiah: They ignored it. My version of the Torah has almost every other chapter of Isaiah – except this Messianic centerpiece and foundation of all the blessedness of the rest of the book! How strange, and how sad! Some Jewish works actually draw a black line around this passage, as well as Daniel 9, and proscribe the public reading of these two portions.

    “Behold My Servant shall deal prudently;
    He shall be exalted [ or, “be lifted up”] and be very high.

    Just as many were astonished at you,
    So His appearance was marred more than any man,
    And His form more than the sons of men;

    “So shall He sprinkle many nations.
    Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
    For what had not been told them they shall see,
    And what they had not heard they shall consider.”
    Isaiah 52:13- 15

    Aside from the well known teaching of Christ’s suffering, atoning death and resurrection, this whole section also teaches the growth of the church, that enlarging of the tent (54:2) that proved to be such a stumbling-stone to the Jews.

    His “sprinkling of many nations” teaches that God’s care extends beyond the borders of Israel. This topic of the growth of the Kingdom is especially revisited in the last two chapters of Isaiah. Various writers see the sprinkling itself to refer primarily to Christ’s blood (1 Peter. 1:2). The kings shutting their mouths can be taken in a positive and a negative sense. First, there are bound to be some kings who will be won over to the Gospel, Isaiah 49:7. These will have no counter-arguments to the Message. Like Job’s hearers they will put their hands to their mouths, Job. 29:9, the word being preached to them becoming like the dew that gives spiritual growth, Job. 29:22; Deut. 32:2. These nations were not told and had not heard the Message – and yet God adds them now. These prove to be true sons of Abraham, and they take their place with all those Jews who are not just physical but also spiritual heirs of God’s promise to Abraham.

    Matthew Henry, commenting on this 54th chapter says “the death of Christ is the life of the church.”

    “Sing. O barren,
    You who have not borne!
    Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
    You who have not labored with child!
    For more are the children of the desolate
    Than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord.

    “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
    Do not spare;
    Lengthen your cords,
    And strengthen your stakes.

    For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
    And your descendants will inherit the nations,
    And make the desolate cities inhabited."
    Isaiah 54:1- 3

    God tore the most important curtain of the physical temple Himself (Matt. 27:51). He tore it like an outstanding bill finally paid. He tore it from top to bottom, making it clear that it was an act of God. But He tore up those to establish these. The real temple grows in size and glory, just as Haggai said it would, Hag. 2:6- 9.

    And who is the “barren one”? Fortunately, Paul quoted this very passage in Gal. 4:26-27 and applies it to the children of promise, all those who are born of the Spirit, Jews and Gentiles.

    These are the very ones who belong to Jerusalem above which is free, the mother of us all, Gal. 4:26.

    This brings us to a good quitting place for now. It brings us back to the theme of spiritual Jerusalem in Isaiah, and hopefully reminds us that Daniel 9’s prophetical Jerusalem of promise is – at least partially – a present possession of every true believer.



    NOTE

    Cornerstone as defined by the Oxford Dictionary:
    1. an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.

    2. a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls.

    Both of these are true of Christ. He is the true foundation of Zion as well as the Cornerstone (a great subject for a future study) who brings together in true alignment the two walls of Jew and Gentile.
     
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  2. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. 1 Ki 6
     
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  3. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Another example of hidden truth in the Old Testament made clearer in the New Testament.
     
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  4. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and they shall become one flock, one shepherd. Jn 10

    'The Enlargement' (what I like to call it) - "...in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God"
     
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  5. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Amen! There is so much richness in this subject. Real encouragement. It is sad when Christianity gets sidetracked on so many rabbit trails and ignore what we have as sons of the living God.
     
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  6. MrW

    MrW Well-Known Member

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    Scripture doesn’t say we are saved by His death. I haven’t found it. If you have, show me. I see He reconciled us by His death and saved us by His life.

    Romans 5:10
    For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
     
  7. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    <sigh> So true, like, sidetracked over semantics. And, for what good reason? To make an impression?
     
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  8. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    That was exactly what I thought. I wasn't going to waste much time on his trivial objection.
     
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