We are going to look at the first part of Isaiah 53, which is often considered to be one of the most popular messianic prophecies. One of the reasons is because of its striking features. It speaks about an innocent and pure “Servant of the Lord” who carries the sins of others and brings them spiritual healing. Also, this servant is “cut off out of the land of the living,” and yet later, it says that “He will see his offspring, He will prolong his days,” implying a type of resurrection. So, this chapter has attracted a lot of attention!
However, because it is so popular, there is also a lot of debate surrounding Isaiah 53. Who is the Servant of the Lord? While some say that this is about the Messiah, others argue it is about the nation of Israel who takes on the punishments from the nations, or some say that it is about the prophet Jeremiah who was an innocent sufferer.
Interestingly, when we open to Isaiah 53:1, we come face to face with one of the main reasons why the larger Jewish community did not accept Yeshua. Much of it revolved around failed expectations; Yeshua did not fulfill their expectations of who a Messiah should be. While the community anticipated a kingly ruler, and with good reason, instead, they were presented with a lowly Messiah who was going to die. Because their expectations were not adjusted to God’s full revelation, they missed the mark.
And this struggle of “failed expectations” is not strictly an issue for the first century Jewish community; it is a danger all of us may suffer from, even today, if we are not careful.
You know, one common teaching in North America that you hear from televangelists and popular books is that we are called to live a trouble-free life — that God has called us to be wealthy, healthy, and that all our prayers should be answered immediately. And if these things are not found in our lives, we think “something is wrong” and we could become spiritually discouraged. However, we need to orient our expectations according to how God actually works in Scripture.
While God does heal people in Scripture, we also have cases like Timothy who had a perpetual stomach illness. And while God sometimes answers prayer right away, we read about Paul who asked God three times to take away his thorn in the flesh. But God did not. And it is only when we have both sides of the coin exposed that we can adjust our understanding and expectations of God to properly walk with Him in harmony.
In this message, we are going to look at two main points: First, the rejected message. Here, we will see how the community heard the message of the Lord, had the opportunity to accept it, but inevitably it was not accepted by faith— they did not believe it. And this is a good reminder for us that “hearing” the Word is one thing, but we are also called to “trust” the revelation and that is something different. It means walking in it. The second aspect we will discuss is the rejected Messiah. Here, we get a first-person perspective of the people in the first century who rejected Messiah — here we see what they were thinking, and the impact of false expectations. Finally, we will consider how we may safeguard against this.
The main point is that when we do not allow the full revelation of God to determine our expectations of God, we run into the danger of imposing our desires on Him, which results in a failure to see these expectations come to fruition.