The Lord’s Servant
Let’s talk about a topic everyone loves… commitment. The big C. We have a big event coming up and need to see if you are going to be there. Friday to Saturday… during March madness. Are you coming?Absolutely. Maybe. No one likes to say no. I’m definitely a maybe.
I heard a friend say his wife looked at him and she said “I need you to commit to working out daily”. He said, “well, we can definitely talk about that later today”.
Funny thing is, we don’t like to commit. We like to keep our options open. I’m not against the church cookout, I just want to make sure better options don’t open up between now and then.
And yet we are mad when others do not commit to us. I showed up for lunch and he didn’t get there until 12:07. Seven minutes late! They said I would have service 99.9 percent availability and it was out for the first half of the game. They didn’t follow through on their commitment.
When there is a commitment you can depend on it. If there is no commitment then you are foolish to depend on it. He left you?? How could he?? What did he commit to?? To always be there? To be there some of the time?
We are in the book of Isaiah. God’s people have wandered from him and suffered for it. But God is now making a way for his people to come back to him. God of second chances. And one of the things we see here is God’s commitment to his people. It is a commitment that is certain. A commitment that is clear. And it is a commitment his people can and ought to depend on.
We are looking at a new figure in this part of Isaiah. It is God’s servant. It’s more of a new title than a new person. It connects to a theme before. And God makes a promise to this servant that will be a blessing to all of his people.
God makes a promise to his chosen servant and the future of his people will be determined by their commitment to this servant.
It’s like when a company your friend works for promises its employees tickets to the concert, and he invites you, and your role is to stay close to your friend. You benefit because of what has been promised to your friend. Our job is to make sure we stay close to God’s promises.
Servant Passages. Not one passage, but passages. It is a theme. A repetition. Make sure you get it. We’re Going to look at a couple.
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; 10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. 12 You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. 13 For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” 14 Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:8-14 ESV)
Israel has been beat down, conquered, scattered. But God is saying he is going to restore them.
Israel: God was going to bless the world through this people. They were his people, his treasured possession. Were to be his servant. Commitment to what he promised Abraham 1000 years before (Gen 12:1-3).
Chosen. Not cast off. It’s like picking apples in the grocery store. You feel them. Is it hard enough? It’ s bruised. You don’t like that, so you put it back. God has chosen this people.
God did not choose them because they were more numerous, better than other nations. They were the fewest. Least impressive. He chose them because he loved them. He had mercy on them. Only hope for God to choose us is because he is merciful, and we throw ourselves on him in mercy. Despite all their problems. Grace! Jacob is a worm.
Fear not. He is going to strengthen, I will help. I will uphold you. They have faltered. God is making a promise that they will not be destroyed, they will not disappear, or be annihilated. No, God is bringing them back. Don’t be afraid. Just keep your eyes on me. He is a God of second chances. But they need to trust him. Look to him. Not a maybe!
Redeemer: This is a new word to us in the book of Isaiah. It gets introduced here and will be repeated in the upcoming chapters. They see a new side of who God is. You go through stuff and God shows you more of himself. Whatever you are going through, don’t think God has abandoned you, but know that you are going to see a side of him you don’t currently see.
Redeem an old car– that means you pay a lot of money to fix it. Have you ever had to redeem a person?A friend was telling me about getting arrested. His mom had to come in and bail him out. She put down a sum of money to secure his release. That is close to the idea here.
This word is used of one who goes and buys back a person- family member who has fallen into hard times or been sold into slavery. In the book of Ruth, Ruth is a widow, a foreigner, and left on her own. In this time widows were extremely vulnerable people. There is no one to protect her or provide for her. She is left destitute, has to go glean in the field behind the hourly workers and pick up the scraps, but she trusts the Lord. Ruth’s closest relative does not want to buy her back because he is concerned with preserving his own stuff. He sees a woman in need but he is not willing to offer her protection, because he is worried about protecting himself. But another man, Boaz, sees Ruth and decides to redeem her. He pays a price so that he can marry her and have her as his wife.
God is now redeeming his people. They have strayed and been left in a bad situation. But God does not forsake them. He sees them and provides for their needs. They are his servant.
He will help! He will uphold. He is the redeemer! Not maybe. He is. Commitment to an intended purpose.
God is promising to be with his people, to restore them and their circumstances, and it is not haphazard or half-hearted. There is intentionality and commitment.
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. (Isaiah 42:1-7 ESV)
–He. v1: In the last passage the whole nation of Israel was called the servant. But now it seems to focus on an individual. 3rd person masculine singular. Many wonder who exactly is this servant. Is it Israel or is it a person? I think it is a representative of the nation. Similar to Abraham, God made a covenant with him that would bless all the nations. God deals with one person and others are blessed through him. Like when a president speaks and they say, the United States says… Federal head.
