This week we begin a new section in Isaiah, sometimes called the ‘suffering Servant’ section (Isa 49-55). Isaiah, the fifth evangelist, has been building his credentials by making several prophecies concerning the near future—from the immediate future to approximately 100 years away. In this section he looks ahead about 700 years and describes the coming Messiah—the Messiah who was promised from the very beginning. (Gen 3:15)
Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me [Jesus] from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
2 And he [the LORD] hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft [arrow]; in his quiver hath he hid me;
Jesus is a dragon slayer (Isa 27:1), a weapon. He doesn’t have a dragon slayer, like a special sword or magic arrow. Jesus is the weapon.
3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
The name Israel is applied here to Messiah, ie the Father (or perhaps the Godhead) calls the Son Israel. According to Cruden’s Concordance, one of the ways Israel can be translated is ‘Soldier of God’. Just as they used to call the Duke of Norfolk just plain ‘Norfolk’ in merry old England, here God calls the King of Israel simply, Israel.
4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
The gospel is to the Jew first (Rom 2:10), but nevertheless history has proven Jesus to be a light to the Gentiles, just as Isaiah said He would be. Jesus came unto his own, and his own received him not (Jn 1:11), but the Jews will receive Him in the future. In fact, the promise Paul made in Romans 11:26 is starting to come to fruition. I believe this is one of the many signs that we are nearing the end of the church age. The gospel has gone unto the end of the earth … unto all nations, which is another sign He is coming soon. (Matt 24:14) However, these verses about Jesus being a light to the Gentiles (see also Isa 42:1) are more than just proof that Isaiah is a true prophet. They show our directive as followers of Christ. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God. It therefore falls to us to fulfill his mission to be salt and light in this world. (Acts 26:17,18) As the body of Christ, we have a divine mandate. Jesus told us that we are the light of the world. Christ works through his body—you and me. He lives in us. Paul called this the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col 1:27)
7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
One hundred years after Isaiah wrote this, Jeremiah developed this thought further declaring God …will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: (Jer 31:31) Here, Isaiah says that Jesus is the new covenant.
9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth [ie be free]; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
Jesus came to set the captives free. (cf Luke 4:18)
10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
You may have heard it said that ‘Jesus is the answer’. This was a popular saying some time ago. People would then ask, ‘What is the question?’ The truth is Jesus is the answer to just about everything. Jesus is the Dragon Slayer, Jesus is Israel, Jesus is the new covenant of grace. Jesus is the way. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man can come to the Father except by Him. (Jn 14:6) His name is ‘I AM’. One way this name has been interpreted is that Jesus is whatever you need Him to be, or in other words, He is ‘the Becoming One’. It’s all about Jesus. Whatever it is you need help with, Jesus is the answer.
Father, thank You for your Son; He is everything. Help us to trust Him more, to represent Him better, and to patiently wait for Him, in Jesus’ name. Amen.