Zion Will be Restored and Will Prosper
What good news did God announce to His people?
God’s people were given marching orders in Isaiah 52:1-2. God called on His people to “Awake, awake.” God called on His people to wake up and dress up. They were to remove the garments and chains of captivity and put on their beautiful garments. The reason for this action was the coming release from captivity. God would secure their release “without money” (52:3).
Verse 4 contains a brief résumé of the history of Israel’s oppression, first in Egypt and then at the hands of the Assyrians. God would no longer tolerate the abuse of His people or the blaspheming of His name (52:5). His people would again know His name and heed His voice (52:6).
Verses 7-10 celebrate the announcement of the release of the captives. The marching orders are recorded in verses 11-12 (see also Isaiah 48:20). God also called on His people to “Depart, depart.” They were to depart from their captivity taking nothing but the vessels of worship which had been stolen from them (52:11). They were to not touch, or take, anything unclean, a reference to the things that had led to their ruin.
Some of the people however, were reluctant to leave because they had grown accustomed to Babylon and were not looking forward to rebuilding the ruined city of Jerusalem and nation. God promised to protect them by going before them and being their rear guard (52:12). Biblical commentator Trent C. Butler wrote, “God had given the marching dress, the marching hymn, and the marching order. The only question that remained was who would join in.”
Practical Consideration: We should forsake anything that cools our love for God.
When God instructed His people to depart from Babylon, He also instructed them to avoid touching (and taking) anything unclean (Isaiah 52:12). They were to abandon the things that had interfered in their relationship with God and led them into exile. We too, should avoid anything that cools our love for God lest we end up in captivity.
The Suffering Servant’s Work
How did Isaiah describe the suffering Servant (the Messiah, Jesus Christ)?
Isaiah 52:13-15 contains a descriptive summary statement of the Servant.
First, the Servant shall be exalted (52:13).
Second, the Servant will become disfigured through suffering, causing people to look at him with astonishment (52:14).
Third, he will startle the world by His sudden rise from disgrace to fame (52:15).