“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”—Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)
“Me first!” That’s what I shouted at the other ten-year-olds as I raced to take charge of the gigantic pile of redwood mulch on the playground. Only one of us would end up on top. That someone was going to be me. Jon W., who gave me a bloody nose the week before, “accidentally” got elbowed in the mouth as I climbed over him to mount the top of the pile. Most of those kids had done something to me in recent days and whoever got hurt had it coming.
That’s exactly how a leader, king, or superhero comes to power, isn’t it? The conqueror thrashes each opponent while everyone pays tribute to him at his coronation as King of the Mountain.
When Isaiah wrote this verse, Israel was going through a dark period historians call the “hardening years.” It was troublous times. The Assyrians were looming large on Israel’s borders. They were infamous for cruel policies of torture, enslavement, and deportation of the people they conquered. Israel had exile in its future. Yet, Israel’s leaders marginalized and mistreated every prophet God sent to them. Isaiah had martyrdom in his future.
The most characteristic phrase Isaiah used was "The Holy One of Israel." As Isaiah thought deeply about the message he would give, a portrait of a different kind of King was painted. The Holy One of Israel wouldn’t be cruel. He would identify with the oppressed, because He would be marginalized and mistreated. Yet, despite the worst kind of cruelty ever inflicted by a government on a person, He would mysteriously and miraculously come to power as the most triumphant and just King that ever lived.
Isaiah offered hope with his words to this generation. And God, through His prophets, drops markers all throughout the Old Testament continually bringing the narrative back to Jesus, the Holy One of Israel.
God has taken miraculous measures to make sure you arrive at the cross of Jesus Christ. God will fill the whole earth with His glory, according to Isaiah. In his generation, Isaiah’s message fell on deaf ears. But in your generation, God wants to use you to point people to the Holy One of Israel. Are you ready?