113-142 Isaiah Chapter 42
God’s Promise concerning His Servant
The Lord God calls to all people, the people of Israel and the coastlands, and tells them to behold. That is to study and set their focus on His Servant. “The word ‘ebed can refer to a slave (Exo_21:20-21) or a vassal king (2Sa_10:19), an individual subject (Gen_21:25) or a tributary nation (1Ch_18:2; 1Ch_18:6; 1Ch_18:13). In all those cases the term refers to a person or group characterized by dependence and servitude.” (Lindsey)
The Lord’s Servant is His Son Jesus and the Apostle Matthew quotes Isaiah and says this passage of prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus. (Matthew 12:18-21) Here the Lord God is calling all people to place their focus on Jesus. Jesus described Himself as a servant. (Matthew 20:26-28; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:43-45) The Apostle Peter described Jesus as His Servant. (Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26) When the people prayed they spoke to God’s Holy Servant. (Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30) Jesus was not just a servant. He is the Servant that everyone should behold.
As we focus on Jesus we see Him as the Lord’s Servant. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28) Jesus is more than an example of servitude to us as He is our Servant. Jesus has served us in the past and continues to serve us in the present by His love and guidance. He sits at the throne of God in intercession for us to the Father.
God not only upholds His Servant but God upon holds all His servants. When we become a servant to another then we must give full attention and service to our Master. The Master is also required to care for His servants. The Lord can always say My Servant whom I uphold. “The picture is taken from an Eastern court, where a monarch is in a procession, and as he walks he leans upon a favorite courtier. This verse, in fact, could well be translated, ‘Behold, my servant, upon whom I lean.’ It is an indication of a special favor and confidence. So we have the picture of God the Father leaning upon God the son, counting upon Him and trusting Him to fulfill all His purposes.” (Redpath) Is God able to depend on us, can He lean on us?
Jesus is the elected One and our election is being chosen in Jesus. Paul wrote this to the Ephesians, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love.” (Ephesians 1:4) Our election comes from His deep love and approval. If we have been chosen by the Lord before the foundation of the world then God says, “My soul delights in you.” Understanding this allows us to receive God’s favor. So often we try to earn the favor of God when it is a free gift from God. We receive His favor because He has chosen, elected, to delight His soul in us.
The Spirit of God filled Jesus and His ministry flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.” (Matthew 3:16)
The ministry of Jesus was not restricted to the Jew only, as He would also minister to the Gentile nations. Through His ministry, Jesus brought Justice and righteousness to all. Jesus was not a loud and boisterous man but meek and His actions were gentile. The power of His ministry came from the Holy Spirit. “He is not self-assertive: probably the three verbs here are cumulative, stressing his quiet, unaggressive demeanor, but shout (‘shriek’) could suggest that he is not out to startle, cry out (‘raise his voice’) not to dominate or shout others down, raise his voice (‘make his voice heard’) not out to advertise himself.” (Motyer)
“Think for a moment about the modesty of God. He is always at work: He guides the sun, the stars, and the universe. He controls every galaxy. He refreshes the earth constantly. But He works so quietly that many people now try to make out there is no God at all . . . That is the hallmark of reality in service. God’s artists do not put their signatures to the pictures they create. His ambassadors do not run after the photographer all the time to get their pictures taken. It is enough that they have borne witness to the Lord.” (Redpath)
The reed is a fragile plant and when it is bruised the Lords Servant will handle it so gently that it will not break. Flax is used as tinder to start a fire but if it is only smoking the Servant will not quench it, instead, the Servant will gently blow upon it to bring it to a flame. We often feel that God deals with our weaknesses roughly. But it is the opposite that is true, He deals with them tenderly and gently helping us along until the reed is once again strong and the smoking flax becomes a flame.
“Think again of that reed: something that has been crushed, or hurt by unkindness, a life that is somehow bent and bruised and shattered, without strength or beauty. There is nothing attractive about a reed, and there is certainly nothing very pleasant about the circumstances in which it lives! Usually, it grows in a smelly, unsavory swamp.” “We call ourselves Christians, but if you are like me, sometimes you are desperately ashamed of how dimly your light burns. There is far more smoke than fire: so little prayer, so little real testimony, so much depression and discouragement. But the Lord says He will not extinguish the smoking flax.” (Redpath)
“He is not dismissive of others: however useless or beyond repair (bruised reed), however ‘past it’ and near extinction (shouldering wick) they may seem. The negative statements imply their positive equivalents: he can mend the broken reed, fan into flame the smoldering wick. The former has been internally damaged, the latter lacks the external nourishment of oil. The Servant is competent both to cure and to supply.” (Motyer)
Jesus can see the value of a bruised reed and He can make its music beautiful once again. The smoking flax used for a wick or oil lamb is good for nothing. Jesus knows the value and can refresh it with oil. Many of us are like the bruised reed and we need the strength of the Servants touch. We need the might of His Spirit in our inner self. (Ephesians 3:16) Some of us are like the smoking flax but can burn brightly for the Lord when drenched with His oil by the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has a heart for the broken, the lowly, broken, and hurting. It is all too easy for us to pass them by. “The superficial Christian worker ignores that kind of situation. He wants a sphere to serve where it will be worthy of his talent if you please. A task where his abilities will be recognized and used, something that is big enough to justify all the training he has undergone. In the eyes of the Lord, the test of the real servant is, does he bend with the humility of Jesus Christ over a bruised reed and smoking flax?” (Redpath)
The Servant is meek but He is not weak. He will bring forth truth and justice. This He will do and will not become discouraged or subject to failure. Nothing will stop the Servant. His job is great, the obstacles high, but He will overcome and will not become discouraged. The Servant has all power and authority. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) “So here is the Servant of the Lord . . . there are no bruises about Him; He is no mere smoking flax. He is well able to do the task of redemption because He is free from all the weaknesses and failures of His people. He has no flaws or blemishes – He is perfection and majestic strength.” (Redpath) The work of the Servant will be for all people and all nations. Even those in the distant coastlands will serve Him.
