SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Isaiah 49:1 through 59:21
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
This portion of the Book of Isaiah is filled with consolation and hope as the prophet unveils God’s promise of redemption through the Messiah. Isaiah spoke more about the Messiah than any other Old Testament prophet, describing the Redeemer of Israel as both a suffering Servant and a sovereign Lord.
In chapters 49-59, the prophet presented a sequence of portraits of the Servant and His mission as the agent of salvation to the Jews and the Gentiles. He foretold that the Prince of Peace would come to pardon Israel’s sins, redeem the people from their wickedness, and institute peace in their midst. As the suffering Servant of His people and a Light to the surrounding nations, He would humbly offer Himself as a sacrifice for many — calling those with “ears to hear” to hearken to God’s voice and turn back to Him.
Israel had not been forgotten; the Messiah would bring the nation back from captivity and would restore His people to the Promised Land. The prophet also foretold that the Messiah would set up His own Millennial Kingdom where He would rule with righteousness, and would bring comfort, deliverance, and renewal to His people.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- How is God’s purpose toward the Gentile nations described in Isaiah 49:6? What impact does this purpose have on us?
The Gentile nations were in a state of darkness before the coming of Christ. Christ would be a “light” to them, bringing salvation to “the end of the earth” — to the extremity, border, or outermost coast. Isaiah also stated that the Messiah’s ministry would bring liberty to the captives (verses 8-13) and love and hope to the discouraged (Isaiah 49:14-50:3).
In response to the second question, bring out that, as Gentiles, this declaration means we too can be recipients of this wonderful “light” and enjoy the blessings that come from trusting in God’s Servant and our Redeemer for salvation. As a follow-up to this question, you could engage your class in a discussion of the properties and benefits of physical light, and then compare this to the spiritual light brought by the Messiah.
- In Isaiah 49:1-7 the prophet referred to opposition to the Messiah’s ministry, and in Isaiah 50:5-6, we read specific details of His suffering. What characteristics of the Servant are revealed in these verses?
Your students may suggest such words as submissive, obedient, purposeful, or faithful. All of these are correct: the point is to develop a picture of the nature of the Messiah. Even when His people rejected Him, reviled Him, and scourged and spit on Him, He was an obedient, submissive Servant. He purposed to fulfill His mission (verse 7) and He knew God would uphold and vindicate Him (verses 8-9).
- The prophet began chapter 51 with a reminder of God’s past help (verses 1-3) and a reassurance regarding Israel’s future (verses 4-8). Verses 9-10 record either the prophet’s words or the prayer of the righteous remnant to God. What petition was made of Him in these verses? How did God respond (verses 12-16)?
The cry is for God to intervene for His people as He did when He defeated Pharaoh and redeemed His people from Egyptian bondage. God responded by reminding the nation of His greatness. He pointed out that men will die and be as the grass that will burn up, but the all-powerful God who created Heaven and earth would not fail them.
Ask your class what application these verses have for us. Bring out that when we forget the Lord’s greatness and look at circumstances, we become fearful. We must remember that God is greater than any trials or challenges we might face. The God who created the universe has all power to act on our behalf.
- Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Explain this verse and note how it relates to the Redeemer.
The “good tidings” is the message of salvation, which comes through Jesus Christ. As your class offers thoughts or paraphrases of this verse, lead your group to focus on the joy that the message of salvation through Christ brings to the lost and dying. As a follow-up, ask your class for specific ways the “glad tidings” can be delivered to the unsaved.
- Chapter 53 describes the substitutionary death of the Servant on behalf of Israel and all people. In verse 6, what is meant by the phrase, “the chastisement of our peace was upon Him”?
This phrase sums up the theme of chapter 53: that the innocent Servant died in the place of the guilty. Christ did not die to become a martyr, to become an example of bravery, or solely to demonstrate His love. Rather, He died because we were guilty. The punishment for our sins was inflicted on Christ, and He paid the price for our peace and reconciliation with God.
Point out that the word “chastisement” here is not the chastisement of a loving father, such as the Lord administers to His people, but an act of retributive justice and wrath, one that takes vengeance on sin. Through this chastisement, divine wrath is appeased, justice is satisfied, and peace is made.
