In this passage Isaiah introduces the word of the Lord by referring back to
the first exodus and the miraculous rescue performed by God on behalf of His
people at the Red Sea. At that time, confronted with an advancing hostile
army and with their backs to the Red Sea, Israel had faced certain
destruction. Yet God intervened miraculously and opened up a way through the
sea for Israel to escape, luring Pharaoh's pursuing army after them, and
then burying them in the waters as the Israelites watched it all, awestruck
at their miraculous last-second rescue by the hand of God!
After this brief but spiritually deep introduction the Lord then announces
that the "former things" and the "things of old" will pale in comparision to
the new act of God that will soon be revealed. Just as the Lord made a way
through the sea that led to Israel's forty-year journey through the
wilderness in the first exodus, the Lord is planning a similar exodus that
will be far greater in scope, establishing a new "way in the wilderness" for
the people "whom I formed for myself." This "people" speaks of Israel, but
on another level it points to all the children of Adam whom God originally
"formed from the dust of the ground" (Gen 2:7).
After declaring this New Exodus movement the Lord then refers back to
Israel's sins in verses 22-28, justifying the coming judgment that will
result in Israel's exile that will create the need for the Lord's new exodus
program. As far as the Lord is concerned the root of this judgment against
Israel goes back to the very beginning that is summed up in the short but
profound word in verse 27a: "Your
first father sinned..." This
is a reference, not to Abraham, but to Adam, and it is the sin of Adam that
must be atoned for as the foundation of the New Exodus restoration program.
The old exodus was the movement in which Israel's national identity was
established and everything about their culture revolved around the
celebration of that forty-year event. In fact, the very first song recorded
in the Bible is the song that was sung by Moses and the Israelites in the
aftermath of the Red Sea crossing found in Exodus 15:1-21. After singing
that song Moses directly turns to the problem of finding water in Exodus
15:22-27, just as Isaiah 43:20 speaks of the Lord providing water in the
wilderness for the people of the New Exodus. From a New Covenant perspective
we can recognize that this New Exodus water is the living
water provided by Christ.
The New Exodus is not referring to a literal movement of Jews moving back to
the Middle East after 1948. The New Exodus is aspiritual exodus
until the very end, and is much bigger than anything a literal
interpretation of these prophecies can claim to offer!
The Lord is very clear that the New Exodus is an entirely new thing that
will totally overshadow everything He has done in the past. The Israelites
were constantly taught that they must "remember" the events of the old
exodus, but here the Lord commands them to forget the former things, and to
stop considering the things of old! This
is a radical and subversive challenge to Israel's established traditions
that is intended to shock the children of Israel and get their attention!
The commandment to "remember" was at the very heart of the Old Covenant. For
instance, simply look at a few of the occurrences of the word "remember" in
the book of Deuteronomy:
Deut. 5:15 - You shall remember that
you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out
from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
Deut. 7:18 - you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what
the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt,
Deut. 8:2 - And you shall remember the
whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the
wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your
heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
Deut. 9:7 - Remember and
do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness.
Deut. 15:15 - You shall remember that
you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you;
therefore I command you this today.
Deut. 16:3 - You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall
eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of
the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the
day when you came out of the land of Egypt.
Deut. 16:12 - You shall remember that
you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these
Deut. 24:9 - Remember what
the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.
Deut. 24:18 - but you shall remember that
you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there;
therefore I command you to do this.
Deut. 24:22 - You shall remember that
you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.
Deut. 25:17 - Remember what
Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt,
Deut. 32:7 - Remember the
days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father,
and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.
At the time of Isaiah the children of Israel had already broken the covenant
given during the old exodus, an event that they were commanded to remember
as part of their covenant! Here in Isaiah when the Lord speaks to Israel
NOT the former things nor consider the things of old!" the
Lord is strongly implying that the old traditions established during the
first exodus will not apply to Israel in the New Exodus. As
we move forward in this study we will see that all four of the major
categories that established Israel's old identity become radically
re-defined as Israel enters into God's ultimate restoration program dealing
with the original problem of sin inherited through Adam. The former things
will be eclipsed by the new things that the Lord has in store for the New
"Behold, I am doing a new thing!"
A new People - A new Covenant - A new Temple - A new Land
Isaiah's new "Servant of the Lord"
At the time of the old exodus the mediator between God and the children of
Israel was Moses. Throughout the Pentateuch there are about forty times
where Moses is referred to as the "servant of the Lord" or "my servant
Moses." For Israel Moses was the great "servant of the Lord," yet Moses
himself was told that there would be a new "prophet like Moses" who would
appear to Israel in the future. Moses foresaw this new prophet and he also
foresaw the New Exodus that would occur after the breaking of the covenant
and Israel's worldwide exile, but Moses was not shown that this new "Moses"
would lead the New Exodus. However, Isaiah is given
further revelation of God's plan and he prophesies of a new "servant of the
Lord" who will come on the scene to rescue Israel, gathering and guiding
them back to the Promised Land.
