Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.(Isaiah 42:1-7)
The context for this first “servant song’ is the Divine summons of the nations of the world to God’s throne for a trial. We have in Isaiah 41 a universal courtroom scene, the Gentiles and their gods are arraigned and put on trial.
Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.(Isaiah 41:1)
The nations have trusted in Idols, worthless vanities, the works of their own hands. The idols don’t speak, nor do they save, they make no predictions, they couldn’t even predict what would happen next week, for they are powerless, deaf and dumb.
The nations are challenged to “bring in your idols” and make the case for them, presenting your strongest arguments…
Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.(Isaiah 41:22-23)
But the God of Israel has intervened in human history time and again, and precisely predicted his actions centuries ahead of time. Predictive prophecy is one of God’s credentials, it is why we can confidently commend the Bible as the Word of God. What other Holy book has made such predictions as the Bible, and been so verified in every case? The answer is…none.
Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words.(Isaiah 41:26)
There is silence, none can answer these charges, for the nations of the world do not have a valid Word from God. Their manufactured gods have rendered them as deaf, dumb and blind as the idols they worship.
For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.(Isaiah 41:28-29)
The nations have no “counsellor” to speak for them, they have no advocate before the bar of Divine justice. There has been no “sure Word of prophecy” for them.
They have worshipped gods that are not gods, they have sought beauty and meaning in that which is grotesque, and even demonic! The Gentiles are drowning in vanity and meaninglessness.The nations are silenced, they have no answer for God, for they are lost. Thus they stand before him in silence,
“…when I asked of them, could answer a word.”(Isaiah 41:28)
But this is more than a legal procedure, for the true God, the creator of all things, and predictor of far future events, the God who makes deserts bloom and preserves Israel, actually cares about the fate of the nations. He would present to them a true alternative to the degrading vanities that they have bowed before.
What is God’s answer to the plight of the lost and idolatrous nations ? He loudly calls out for everyone who has ears to hear…
“Behold my servant, my chosen one, in whom I delight…”