“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (KJV, Is. 53:1).
“Who hath believed our report?”
The context of Isaiah 53:1 is that of the wise Servant of God suffering through the shedding of His blood while at the same time sprinkling many nations. Understanding the context is essential as one reads about a report in Isaiah 53:1. The report is that of the Gospel message displayed in the surrounding context of Isaiah 53:1.
Christ would come into the world as the promised Messiah. Many years before Isaiah gave his message, God promised to Abraham that through Abraham, the nations of the earth would be blessed. Isaiah 52:15 tells us that the Messiah would sprinkle the nations with His blood. For the Jew, in one sense, the message was clear. Sprinkling was widely known as a Levitical/priestly practice that resulted in cleansing, atonement, purification, forgiveness, etc.
The tone of Isaiah’s message is prophetic. Isaiah was looking forward to a time when God would send His wise Servant. However, much like the prophets of old, the wise Servant would not be accepted by mankind.
Jesus tells of this phenomenon through a parable in the New Testament. In the parable, a man planted a vineyard. Then, he gave the vineyard to tenants while he departed to another country. The man with the vineyard was meant to illustrate God the Father. The tenants were meant to illustrate the Israelites.
After a while has passed, the vineyard’s owner sends a servant to the tenants to receive some of the vine’s fruit. The servants were meant to illustrate the prophets of God in the Old Testament. However, instead of accepting the servant and giving him some of the fruit of the vine, the tenants beat the servant and sent him away without any fruit.
The prophets of the Old Testament were often treated poorly by their people. It is no wonder why Jonah did not want to preach to the people of Nineveh. When the people of Israel did not like the prophet’s message, the prophet was often met with disdain, persecution, and even death.
As the story continues, the Bible says that the owner sent another servant to the tenants. Nevertheless, the same event occurred. The servant was beaten and sent away without fruit. Israel was meant to be a vine that would yield fruit for God the Father and thus bring glory to God. However, Israel was a wild vine that did not produce fruit. As a result, Jesus is called the True Vine in the New Testament and thus fulfilled God’s intent for a vine that brings forth fruit and therefore glorifies God. Only when someone is attached to the True Vine will he bear much fruit and so prove to be a true disciple.
Then God sends His third servant with the hope that His servant will return with fresh fruit from the vine. Once again, the servant is beaten and sent away empty-handed. But patience, grace, mercy, and love are displayed by the owner of the vineyard. Scripture says, “Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.” (Luke 20:13-15). The owner’s son was meant to illustrate the Son of God, Jesus.
The son goes to the tenants as sent by his father. He goes to receive the fruit from the vine. Nevertheless, the tenants desire the death of the beloved son. Isaiah foretold the denial of the message rather than its acceptance when he said, “Who hath believed our report?” The question implies that there would not be many believers. Instead, the context tells of the type of reception the Servant would have. The Servant would be brutally beaten, and He would be pierced for the people’s transgressions. The people would be like sheep who had gone astray and left the Shepherd to Himself.
As one looks into the life of Christ as it has been revealed in the Gospels, he will see that the masses denied Christ. The religious elite, the rulers of the nations, His very own people, the Jews, they all turned their backs upon Christ. Christ came as the promised King, and when He hung on the cross, His death sentence told the same story, for His plaque could be read by all that He was the King of the Jews and was crucified as a result.
John speaks similarly when he says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:7-9). While Jesus’ people did not receive Him, it was not the end of the story. John goes on to say, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). Thus, even though there would not be many believers, there would still be a remnant.
There has always been a remnant throughout history. The gates of hell will never prevail against God’s church and His redemptive plan. When Elijah felt alone, and as though he was the only one who was zealous for the Lord, God told him of the many others who were also living for His glory. When Paul was in the wicked city of Corinth, Jesus spoke to him and said, “…I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). God has always established a remnant of believers throughout history. But who will believe the message that God has told?
Accepting God and His message comes first and foremost through faith. God has told His creation in His Word what He has done. God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Christ was perfect and never sinned but died a sinner’s death. Christ hung on the cross for the sins of man so that man could be forgiven of a debt he could never pay. Jesus bore the wrath of God on Calvary, and it is only through Christ that man can be reconciled to God.
“and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? To whom has the message of the Gospel been shown? The arm of the Lord is a reference to the mighty power of God. But it must be recognized that the arm of the Lord is on display in His Gospel message, for Paul has said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). God has revealed His mighty power through the incarnation of Christ. He has revealed His mighty power through Christ’s wrath-bearing death. Finally, the arm of the Lord has been shown through the Father reaching into His Son’s grave and raising Christ to newness of life.
Who will believe the report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Father, thank you for sending Your Son to take my sin upon Himself. Knowing Jesus and His death being applied to my life is a blessing. Please help me never to take what you have done in my life and revealed to me for granted. You have shown me Your Son and His glorious work. You have given me Your Spirit and opened my eyes. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.