Is. 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
As I read through this chapter, I am convinced that Jesus is still speaking, especially because of verses 6 and 7. Scripture speaks of Israel, the Jewish people, as God’s wife and the church as the bride of Christ. Maybe the Father is speaking in these first three verses and the Son begins speaking in the fourth. I refuse to get hung up in this area when it is the message that is important.
Isaiah’s audience was primarily the people of the southern kingdom of Judah, but was basically applicable to all of Israel. YHWH is using rhetorical questions to make His point. He has never severed His relationship with His chosen people in any way. It is the people who have broken relationship with YHWH. I would assume that God is referencing Israel, the northern kingdom, as the mother since they represented the big majority of the nation as a whole.
“iniquities” = perversity, i.e. (moral) evil:—fault, iniquity, mischief, punishment (of iniquity), sin……Webster = Turned aside; hence, specifically, turned away from the right; willfully erring
“transgressions” = a revolt (national, moral or religious):—rebellion, sin, transgression, trespass.
The LORD is making clear through the prophet that the position in which they find themselves is a result of their actions, their choices. They have brought judgment upon themselves.
Is. 50:2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
Is. 50:3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.
God has been faithful to reach out to His people through the prophets. It’s like the people have been desensitized to the message. They have become comfortable in their sin. Through lack of use, their senses have lost their function; they are spiritually blind and deaf. They have refused to respond in shame and repentance.
The LORD is reminding His people to remember Who He IS. He is the great I AM who delivered them from Egypt as well as from their other enemies in the past. He can simply speak and sea will dry up (e.g., the Red Sea when they were escaping Egypt), or the sun and moon will appear nonexistent if He declares that darkness will prevail (e.g., another plague on the land of Egypt). He is The Creator with complete authority over His creation. His hand has not been shortened or weakened in any respect. He possesses all power and authority to accomplish His purposes.
Is. 50:4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
As the Savior begins to speak, I am reminded again that God is outside of time. Although He speaks to us in the language of time, the past and future are just as relevant as the now from His perspective. Jesus came declaring the word of God through the power of the Spirit. In His time on earth before the crucifixion, He was as dependent upon the Spirit for teaching, power and revelation as we are now. His message is always timely for those who are in need of strength and provision. The gospel writers depict the Savior ever in a posture of prayer; He was ever attuned to the call of the Father for a time of communion.
That is certainly one of the most precious blessings I’ve experienced as I have grown in my relationship with the Lord—especially since He has allowed me to experience the special gift of staying at home full time with the opportunity to immerse myself in the Word as never before. My prayer time has become much more precious as well. I’ve learned to look forward to those times when He awakens me in the early morning hours for communion, worship and intercession.
Is. 50:5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
In contrast to God’s chosen people, who were rebellious, the Savior was submissive and ready to hear from the Lord. God doesn’t force His way into a person’s life. When a person is submissive and willing, the Lord will “open” his ear for wisdom and understanding. I thought the Hebrew for the word open was interesting; it states, “to open wide (literally or figuratively); specifically, to loosen, begin, plough.” This paints a picture to me of preparation and making ready for the sowing of the seed of truth.
Is. 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
“I gave” – When Jesus surrendered to the authorities of His day, He did so willingly. They could never have taken Him had He not been willing.
John 10:15-18 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
I can hardly read these verses, or any other verses that speak of all that the Lord went through on my behalf, without feeling great emotion—a combination of shame, gratitude, and pure joy at being loved so unconditionally. I always feel it important to connect scriptures as much as possible. When I looked for the New Testament quote regarding the plucking of His beard, I could not find one. That in no way changes the truth of the statement; it just means that for some reason that the Holy Spirit chose not to confirm that fact—or I missed it in my search.
Matthew 26:67-68 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
Mark 15:15-19 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.
Is. 50:7 For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
“help” = surround, protect, succour – Webster: succor = to help or relieve when in difficulty, want, or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; to relieve
“confounded” = be made ashamed, be put to confusion
Jesus never doubted that the Father would strengthen Him and empower Him to complete what He had called Him, His Son, to do. This doesn’t mean that Jesus was delivered from the pain involved with His judgment and crucifixion; it means that He was confident of being able to endure the pain and eventually overcome in victory through the resurrection. He never lost His focus on obeying the Father because He knew He would not be disappointed (from the Hebrew for ashamed) when the whole thing was behind Him. He was determined to complete His purpose in redeeming mankind, therefore the comparison of His countenance to a hard rock. This brings to mind a verse in Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Is. 50:8 He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.
Is. 50:9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.
This is again a statement of confidence and trust that the Son placed in the Father. He knows the truth—“If God is for us, who can be against us.” (Romans 8:31) Those who choose to stand in opposition to Him are dying and facing destruction. This is in direct contrast to the Savior who is confident of His position for eternity with the Father.
Is. 50:10 Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.
This verse makes me think of the faith of Job and of the three Hebrew children who were threatened with the fiery furnace.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him….
Daniel 3:17-18 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
One of the most important truths to notice in this verse is that there are those on earth who fear God and obey His Son, yet who walk in darkness/misery (from the Hebrew). God has never promised His children that we would be prosperous and without trouble or sorrow, but He has promised that we would never be alone—that He would be with us.
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The person who puts their trust in God will find that He is their light in the darkness and the source of their strength to carry on. The Psalmist put it this way.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
As I know I have said elsewhere, the name of the LORD is representative of His character. To trust in the name of the LORD is to trust in all that that name represents—that He is righteous, holy, faithful, loving, merciful, etc. To trust in the LORD is to be confident and secure in Him as a place of refuge (from the Hebrew). This truth is beautifully stated in the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
The Hebrew for the word stay describes someone who is finding his support in the LORD—one who is leaning and relying on the Lord. This describes one that knows that without the LORD you will fall—you will have no support. David expressed this truth when fleeing from Saul.
2Samuel 22:18-20 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
David recognized that his enemies were too strong for him; he was completely relying on God for his protection and deliverance.
Is. 50:11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
This verse is addressing those who choose to reject God and His light and walk in light of their own making. The end of their time of darkness/misery will end just as it started—in anguish and sorrow. The righteous will find deliverance and joy while those who reject God as LORD will be miserable for eternity. The choice again is either/or; there is no middle ground. God is either Lord/master of your life or not. You cannot serve two masters.
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.