- Through the years, Jerusalem has been battered and destroyed by foreign nations. What will happen to it in the Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom? Isaiah 54:11-17
The Lord will restore the city and rebuild the New Jerusalem on a foundation of sapphires with towers of rubies and walls of precious stones (verses 11-12; see also Revelation 21:10-27). The Israelites will live in faith, gladly receiving the Lord’s instruction (verse 13). Also, because they will turn to the Lord, no terror will befall them (verse 14). Those who attempt to harm them will be destroyed (verses 15-17).
- In chapter 55, the millennial blessings promised to Israel expand beyond its borders to the Gentile nations. The invitation from God’s Servant in this chapter is to come (verses 1-5) and to seek (verses 6-13), and concludes in the subsequent chapter, where the invitation is to worship (verses 1-8). What specific imagery is used in verses 1-2 of chapter 55, and what is the message being given?
The imagery is that of a person who has an opportunity to go to the marketplace to buy whatever he wants without money. The prophet’s message is that the people should not spend their efforts for something that is not spiritually satisfying — it is pointless to invest time and energy in things that ultimately are not beneficial to the soul. Bring out that even today it is possible to get so caught up in the material and physical aspects of life that we miss its whole purpose.
- Chapter 56 ends with an indictment of the spiritual watchmen of Israel. The prophet condemns them with biting sarcasm as “blind” and “ignorant,” and refers to them as “dumb dogs” because they were negligent and consumed by self-indulgence. According to Isaiah 56:12, what false assumption was held by the watchmen, as well as the people in general? What warning does this give for our day?
The spiritual watchmen and the people themselves falsely assumed that all things would continue as they were, and were unheeding of the prophetical warnings given them. In our day, too, some fail to consider the coming judgment of God, and neglect His offer of salvation. Instead, they continue on in their daily lives, assuming that the next day will be just as the one before. The fact is, no one can be sure of tomorrow. Every person should be ready to meet God today.
- Chapter 57 continued the prophet’s lament over the idolatry of the people, which he described as spiritual adultery and prostitution. The people had adopted aspects of the pagan cultures around them, and were practicing sorcery, magic, and sexual abominations. They also had made alliances with pagan nations, and trusted them for protection instead of looking to God. According to verse 13, what would be the outcome of this misplaced trust?
When the storms came, their idols would be blown away like chaff. They were “vanity,” which means “nothingness.” They were incapable of offering deliverance of any kind.
Class discussion could focus on the fact that idols are anything that steals the devotion that belongs to God. Ask what things can become idols in our day. Suggestions may include money, prestige, friends, education, position, etc. In the time of trouble, these will not offer any lasting protection or deliverance. However, if we make the Lord our hope and our refuge, we have nothing to fear.
- After condemning the wicked idolaters, encouragement was offered to the godly remnant. In Isaiah 57:15, who did the “high and lofty One” promise to revive? What great lesson of the spiritual life does this reveal?
Those who approach the Lord in contrition and humility will enjoy His blessing. The lesson is that revival comes only to those who are humble and broken before God. It is poured out upon those who set aside anything that takes precedence over God, and find a renewed and total dependence upon the Lord Himself.
- In chapter 58, the prophet rebuked those who practiced false or hypocritical worship and pointed out the blessings of true worship. In our Christian walk, we must take care that our worship of God at church does not become a formality or a mechanical exercise. What are some ways we can keep our worship authentic and fresh?
Allow your class to offer specific suggestions. These could include: making sure there is nothing hindering the connection between ourselves and God, purposefully shutting out distractions, coming with a sincere heart not just to be seen, spending time in prayer before and after a worship service, asking for God’s help to stay focused, etc. The point should be made that true worship is a matter of the heart, so we must make sure that our hearts are prepared for worship.
God’s judgment of Israel foreshadows what will occur on the final Day of the Lord when all the nations will be judged. Then “the Redeemer shall come to Zion” (Isaiah 59:20), and His glorious kingdom will be established. God’s “chosen” people will also be God’s “cleansed” people, and the glory of their Messiah and Lord will radiate from Mount Zion.