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The Servant of God

Isaiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:29
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Isaiah 42 ESV
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. 5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” 10 Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. 11 Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands. 13 The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. 14 For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant. 15 I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. 16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. 17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.” 18 Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see! 19 Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the Lord? 20 He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. 21 The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious. 22 But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, “Restore!” 23 Who among you will give ear to this, will attend and listen for the time to come? 24 Who gave up Jacob to the looter, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they would not walk, and whose law they would not obey? 25 So he poured on him the heat of his anger and the might of battle; it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand; it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart.

Introduction

The words of Isaiah 42 are recognized as one of the “Servant Songs” of the Old Testament. It is called a song because of the poetic form. The topic of the song is the description and action of a servant ( a person or people that God choose for a specific purpose). We have the benefit that the original audience did not have. We know to whom the Servant Song is pointing us. This chapter tells in beautiful detail the actions and mission of Jesus Christ, the SERVANT that Isaiah foretold. The generations before Christ had to look toward the future in faith when God would fulfill his promises. They looked forward in time, and we look back in time to recognize Jesus as the promise of God. We all look to Christ in faith. As we study this chapter, look for the many details that Christ fulfilled in his life and ministry.

“Behold My Servant”

Through the Old Testament, various people are referred to as God’s Servant, such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and Israel. But some servants remain anonymous and are only described by their actions. Chapter 42 describes two servants, one unnamed individual and the other is unfaithful Israel.
Let’s first notice that God indeed has set aside the first servant by divine will. This servant will bring justice to the earth and the nations. His justice is more than equality and right decisions that benefit all. Verse 4 describes that this justice is the result of God’s law being revealed through the servant. The term “law” is reminiscent of Psalm 119 that describes the Law of the Lord, which is synonymous with God’s Word. This servant will do so in a powerful but gentle way. But what is most surprising of this justice and law is that it is promised to the “goyim,” which is a common term to describe those who are not part of Israel. The ministry of the Servant will fulfill the covenant promises of Abraham, Genesis 22:17-18. These promises are evidence that God is the One True God. He is not like the so-called gods of the nations. He is the Creator of all and is faithful to bring hope to all people.
Later in verse 6, we see that the servant becomes a covenant to the people of the nations. The servant will:
be a light for those in spiritual darkness
open the eyes of the spiritually blind
release those that in spiritual slavery
Anyone who has read the gospels should be able to recognize these things in the ministry of Jesus. This is the message of the gospel. Jesus is the light of the world as He said in John 8:12. He brought to us the Living Word so that we might see, believe, repent, and receive the freedom to become part of the family of God. Those who are in Christ are no longer separated from God but now have peace with Him.

A New Song

In verse 10, Isaiah describes the only proper response to this promise of God. It is to break forth in singing a new song. The new song is necessary not because familiar songs are out of style. The new song is necessary to reflect the new action of God toward the nations. The outsiders of Israel had to sing the covenant song within or through Israel, but there will be a day when they receive a new covenant and sing a new song made possible by God. In the past, verse 14, God appeared to be silent to the nations as he focused on Israel, but this was only temporary. God will now do something amazing.
Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary iii. Singing World, Saving Lord (42:10–17)

14. The long silence comprises the whole history of the Gentile world. That it should have been left without a word from God is not accidental or purposeless. It was a self-imposed divine restraint but, as with pregnancy, it was a period leading step by step to a planned, dated and inevitable outcome. The Lord had never forgotten the whole world in his prior engagement with the family of Abraham. He has been gestating a great purpose, and now it has come to birth.

J. Alec Motyer
Verse 15 describes a destructive act of God upon the earth, but we should recognize this as apocalyptic type language. It is something so amazing that it has to be described in terms of an overturning of things. The old era will end, and God will usher in a day of promise. Darkness will become light, and just as the rough places will become level from Isaiah 40, so too as God becomes the God for the nations, they will see His glorious coming to them. But they will only receive it through complete faith in God. They must abandon their idols and gods. Their gods will only bring them shame.
For us today, we have the benefit of seeing these promises revealed in scripture. we have these promises, but only through faith in Him. He is our Covenant with God. The Bible consistently reminds us that we must make a choice to follow Him alone. Unbelief is rejection. Indecision is rejection. The only proper response is faith and following Christ. Have you made that decision? Are you following Him alone today? If you have not, don’t hesitate. God is patient and merciful, but we must not consider that we are promised tomorrow. Trust in Him today. If you have stopped following Him, God offers you this word today, follow Christ again.

