Isaiah 42 - The Servant of the Lord

Isaiah 42

Isaiah’s title for the Messiah is “The Servant of the Lord.”

Vs. 1 God describes the servant. He upholds him. He chooses him. He delights in him. He puts his Spirit in Him. Notice there is the speaker – God the Father, the servant – the Son, the Spirit – the Holy Spirit. We think about Jesus baptism. Behold, this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Please also notice what he will bring to the nations. He will bring justice (mishpat) to the gentiles. Don’t forget that mishpat I justice or governance. It is a plan. This is covenant language and indicates that the messiah will bring a covenant to the gentiles in which they can live with God. It is the beginning of the eternal unbreakable relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ.

Vs. 2 The servant’s ministry will not be like a typical street preacher or shouting prophet. Jesus spoke to people. He never shouted. He moved from synagogue to synagogue. He taught in the temple. The servant’s power didn’t come from bluster, but from truth. (Matthew 12:15-21)

Vs. 3 -4 a bruised reed he will not break. He is a servant king. He will not crush the oppressed. A smoldering wick he will not snuff out. He will not crush the discouraged. Also, there is a lot of hope here. In Luke 11:33-36 Jesus talks about how when the eye which is the lamp of the body is unhealthy then the whole body is dark, but when the eye is healthy then the body is full of light. In that time a healthy lamp looked like this. A healthy lamp looked like this.

However, if the wick strayed from the center of the eye or the hole through which the wick extends, it begins to burn the sides of the hole. The wick smolders, the lamp burns, and the room fills with smoke. Once the eye of a lamp gets too burnt it has to be thrown away because it will always be smoky. Jesus will not snuff out a smoldering wick. He doesn’t look at sin and desire to crush us. He looks at us to serve and save us.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice. God is faithful. You can count on Him. If he says He will bring justice it means that he will keep the parameters of the covenant and the servant will provide parameters of the covenant that we can keep. In fact, because he is the servant he makes the covenant possible and through his saving act of giving his life for our sins, he makes it possible for us to keep the parameters of the covenant because we are under his authority, power, and redemption.

Vs. 5-9 God describes Himself as the creator of the universe. He has the authority to do what He says He is going to do. He is the life maker and the life giver who has the authority, the wisdom, the mercy, and the faithfulness to declare the parameters for our relationship with Him.

The Lord calls the servant in righteousness, tsedeq. He calls Him with the intention of bringing a covenant forward. “I will take hold of your hand.” When a blood covenant is cut the hands are clasped so that the two are one. There is no separation or different identity between those who take hold of each other’s hands. Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.”

“I will keep you.” The Father watches, keeps guard, over the Son. For what purpose? “Nathan” to give. Not just to be, but to give as the entirety of the blood covenant. He is the representative head for heaven. He is the representative head for earth. He is the mediator. He is the sacrifice. He is the memorial. He is the name. His is the blood. “I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people as a light for the gentiles.”

Blood covenant should only be done if you trust the other person. So, the servant comes to do what before the covenant is cut? He builds our trust. How? “To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

In doing this literally the servant builds trust leading to the covenant. It is also a foreshadow of what happens to anyone who enters into the covenant with God through him because he cures us of spiritual blindness, and releases us from the bonds of sin and death.

God’s name belongs to God alone. Whoever is called Yahweh it is God. When people have God’s name in their name it is always in short form. The messiah, the servant, has God’s name because He is God. God will not share His glory with another.

God is doing this new thing and, like speaking the world into existence, God declares these things – so they must be.

Vs. 10-13 Anyone who hears this proclamation should sing a new song of praise and joy because what is coming means salvation for the world. It means shalom for the world – the thing that is broken is now made whole and new.

Vs 14-17 When God speaks to make something new it is a new beginning all around. Think of Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.” In the same way, when God proclaims that He is making something new, there is, as Jeremiah calls it, “an uprooting.” The fields are tilled before they are planted. God doesn’t do these things to forsake those who love Him, but to keep His covenant promises with those who love Him. Sadly, those who trust in idols of any kind, instead of the living God, will be turned back in utter shame. The word in Hebrew is “bosh” – shamed, disappointed, dejected.

Vs 18-25 Israel received the covenant through Abraham and the law through Moses, but they made themselves blind and deaf by following idols. The result of their unfaithfulness was already planned in the covenant parameters. What happened to Israel was God keeping His covenant promises, blessings and curses, because of how the covenant people rebelled against the parameters of the covenant. God always does what He promises. For His name’s sake He sends the servant so He can keep His covenant with Israel and keep Israel’s covenant promises to bless the world.

Those who abandon the covenant, in particular through idolatry, are referred to in verse 25. They don’t understand why they are being consumed in the fires of war. They didn’t even connect what was happening to them to their unfaithfulness and rebellion against their covenant with God.

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