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A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
and given by Jack Ngann, Pastor
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, July 30, 2023

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (Isaiah 52:13-15; p. 760 Scofield).

Please keep your Bible open to this passage. These verses should be included with chapter 53, rather than chapter 52, according to Dr. John Gill, as well as “the vast majority” of modern commentators (Frank E. Gaebelein, D.D., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Regency Reference Library, 1986, volume 6, p. 300).

The entire passage, from verse 13 through chapter 53 verse 12, refers to the “suffering servant” of God. Matthew Henry said,

This prophecy, which begins here and is continued to the end of the next chapter, points as plainly as can be at Jesus Christ; the ancient Jews understood it of the Messiah, though modern [rabbis] take a great deal of pains to pervert it…but Philip, who hence [from this passage] preached Christ to the eunuch, has put it past dispute that “of him speaks the prophet this,” of him and of no other man, Acts 8:34, 35 (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, volume 4, p. 235).

The ancient Jewish Targum says that it refers to the Messiah, as did the rabbis of antiquity, Aben Ezra and Alshech (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 309).

As well, Christian commentators throughout history have seen this passage as a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Spurgeon said,

How could they do otherwise? To whom else could the prophet have referred? If the man of Nazareth, the Son of God, be not right visible in these three verses, they are as dark as midnight itself. We do not hesitate for a moment in applying every word to our Lord Jesus Christ (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Sure Triumph of the Crucified One,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1971 reprint, volume XXI, p. 241).

As already mentioned by Matthew Henry, Philip the evangelist said that this passage of Scripture foretold the suffering of Christ.

“And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:34-35; p. 1160).

We can do no better than the ancient Targum, the rabbis of antiquity, the evangelist Philip, and the Christian commentators of the ages. Each word of our text is a prophecy of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. First, we see Christ’s service to God.

It is God the Father who says the words of verse 13,

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isaiah 52:13; p. 760).

God tells us to look to His “servant.” When Jesus came down to earth, He

“made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”
     (Philippians 2:7; p. 1258).

As God’s Servant on earth, Christ dealt prudently, and acted wisely. All that Jesus said and did, during His ministry on earth, was done with great wisdom. As a little boy in the Temple, the rabbis were astonished at His wisdom. Later, the Pharisees and Sadducees could not answer Him, and the mouth of Pilate, the Roman governor, was shut when He spoke.

Then our text says, concerning God’s Servant,

“He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high”
     (Isaiah 52:13).

The words in modern English can be rendered “raised,” “lifted up,” and “highly exalted.” Dr. Edward J. Young pointed out that “It is impossible to read these words without being reminded of the exaltation of Christ depicted in Philippians 2:9-11 and Acts 2:33” (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, Eerdmans, 1972, volume 3, p. 336).

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9; p. 1258).

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted…he hath shed forth this” (Acts 2:32-33; p. 1151).

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isaiah 52:13).

Exalted – “raised.” Extolled – “lifted up.” Very high – “highly exalted.” Here are words that reflect the stages of the elevation of Christ. He rises from the dead! He is lifted up to Heaven at His ascension! He is now seated at the right hand of God! Exalted – “raised”! Extolled – “lifted up.” Very high – even to the right hand of God in Heaven! Amen!

Lifted up was He to die,
     “It is finished,” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
     Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
(“Hallelujah, What a Saviour!” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isaiah 52:13).

Jesus is, and ever shall be, the Servant of God the Father – God the Son – raised from the dead, ascending to Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

II. Second, we see Christ’s sacrifice for sin.

Please read verse 14 aloud.

“As many were astonied [astonished] at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14; p. 760).

Dr. Young said that those who saw “the terrible disfigurement of the servant [would be] appalled and struck by awe…his disfigurement [would be] so great that he no longer appeared as a man…his form was so disfigured that he no longer resembled a man. This is an extremely strong way of saying how great his suffering was” (ibid., pp. 337-338).

Jesus was brutally disfigured during His time of suffering. The night before He was crucified He was “in an agony,”

“And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44; p. 1108).

This was before they arrested Him. There in the darkness of Gethsemane, judgment for your sin began to fall on Christ. When the soldiers came to arrest Him He was already drenched in bloody sweat.

Then they took Him and beat Him in the face. In another place, the prophet Isaiah tells us what the Suffering Servant said,

“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” (Isaiah 50:6; p. 758).

Luke said, “They struck him on the face” (Luke 22:64). Mark said that Pilate “scourged him” (Mark 15:15). John said,

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him [flogged Him]. And the soldiers platted [wove] a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him [beat Him] with their hands” (John 19:1-3; p. 1141).

Then they nailed His hands and feet to the Cross. As Dr. Young put it, “His form was so disfigured that he no longer resembled a man” (ibid., p. 338).

“As many were astonied at thee; his visage [his appearance] was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).

Most modern paintings are not nearly as accurate as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” in portraying what Christ looked like after they scourged Him, beat Him, and crucified Him.

The Scofield Study Bible says of this verse, “The literal rendering is terrible: ‘So marred from the form of a man was His aspect that His appearance was not that of a son of man’ – i.e. not human – the effect of the brutalities described in Matthew 26…” Listen to a hymn by Joseph Hart (1712-1768),

With thorns His temple gored and gashed,
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back with heavy scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood,
Exposed to earth and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood,
A sad display of injured love!
     (“His Passion” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768;
     to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

And why, dear Saviour, tell me why
Thou didst a bleeding sufferer lie?
What mighty motive could Thee move?
The motive’s plain – ‘twas all for love!
     (“Gethsemane, the Olive-Press!” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768;
     to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

Why, dear Saviour, tell me why Thy appearance “was so marred more than any man, and [Thy] form more than the sons of men”? The answer is given at the end of verse 12, in the 53rd chapter, “He bare the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:12). This is Christ’s sacrifice for your sins, a vicarious sacrifice – Jesus suffering and dying for your sins, in your place – on the Cross! Thus, we see Christ’s service to God. Thus, we see Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty for your sin.