It makes perfect sense that a New Exodus would demand a new "Moses" to lead
Israel on their new wilderness journey. Like Moses, he would act as a
mediator and establish a covenant between God and the children of Israel.
Isaiah's new "servant" is shown doing all of these things and more in the
five "Servant Songs" found within Isaiah 40-55. These passages can
be read here before we refer
back to them in our summaries moving forward.
1. Offspring of Abraham - Isaiah 41:1-28
Isaiah introduces the new end-times servant of the Lord in verse 8,
referring to him as "Israel" the offspring of Abraham, called from the ends
of the earth, and chosen and protected by God. If this was the only
"servant" passage then we would be led to think that this "servant" is
simply the nation of Israel, yet that is not the whole story.
2. Covenant to the People - Isaiah 42:1-16
In this next passage Isaiah declares that the Lord will place His Spirit
upon His servant, who will faithfully bring forth justice, showing mercy to
many by not breaking the bruised reeds or extinguishing the dimly burning
wicks. This is the passage referred to in Matthew 12:18-21 which is said to
be fulfilled by Jesus. In verse 4 we are told that he will establish justice
on the earth and deliver his torah (law)
to the "coastlands," and in verse 6 we are told that he will be appointed as
a covenant to the people and a light to the nations. In this sense Jesus is the
covenant of the New Exodus and His teachings are the new torah.
Notice how the identity of this new "servant" shifts from appearing to refer
to Israel as a whole in Isaiah 41 but now referring to a singular
Spirit-filled individual in Isaiah 42.
In light of the coming of this new "servant" we are told in verse 9,
"Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things."
Then in verse 10 Israel is encouraged to "Sing to the Lord a new song, sing
His praise from the end of the earth!" The New Exodus brings forth a new
song in praise for what God has done. This new song, which is the Song of
the Lamb of the New Covenant, is also shown in Revelation 5:9 and 14:3, and
in Revelation 15:3 where the saints sing it along with the Song of Moses.
Just as the original song of Moses praised God for Israel's redemption from
Phaoraoh's armies at the time of the first exodus (see Exodus 15:1-21), so
does the Song of the Lamb praise God for the even mightier redemption of the
"Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true
are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify
your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed." Revelation
Redeemer of Jeshurun - Isaiah 44:1-23
this passage once again the "servant" is referred to as Israel and also as
Jacob. Then in verse 2 the servant is referred to as Jeshurun, which is a
poetic name for Israel that means "righteous." Other than this passage in
Isaiah this name appears only three other times in the Bible, and all near
the end of Deuteronomy (32:15, 33:5, 33:26). In verse 3 there is another
prophecy about water being poured out in the desert which is linked to the
pouring out of the Spirit upon the offspring of the servant. In verse 4 we
are then shown a picture of Spirit-filled people springing up like trees
that sprout up around streams in the desert. These people will identify
themselves as descendents of Jacob and Israel through their connection with
the Spirit-filled servant.
From a New Covenant perspective we can look back and realize that the
Spirit-filled offspring of Israel includes both Jews and Gentiles whose
identity is drawn solely from Jesus (rather than from Moses). They are all
part of a spiritual bloodline rather than a literal genetic bloodline, yet
they ALL identify themselves as Israelites. In Galatians 6:16 Paul refers to
this new Spirit-filled nation of Israel, composed of Jews and Gentiles
perfectly united in the body of Christ, as the "Israel of God."
4. Savior of the Nations - Isaiah 49:1-26
If there are any doubts that Gentiles are meant be gathered and adopted into
Israel's New Exodus, then this passage should be enough to erase them all.
The New Exodus first predicted by Moses, revealed more fully through Isaiah,
and then finally inaugurated by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is not a return to
the Promised Land reserved only for Jews. No indeed, it is the final
redemption plan that is offered to all humanity! In this fourth servant
song, as in the previous servant songs, Isaiah introduces the new servant of
the Lord as "Israel":
Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my
name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid
me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. And he said
to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." But I
said, "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and
vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my
The servant is introduced as Israel, yet in the very next verse it is He who
is given the task of gathering
Israel back to the Lord. However, the Lord has more in mind than simply
gathering the genetic decendents of Abraham back to their ancient land
because the Lord also gives Him the job of gathering and redeeming the
And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him-- for I
am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength --he
says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the
tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you
as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the
earth." Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one
deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: "Kings shall
see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the
LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you." Isaiah
The Lord's salvation must reach to the ends of the earth because the entire
earth and all its families are corrupted by sin and in need of redemption.
