Ok, back to a little more world history. As I pointed out before, at the end of the second book of Kings the second of the two kingdoms (in the south) had fallen and the exile of Israel had begun. We are actually going to take a couple steps back from this point in history to a time after the northern kingdom had fallen and before the southern kingdom falls to Babylon. Remember there was about 130 years between the fall of the kingdoms. We are at a point of about 700 years before Christ.
During this stormy period marked by the expansion of the Assyrian empire and the decline of Israel, a man named Isaiah wrote about a servant of God who would come and rescue his people. Through Isaiah at this point in history God reveals to his people a little more of his long range plan.
Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?Like a rose trampled on the ground ...
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true.
Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it— life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep. (Isaiah 53, The Message)