Old Testament: Isaiah 55:10-13 (Pentecost 7: Series A)

Reading Time: 6 mins

We know Jesus is good for keeping His Word because He always keeps His Word as evidenced in His death and resurrection.

Isaiah 55 is the summary abstract for the closing chapters of Isaiah (56-66). What is interesting is that it does not prescribe Israel’s response to Yahweh’s restoration of Zion. Instead, the work of detailing the appropriate response to this mighty work of God is left to chapters 56-66. Here in chapter 55, Isaiah uses commands and rhetorical questions to invite Israel to have faith in the future deliverance of God and to trust in the finished work of His “suffering servant.”

You might wonder: Why is our pericope so short? This is due to the fact that verses 10-11 actually summarize what was already said in verses 2-9. So, no need in the eyes of the lectionary to hear it twice, I suppose. The content of these verses is to express how, whether we understand the works of Yahweh or not, we can trust His Word because He aways does what He says He will do (Isaiah 40:6-8). The closing verses of our reading (verses 12-13) give us a glorious vision of Eden “restored.” The thorns and thistles mentioned in our text are a direct reference to the curse of Adam in Genesis 3:18. Now, because of Yahweh’s salvation the curse is gone, Eden will spring up again, and we are invited to come back to the Garden to live because of God’s salvation (Isaiah 35). Creation became corrupt because of Adam’s fall (Romans 8:19-21). So, in Christ creation will be restored to perfect beauty.

The gospel message for Isaiah’s listeners was a proclamation of hope. They were waiting for the day this word would be fulfilled in God’s “suffering servant” Messiah. They heard and believed in the Gospel of this text by faith in what they could not yet see. The message was a real and true hope for them because God always kept (and keeps) His Word, yet it was also a word they would have to wait on for its fulfillment. With this, Isaiah creates a community of hope gathered around the Word of God, a hope in the One who saves.

Of course, we know Jesus fulfilled this in an incredibly beautiful but also surprising way. I invite you to the garden tomb in the Gospel of John. Here in John 20:15 it says, “Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” I love this little detail because it is features like this which we normally just fly past in our reading of scripture. However, in this small moment we see a connection to Isaiah 55 that might help us have a meaningful gospel connection for our preaching of the text.

Isaiah’s “hoped for” Messiah is found in the Garden just outside the Tomb. Though He suffered and died, it was by His suffering and death that He fulfilled God’s Word of promise: He would save us by serving us as our Savior on the cross. Once Jesus completed God’s work of salvation, we find Him in the garden Isaiah has invited us to hope for. Hope is found in Him! But Mary could not recognize Him. She was filled with fear and doubt. If it were possible to recall anything in the midst of grief, she would have remembered He said He would rise again. By God’s grace, He did rise again! But she had a hard time seeing Him and, “supposing He was the gardener,” she would only know Him when He called her by name. Here we would do well to recall the words of Isaiah 43:1: “But now, thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’” I love how she mistakes Him for the gardener. This connects the promise from Genesis 3 all the way through Isaiah 55 to His work on Easter, which is our only hope (1 Corinthians 15). We, like Isaiah, can trust Jesus’ Word because He did everything He said He would, including rise again.

Now, we live in the tension of paradise restored and yet paradise still to come. God has accomplished His work through His suffering servant Jesus Christ who gives us life to live with Him forever. Our text is a prophecy of Jesus which we see fulfilled in His resurrection, but it is still a future prophecy for us who, like Isaiah’s hearers, wait as a community of hope around the Word and Sacraments, until we ourselves see Jesus face-to-face at the end of all things, which ironically will also be the beginning of all things. There is a lot of Gospel in this text for preaching.

Now, we live in the tension of paradise restored and yet paradise still to come. God has accomplished His work through His suffering servant Jesus Christ who gives us life to live with Him forever.

In order to get at the rich fulfillment Jesus gives for our text, we will use a structure I like to call Preaching Typology. 

A word on “typology” before we start. This is important because when typology is done poorly, it is mere allegory which does violence to the text and damage to the original hearers. Sidney Greidanus says it this way:

“In distinction from the allegorical method, typological interpretation can trace its roots back to the Old Testament. For example, the prophets used the exodus from Egypt as a type of God’s future deliverance from Babylon (Isaiah 11:11–12, 15–16; 43:16–21; 48:20–21; 51:9–11; 52:11–12; Jeremiah 16:14–15). The New Testament also uses typological interpretation frequently. The Apostolic Fathers such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus largely carried on this tradition. With Irenaeus, especially, we observed the development of sound hermeneutical principles: The Old and New Testaments are a united whole; Christ is the heart of Scripture; Scripture is consistent with itself; Scripture must be its own interpreter; and one should interpret a passage in its own context and in the framework of the “rule of faith.”


Simply put, typology is any person, event, or institution in the Old Testament that prefigures a person, event, or institution in the New Testament. The literal meaning of the text is spiritually significant. As the old moves to the new (in fulfillment), we move from the past to the present (in fulfillment). This is vastly different from allegory, which only thinks of the text as important because the story, poem, or picture can be interpreted as having some other “real” or “hidden” meaning we have to tease out of the text. In typology, there are different qualities of “type.” There is historical significance. It does not deny that these events happened in real time and in real history and really meant something to those who originally heard it. Its focus is on a theocentric action which demonstrates its meaning in fulfillment. It also usually contains a significant analogy that gives an “equal to” component with no lesser reality. Above all, though, it must have escalation, meaning it must move from the “lesser” to a “greater than” fulfillment in Christ.

Structure for Preaching Typology

  • Begin in the middle of the story of the text (Isaiah’s invitation to the Garden restored)
    1. This first move works to catch the hearer’s attention.
    2. Leads to questions which need answering (like, why did the garden need to be restored?).
  • Proceeding action
    1. This is the context of the text.
    2. What does it actually say (the ruination in the Garden by sin, death, and the Devil)?
  • Go back to the middle
    1. This creates deeper understanding.
    2. We now hear the text differently (it is a cry of hope for freedom which will be accomplished through Isaiah’s “suffering servant” Messiah).
  • Conclusion
    1. Questions answered in Christ (who was supposed to be the gardener, new/second Adam motif).
    2. Significant Analogy (an “equal to” component with no lesser reality, Jesus in the garden is a very real connection to Isaiah’s vision of the Garden).
    3. Escalation (Jesus is a prophet greater than Isaiah because He is the fulfilled Word and salvation of all people).

To do this well, the historical event must be valued as significant and true in its own time. You need to communicate how God is faithful to His Word, and that this text is a gracious intervention from God which telescope’s into the future. In order to see this telescoping effect, you have to demonstrate the text’s progressive fulfillment. That is, God’s Word is fulfilled over time through type and antitype. Of course, in Christian preaching this means it will always reference Christ, otherwise there is no Gospel present in the sermon. By doing “typology” well, God uses the preacher to “accomplish that for which God purposed” His Word in the first place (verse 11). Namely, that it shall succeed in the thing for which He sent it: To create a community of hope around the Word that trusts in God through the Messiah. We are still waiting to see this hope fulfilled in the world today. We are looking to Christ through the promise of His Word and not through a felt need. We know Jesus is good for keeping His Word because He always keeps His Word as evidenced in His death and resurrection.


Additional Resources:

Craft of Preaching-Check out our previous articles on Isaiah 55:10-13.


Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 55:10-13.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 55:10-13.


Lectionary Podcast-Dr. Ryan Tietz Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Isaiah 55:10-13.


[1] Sidney Greidanus. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999. 90–91.