Bible Study: Isaiah 52:1-15
In today’s lesson, God calls for the Jews to rise out of the Babylonian captivity and look forward to their redemption.
Isaiah Chapter 52
Lessons from the text
Vessels of the Lord
When the holy temple was on earth, the vessels of the Lord were the spoons, cups, and other objects used to offer sacrifices and burn incense to God. They were the tools used to carry out the worship and laws of God. Today, we have a different temple.
Paul writes that we, the believers, are the new temple of God (I Cor 3:16). If, then, we are the holy temple, what are the vessels? Is it not also us?
The born-again believers are to make their own bodies a living sacrifice, an object of worship to God in recognition of and praise for His salvation (Rom 12:1). We are not to touch anything unclean but remain undefiled before Him. That is, we are not to go back to sin or partake in ungodly activities or lifestyles.
When we remain undefiled, then we can be used in the service of the Lord just as the vessels of the temple could be used in service. And, just like the vessels of the temple, if we become unclean, then we are unfit for service and are caste out. Nonetheless, is it not a blessing to think of yourself as a living vessel meant for service to God? It is a great honor to be a tool God can use.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 When God fully redeems Israel, there will be no wicked people found therein. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes it clear that the only people who will dwell in God's holy city will be the righteous. The holy city (or kingdom of God) is the New Jerusalem which God will create after the destruction of the old heaven and earth (Rev 21:1-3 ). This is the redemption of Israel and the eternal home of the saints.
2 The Jews are in captivity in Babylon for their own choices; they sold themselves when they turned away from God and chased after idolatry and worldly goods. Reduced to lying in the dirt, they are far from the elevated virgin bride God desires them to be. Such is why God must redeem them, and He promises to do so without money. After Jesus came to earth, this verse is understood to refer to the fact that people are redeemed not by physical goods but by the blood of Jesus Christ.
4-6 While the Jews are to go into captivity for their sins, they will be unfairly treated. In Egypt, they were invited as friends but in time became feared and oppressed into slavery by the Egyptians (Gen 45:17-20, Exo 1:8-11). In Babylon, instead of being treated as citizens they are to be persecuted to the point that they cry out in pain. The Babylonians will unfairly treat the Jews without a cause. Worse, they will mock the God of the Jews, perhaps with such words as "If your God is real, why does he allow you to suffer at our hand?” In response to this mistreatment, God will make His presence known. He will not stand for His name to be blasphemed.
7 In a world filled with sin, darkness, and oppression, the news of salvation and God’s reign brings great relief and joy. It is far better to be proclaiming what is right than to be a persecutor or slanderer.
8 To see eye to eye is to be close at hand and also to perceive clearly. This understanding causing rejoicing and singing among God’s servants, which are the watchmen (see Isa 21:6, Eze 33:7). This clear sight will be granted when God brings again, or redeems, Jerusalem. This refers to the full redemption of Israel when God creates the new earth.
9-10 When God redeems His people, all the nations will be be forced to acknowledge the hand of God. That is, they will have proof of the sovereign power and authority of God to protect and deliver.
11-12 Those that bear the vessels of the Lord are the Levites and priests. Under the new covenant of Christ, every believer is a priest (1 Pet 2:9). Those who have experienced salvation are to go forward into the world, keeping from all things unclean (sinful), bearing the objects used for service to the Lord. God promises to go before such a one to set a pace of life that is neither rushed nor fearful.
13 Instead of having to be worried about one’s life, the servant of God looks carefully at circumstances and responds with wisdom. Merriam Webster defines prudent is as “marked by wisdom or judiciousness; shrewd in the management of practical affairs; marked by circumspection; and provident, frugal.” If one is careful with one’s choices and mannerisms in this life, one will be exalted in the life to come and, sometimes, in this life on earth. Noteworthy is that this verse, while still applicable to believers in general, is switching to one individual in particular. The servant of God (Jesus) will live prudently and be exalted very high (sit at the right hand of the Father).
After this cruel deformation, many nations will be sprinkled by this servant of God, an action reminiscent of the priest’s ceremony for sanctification (Lev 4:1-6). Blood is required for the forgiveness of sin (Heb 9:22). Jesus sprinkles the nations with His blood to forgive them of their sins.
The last thought of this verse takes away any accusation that the Christian faith is unfair to those who have not heard the Gospel; God makes everyone consider and see salvation. It does not take a preacher or missionary for God to convict a sinner and reveal how one can be saved. However, whether or not one chooses to accept His salvation is dependent on one’s free will.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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