Text: Isaiah 50
If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be, “The Ones He Vindicates.” The LORD vindicates (literally, declares righteous) His Son who does not sin against Him, but He also vindicates those who were rebellious but have repented and returned to Him.
That is very good news for you and me! I sinned against Him for many years, even while I was going to church every Sunday. But I repented from my heart and returned to Him. Then I asked Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit and crucify the sin nature in me so I no longer sinned against Him. And He filled me with Himself and His righteousness! He did it, so He alone is glorified by what He has done! And He will do the same for any who ask Him!
Verse 1 —
Isaiah continues to prophesy for the LORD, speaking His words. “Thus says the LORD, where is the certificate of divorce by which I have sent your mother away? Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you? Behold, you were sold for your iniquities, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.”
It is a rhetorical question. The reference to “mother” means He is speaking to one of the generations born in captivity in Babylon.
The word “behold” is not in the original Hebrew. The LORD says He did not owe anyone anything, that He would need to sell His people in order to pay off a debt. But they were sold for their iniquities (sins).
He did not issue a divorce decree from His people, but they were sent away from His presence for their transgressions (moral twistedness). So, they caused their own captivity, just as I did, and just as many sinning Christians do today, for I know that I was a captive to sin. What about you?
Verses 2-3 —
He asks, “Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer?” He asks His people the same thing, through Ezekiel —
Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 “Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.
They did not listen to the words of the LORD. They did not humble themselves before Him. They did not obey Him when He warned them again and again, through His prophets. They just continued to sin against Him. So, He brought their way — their rebellion — upon their heads. He poured out His indignation upon them.
The LORD continues, “Is My hand too short, that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink for lack of water, and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering.”
By simply speaking a word, He dries up the waters! By simply speaking a word, He covers the universe with blackness, the clothing of mourning.
By simply speaking a word, He certainly could have saved His people from being taken captive. But they have made their own bed, because they continued to rebel against Him, despite His many warnings. Now they must lie in the bed they have made.
When the enemy was at the gate, His rebellious people cried out to Him to save them. Isaiah records the LORD’s response —
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
Verses 4-5 —
In contrast to the rebellious who He will not vindicate, God the Son now speaks. Surely, God the Father vindicates His sinless Son!
His Son says, “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue (speech) of disciples (literally, of the learned), that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning. He awakens (opens) My ear to listen as a disciple.”
Jesus Christ had the speech of the learned, though He was never educated by the Jewish rabbis (John 7:15). His wisdom did not come from man, but He was God in the flesh, and had the wisdom of God.
And with that wisdom, He knew exactly what wisdom the weary — those who were weak from fleeing their enemies — needed to hear. While He walked the earth, Jesus Christ spent much time in prayer to God the Father. And each day, the Father awakened His Son and spoke to His learned Son.
Beloved, does the Lord awaken you morning by morning? Does He open your ear, so you listen to Him? Are you one to whom He has given wisdom and continues to give wisdom? When you are filled with His Holy Spirit, He will do these things! Then you will know exactly what wise word the weary one needs to hear, because the Holy Spirit teaches you all things (see John 14:26, 16:13-15).
Jesus Christ continues, “The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back.” He was God’s sinless son (Hebrews 4:15), whose ear heard what He would have to endure in order to save and reconcile all who would believe.
And He was not disobedient. He did not turn back, even though the punishment He endured on our behalf was greater than anyone can imagine (see Isaiah 53:5)! He did it for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2) — the joy of seeing all who would be saved and then sanctified through and through because of His sacrifice, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit (1Thessalonians 5:23)!
Verse 6 —
Now Jesus Christ gives us a glimpse of what He endured at the hands of the Roman guards.”I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard. I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.”
He gave His back to the Romans who scourged Him to within an inch of His life, though He had the power to call upon more than twelve legions (72,000) of angels (see Matthew 26:53). He allowed them to do it.
He gave His face to those who plucked out His beard (literally, His hair). Surely it was very painful when the Romans tore off His beard and possibly, the hair on His head! But He allowed them to do it.