From Israel's perspective the greatest tragedy was their own breaking of the
covenant and the exile from their land, yet from heaven's perspective the
greatest tragedy took place long before Isaiah's time when Adam and Eve were
exiled from the Garden. The new servant predicted by Isaiah will indeed
solve Israel's problems, but Israel's restoration will encompass all of
humanity and be accomplished in a much bigger way than anyone had ever
Thus says the LORD: "In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of
salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to
the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, 'Come out,' to those who are in darkness, 'Appear.'
They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; (10)
they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike
them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water
will guide them. And I
will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up.
Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and
from the west, and these from the land of Syene." Sing for joy, O heavens,
and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has
comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. Isaiah
The word of the Lord through Isaiah continues with another vivid description
of the New Exodus movement led by the servant of the Lord back to the
Promised Land. It is He who is given to the world as a "covenant" and it is
He who offers freedom to prisoners and calls out those who are in darkness.
Followers of this faithful servant are being led out of this world that is
passing away and on to a New Earth within a New Creation that is uncorrupted
by sin. This conclusion is proven by verse 10 above, which is a description
repeated almost word-for-word in Revelation 7:16-17. Israel's New Exodus
that is predicted by Isaiah is the very same movement that was inaugurated
for all peoples by Jesus, which is not finally consumated until the end of
the age when the redeemed enter joyfully into the New Jerusalem.
5. A Sacrifice for All - Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12
The final servant song of Isaiah introduces a terribly ironic twist into the
story of the faithful servant sent by God to save Israel. Christians are
usually quite familiar with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, but many do
not recognize the greater context of this prophecy as the last of five
intimately-related "servant songs." If we back up to Isaiah 52:1 and read
from there we can identify the clear New Exodus context of this passage. It
speaks of a glorified (new) Jerusalem restored from its desolation, standing
as a testimony of God's faithfulness. In verses 11-12, just before the
suffering servant is announced in verse 13, the Lord calls for Israel to
begin their New Exodus journey saying that this time will be different than
the old exodus. This time Israel will not go out in haste as if being
pursued, because God Himself will lead them and be their rear guard.
we begin to read the final servant song we find that there is another
profoundly important theme that is hidden just under the surface. In the
time of Moses the first exodus was initiated by every Israelite family
slaying a lamb and painting blood over their doorposts. When the law was
later delivered to Israel through Moses the families of Israel were each
required to sacrifice a lamb every year to God in memory of this first
Passover. Isaiah reveals that the New Exodus is also initiated by a
sacrificial death, and remarkably this sacrifice is offered by Isaiah's
mysterious "servant of the Lord" Himself. Like a "lamb that is led to the
slaughter" (v. 7) the servant-leader of the New Exodus is predicted to offer
up his very own life as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. The
New Exodus journey of redemption could have never been started without this
initial divine sacrifice:
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our
iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with
his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity
of us all.
The New Exodus program that is revealed to Isaiah is progressively magnified
over the course of the five "Servant Songs." At first the Lord speaks to the
problems of a nation that has been exiled from its homeland. They were
called to faithfully serve the Lord but they failed and suffered the
consequences of disobedience. However, the Lord will raise up another
Israelite, a descendent of Abraham who will be faithful to fulfill what
Israel was originally called to do. This new Spirit-filled servant will be
"Israel-in-person," and the Spirit poured out on Him will also be poured out
on His offspring. He will be sent to gather Israel but His mission will also
extend to the nations of the earth, calling out to every lost child of Adam
and Eve to follow Him on a "way through the wilderness" back to the Tree of
Life. The end-point of this journey is a renewed Creation and a renewed
Family of God, made possible only by the atoning sacrifice of the servant
Himself on our behalf!
To be continued...
Back to Part
Peter D. Goodgame
New Exodus Resources
The Five "Servant Songs" of Isaiah :
An overview of these five important Messianic passages.
Isaiah quoted in the New Testament :
A partial list
of references from Isaiah that are found in the New Testament.
Exodus Typology in Second Isaiah :
A short and concise overview of the New Exodus theme in Isaiah.
A Glorious New Passover Exodus: The New Covenant Deliverance in Jesus Christ :
A free 60-page e-book by John Dunn that explains how the story of the Exodus
is God's template for the message of the Gospel.
New Covenant Theology: Questions Answered :
An excellent theological overview that explains the transition from Old
Covenant to New Covenant, and the nature of the relationship between Israel
and the Church, while avoiding the errors of both Dispensationalism and
classic "Replacement Theology" (also known as Covenant Theology).