I just heard this hymn read in a sermon this afternoon, and I was completely struck (to the point of tears) with the last two lines. For the sake of proper context, I’ve included the whole hymn; I want to remind myself in future seasons of suffering and hardship that my God is sovereign, He is wise and He is holy. I can trust Him.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
“The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare bring charges against me now? Where are my accusers? Let them appear! See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side! Who will declare me guilty?” Is 50.4-9 (NLT)
This is the incredible thing about our Jesus: the more you see Him, the harder He is to pin down. If you just read v. 6 (which was the only Advent verse for today), it would be fairly easy to see Him as a patient victim, someone who put on a bold face while being treated in the worst possible ways.
But v.4 shows him to be a shrewd and wise prophet. Powerful, knowing exactly what to say, and broken-hearted toward the hurting.
Then we see him as one desperate for the Living Water. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Obedience results in pleasing his Father, the only One whose approval carries any weight.
And finally, he rests in the Sovereignty of the Holy Father. It is as if he says in this passage: I see your brokenness and I have been given the exact remedy. Because I abide in my Father, I can see clearly what it is He would have me do. And so, with worshipful resolution, I walk forward, purposefully pursuing this atrocious maltreatment, for I know that my God and Father sees, knows and will act in justice. I know that He knows I am guiltless, and He is my only righteous judge. My standing before Him is all that matters.
What an example. There are no words to express…
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 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 and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. Is 52.13-15
Our God exalts the broken. He elevates the humble. He magnifies the lowly. Jesus became nothing when He became human, and then He went even further than that. He became our sin (2 Corinthians 5.21). He took on the very wrath He deserved to deal out, in His wisdom.
My God, I pray for our nation’s “kings”. May they see beyond what they have been told. May they see the truth. See You. Draw the nations to yourself. No one is too far, because you have already gone the farthest lengths to get us. Help them understand. Help us all understand.
See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heart about.” Isaiah 52: 13-15
There is such contrast in these verses. God is proclaiming that his coming Son will prosper, and to further explain that prosperity he brings us to Jesus’ crucifixion. Not exactly what I’d consider prosperous, being murdered by your own creation as the consequence of their sin. This word translated as “prosper” (yaskil in Hebrew) is used in other places as the natural result of wisdom or prudence. It’s like God is saying that Jesus acted wisely, and therefore will be eternally exalted and prosperous because of that wisdom.
I find great encouragement in this truth. Jesus suffered hard. He was broken physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally. But He did so in wisdom, knowing that He was building a legacy. Through this act of sacrifice, Jesus would reap the prosperity of millions of hearts turned back to their Father in repentance and transformation.
This is the incredible beauty of our God. He puts pain in our lives, just like He did in Jesus’, but promises us that He will redeem that pain. I find such comfort in knowing that as I wrestle-out this life against the flesh and the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world”, I am gaining ground for the legacy that will come after me.
A favorite artist of mine just put out his first worship album. This song, based on Isaiah 52 and 53, is incredible, both lyrically and musically. Listen to it and worship the greatness of our sacrificially-loving God.
The might of Yahweh stands revealed
And by His wounds we all are healed!