He did not cover His face (He did not hide) from the humiliation He allowed. He did not hide from those who spit on Him, as Mark records —
Mark 14:65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
King David gave a prophetic account of what it was like for Jesus to be on the cross is given in Psalm 22:14-18.
He was poured out like water.
All His bones were out of joint (on the cross, they were pulled out of their sockets).
His heart was like wax; it was melted within Him (He was nearly dead from scourging and beating when they nailed Him to the cross).
His strength was dried up like a shard of pottery (He was extremely dehydrated because of loss of blood).
His tongue stuck to His jaw (again, He was extremely dehydrated).
His hands and feet were pierced (spoken 700 years before Roman crucifixion existed).
He could count all His bones (most of His flesh had been torn off by the scourging whips that were used on Him, so His bones were literally visible).
He watched as they stared at Him. Isaiah 52:14 says His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of man. He was nearly unrecognizable as human.
He watched as they divided His clothing and cast lots for it.
But He did not hide from any of the torture and shame. He obediently endured it all!
Verse 7 —
“For the Lord GOD helps Me,” Jesus says. “Therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.”
Though He appeared to be disgraced and shamed on that cross, He knew that He would not be ashamed. And though He should have been unable to speak, the Father strengthened Him so He was able to speak loudly and clearly, and able to endure all that He had to endure for you and for me. He took the punishment for your sin, beloved — the punishment you deserved!
Luke records Jesus’ face that was set like flint —
Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face (resolutely turned) to go to Jerusalem.
Verses 8-9 —
He says, “He who vindicates Me is near (literally, is His kin).” The Father, who is His Kin, will declare Him righteous, and He will be victorious —
Colossians 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (literally, through it — that is, the cross).
Because His Father will declare Him righteous, He challenges those who hate Him, saying, “Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me.”
None has a case against Him. If they try to stand up against Him in His Father’s court, they will have no evidence by which to convict Him. He has obeyed to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). So, Jesus Christ challenges them — “Draw near to Me, if you think you have a case against Me!”
Verse 9 —
He says again, “Behold, the Lord helps Me; who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment, and the moth will eat them.”
None can accuse (rebuke) Him, and none can contend with Him. No one can do it! All who hate Him, all who point fingers at Him and attempt to falsely accuse Him will wear out like a garment, and the moth will eat them. They will become as nothing, for they have no evidence by which He can be accused.
Verse 10 —
Then He address His disciples who still did not understand why He was sent by His Father. He says, “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His Servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on His God.”
His followers are those who revere the LORD and obey the voice of His Servant, Jesus Christ. But before Pentecost, His disciples walked in darkness and had no light. They walked with the Light of the world, but did not understand His purpose until after Pentecost.
Even in Acts 1:6, they asked if He would now establish His kingdom in Israel! But His is not an earthly kingdom! It is one that is established in heaven, and is also established in human hearts when they are filled with His Spirit —
Luke 17:20 And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
When Jesus says, “Let him that walks in the darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on God,” that is surely what His disciples did, when they stayed (Luke 24:49) and waited for the promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5)! Then they had His light in them, and no longer walked in the darkness.
Verse 11 —
But Jesus Christ issues a warning to those who do not have His light in them. It is a warning, then and now, to those who walk by their own wisdom, who worship man’s wisdom and man’s ways and rely on the world system that defies God.
He says, “Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands (torches). Walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand; you will lie down in torment.”
I tell you the truth, there are many who make their own light because they walk in darkness. They walk in the light they have manufactured, but it is not His light. When they stand before Him in the day of judgment, He will send them to everlasting burnings, where Jesus says the worm never dies (i.e. they will be eternally tortured), and the fire is never quenched (they will eternally burn). (See Mark 9:44, 46 and 48.)
Lord Jesus, may this be a warning to those who continue to sin against You, so they would repent and return to you. May it be a warning to those who walk by their own light. And may it be an encouragement to those who are filled with Your Spirit. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.