113-150 Isaiah Chapter 50
God Helps His Servant
The Lord God is asking for the certificate of divorce to show that He no longer cares for His people. But there is no certificate that has separated God from His people as the people have separated themselves by their transgressions. “The people of Israel in exile are likening themselves to a divorced wife, forgotten and forsaken of God. The Lord interrupts this kind of thinking, and breaks into it with a challenge to His people, saying: ‘Where is the bill of divorcement? Produce it. Produce the bill and show me where I divorced you.’ But Israel cannot do it. Of course, she cannot find it, because He has never given it to her. God cannot divorce those whom He has taken into the covenant relationship with Himself.” (Redpath) “Divorce accuses unfailing love of failure; slavery accuses sovereign power of weakness and sovereign resources of inadequacy. The truth, however, is very different, for it was all a matter of due reward of sins.” (Motyer)
When the Lord God came there was no man who stands for Israel and convicts them of their disobedience. There was no man who would stand and present Israel’s case before their God. Another view is this, “Here the Lord compares Himself to a man and father of a household who is treated shamefully by his own wife and children. When he came home, there was no one to welcome him and when he called, no one answered him. Hence, He who had the right to all their respect was treated as one without any rights.” (Bultema)
Then the Lord God answers His own question. The hand of the Lord is not too short that He cannot redeem His people. In spite of the people, the Lord’s power and His authority are far beyond any man’s question.
Even the heavens are in mourning over the sin and disbelief of God’s people. “Oh, the sorrow in the heart of God – the pang, the pain, the agony, the suffering – when His children sin! . . . Sin in the lives of God’s people clothes heaven with blackness and sackcloth.” (Redpath)
Charles Spurgeon compares this passage to the crucifixion of their Savior. “The last miracle recorded here, namely, that of covering the heavens with sackcloth was performed by our Lord even when he was in his death agony. We read that, at high noon, the sun was veiled, and there was darkness over all the land for three black hours. A wonder of wonders, he who hung bleeding there had wrought that mighty marvel! The sun had looked upon him hanging on the cross, and, as if in horror, had covered its face, and traveled on in tenfold night. The tears of Jesus quenched the light of the sun. Had he been wrathful, he might have put out its light forever; but his love not only restored that light, but it has given to us a light a thousand times more precious, even the light of everlasting life and joy.”
The conversation shifts from the words of God to the prophetic Messiah. He says that the Lord God has given Him the ability to speak with wisdom. The Messiah speaks of the season that the men are weary. This is a glorious use of the tongue for the learned.
The Messiah speaks of His daily deep fellowship with the Lord God the Father. It is in these times that God awakens His ear that He may hear as the learned. The Messiah is empowered by the time that He spends with the Father that He may learn knowledge and the wisdom to use it.
The Messiah speaks as a willing bondslave of His master the Lord God Almighty. “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.” (Exodus 21:5-6) His ear was open by God with an awl that He may hear the words of God. The Messiah was in total submission to the will of the Father. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)
Here we hear the sufferings of the Messiah. His back was beaten. (Mark 15:15) Jesus was beaten in the face. (Luke 22:63-65) Jesus was also mocked and spat upon. (Mark 15:19-20) “We have before us the language of prophecy, but it is as accurate as though it had been written at the moment of the event. Isaiah might have been one of the Evangelists, so exactly does he describe what our Savior endured.” (Spurgeon) “He suffered the deepest humiliation, for to pluck out the hair (of the beard) and to cover someone’s face with spit was, according to Near-Eastern concepts, the most humiliating suffering that could be inflicted upon a man.” (Bultema)
“Many of us could give to Christ all our health and strength, and all the money we have, very heartily and cheerfully; but when it comes to a point of reputation we feel the pinch. To be slandered, to have some filthy thing said of you; this is too much for flesh and blood. You seem to say, ‘I cannot be made a fool of, I cannot bear to be regarded as a mere impostor;’ but a true servant of Christ must make himself of no reputation when he takes upon himself the work of his Lord. Our blessed Master was willing to be scoffed at by the lewdest and the lowest of men.” (Spurgeon)
Through all the sufferings of the Messiah, His confidence in God the Father was unshakable. This is the model, the image that we as Christians are to live in. It is a pitiful thing for a Christian to refuse to suffer in the light of the sufferings of Christ. Did we ever see Jesus making a stand for His rights or did He rely on the truth that God will help Him?
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed that this cup would pass from Him. But He concluded that it be the Father’s will and not His. How thankful we should be! The determination that Jesus had to obey the will of the Father. Therefore, His face was set as flint and nothing would pull Him off course. Jesus knew that to go to Jerusalem would result in His crucifixion but He steadfastly determined to go. “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) We can view courage in two ways. The courage of the moment which requires no previous thought to use. Then there is planned courage. One sees the difficulty ahead and moves forward to face it. This is the courage the Messiah had.
From the sermon titled “The Redeemer’s Face Set like a Flint” by Charles Spurgeon, he makes these points.
The testing of Jesus’ steadfast resolve.
- By offers from the world.
- By the persuasions of His friends.
- By the unworthiness of His clients.
- By the bitterness of the first few drops of suffering in Gethsemane.
- By the ease at which He could have backed out if He had wished to.
- By the taunts of those who mocked Him.
- By the full stress and agony of the cross.
- The sustaining resolve of Jesus.
- By His divine schooling.
- By His conscious innocence.
- By His unshakable confidence in the help of God.
- By the joy that was set before Him.
How to imitate the steadfast resolve of Jesus. When there is something right, stand for it. When you have a right purpose that glorifies God, carry it out.
The courage of Jesus was not a resignation to His fate but a confident assurance in His Father God. Jesus could set His face like flint, as He knew that He would not be ashamed. The Messiah knew that at the end of things that He was in the will of His Father and none could stand against Him. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) Jesus gained the victory, as He was in the Will of the Father. As we are in Christ and are walking in the will of the Father, then we stand with Him in the victory He won.
God asks a series of questions in these verses. “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light?” The answer to the questions is the Messiah. “Only he who knows how to obey can call others to obedience.” (Motyer)
The Messiah guides His people into the path of light, into the truth of God’s Word. The follower of Jesus is to trust in Him and rely on God. It is not an easy path but it is simple. Some may think the world is a positive place to be in but in truth, it is not. If we kindle fires as Nadab and Abihu, then we are in the deceptive light. “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.” (Leviticus 10:1) If a deceptive light is that light that we live by, then we will have torment at the hand of the Lord. If we as men trust in our own efforts instead of relying on the Lord, then our life will be filled with the deception of the evil one. “Those who ‘light fires’ refers to men who had their own schemes and their own gods. Because they had rejected the light of God’s Word, they would face terrible punishment.” (Wolf) “Torment . . . is only found here but its verb . . . guarantees its meaning of grief, pain and displeasure – even the ‘place of pain’ – specifically the pains of sin under the curse of God.” (Motyer)