God’s Servant Tempted To Despair…pt 7

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. 7Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. (Isaiah 49:1-7)

The prophecy of Isaiah features a figure called Servant of the LORD, who is chosen by God to bring the knowledge of God to the very ends of the earth. This was the commission given to the servant nation Israel, but her defection from God has disqualified her for the time being.

How can she display God’s glory, from her exile?

The answer is God’s servant. The Servant himself is called Israel, and shall faithfully carry out the appointed mission on behalf of the nation. He will bring to the furthest nations the knowledge and glory of Israel’s God. Because of His work, the nations will bow down before God, they will take up the Bible, they will worship the LORD.

But in this portion of the second Servant Song, we see that the servant is very human, and subject to discouragement, and the temptation to despair. He has held nothing back, pouring himself out, spending himself for the cause of God , but with seemingly trivial results.

Humanly speaking, it looks like little has been achieved, towards the end of bringing the knowledge of God to the world. But This servant will look to God, for the outcome. God, “my God“, will have the final word on the Servant’s work and self giving.

Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.(Isaiah 49:4)

The LORD speaks to the Servant directly in the last stanza of this song, that is the LORD who has used every event in the Servant’s life from the womb, as a preparation for the task of bringing Jacob back to Him,

And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

The Word of the LORD to the Servant is that the successful gathering of Jacob would only be a portion of the ultimate achievement of the Servant. He would accomplish that and more, for the Servant himself would be God’s Salvation to the ends of the earth! Not merely the messenger of salvation, but in his own person He would BE THE SALVATION and THE LIGHT of the world.

In the Servant, this damned, vain, lost, idolatrous world of darkness and despair would see a light from heaven, and those who would enter into this light, would be saved. They would come out of their darkness and out from under their condemnation, and live in the light of the Servant Messiah. All over the world, pagans will worship the God of the Jews because of him.

There is a remnant of Israel also, whom God has reserved for himself. In the faith of the Servant they will glorify God, having been lifted up by God himself, through the work of this man. Through Him comes salvation to the very ends of the earth.

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The Embodiment of Israel… servant songs pt 6

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.(Isaiah 49:1-7)

Israel, the nation brought into being by God out of an old man and woman, barren and past childbearing age, is God’s own servant nation. He brought them into being to be a priest and a witness of Him to the nations of the world, But Israel herself has become blinded, she has fallen short of her Holy calling. Isaiah cries out…

Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant?(Isaiah 42:19)

There will be a restoration of Israel to her priestly calling, but for the present, If Israel fails to be the Servant, The Servant of the Lord shall embody Israel.
The Servant of the LORD is called Israel, for He shall represent Israel, and in that capacity, Israel shall fully and faithfully serve the LORD. Remember that before Israel was a nation, it was a name conferred upon an individual, Jacob.Once again, the name is conferred upon an individual, the Messiah, the Servant of the LORD, he shall be Israel.

Israel was tested in many ways, and the record of her failures and successes is open for all to see. Did she not fail in the wilderness? She murmured and complained and refused to learn the lesson, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God…” .

Did she not also fail in the test at the Holy mountain, after Moses had been gone for forty days and forty nights, when she worshipped the golden calf, and forsook God?

Israel also failed the test of the Temple, when in the days of Jeremiah, she said, “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD…” as a talisman,a substitute for true faith and devotion to God. Salvation history records three major tests for Israel; the test of the wilderness, of the temple and of the mountain, and thrice she proved faithless.

But consider the Servant, the very embodiment of Israel, who was sent as Israel into the wilderness again to be tempted of the Devil, on the issue of food. Would God provide? Or should He “turn stones into bread”?

The Servant had to pass the test of the temple as well. The embodiment of Israel was taken to the very pinnacle of the Temple, and tempted to presume upon God’s word, putting God to the test.

Finally the Servant had to pass the test of the mountain, when He was tempted to worship Satan as a shortcut, a compromise, an alternative to waiting upon the unseen and unfelt God.

The true Israel, the Servant of the LORD, remained true to God through all of them, He was “tempted in every way, yet without sin…” , putting himself under the Word and authority of God by saying “It is written….” in the face of each temptation to defect.

Was Israel called to be a priest and offer sacrifices? Jesus is the ultimate priest, a man who knows sorrow and affliction, joy and triumph, who can relate to the weakness of men, and yet remains faithful to God. The sacrifice? We shall see in the third and fourth Servant Song that the sacrifice He offered to God, was himself, as a substitute, a scapegoat for sinners.

As Israel was to take the Word and name of Israel’s God to the ends of the earth, so too, the true Israel, Jesus, has magnified the Law of God to the ends of the earth. Why is it that from one end of the earth to the other, people read the Jewish Bible, call upon the God of Israel, sing songs taken from the Psalms, raise their children on Proverbs, and name their children after Hebrew prophets?

