Isaiah 51–52. Preparing For the Servant.
Key Notes: Rahab? What is the arm of the Lord?
As he has often done in the past, Isaiah moves back and forth in time from the present to the End Times. We will see Jerusalem at four different points, in decay, in restoration, with multitudes around it singing, and at last as a place where there is no defilement. There is a sense of excitement in the passage that alerts the reader:" hearken", "listen", "awake", "rouse yourself", "hear this". He is preparing us for the Servant.
51:1–16 Isaiah addresses the Israel of God--those who pursue salvation and seek God.
They should consider Abraham and Sarah, God's prime exhibits of faith, blessed by God and made into a multitude.
God will restore Israel and make her like the Garden of Eden.
God's salvation draws near. The heavens may pass away but salvation is forever.
They should not fear the disapproval of men.
It is the arm of the Lord that pierced the dragon and made a way for the ransomed to return. They will return with singing and joy.
It makes no sense to fear men who die and forget God who has the power to release captives, create worlds, and affirm Israel.
51:17–23 Israel of the flesh, however, has drunk the cup of the wrath of God. Devastation and destruction have befallen her. Her sons have fainted. They are walked on by the enemy. But God will put the cup of wrath into the hands of the tormenters.
52:1–6 It is time for Jerusalem to dress for celebration. Israel was oppressed by Egypt and Assyria, sold for nothing and then-- redeemed without money. In the end, they will know that JHWH is God.
52:7–10 Isaiah sings a song of rejoicing for the preachers of the Gospel. The passage is quoted in Rom.10:15 where the message is the same. All the world will see the salvation of our God.
52:11–12 The priests who carry the sacred vessels will leave (Babylon) and return to Jerusalem under God's protection. This prophecy was fulfilled. Ezra 1–2, 7–8
What is meant by Rahab? What is the arm of the Lord? The arm of the Lord is addressed: "O arm of the Lord, awake, as in days of old....Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, that pierced the dragon?" (51:9)
Rahab is a code name for Egypt. Rahab / Egypt is linked to Leviathan / dragon / serpent by a national symbol of Egypt, the crocodile.
It is the arm of the Lord that accomplishes this victory. What is the arm of the Lord in Isaiah?
“Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.” (33:2)
“The Lord God comes with might and His arm rules for Him.” (40:10)
“His arm shall be against the Chaldeans (Babylonians).” (48:14)
“For my arm the coastlands (nations) hope." (51:5)
“The Lord has bared his holy arm before all the nations.” (52:10)
“To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before Him like a young plant....” (53:1)
These passages indicate that the arm of the Lord is involved in salvation of the nations as well as Israel, ruling, going against Babylon and destroying Satan. That the arm is a person (“He”) is suggested by Isa.53:1, the Servant of Isa.53. Thus we believe that The Arm of the Lord is another name for Christ. He is God in action, revealed to the nations (with sleeves rolled up, Isa.52:10), saving, ruling, conquering.
How was He involved in the contest with Egypt, the Exodus? THe information is abundant.
How does Christ destroy the Dragon, Satan?
Satan's destruction is in three phases.
•During His ministry, Jesus bound Satan, "the strong man", overcoming demons. Matt.12:25–29
•By His death, resurrection and ascension, He freed the captives from bondage to sin and the fear of death. Eph.4:8. Heb. 2:15
•At the end of the Age, He will have Satan cast into the Lake of Fire. Rev.20:10
The numerous calls for attention in these two chapters direct our gaze to Isa. 53, where the Servant is described in greatest detail: "Behold my Servant!".
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, their feet shod with the equipment of the Gospel of Peace. (Eph.6:15), publishing salvation. Our God reigns! And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
We are often reticent, even frightened to be God's tellers of Good News. But God says it is a beautiful way to use your feet.