113-149 Isaiah Chapter 49
Salvation Reaches to the End of the Earth
From the Servant of the lord, the Messiah, comes these prophetic words to the Prophet Isaiah. Here the Messiah is commanding the dwellers of the distant lands, the Gentiles, to listen unto His words. The Messiah reveals here that He was called from the womb and in truth, He was called even before the womb. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)
The name Jesus was given to Mary by the angel Gabriel before Jesus was conceived. (Luke 1:31) The words that the Messiah would speak would be powerful and spoken with authority. The Messiah proclaims that He was carefully made as a polished arrow for the service of the Lord God. He would be ready at the right time to serve, as the life of Jesus was hidden prior to His ministry. As a polished shaft in the quiver of the Lord God.
The rest of this chapter is speaking of the Messiah and therefore we can say that Israel is used as a reference to the Messiah. The Lord speaks of Israel as the Messiah because He came from Israel and is a representative of Israel. Also, the word Israel means, “Governed by God” and Jesus fulfills that name. “On the surface, the statement ‘You are my servant, Israel,’ explicitly identifies Yahweh’s Servant as the nation Israel. But if that were the case, an apparent contradiction would arise in verses 5-6, in which the Servant’s task is to bring Israel back to Yahweh and to the land . . . the view that ‘Israel’ is a title of the individual messianic Servant harmonizes most satisfactorily with the passage and context.” (Lindsey) Jesus was tempted and therefore may have thought His work in vain but He triumphed over the temptation declaring His just reward is with the Lord God.
An important mission of the Messiah was to bring Israel back to the Lord. This is a certification that the nation of Israel has an enduring place in God’s plan. That plan will be fulfilled when all of Israel will be saved. “And so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:26)
Part of the Messiah’s mission is for the Israelites but it is also for the Gentiles. The Messiah not only brings salvation to the Jew but also to the ends of the earth, the Gentiles. “Israel has light but needs restoration, while the Gentiles need both light and salvation.” (Grogan) Even as the Messiah would bring salvation to the ends of the earth men would despise Him and His own nation would abhor Him. Mankind in general and Israel specifically will reject the Messiah. Yet in the end, the Messiah will not be despised or abhorred. He will receive the worship and honor that He deserves because He is the chosen of the Lord God.
The Lord God will help the preservation of the Messiah throughout His earthly ministry. If there was any time that this promise was fulfilled it was when Jesus suffered on the cross and trusted the promise of resurrection. This promise must have been a comforting and strengthening to His soul while He was nailed to the cross. He could know that the Lord would hear, help, and preserve Him. Jesus not only brought a new covenant to the people He was the covenant.
The Ministry of Jesus set people free from their imprisonment and bondage to sin. He set the demon possessed from the chains of demonic torture. (Mark 5:1-15) Jesus set the sick and diseased free from the bondage of their infirmities. (Luke 13:16) Jesus set that righteous dead free from their captivity in Hades. (Ephesians 4:8) Those who were captive to the Law and in bondage to sin, Jesus, freed. (Galatians 3:22-23)
In the present sense, this verse refers to the exiles returning from their captivity in Babylon by His sustaining them. In a greater sense, it speaks of God’s mercy and provision for His people as they return to Him from afar.
The mountains that blocked the path of the returning exiles, both in the near and far fulfillment, might seem to defeat the purpose of the Lord, but it does not. “There is no exception in that great, but little word, all. There is nothing in life – no obstacle, no loneliness, no trial, no sorrow – which may not be a way into God’s richest blessing. There is no situation of entanglement, nothing that you can possibly conceive, but this can be part of God’s way to make His mountain a way of deliverance.” (Redpath)
“Notice it says each . . . mountain (or, as in the King James Version, all … mountains). “There is no exception in that great, but little word, all. There is nothing in life – no obstacle, no loneliness, no trial, no sorrow – which may not be a way into God’s richest blessing. There is no situation of entanglement, nothing that you can possibly conceive, but this can be part of God’s way to make His mountain a way of deliverance.” (Redpath)
The mountains in our life can be used by God to serve His purpose for us. “[When you make] the commitment of your life to Jesus Christ without reservation, then you can go to meet your mountains and meet obstacles in Jesus – not to meet them outside Him, but in Christ. If you do that, then the mountain between you and God’s land of blessing becomes the way into it.” (Redpath)
Where is the land of Sinim? Some say that it is a place in Egypt and others say in China. The point is that the Lord will gather His people from every place on the earth. “‘Sinim’ is probably Aswan, near the southern border of Egypt . . . This assumes that ‘Sinim’ is derived from sewenim . . . If the Masoretic Text is correct, a long-standing interpretation connects Sinim with China.” (Wolf)
Promise to Zion
The assumption is that God’s people will praise Him and the Lord calls for all His creation to add their voices in praise for what the Messiah has done. Zion, the highest hill in Jerusalem and the place of God’s people objects. “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.” In the rest of this chapter and chapter 50, this question will be answered. The Babylonian captivity the people of Zion wonder if God really cares for them. God will answer this question that many have asked since.
In all the difficulty that a woman may have while nursing a child, she will not forsake the child. But they do and we see it all the time in the news but the Lord says that He will never forsake His people. The Lord’s affection for His people is greater than that of a woman for her child.
In the nailed scared hands of Jesus, the names of His people are inscribed. Jesus told His disciple Thomas to look at His hands. (John 20:27) When we look to the nailed scared hands of Jesus we can see how He has inscribed our names upon them. With this love how can the Lord ever forget His people?
As we look to the walls of Jerusalem we can see the strength and prosperity, the security of God’s people. God is our provider and is always mindful of the condition of His people in spite of the objections of a doubting Zion.
The Lord will bring back the captives of Babylon to the Promised Land, as this will be an ornament for God’s people. The Lord’s faithfulness to the people of Zion is shown by His future plans for them. This promise was filled in part by the people’s return from Babylon but will ultimately be fulfilled in the regathering of Israel in the last days.
When the Lord brings the people of Zion back they will fill the land in a glorious way. It will be a surprise the return of God’s people both in the near time and in the far fulfillment. This blessing from the Lord will seem to come from nowhere. God to make this a surety confirms His promise with an oath to the nations. God will rescue His people from their immediate and ultimate captivity.
“Calvin and most expositors believe that the text teaches that one day the greatest in the nation will love and care for the children of the Church. This text has usually been made to serve as proof of the legitimacy of the church-state (or state church); however, the prophet does not have the Church in mind here, but future Israel.” (Bultema)
“These expressions therefore of the prophet are only general poetical images, taken from the manners of the country, to denote great respect and reverence: and such splendid poetical images, which frequently occur in the prophetical writings, were intended only as general amplification of the subject, not as predictions to be understood and fulfilled precisely according to the letter.” (Clarke)
“Lick up the dust of thy feet refers to the great honor which the great ones of the world will give Israel. It is mainly on the basis of this phrase that there is the practice of kissing the pope’s feet.” (Bultema)
Babylon which had come a taken the people captive and carried them away shall itself be taken away. God will show His love for His people by doing unto Babylon what they had done to Zion.
What was true for Zion in their freedom from Babylon will even be truer for those who are set free from the captivity of Satan. Jesus spoke of the spoiling of Satan in the gospel of Luke. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.” (Luke 11:21-22) “The pictures of eating their own flesh and drinking their own blood draw on the horrors of siege conditions. The reality is that those who oppose the Lord and his people experience the self-destructiveness of sin – a recurring feature of the wars of the Lord.” (Motyer)