Isaiah Part 34: The Consolation of the World, part 3 (chapters 40-42).Posted: Fri. Jan, 8 2021
In Chapter 40 there were three voices of consolation: the heralds, the word of God, and the arm of the Lord. In the second part of chapter 40 we meet the incomparable God of Israel as Creator.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
In Chapter 41 we meet the incomparable God of Israel as world ruler which is followed by three pictures of consolation: the victorious servant Jacob, the worm Jacob that becomes the threshing sledge that will pulverize mountains, and the desert traveler who is miraculously provided for.
Now in chapter 42, the final remedy from God in the face of all the world’s attempts at personal fulfillment through governments, wars, conquering, religions (dumb and deaf idols), philosophies, empty promises, etc. is the Servant of the Lord.
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;”
God has said, “Look at the idol-gods” (41:24) and “Look at the idolaters (41:29); and now He says “Look at My Servant.” In this first mention of the Servant of the Lord, He steps on to the world-stage to give revelation to the world, the Lord’s remedy for the world’s emptiness.
First, the Lord speaks of the Servant’s task:
Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one 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 out or raise His voice,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.
3 "A bruised reed He will not break,
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 "He will not be disheartened or crushed,
Until He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law."
Second the Lord speaks to the Servant, confirming His task:
Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its offspring,
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 also hold you by the hand and watch over you,
And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations,
7 To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon,
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
8 "I am the Lord, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,
Nor My praise to graven images.
9 "Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you."
How our Lord Jesus, when He walked this earth, would have often repeated these words in His own mind, comforting Himself, assuring Himself.
We know the Servant is the Lord Jesus, but the prophet does not allude to His identity. One might think it is Israel (“Israel, My servant” 41:8), but at this point Isaiah is unfolding the story in his own way and will not identify the Servant. His first concern is the Servant’s task.
The main theme of His first Servant Song, and first task, is justice. In light of the foregoing court scene where God called the idols to testify, the Servant enters to establish justice through work and perseverance until it is accomplished.
There is only one God. The truth is brought to the world (universality - nations/earth/coastlands). Wrongs are righted. He will not do so violently, but gently (smoldering wick, bruised reed).
We are commanded to behold Him as He carries out His task. He is depicted as already being before our eyes in the day of Isaiah.
His service is unostentatious and unself-advertising, which is to be reproduced in all who would serve the Lord.
He is the subject of intense pressure from the unjust world that would rather do without His justice. But He will not be disheartened or crushed, which two words are parallel to the bruised (reed) and dimly burning (wick). The pressures and blows that cause others to falter will not deter Him, and He will not add pressure to the already burdened, but rather give them life and new strength.
The Father, the Creator of all (42:5), is the One who has called the Servant and upheld Him.
The Father does not call Him and then leave Him to His own devices, and neither does He do so to the called in the church (1PE 1:3-5).
The Servant will be a covenant. He will enter into a permanent relationship with the people who enter His covenant by faith, and these will be from all nations. God freely decided to take and keep a people for His own possession, constituting Himself as their God and Redeemer. The Servant gathers the people for God and makes them new, zealous for the work of God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Then there is a call for the world to praise the work of the Servant.
Sing to the Lord a new song,
Sing His praise from the end of the earth!
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it.
You islands and those who dwell on them.
11 Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voices,
The settlements where Kedar inhabits.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing aloud,
Let them shout for joy from the tops of the mountains.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord,
And declare His praise in the coastlands.
13 The Lord will go forth like a warrior,
He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.
He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.
He will prevail against His enemies.
The new song is proper for a new people who are a part of a new world that the Lord will make. His enemies, rulers of the old world will be defeated - rejoice you His people.
And they thought things would just go on the way they always did … 2PE 3:4
"Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."
"I have kept silent for a long time,
I have kept still and restrained Myself.
Now like a woman in labor I will groan,
I will both gasp and pant.
15 "I will lay waste the mountains and hills,
And wither all their vegetation;
I will make the rivers into coastlands,
And dry up the ponds.
16 "And I will lead the blind by a way they do not know,
In paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These are the things I will do,
And I will not leave them undone."
17 They shall be turned back and be utterly put to shame,
Who trust in idols,
Who say to molten images,
"You are our gods."
At times, it certainly feels like the Lord is taking a very long time. Peter addresses the thought in that same passage:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
We must exercise patience and endurance. As ISA 40:31 says, “We will gain new strength.” God knows how to boost our spirits when it is needed, as we wait. The temptation is to choose some sin that will distract us away from our increasingly fragile endurance that waits on God. If we wait, we will find refreshment. If we give in to the flesh, we will have never had the chance of seeing that renewal of strength.
Turning back (vs. 17), like Lot’s wife, reveals a longing for the old world that the enemies ruled. When will they or we stop turning back and put our hands to the plough?
The next section is 42:18-44:23 - The Redemption of Israel.
Pastor Joe Sugrue