Thursday, October 27, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 121

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 121

We've been studying a man who will be a servant of the Lord, because although he does not know the God of Israel, he will do His bidding. This man is known as Cyrus the Great of Persia, who will set the people of Judah free from Babylonian captivity. But today we get a glimpse of a greater Deliverer and a more righteous Servant: the Messiah.

As with Chapter 41, it is the Lord's voice that speaks these words, "Here is my Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight." (Isaiah 42:1a) There is nothing about this Servant which is not delightful, and the Lord is thoroughly pleased with Him. I am reminded of the voice that came from heaven at Jesus' baptism, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased," (Matthew 3:17b) and the voice which came from heaven at Jesus' transfiguration, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!" (Matthew 17:5b) 

We can safely trust the words of the One in whom God is well pleased. We must listen and obey God's chosen Servant, for in Him "all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" and He is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being". (Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:3) Or as the Lord Jesus so beautifully expressed it, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) 

"I will put my Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1b) No mortal king or president or dictator is going to bring justice to the nations or establish peace on the earth, no matter how many campaign promises they make. It will take the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, to set everything right in this world. This righteous Servant is God in the flesh, filled completely with the Holy Spirit, and on the day Jesus begins His public ministry He will quote a Messianic passage from Isaiah 61 as His credentials to preach in the name of the Lord, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19) 

"He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out." (Isaiah 42:3a) This is the meek and humble Lamb of God. While preaching or performing miracles, the Lord Jesus always pointed mankind to God the Father and not to Himself, for He was here on this earth as a Servant. Though Jesus Christ is equal with God, He did not draw attention to Himself but to the goodness and mercy of God the Father. He didn't stand on the street corners and shout, "Hey, look at Me! Look what I can do!" In every way and in every deed the Lord Jesus displayed a servant's heart toward God and toward man. He didn't point His finger and condemn the sinners but was gentle with the broken ones, mending them in patient love. It is the Lord's will that the "lame may not be disabled, but rather healed". (Hebrews 12:13) He did not cast anyone aside due to their brokenness but instead set about putting them back together. Jesus didn't snuff out the smoldering wick that had burned low, symbolizing those whose faith had wavered to the point of almost giving up, but by signs and wonders He strengthened their faith so that it burned brightly again. He did not look at their sputtering flame and decide it was worthless and needed to be put out; He gave the flame what it needed to leap to life again.

"In faithfulness He will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged til He establishes justice on the earth. In His teaching the islands will put their hope." (Isaiah 42:3b-4) Though He was bruised for us, Jesus is no bruised reed, no broken soul or powerless victim. Though His candle was snuffed out on the cross, the flame burned brighter than ever when He rose from the dead. As Bible commentator David Guzik points out, "The Servant is gentle, but not weak." Christ came to earth as the Lamb of God at His first advent, but at His second advent He will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah. We met Him first as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah but will someday behold Him as the Conquering King of Revelation. 

Jesus is not sent to Israel only, but also to "the islands". This means that citizens of distant lands will hear of Him and believe. Isaiah was one of the first, or perhaps the first, prophet to clearly state God's intention of saving the Gentiles and including them in His family. The Apostle Paul lived in a time when this prophecy came true and so he said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16) Christ came first to His own nation where He was scorned and rejected by the religious leaders. "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him." (John 1:11) Because they rejected Him, "salvation has come to the Gentiles". (Romans 11:11) But to those who did believe, both Jew and Gentile, "He gave the right to become the children of God". (John 1:12) This fulfills what the Lord promised in His covenant with Abraham, "through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed". (Genesis 22:18) The word "offspring" would be more accurate if capitalized as "Offspring", for the descendant in view here is Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul affirms this by saying that the offspring, or "seed", promised to Abraham is "one person, who is Christ". (Galatians 3:16)

We will behold more and more of this righteous Servant as Isaiah builds up to the conclusion of his book. The Servant will act wisely in every way. He will be raised up and be exalted. By His blood He will sprinkle many nations. He will take up our pain and bear our suffering. He will be pierced for our transgressions and be crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brings our peace will be laid on Him. We will find ourselves healed by His wounds. And God the Father will say of Him, "By His knowledge my righteous Servant will justify many". Amen! We love You, Lord Jesus. We are thoroughly delighted with You!

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