III. Third, we see Christ’s salvation applied.

Please read Isaiah 52:15 aloud.

“So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (Isaiah 52:15; p. 760).

Dr. Young said that here, in this verse, the sacrifice and suffering of Christ in verse 14 is explained and applied,

The prophet explains why he [Christ] was disfigured. So… in this condition of disfigurement, “shall he sprinkle many nations.” [The] one who is disfigured, the servant does something for others, in that he performs a purifying rite. His disfigurement [in His suffering] was…the condition in which he would himself bring cleansing to the nations. The verb “he shall sprinkle” [speaks of] the sprinkling of…water, or blood as a cleansing…It is the work of [Christ as priest] that is here set forth, and the purpose of this work is to bring purification and cleansing to others…he himself as a priest will sprinkle water and blood and so purify many nations. He does this as a sufferer, whose sufferings are for the sake of…purification and produce a profound change in the attitude of those who behold him (ibid., pp. 338-339).

In exact fulfillment of this prophecy, the preaching of the gospel of Christ broke out from the bonds of Judaism and became a universal religion. From the very first century “many nations” have been evangelized, and people all over the world have been purified by the Blood of Jesus, bringing them to salvation in Christ Jesus, producing, as Dr. Young said, “a profound change in the attitude of those who behold him.” Although not all of the kings of the nations of the world have been saved men, yet as Christianity spread throughout the world, they at least “shut their mouths at him,” and became nominal Christians, not speaking against Him. Even to this day, Queen Elizabeth II, shuts her mouth “at him” and bows in silent reverence before Him at Westminster Abbey during Christian services held there. Many other monarchs in the Western world, and in the East, pay Him outward honor at least, and many of them, such as Queen Victoria, did much more than pay Him outward respect. Indeed, so did the Emperor Constantine in the early years of Christianity, and so did many others.

“For that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (Isaiah 52:15).

As foretold here by the prophet, the gospel of Christ has spread throughout the nations of the world,

“So shall he sprinkle many nations” (Isaiah 52:15).

Even the President of the United States, a Christian in name only, bows his head occasionally in church and shuts “[his] mouth at him.”

But I must say that this wonderful prediction does not so much speak of Europe, the United Kingdom, and America as it once did. The churches in the West are in confusion and turmoil because of the inroads of “liberal” attacks on the Bible, and the weakening of the churches through the perversion of the gospel by Finney, and the modern followers of his misleading methods of “decisionism” in its various forms. Yet, in the vast Third World, the mighty awakenings and revivals, once seen in the apostatizing, weakened churches of the West, are still flourishing. Our hearts are gladdened when we read accounts of multitudes in China, Southeast Asia, India, and other parts of the world, who are flooding into gospel preaching churches at this very hour! Yes, they are often persecuted, but as Tertullian said in the second century, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” And this is true today throughout the Third World countries. While America, and the West in general, are falling away from their Christian background, and are dissolving in humanistic, skeptical spiritual confusion, yet as Spurgeon predicted,

Jesus shall...sprinkle not the Jews only, but the Gentile nations everywhere…All lands shall hear of thee, and feel thee coming down like showers upon the mown grass. The dusky tribes afar off, and the dwellers in the land of the setting sun shall hear thy doctrine and shall drink it in…Thou shalt sprinkle many nations with thy gracious word (ibid. p. 248).

Spurgeon’s “prophetic” message is even more true today than when he said those words over a hundred years ago. And we rejoice that it is so! Amen!

This promise has not yet been totally fulfilled. But it shall be – for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it – by the prophet Isaiah, who said,

“The Gentiles shall come to thy light” (Isaiah 60:3; p. 765).

“The forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee” (Isaiah 60:5).

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
     (Isaiah 49:12; p. 757).

James Hudson Taylor, an early missionary to China, said that “Sinim” was the land of China, as does The Scofield Study Bible, in its note on Isaiah 49:12. How can we disagree with Taylor and the Scofield note when we see this happening in China before our very eyes today? Certainly it is true, at the very least by application! Thousands are converted to Christ every hour in the People’s Republic of China, and many other far off lands, and we rejoice that it is so!

As America murders by infanticidal abortion three thousand helpless children every day, and the churches are closing here by the thousands, yet in those far away lands the work of Christ is growing, and will yet prevail! God grant them even more conversions! God grant that the people who know Christ, and willingly suffer for His name, may soon triumph among the nations at His Second Coming!

But I ask you this afternoon, “Do you know Christ? Have you looked by faith to Him who was ‘so marred more than any man’ to pay the penalty for thy sins – yes for thine! Has He sprinkled His Blood on thy sin, recorded in God’s books in Heaven? Are you washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world? And, if not, will you ‘shut your mouth’ in His presence, and bow to Jesus, and receive Him as your own Lord and Saviour? And will you do so now?”

The enormous load of human guilt Was on the Saviour laid;
     With woe as with a garment, He For sinners was arrayed,
For sinners was arrayed.

And in the horrid pangs of death He wept, He prayed for me;
     Loved and embraced my guilty soul When nailed to the tree.
When nailed to the tree.

Oh love amazing! Love beyond The reach of human tongue;
     Love which shall be the subject of An everlasting song.
An everlasting song.
     (“Love in Agony” by William Williams, 1759;
     To the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).