Isaiah 53:12 - The Shared Inheritance of the Saviour

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The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study

Isaiah 53:12 - The Shared Inheritance of the Saviour

by I Gordon

Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things...


Well, we have finally come to the end of our studies concerning the one Isaiah called the 'the servant'. As a quick recap, there are four prophetic 'servant songs' given in Isaiah that outline the whole mission, life and death of the Jesus 700 years before Jesus was even born to Mary. This study concerns the last verse of the last song so it is a little sad. I've tried to stretch it out a bit but alas, the end is nigh... for this series of messages anyway! Now we saw in the last study what we called 'the satisfaction of the Saviour'. That is, we saw that there was something that brought Jesus complete joy and satisfaction as He contemplated and went through the cross - and that is all those that would believe in Him and become part of the family of God.

The last verse in Isaiah 53, which we will look at in this study, involves the position that Jesus will be granted due to His work on our behalf and the sharing of His inheritance with all His believers. Let's have a look.

Imagery of the conquering king

Isa 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

This is a great verse. The first part looks at the exaltation of Jesus due to what he achieved and uses the imagery of a general or conqueror coming back from battle having obtained the greatest victory. Therefore this conqueror will be given the highest position in the Kingdom. Yet he is seen dividing out the spoils of that victory with his soldiers and giving to each his portion. I want to focus mostly on the part that says He will divide the booty with the strong. I kind of like the sound of that!

But let's start with the last part - Let's see what this conqueror had to go through to gain such a victory. 4 reasons are given as to why the servant, Jesus Christ will be given such an exalted position for the rest of eternity:

  1. Poured out himself unto death - Jesus Christ poured out His very life for us  [1]  . There was nothing more that He could give. Spurgeon wrote about the extent of this 'pouring out' saying
     I will say no more about it, except that you see how complete it was. Jesus gave poor sinners everything. His every faculty was laid out for them. To his last rag he was stripped upon the cross. No part of his body or of his soul was kept back from being made a sacrifice. The last drop, as I said before, was poured out till the cup was drained. He made no reserve: he kept not back even his innermost self: 'He hath poured out his soul unto death.'"
  2. Numbered with the transgressors - Jesus was a not transgressor Himself. But He was numbered with them and bore the shame, mocking and eventual death on the cross as if He was one of them. We have seen earlier in Isaiah 53 that Israel believed Jesus was a transgressor and was struck down by God for it (Isa 53:4). How wrong they were... He was struck down by God but not for His own sin as the next point expresses.

  3. Bore the sin of many - When you read 'many' think 'all'. The third reason that Jesus will be exalted is because He was willing to take all sin upon Himself. Never before had Jesus been separated from His Father. But on the cross, as deep darkness covered the land, He cried out 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' As He bore the sin of the world even the Father had to turn from Him.

  4. Made intercession for the transgressors - "made intercession" in the Hebrew is an instance of the 'imperfect or indefinite future' which expresses a work begun, but not yet ended. Put simply, Jesus' intercession hasn't ended and is still part of His ministry today. Let me ask you a question... If you had been mocked, blind-folded and repeatedly struck, and then asked to prophesy who hit you... then whipped and spat on before being led away to be nailed to a cross (and you had done nothing wrong) would you be praying 'Father forgive them...'? Or would it be 'Father, judge them...'? And that's part of the reason why Jesus is the exalted Saviour and not you or I!  [2] 

How big is the portion?

Isa 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion...

So because of the reasons listed above, scripture tells us that God the Father will exalt His Son Jesus and give Him 'a portion'. So how big is that portion? When you are little everything is about the size of the portion is it not? When your mum is cutting the chocolate cake up you always had an attentive eye on how big your portion was going to be. Actually, it's not just when you are little... I haven't grown out of that yet! How big is the portion that God the Father will give to Jesus? Let's look at a couple of simple verses that answer this.

 Col 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. 

 Heb 1:1-2 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 

How much of the cake does Jesus get? Everything! He gets it all. The universe and all it contains is His. He created all things and is the heir of all things. And that obviously includes this little earth.  [3]  Everything seen and unseen was created by Jesus and for Jesus. He will inherit it all and that day is fast approaching. And yet... we read that His portion is 'with the great' - so who are they and what are they doing with a slice of Jesus' cake? Well, I believe the answer to that is seen in the next part.

