Isaiah 52:6-53: The Song of Christ's Victory
Isaiah 52-53 is considered a pivotal prophecy of a Messianic age when Christ will share "a portion with the great" and "divide the spoil with the strong." But:Does Isaiah 51-52:5 leading up to it refer to the future Messianic Age of the General Resurrection?
2 Chronicles 36:23(KJV) describes the Persian king Cyrus (6th century BC) freeing the Israelites from Babylonian captivity and building God's house in Jerusalem:
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.
Isaiah 44:28 - 45:6 (KJV) says:
28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid."
1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; to open before him the two leaved gates;
3 And I will give thee[singular] the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places
8 let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together
So God is ordering in the 6th century BC let the skies pour righteousness and bring salvation, and let righteousness spring up. Likewise, the Israelites' return was seen as a righteous salvation from captivity.
Chapter 45 becomes more confusing about whom it refers, when it next discusses a separate prophecy:
11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel: [You (plural)] Ask me of things to come concerning my sons
12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
13 I have raised him [man?] up in righteousness, and I will direct all his [man's?] ways: he [man?] shall build my city, and he [man?] shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.
So in the 6th century, God says that he has already raised up a man who will let the captives go without price or reward.
Then, Isaiah 51:1-16 prophecies a time that sounds like the Israelites' return (purple) and the future Messianic Age(blue):
3 the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden
4 a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.
6 the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake,
11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head:
14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
16 I have put my words in thy mouth, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
Isaiah 51:16-52:5 says:
16 I have put my words in thy mouth, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people. The passage seems to talk about the Israelites' return,
17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
19 These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
4 For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
because it speaks in the present sense, telling Israel to awake in the present tense. It also describes Israel as destroyed and dead, and its citizens as dead, which sounds like the Babylonian captivity after Jerusalem's destruction. This shows a problem with relating the passage to the Messianic Age: it would mean that Jerusalem will be destroyed again before the Messianic Age comes, and I don't want to make that a prophecy set in stone. As in the passage, at the time of the Israelites' return, Jerusalem's enemies were destroyed and Jerusalem awoke and was rebuilt.
Plus, the words about Jerusalem being redeemed for nought sounds like mankind or Cyrus in Isaiah 45:13 releasing Israel's captives without money.
Further, Isaiah 52 says that Egypt and Assyria oppressed the Israelites, and "Now" (meaning during the 6th century Babylonian captivity) the Israelites are taken away for nought.On the other hand, the passage also seems to talk about the General Resurrection and the Messianic Age,
because it describes Jerusalem's sons as sleeping and tells Jerusalem to awake, besides other extreme events, like non-Jews never coming to Jerusalem, and saying that the prophecy will result in planting the earth's foundations and the heavens.