For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money. — Isaiah 52:3
Bruce Archer, a man from our Portland congregation, used to testify: “My mother was a Christian, and she faithfully read the Bible and prayed with me. My father tried to bring me up to do the right thing, but I would not come under his rule. When I was fifteen years old, I left home and got a job washing dishes in a restaurant. There was a gambling hall upstairs, and I began to frequent that place. In a very short time, I saw that I was going to need more money than my wages. The boss’s long pistol was under the counter. I decided to steal that gun and get more money with it.”
Over a number of years, Bruce committed a string of crimes that reached across the United States. Once he hid for fifteen days in the swamps of Arkansas, a Winchester strapped to his back. Another time, a posse of twenty-five men was instructed to take him dead or alive, and some of them came within thirty yards of him. That first crime led to a life of misery because, by giving in to sin, he “sold himself for nought.”
One day, however, Bruce heard a Gospel street meeting. He pulled his car over and listened. When the service ended, Bruce went to the church. There he knelt at the altar and prayed, “Lord, if You will save me, I’ll give You my life.” God did save him, “without money,” but because Bruce brought Him a submitted will and a repentant heart. In a moment of time, God revolutionized Bruce’s life and set him free. Released from the bondage of sin, Bruce went back over his past and made restitution for his wrongs. At the end of his life, he could say, “I have a clean record and a clean heart. Jesus did it for me!”
How easily the human family can sell themselves “for nought.” In Isaiah’s time, God’s people had sold themselves into sin, and the profit was nothing. Although they had not deliberately provoked Egypt or Assyria, they had provoked God by sinning, and He had sent judgment through those nations. Captivity was the result of their sin, yet God promised to redeem them “without money.” He would deliver them for His own sake.
Today, God still wants to redeem those who have sold themselves to sin. If we know of people in that condition, we can extend hope to them. We can pray they will offer God a surrendered will and a repentant heart, so He can redeem them as well.
The first verse of this chapter contains a third “wake-up” call to Jerusalem. (The first two wake-up calls are found in Isaiah 51, verses 9 and 17.) This was an important admonition to get up and put on garments of righteousness. God’s chosen people had been oppressed and persecuted by Egypt and Assyria, and would be held captive by the Babylonians. (Note that Isaiah speaks from a future perspective, as though both the captivity and the people’s return had already occurred.)
Verse 1 mentions “Jerusalem, the holy city.” Several Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments refer to Jerusalem as the holy city. It had been set aside by God, but because the Jews refused to obey Him, it would be destroyed first by armies of Babylon (this occurred in 586 B.C.) and then by the Romans (this occurred in 70 A.D.).
Isaiah also saw ahead to the time during the Millennial Reign when the remnant of the Jews will return to Jerusalem, and God will receive the full honor due His wonderful Name. The prophet foretold that during the Millennium, the “uncircumcised and the unclean” (those who are not saved) will not go into Jerusalem. The Jewish people will be able to shake off the “dust” of captivity.
Verse 7 refers to good tidings. In the future, the Jews will rejoice to be able to return to their land, rebuild their temple, and worship God. They will again bear the “vessels of the Lord,” leaving all foreign and idolatrous worship behind.
“Depart ye, depart ye” (verse 11) was a challenge for the Israelites to separate themselves unto God and return to their homeland. Verse 12 uses the term rereward, which means “rear guard.” God was promising that He would go both before and behind His people, and that He would provide totally for their protection.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
B. The person of the deliverer (redemption)
4. The exhortation to return to the Lord
c. The cleansing of Israel (52:1-12)
(1) The restoration of Israel (52:1-6)
(2) The praise for liberation (52:7-10)
(3) The purification of Israel (52:11-12)
God promised to deliver Israel when they turned their hearts and minds to follow Him. So, too, He will lead those today who set their hearts and minds to follow His instructions.