The promise of His Servant and a ministry so great that the One who made the promise should state His credentials. The Lord God is willing to state His glory. We are to first look up as He created the heavens and stretched them out. We look down as He spread out the earth and all that comes from it. In the looking glass, we see that He has given breath to His people on the earth. The Lord God who can do all these things surely can fulfill His promises of the Servant.
The Lord God makes a promise to the Servant. What encouragement Jesus must have had from this passage for the difficult and trying times of His ministry. He was called in righteousness, as there was nothing ungodly or unrighteous in His calling. This is the confidence that His calling will be fulfilled. In the holding of the hand, God shows His love for the Son and will guide Him and never leave Him alone. He will be kept and never left behind as the Lord God will watch over Him. “You will fulfill the purpose I have called You to. You will bring salvation, not only to Your people but also to those afar off, who seems beyond salvation.”
Jesus will open the eyes of the blind, free prisoners from bondage, restore health to the sick both physically and spiritually. What glorious promises and each fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus. All these promises belong to us. as Jesus prayed, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18) We have been sent as Jesus was sent and have the same promises to abide with us.
“This is the famous Tetragrammaton, or name of four letters, which we write Jehovah, Yehovah. The letters are Y H U H. The Jews never pronounce it, and the true pronunciation is utterly unknown.” (Clarke)
The Lord God will not share His glory with another and therefore none other can fulfill these promises. We must understand that Jesus shares in the glory of the Father as He prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5)
God is the master of the past and the future and therefore has the present well in hand. This is powerful as God can declare things new even before they come forth. When we see God’s prophetic word fulfilled we can take confidence and do well to heed His Word. “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)
When we know the work of the Lord’s Servant we can’t help but sing a new song of praise. This new song should be sung by all those who have been touched by the work of the Servant.
The Blindness of the People
In the day of praise for the Lord, it will be a day of victory, as the Lord has prevailed against His enemies. The Lord will neither be passive or dispassionate in His judgments as He will set things right on the earth by His zeal. We see here a difference between the first and second coming of the Lord. With His first coming the Lord is meek and lowly and at His second He will be loud and demonstrative. There will be no obstacles in the way of the Lord. Mountains, hills, and pools will not stop Him. Even the foolish and blind will not be able to prevent His plan. In the end, they will all certainly be ashamed of their idols.
Who are the deaf and blind the Lord speaks to, they are the deaf and blind among the Lord’s people. The Lord has already spoken to the blind and deaf of the Gentiles. Now the Lord speaks to who He calls His servant and messenger. They saw many things but they did not observe. They thought that they could see but they are blind to the truth of God. They will act as they can see but they do not observe anything. They will remain blind and deaf until they admit their need.
The cure begins by knowing the condition. When the deaf knows they are deaf and the blind know they are blind they will know their need for healing. When Jesus healed a blind man He spoke of the condition of spiritual blindness. “And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (John 9:39-41)
The Lord God will be pleased to bring His justice to the earth and to magnify the honor of His law. In the New Covenant, we do not come to God on the bases of the law but this does not mean God’s law does not exist. As Paul wrote to the Roman Church. “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12) The weakness of the law is not the law but we who disobey the law. The Law of God is perfect and suits His purpose. The law is God’s holy standard to show the sinfulness of men and their need for Jesus Christ.
God looks out upon His people of the earth and sees the pain and devastation. The world, the flesh, and the devil have brought upon the world. The people have been robbed and plundered and they are for prey. There is no one to deliver them and none say restore.
This condition was allowed by God for the purpose of disciplining His people because of their sin. They chose to be blind and deaf. They would not walk in the ways of the Lord and they would not be obedient to His word. Their painful and low place was meant to bring them back to obedience to the Word of God.
But the people of Israel did not respond to the corrections of the Lord.