Jesus will divide the booty!

'...And He will divide the booty with the strong.'

So first it mentioned the great and now it speaks of the strong. Rest assured that the 'great' and the 'strong' are NOT who the world esteems as great! The world can't get enough of its stars - sports stars, movie stars, the rich, the famous and the glamorous. But unless they are rich in faith they certainly won't be making God's list. The ones that God esteems are those who are strong in faith and faithfulness.  [4]  So Jesus is the heir of ALL things as Hebrews tells us but the not so-secret secret is that He is a sharing Saviour! Isaiah tells us he will divide the 'booty' or 'spoils' with the strong (those strong in faith.) Let's see what the N.T says about this 'sharing' of Jesus' inheritance...

There are other 'sons' in God's family

 Rom 8:15-18 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.' 

The passage above is pretty awesome.  [5]  It tells us that we (believers in Jesus Christ) have been adopted into the family of God and even to the extent where we call out 'Abba Father!' (literally 'Daddy'). As part of His family we are now fellow or joint heirs with Jesus! Jesus is happy to share His inheritance amongst His brethren  [6]  - the adopted sons of God. Now I don't know about you but when I read that it makes me want to be a better Christian! It makes me want to spend more time on the things of eternity and less time moaning about any trials down here!


Recently in my country we had ANZAC day. ANZAC stands for 'Australia and New Zealand Army Corps' and once a year a parade is given in honour of those who have fought for the country. As the parade began there were a few really old veterans from WWII who walked at the front followed closely by their family and successive generations behind them. They were certainly old but you could see their medals and feel their sense of honour as great applause rang out from the crowds who realised what they had done to ensure freedom and democracy for all. As the parade reached its destination, the crowds gathered and stories were told of the bravery of these men and of others who didn't make it through. To be honest it was hard not to get a little emotional!

But as I watched I kept thinking what it will be like when the stories of God's people are recounted and honour and praise is given by the Lord Himself to those that have walked in faith and have strived to ensure that salvation and freedom can reach the many in bondage. How many tales of faith and courage and perseverance against the odds will be told on that day? And I'm not just talking about God's 'commandos' here! There will be stories of great faith from everyday normal people living in the midst of loneliness, abuse, financial difficulty, suffering, poor health...

God's word puts it like this:

 'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you  , who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed  . (1 Peter 1:3-7) 

If you are a true believer then the Bible tells us that you are an heir of God. A great inheritance awaits you for Jesus will share the spoils of His victory with His brothers and sisters. The challenge for you however is to live for that day, today! The challenge for all of us is to live in such a way that we store up our treasure in heaven. I'll close this little study with a poem from the missionary C.T Studd as it expresses this challenge well.

'Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life's busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God's holy will to cleave;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e'er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,'Thy will be done';
And when at last I'll hear the call,
I know I'll say 'twas worth it all';
Only one life,'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last. '

[1] ↩  While Isaiah 53 is the best prophetic passage on the spiritual aspect of the crucifixion, Psalm 22 is the best for describing what Jesus experienced from a natural point of view on the cross. Concerning this 'pouring out' that Isaiah speaks of, Psalm 22:14-16 says '  I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.'. 

The biblical imagery concerning being 'poured out' relates to the drink offering that was poured out upon the sacrifice. That is what is being alluded to in this Isaiah passage. A New Testament related verse would be some of the last words the Apostle Paul ever wrote. They are recorded for us in his second letter to Timothy shortly before he died:

  For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure    . I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

[2] ↩  We, being self-centred little beings, tend to be kind to those that we like, and to those whom we know might be kind back to us. But Jesus prays for, cares for, and wants the best for, the very people who mocked, spat and abused Him. In other words, He cares for all and we should learn from that. How about doing something kind for someone that you normally wouldn't have much time for?

[3] ↩  Actually Psalm 2 speaks about how Jesus just has to ask for this earth and it will be His. In this amazing prophetic Psalm, God the Father is speaking to the Son and says 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ' The fulfilment of this will occur at the second coming of Jesus when He does take possession of this entire planet.

