Many of the Hebrew prophetic passages were purposely obscure. The Apostle Paul revealed one reason why this was so:
- No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)
Nevertheless, the message of the Cross was present in cryptic glory:
- For this is what the LORD says: "You [Israel] were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed." (Isaiah 52:3)
Of what could this redemption consist? It had cost money to procure the sacrificial animal. However, the redemption that the Lord promised through Isaiah would be without cost. How could this be?
The redemption would consist of a message and a Messiah, and God would shoulder the entire cost:
- How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace [with God], who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he [God] has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10)
How would Israel possibly be able to see “the LORD [when He] returns to Zion?” He was un-seeable. In fact, anyone who saw Him would be struck dead! This is answered by “his holy arm [revealed] in the sight of all the nations!” Well, what is His “holy arm?” Isaiah explains:
- Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:1-5)
Sound familiar? More than familiar! This is our Savior, hidden in plain sight by His Father until the appointed time:
- Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor." (Isaiah 49:1-3)
I love these portraits! They were given for us who are weak in faith. In fact, even the Hebrew prophets were unable to fathom the depths of what they had prophesied. Instead, it was revealed that they were prophesying for us:
- Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
Thank You, Lord, for revealing these glories to us! We need them!