Because the LORD told his Servant, that is the Messiah,

And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth…

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Intro Servant Songs; Structure of Isaiah …

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider…(Isaiah 52:13-15)

Before we look closely at the Evangelical jewel climaxing in the 4th Servant Song of Isaiah, consisting of the above three verses in chapter 52, and all of Isaiah 53, it would be good to look at the setting of this prophecy within the latter half of the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah has a curious structure. It mirrors the structure of the entire Bible. Isaiah’s prophecy is composed of 66 chapters, (the Bible contains 66 books). Like the 39 books of the Tanach, the first 39 chapters of Isaiah are composed of pronounced judgments upon Judah, Israel, Jerusalem, the surrounding nations, and eventually engulfing the whole earth in tribulation. “The earth staggers like a drunkard…”, as the LORD judges it in righteousness.

But the last 27 chapters of Isaiah correspond in a loose way to the “New Testament”. His vision in chapter 40 begins with “A voice crying out in the wilderness…”(John the Baptist), and ends in chapter 66 with a new heaven and a new earth,(similar to the book of Revelation).*

The second part of Isaiah, (chapters 40-66) can be divided equally into 3 sections of 9 chapters each. The three sections conclude with a variation of the phrase,”There is no peace saith my God for the wicked”.

*Isaiah 48:22- There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.

*Isaiah 57:20-21 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

* Isaiah 66:24-And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

The first section, Isaiah 40-48, concerns the new exodus of Judah and the remnant of Israel, God’s servant, out of Babylon. Isaiah had predicted that Judah would go into captivity as Israel had, but that God would redeem his servant again and restore him.

God would raise up and use another anointed servant, a pagan king named Cyrus, whom the LORD called “My servant…my anointed who will do my will…” to bring this Exodus from captivity in Babylon . King Cyrus commanded the release of the Jewish remnant and even financed the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. **

The last section of Isaiah is a vision of the restored children of Israel and Judah, back from captivity, again reconciled to God, and restored as priests of God, radiant in the garments of salvation.

The forces of wickedness are amassing against them, but “No weapon formed against you shall prosper and any tongue which rises up in judgment against you, shall be condemned…” . This section portrays the final restoration of Israel, into the Messianic Kingdom.

But this final restoration of Israel isn’t the result of the aforementioned Exodus from Babylon. Israel would lapse back into captivity again and remain there for many long centuries.

This final and lasting deliverance of Israel comes to pass as a result of the person who is the primary subject of (chapters 49-58). The Messiah of Israel, is the very embodiment of “Israel my servant…” , he is the ultimate Servant of the LORD, who takes Israel and the world far beyond the deliverance of “Cyrus, my servant”.

There are 4 Servant Songs which emerge in Isaiah,

* He is introduced in Isaiah 42:1-4

*His Discouragement and ultimate triumph is sung of in Isaiah 49:1-7

* In Isaiah 50:4-11 we hear of His discipleship under the hand of the LORD himself.

* In Isiah 52:13-53:12, we hear the song of his redemptive sacrifice and exaltation.

*I am indebted to a wonderful Bible teacher named David Baron for these structural insights, from his little exposition called “The Servant of Jehovah”.

** (Cyrus would not come forth for another 200+ years, in the days of the Medo Persian empire. When Isaiah’s prophecy was shown to him, calling him by name 200 years in the past, the Pagan king was astonished!)

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The Servant’s Discipleship…servant songs pt 5

“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.

The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

“For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.

Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?
Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
The moth will eat them up.

“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:4-11)

This third Servant Song of Isaiah, is divided into four stanzas, each beginning with the expression ‘ the LORD God’. The Servant is the disciple of ‘the LORD God’, ‘morning by morning’, opening his ear to listen to Him.

A life of utter dependence upon God, and of daily hearkening to His voice, is the Servant’s education. His calling is to bring the Word to the weary ones, burdened by sin, and left hungry and thirsty of soul, by the emptiness of life without God. These are the “bruised reeds” and “dimly burning flax” of the first Servant Song. To them He will bring a Word from the infinite, personal, covenant keeping Creator/Redeemer.

But the prophet predicts that the Servant’s task will be personally costly, in this world which is so hostile to ‘the LORD God’. His love of God, and faithfulness to the appointed task will expose him to humiliating and deadly abuse. The world which rejects God, but is unable to lash out at Him directly, will be given the opportunity to express its hatred and contempt of God in the person of the Servant.