The Failure of a different Servant

The last section of this chapter descries another servant that stands in contrast to the first. It is Israel. Israel is not a faithful servant but is blind and deaf to hear the Word of God and respond in faith and obedience. They had the privilege of the covenant. They had the honor to receive God's law and blessings. But many rejected God and received the consequences for that rejection. And God sent harsh discipline to them as a nation hoping that they would recognize that their situation was due to their sin. The sad part of the story is that the servant was unwilling to recognize that it was the action of their covenant God trying to get their attention. Many persisted in stubbornness.
God intended that the Covenant People, Abraham's descendants, be the conduit (plumbing system) that would bring God's glory and light to the whole earth. But even though Israel failed, God would not give up. He would prove faithful to all His promises and send the Servant Jesus Christ to be the One who was both the unnamed Servant and the True Servant Israel. Jesus is now the blessing of Abraham so that all now must enter through Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, no one has access to God. But through Christ, we all have the privilege to come into a new covenant and relationship with God. In Him, we have peace, forgiveness, power, love, and fellowship with God.

The Covenant to the Nations and Race Relations in Christ

Isaiah 42 is a blessing for us that is realized in Jesus Christ. We who are the “goyim” have a new covenant through Him. All, including those descendants of Abraham, must recognize that Christ is our way to God. This fact has amazing theological implication but also an important application for the new community. Look how Paul summarizes this reality.
Ephesians 2:11–21 ESV
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
One of the keywords that sticks out in describing Christ’s mission through the cross is “hostility”. The power of the cross has destroyed any hostility that existed between the nations and the covenant people. The gospel foresees that in Christ, there is now only one covenant people. They are those who have come to God through the blood of Christ. Those in Christ become “one new man.” The previous distinctions of Jew and gentile are secondary to the point of non-existence. We are one new people that are called citizens, saints, and members of the household of God. This is the Church. The church is only possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He makes us one. So wee ought to live as such.
As we look at our country today, we hear news about racial tension and problems. What should we do as Christians? Should we protest, start petitions, contact our politicians, etc.? Before we do any of those things, we ought to seriously evaluate these issues in the light of God’s Word. Racial tension is as old as the hills. Because it is a sin. We as humans will consistently choose sin because it is in our sinful nature. So how can we make a difference in our world, community, and churches?
Recognize that racial tension can be used by people for personal gain.
“Man, I think most white people and ​b​lack people are great people. I really believe that in my heart, but I think our system is set up where our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power. They divide and conquer,”
https://nypost.com/2021/04/05/charles-barkley-rips-politicians-for-stirring-racial-division/
I agree with the commentary of Charles Barkley. We must not assume that leadership will never take advantage of a situation to promote themselves or achieve another goal. They may not want to really solve things because solving things would mean a loss of influence and power for them. Evaluate the voice you choose to listen to. Listen with biblical ears.
2. Recognize that racism and racial tension is a spiritual issue. It stems from a sinful heart that refuses to submit to God.
The problem with many movements and social justice actions is that they seek to solve a spiritual problem with a human solution. This will never achieve the goal of justice. Isaiah 42 reminds us that only God’s Servant - Jesus Christ can bring God’s justice. It belongs to God, and if we ignore and reject God, we are trying to put water into a bucket with large holes.
Unfortunately, the Christian Church has not been faithful in this call either. It is sad to see that many congregations and movements that claim Christ as Lord have historically preferred segregation. Even today, many churches unite together under Christ but remain separated from other believers based upon race. Who is to blame? God’s people are to blame, for we can claim the gospel of Christ yet hold on to our sinful nature. We must not let sin reign in our hearts.
3. Preach the Gospel which is the only cure for the sinful heart.
The scriptures we looked at today remind us that God has intended to bring a new covenant that fulfills His former promises and cures the sin that started in the garden of Eden. This cure for sin unites the repentant sinner back to God and brings repentant sinner to other repentant sinners. God intends to unite all people into one family through the cross of Jesus Christ. In Him, we discover what true unity is. We have the cure. Let’s receive it. Let’s share it. Let’s live it. Let’s sing the New Song of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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