Isaiah 49 – Israel and Israel
Think of Ch.49-57 as a group
The servant of the Lord is Isaiah’s term for the messiah.
Vs. 1-4 The servant speaks, but it is kind of discouraging because of Israel’s rejection of his messianic claims. We often focus on the physical agony of the messiah, but this passage points out that there is another agony. He is going to be rejected by the very people he came to save.
Vs. 2 - The servant’s mouth is a sharp sword. He pronounces Judgment as in Matthew 7. He is hidden in the shadow of the Father’s hand. He couldn’t be harmed until it was time. He was a polished arrow. In other words, he was ready to be used at any time.
Vs. 3 - Notice in these verses that the servant is knit in his mother’s womb (Isaiah 7:14), but there is never any mention of his father. He has been made for a specific purpose and that purpose is to save. The name given to Jesus is Yeshua, salvation. It is too small of a thing for the messiah to come only to save and restore the tribes of Jacob. As Paul says in Philippians 2:1-11 at the name of Jesus every knee in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bow down and confess the Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Remember the names of the Messiah: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Immanuel, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. He is also called Israel. The servant of Jehovah is not Israel the nation. It is the messiah. There is a distinction between Israel the messiah and Israel the nation. Israel the messiah is the epitome of an Israelite. He keeps all of the law. He is blameless. And he brings God’s goodness and kindness into all the world as Israel the nation was meant to do.
Vs. 4 - Even so, it seems like he does what he does for nothing to the world. But to God it is everything.
Vs. 5-7 You can see the difference between Israel the messiah in vs. 3 and Israel the people in vs. 5 and 6. The servants original commission is to bring salvation for Israel and its restoration. In vs. 6 there is an addition to verse 5. Now the messiah is to be the light to the whole world, to all nations. In fact, it is after Israel rejects Jesus that he becomes a light to the gentiles. The messiah had to be rejected so his name could go out around the whole world (Acts 1:8).
Vs. 8-13 (Romans 9-11 is a good companion to what we’re reading from Isaiah 49 today. Paul quotes prolifically from Isaiah throughout these chapters. There is a real sense of what Christ has done, but also what Christ will do because we are now looking at more future and end times prophecy.) On a personal note vs. 8 and 9 totally remind me of the raising of Lazarus in John 11. Isaiah 49:9 the messiah is to say to the captives “Come out!” and to those who are in darkness “Be free.” In John 11 Jesus tells Lazarus to come forth or come out from the darkness and then he tells the mourners the word Luo (sounds like Leo) which means to untie. Untie him. Release him. Set him free. This is what the messiah does for us.
In vs. 9-11 all obstacles are removed so Israel can return. Similarly, through Christ all obstacles are removed so we can return to God.
Vs. 12 In the final restoration they will come from all over the earth. Aswan or Sinim could mean China.
Vs. 13 Those returning and set free sing a song of praise.
Vs. 14-18 No matter how much Zion thinks that God has forgotten them, God proves that He will never forgets them or fail to keep His covenant promises and that they will return.
Vs. 16 could be a reference to the angels engraved on the walls around Jerusalem. They are a constant reminder, messengers, that God keeps His promises.
Vs. 19-21 The cry of Zion changes from one of being forgotten to one who has too many children. So many people are coming back that there isn’t enough room for everyone.
Vs. 22-26 (Look at Matthew 25:31-46) The gentiles in that day will help to return the Jewish people to the land and they will protect them in their return. None of the credit for the return of the Jewish people to Israel will be given to anyone but the Lord. All mankind will know that “I, the Lord, am your savior, redeemer, the mighty one of Israel.”