I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

Notice however, that the Servant is not passive in this suffering, he speaks as though he is allowing these outrages to occur to His person. He “gives” his back to the smiter, his “cheek” to the painful and degrading plucking out of his beard. He doesn’t hide his face from the reproach, but faces it resolutely.

But the Servant doesn’t answer back, nor does he run away, or seek to avoid the bitter cost of discipleship to ‘the LORD God’. Centuries later, Peter the Apostle would recall, as an eyewitness to these things, the response of Jesus,

Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:(I Peter 2:21-23)

When the Saviour was mistreated and abused in the service of God, He looked to his God , the one who knows all, takes everything into account and who “judges righteously”. In all of his trials,the Servant throws himself entirely on his God.

Confident in the Divine help given in his trials, the Servant knows that He will not ultimately be disgraced. He can “set his face like flint”, fixing his heart of the eventual vindication given to him by the LORD God. His justifier is with Him. The phrase begins with an emphatic word, “Near is the one who justifies me!”.

In fact the Servant goes further, He challenges his legal detractors to find fault with Him. The song takes the perspective of one who has been wrongly condemned, but who is confident of Divine vindication. Man condemns him, but God himself overturns the verdict.

He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.

The Word “Adversary” is a legal term, which is literally “Master of Judgment”. The Servant cries out, Who is my prosecutor?

The Servant’s enemies are real, they seek to harm him, and bring a charge against him. They seek to destroy him physically, legally, reputationally, they would obliterate Him they would have him in infamy. But God over turns their verdict, vindicating his own servant.

But what becomes of his enemies? Eventual disintegration and decay is their lot. Like a worn out ,moth-eaten piece of clothing, the enemies of the Servant will fade away, their arguments against him also, will be shown to be full of holes, their importance and credibility will collapse like a rotted structure.

The Servant sets himself as an example to all who would follow Him.Like Him, the servant’s followers also fear the LORD, they listen to the Servant’s voice, as He listened to the LORD God’s voice, morning by morning.

For his sake, they also will suffer the same false accusation, degrading treatment, abuse and hatred that he endured. In their own passage through the darkness of this world’s hostility to God, and the Servant, they will have to imitate His trust in God.

“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.

But there are others who refuse the Light brought by the Servant. To them the Servant warns,

 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment

The whole world lies in darkness. The Servant shows his followers a path through the darkness of this world, but to those who disregard the Servant, they are forced to light their own fires. “Walk in your own light and see where it leaves you in the end!”, but as a dreadful consequence, the end is decreed as a direct punishment from His own hand, “You shall lie down in torment!”.

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He Will Open Blinded Eyes …servant songs pt 4

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)

Isaiah’s first servant song is set in the context of a universal assembly, before which the LORD, the God of Israel, calls all of the nations to produce their strongest arguments in order to justify the idolatry which they have embraced. But there is silence, because they can’t. Idolatry is indefensible. The gods of the nations are manifestly impotent, they are deaf, dumb and blind.

Therefore the world is spiritually and morally blind, and alienated from God. They have become vanity because they have worshipped vanities. To them the Lord proclaims, “Behold my Servant whom I uphold….” .

The Servant is the LORD’s own answer to the lost and blindly idolatrous world . He has been given a ministry of truth. He will establish in the world the truth of who God is, what man has become, what man’s problem is, and how man can be reconciled to God. He will bring a knowledge of Righteousness to the world. By his knowledge men will be made “right with God’.

He will faithfully carry out the ministry of “bringing forth judgment“, not giving into the inevitable temptation to be discouraged. His manner with those who are bruised, and burnt beyond use, will be to gently work with them, until the Truth of God is established and bearing fruit in their lives.

He is utterly loyal to the LORD and to the mission the LORD has appointed him.

The isles shall wait for His law… Here,Isaiah predicts a universal anticipation for the person and work of the Servant among the furthest nations. The teaching of the truth will extend far beyond the borders of Israel, the ends of the earth will eagerly receive the knowledge of the God of Israel through the ministry of the Servant.

Everywhere, former pagans and idolaters will abandon their vanities, and come to worship the LORD. They will put their lives into the hands of the only true God, because they will be won over by the Servant, and his work of redemption.

No matter what background or language, they will give their children names such as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Zechariah, and participate in the worship of the only true God, using Psalms, quoting prophets and apostles, and come under the liberating teaching of the Hebrew Prophets and apostles.

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:

The LORD invests himself completely into the labor of his Servant. He will be endued with the power of the One who created and who continuously sustains all things and all men, to carry out His assignment.

The LORD has had other servants through the centuries. He has used men who believed in Him and were devoted to Him to varying degrees, but He has also used even Pagan kings to carry out His will.

