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In July 2021, God turned the tables on me. For the past year, I tried to publish my first book, a book I was confident the Lord wanted into the hands of the hurting. But in a paradigm shift move, I heard the “no” resound. 

Deciding to join the Young Writer’s Workshop Author Conservatory Program, I paid my dues and signed up for what would become the next big step in my life. Kind of like going to college or starting a new job, this program has quickly become one of the best decisions.  

At the beginning of this Conservatory, business and writing skills are honed to become a full-time author. While I was skeptical, I now realize that knowing how to sell something and value your writing is essential to long-term goals. If I want to write full-time, I need to know how to sell and write books. 

In Isaiah 52, I believe the Lord’s people were learning a similar sales pitch, but with their souls. They were learning the importance of their value, but they didn’t realize that the freedom they were looking for had already set them free. 

In deliverance for Jerusalem and the suffering and glory of the Servant, God is redeeming Jerusalem by reminding them that while they once sold themselves for nothing, they will be redeemed without money. 

“For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed” (Isaiah 52: 3, NIV). 

While the context of Isaiah 52 is describing the joy Jerusalem can have after they are redeemed by the Lord, this is not the beginning of their story, but the end. 

Tragically, David Guzik of The Enduring Word Commentary notes, “Jerusalem went after other gods like someone selling themselves for nothing”. 

However, at the end of their redemption, Jerusalem would be blessed by God and redeemed without money. In response to Jerusalem’s rebellion and sin God’s mercy and salvation that we do not deserve shine through. 

While God did pay a price for us, the price of eternal life only won by giving one’s entire life on the cross, it was not one we could ever afford on our own. Even if we worked a million years and achieved all the riches of the earth, we could never make enough to pay our debt, wage our war, win our battles, or wash our bloodstains white. But by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice alone, He forfeited everything to give us an eternal redemption far greater than riches could ever buy. 

This is why 1 Peter 1:18-19 of the New American Standard Bible notes, “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, {the blood} of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19, NASB). 

Today, we often sell ourselves to things that are worth virtually nothing. We’ve sold ourselves to idols, sex, money, relationships, bad habits, sins, you name it. Sometimes, others sell us.

But though we’ve sold or have been sold, we will be redeemed with something money can’t buy, and will never be able to afford. 

Imagine robbing a bank. Millions of dollars later, you are rolling in dough. Rich in wealth but poor in what it means to be called meek and mild, the police show up at your door. The verdict, imprisonment for life. But then, at just the last second, a man pays your dues in full. No questions were asked, and nothing was needed in return. You walk away as a free man. 

Here and now, that is the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And by His salvation alone, we are declared righteous where we were formerly mocked (vs.5) because He bore the mockery of the world for us (vs.6). Just like Jerusalem, we have a reason to rejoice (vs.7-9), but in our freedom, we are also called to shake off the old (vs.1-5) and go forward as a new vessel of the Lord (vs.10-12). 

As we have been purchased with a life greater than silver or gold, we are also called to live a life of love and turn around no more (vs.12). 

“Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind” (Isaiah 52:11-12, New Living Translation).

Jesus Christ hung on the cross and did not turn or look back. Today, I find significance knowing He looked up and asked God “why,” only to answer from within “God, your will be done; it is finished” (Luke chapter 23). While we may be sold or sell ourselves, let us not run back to the slavery He died to save us from. Some day, those who weren’t told will understand, and those who didn’t hear will understand (Isaiah 52:13-15). 

“See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about” (Isaiah 52:13-15, New Living Translation). 

In Isaiah 53, we note that just as Jesus was not as the world predicted, expected, or anticipated, He was everything they and we needed. He was fully human and fully God. He was very aware of suffering. He even knew how you would sell yourself for a price He was willing to pay to set you free. But by that suffering, by that free gift of grace, by that downpayment we could never come close to paying, we were bought. And not bought begrudgingly like a stingy child not wanting to share their toys, or with anger, strife, or clubs, but peace, grace, love, and freedom. 

Christ sets us free from the internal and external wars raging within and around us. He sees our full potential and value as we are, and that is why He had to die the way He did to save us, we could not sell ourselves and make enough retribution to pay for our sin (Isaiah 53:1-12, NLT). 

“But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants.

He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.

And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible

for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels” (Isaiah 53:10-12, NLT). 

When we get to Heaven, Christ will see the suffering of Jesus as the payment for our sins and be satisfied. We will walk, run, dance, and rejoice that the price has been paid, and we are free men. We don’t need to sell ourselves, because we’ve already been set free. The question then, is are you living free? God will see the result of Jesus’ suffering soul and be satisfied, and someday, so will we more fully appreciate and understand the beauty of this redemption. 

Agape, Amber