DAY 293 - BIG PICTURE IN A YEAR - THE EXILE
Just as there were many who were appalled at him - his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—so he will sprinkle many nations”
Reading: Isaiah 52: 13- 53: 12; Daniel 7
The prophets consistently speak of God as the one who will sovereignly usher in His end time kingdom – but they also speak of this as being accomplished through a kingly messiah figure. This messiah is described in many ways in the prophets, but two passages stand out as particularly significant for understanding who this is, namely Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Daniel 7.
In Isaiah 52:13-53:12 the prophet speaks of a coming servant of the Lord who "shall be high and lifted up and shall be exalted" (Isa 52:13). This is the language of kingly exaltation, as is reinforced two verses later where we read that "kings shall shut their mouths because of him" (52:15). The exaltation of God's servant, however, will paradoxically come about through his own suffering (53:3-5):
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Israel's sinful failure requires atonement: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa 53:6). The suffering and death of God's kingly servant is necessary for the end-time kingdom to be established. In fact, it is the very means by which the kingdom will be established.
In Daniel 7 the coming kingly deliverer of God's people seems strikingly unlike the suffering servant of Isaiah 52-53. Consider Dan 7:13-14:
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
These two verses nicely encapsulate Daniel's vision of an end-time "son of man" who will defeat all the enemies of God and of His people. Through this son of man, God will establish his dominion over all nations, a dominion that will never pass away or be destroyed. The dominion mandate of Adam will be fulfilled. Israel (see Dan 7:22), through the kingly son of man, will establish God's kingdom over all peoples.
How is it, then, that the final, saving reign of God can be said to ushered in through a suffering servant (Isa 52-53) and a triumphant heavenly deliverer (Dan 7)? Which is it? The answer is that it is both: victory will come about through the suffering of God's king. This was difficult for many Jews to accept, because they simply expected a triumphant king, without understanding how he would triumph (see John 6:15, for example). This is, however, precisely how Jesus understands His own kingly calling: He is the heavenly son of man who will come on the clouds to judge the world, but only after He has died on the cross for the sins of His people.
We must therefore turn to the Gospels to meet God’s Messenger, Jesus, God’s human-Divine king. And this we will do from tomorrow onwards, until the end of December.