[4] ↩  Let me read out part of an email I got a little while back from a lady with one example of who the great and who the strong are. In the email she spoke of the influences in her life and said  'One of my dearest friends and biggest intercessor in my life is a man called Alistair - he has been completely blind from the age of 8. He suffers from a curvature of his spine among a host of other illnesses which means for much of his life he is confined to a bed in a nursing home. He gets out now and again but this a major ordeal for him. The phone so often is his only source of contact with the outside world. But what a man, what a sense of humour and what an understanding of prayer he has!!! From his wee room he touches lives globally.' 

I thought that was awesome. Many in the world may look on from a distance and not see past his physical disabilities. They may look at his blindness and the fact that it is hard for him to leave his bed and think that there is little that he can do. They may see someone in need of constant care... and yet what does Jesus see when he looks at Alistair? He sees the great. He sees the strong. God isn't interested in physical strength obviously so don't start taking out gym memberships on the basis of this verse! He is interested in our faith. Alistair doesn't leave his bed often yet touches lives across the globe through prayer. He may need to be cared for physically yet He cares for others spiritually through his intercession. Rest assured that when Jesus returns people like Alistair will be allotted a great portion with the Lord and a wonderful inheritance.

 James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 

[5] ↩  I like what Big Blue (the Believers Bible Commentary) has to say about this passage:
 'Membership in God's family brings privileges that boggle the mind. All God's children are heirs of God. An heir, of course, eventually inherits his father's estate. That is just what is meant here. All that the Father has is ours. We have not yet come into the possession and enjoyment of all of it, but nothing can prevent our doing so in the future. And we are joint heirs with Christ. When He returns to take the scepter of universal government, we will share with Him the title deeds to all the Father's wealth. When Paul adds, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together, he is not making heroic suffering a condition for salvation. Neither is he describing some elite inner circle of overcomers who have endured great afflictions. Rather, he sees all Christians as being co-sufferers and all Christians as glorified with Christ. The if is equivalent to 'since.' Of course, there are some who suffer more than others in the cause of Christ, and this will result in differing degrees of reward and glory. But all who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior are seen here as incurring the hostility of the world, with all its shame and reproach. The greatest shame we may endure for Christ here on earth will be a mere trifle when He calls us forth and publicly acknowledges us before the hosts of heaven. Even the excruciating pain of the martyrs will seem like pinpricks when the Savior graces their brows with the crown of life. Elsewhere Paul speaks of our present sufferings as light afflictions which are only for a moment, but he describes the glory as an exceeding and eternal weight (2Co_4:17). Whenever he describes the coming glory, his words seem to bend under the weight of the idea. If we could only appreciate the glory that is to be ours, we could count the sufferings along the way as trivia!' 

[6] ↩  When some hear about their inheritance or rewards or the importance of living for the life to come, they tend to think - 'Well I'm no superstar. I haven't been a missionary in Africa for the last 40 years. I haven't done anything world changing. I can't see what rewards I'll be getting. I've gotta change the nappies and get the kids to school.' Or 'I'm working a couple of jobs just to get by and support the family - not a lot of time to be earning a great inheritance in Heaven and for the life to come.' Well if that is you, the I want you to look at this verse...

 Col 3:23-25 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

Now this is a great verse but what makes it more interesting is who it was written to. And who was that? Well that part of Colossians 3 (vs 22-25) is addressed specifically to slaves! Now slaves were basically the lowest standing of that day... For many of them, it is quite likely that that slavery was their lot. In the Roman Empire, slaves were often slaves for life unless their owners let them go free or they could somehow raise enough money to buy their way out of slavery (or make a run for it of course!) But this shows that no matter how low a person may be in their social standing according to the world, they can obtain to the highest level in God by faithfulness to God in whatever they do.

William MacDonald comments on this passage -  'In every form of Christian service as well as in every sphere of life, there are many tasks which people find obnoxious. Needless to say, we try to avoid such work. But this verse teaches us the very important lesson that the humblest service can be glorified and dignified by doing it for the Lord. In this sense, there is no difference between secular and sacred work. All is sacred. Rewards in heaven will not be for prominence or apparent successes; they will not be for talents or opportunities; but rather for faithfulness. Thus obscure persons will fare very well in that day if they have carried out their duties faithfully as to the Lord. A motto often hung over the kitchen sink is 'Divine service held here three times daily.' 

So it doesn't matter if you are a mother, a housewife, a busy husband, a retired gentlemen or someone confined to bed because of illness. Whatever your lot, whatever you do, do it unto the Lord and thank Him in it. And your life and faithfulness will be rewarded.