However this One comes as no other has ever come before, walking hand in hand with God, in perfect and unblemished personal Righteousness.This is humanity as it was meant to be lived, this is a man who perfectly pleases God in every way.

I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand,

This purpose of the LORD through His Servant is threefold; He would bring men into covenant with Him, He would give them the true light, and He would set them free of the bondage to sin and death.

I… 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.

The Servant Himself would become the covenant agreement, a new and living covenant binding the holy God, to sinful and fallen men. The covenant is a person, a representative priest. As long as he stands before the Lord in Righteousness, so do also those who have entered by faith into Him.

Sin has blinded all men to divine reality. The Servant’s task is to open the eyes of the blind, causing them to see and perceive the truth and reality of God. He reveals the true nature of God, and causes men to know Him and by God’s light, they may see light.

Finally God’s purpose is to open the prison gates and to release the captives of sin. Those enslaved to various lusts, those enthralled and captured by illusions and lies, those in bondage to Satan through idols,are all included in the call of the Servant. By his work, men are liberated, the truth sets us free!

Centuries later, the apostle Paul echoed this first Servant Song in the testimony of his own divine commission;

And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:(Acts 26:15-19)

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The Servant’s Task…servant songs 3

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 first of the Servant Songs of Isaiah, is presented in the context of a worldwide tribunal. The nations are summoned to “present their best arguments”, and to “bring forth their idols“to demonstrate the validity of following them. Can they save? Can they tell the future in detail, centuries in advance as God has done through His prophets?

But at the end, there can be only silence, for the idols are nothing, and those who worship them are left empty. The answer of the true God to the world, is “Behold my Servant whom I uphold…” .

This is God’s servant, the same term He used of Moses, and David, each a type of the Messiah to come. He is the ultimate and absolute Servant of God. When the LORD tells us that it is He “whom I uphold“, the word means to “grip fast”; the servant is in God’s hand. He has been selected and prepared by God for a special task.

I have put my spirit upon him…

Furthermore, God loves Him. By that I mean more than the love of Grace, mercy or covenant love. God actually ‘delights in Him”, the Servant pleases God in every way. The Lord will be with the Servant, by way of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This servant has been assigned a great task, that must be done in the power of the Spirit.

He will bring Judgment to the Gentiles…

The task of the Servant is to bring Judgment, “Misphat“, to the earth. This is a Hebrew word which has a broad definition. It can mean judgment in a legal sense, ie the rendering of a decision in a court. The Servant of the Lord is going to be the judge of men’s souls.

But Misphat can also mean those things which the LORD has firmly established, that is His revealed truth. The Messiah is going to bring Truth to the idolatrous world, as a result of his coming, the ends of the earth will come to see and worship the Jewish God.

Finally Misphat refers to setting things right, the establishment of a righteous order. The Messiah is coming to judge the earth, to set things right. A new day will dawn for man, a day of Righteousness and Holiness will be established in the earth, wars will cease, the curse will be removed, and all men will worship the only true God, all because of the work of the Servant.

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

What will his manner with the people be? He will not be self promoting, nor will he angrily overpower his adversaries, shouting over their voices. He won’t “advertise” or market himself.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench:

Tenderly he will receive the bent, broken, ruined, stained and spent ones who are drawn to him. None are counted as useless, or too far gone.The Servant binds up the broken ones, and gently fans to flame the spark that He has ignited in their hearts.

What good is a bruised reed? What does one do with it? How irritating is a smoky, spent flax wick ! It’s too far gone! Throw it away! But not so the Lord’s chosen servant, He throws no one away, He quenches none, but gently works with all who come to Him, no matter how ruined. He doesn’t give up on people. He keeps working with them.

…he shall bring forth judgment unto truth

The ministry of bringing forth God’s truth is a difficult one, but the Servant carries it out faithfully. Faithfulness to God and to God’s truth are the marks of the Servant’s works. He is the loyal witness of the Father even in the face of fierce opposition.

He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth:

People will resist, and virulently hate him; but he will not be a “bruised reed” or a “faltering wick” as the people whom He had healed were. Through all trial and difficulty, Isaiah predicts that He would stand firmly, and burn brightly all the way to completion. By the time He is done, the revelation of the “only true God” will be universally available.

All nations, for example, Indians, Russians, Arabs, Nigerians, Chinese and Finns, and some from every other nation or people group; will have forsaken their tribal gods, idols, and other vanities, and be united in worshipping the true God who has sent His Servant to “establish judgment in the earth”.

Matthew sums up this part of the song nicely in His gospel;

And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.(Matthew 12:9-20)

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Behold My Servant…servant songs pt 2

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 before the Holy One of Israel.

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…”

The Messiah himself is God’s answer for the nations.

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