Bring forth justice. 3 times! God is concerned that justice and righteousness are in the world. Think about all the injustices today. People putting others down to lift themselves up. Slavery. Racism. Lying. Cheating. Carnegie, “what do I care about laws. I’m the one with the power.” No Vladimir Putin that wants to take over other nations. This servant is going to bring justice to the land.
There is hope that a servant of God will come and make all the wrong things right. God’s people have messed up and need to be redeemed. God says the servant of his nation is blind and deaf to him. But God is bringing another servant that will solve that problem. And just so you know, this new servant didn’t come out of nowhere. Remember what God said he would do in the first part of Isaiah. Remember our Christmas series.
Will not grow faint- means to be ineffective. He will accomplish the plan.
–Meekness. He is not shouting in the street. Not drawing attention to himself. unostentatious, unself advertising. Joe Burrow in a new suit and hat. American Idol contestant that makes it big, before (normal) after (extravagant).
More concerned with knowing and obeying the father. Then showing and glowing in the world.
-raise voice is an attempt to shout others down and dominate them.
-he will not turn away. When people don’t do what you say, what do you do. You say it louder! More forceful. Throw in some curse words. “A weak person trying to express himself with force.”
Put my spirit on him.
–open the eyes that are blind and bring out prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Powered by the Spirit of God.
-Give you as a covenant.
Avoid a personalized interpretation. This promise is not directed at you. Don’t read yourself into this too quickly. We love to hear him helping and upholding. But how am I going to bring justice to the world??
The focus here is on this chosen servant. People often think God is there to uphold their own personalized plan for their life. He will complete the story they want for themselves. But it is not that. God is calling you to align your lives with what he is doing.
You want your own story and you want to be the hero of your story! You are not the hero. You are not the savior. You are not the chosen servant. This is hard for people to understand today. You are not the center of the Bible. You are not the center of God’s plan. God’s job is not to pacify your desires. Your job is to align youself with his desire. Your job is to align with what he is doing. He has made a commitment to this servant. You are to get close to him. Find refuge in him.
That may be hard for some of you to understand. But do you know how exhausting it is trying to do something you cannot do. Do you know how hard it is to do something that only God can do.
Trying to make every part of your life make sense and line up perfectly with what you want. The idol of self. The idol of your own dreams. Get rid of the gospel of self esteem. Yes, you need to have confidence with what God has enabled you to do. But you need humility to recognize what you cannot do.
When you are in a bad spot and don’t know how to get out. Rest in him. Trust in him. He is able. When your kids are struggling… you cannot solve everything for them. They will be disappointed in you and you will be a wreck. Look to him. When darkness is all around you. Look to the Savior.
You cut yourself off from others. You have to work to fix everything. You can’t tell others or admit. Inward pressure that suffocates.
Make me great Lord. Lord didn’t make me great. He is not there. Doesn’t know what he is doing. It’s got to be me. Who else would fulfill these incredible things??? This goes beyond you.
Not a banner for you to overcome the boxing match. Evander Holyfield, Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He will strengthen you, help you, uphold you with his righteous right hand. This promise is to his chosen one, his servant. We benefit as we are united to the servant.
Commitment to a plan that was designed a long time ago. Commitment to a deliverer. This is not the first time. Remember the beginning of Isaiah.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. (Isaiah 11:1-4 ESV)
This is about a king who will reign on the throne. God’s spirit will rest on him. He will rule in righteousness and wisdom. This promised child who is far greater than any other child the world has known and this servant who does things no one else but the promised child could do seem to coalesce into one individual that will fulfill all of the promises. God keeps reiterating it, so we see the importance of this, so we understand his commitment to it, and so that we will commit our lives to him.
Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. 3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” … (Isaiah 49:1-7 ESV)
Do you see how these things point to Jesus?
-He is a king in the line of David.
-Read his teaching and his life. Wisdom like no other!
-Unique from birth.
-he died to redeem people from their sins and mistakes. He is the redeemer.
-Spirit of God was on him to heal, to restore, and to raise him from the dead.
Jesus came healing the blind, figuratively and literally. He came to speak God’s word in perfect wisdom. He came to light a path for us. He came to bring salvation and the forgiveness of sins. He is the holy, blameless, and righteous servant of God. It’s amazing how these passages point to him. 600 hundred years before he comes.
-You are not crazy to believe in Jesus. There are amazing things being done here. Jesus fulfills this job description that no one else could. Only he did the things that this servant could do.
Yes, there are some hard things to discern in these passages. But there is also a clear trajectory established in Isaiah and in the whole Bible that lines up with only one person who could be the one to fix all the problems in the world. People who don’t believe have to wrestle with these prophecies and fulfillment.
Where is you commitment?
Is he your Lord? Is he your redeemer? Has he changed your life? We don’t just need the “do betters”. We need a redeemer. We need one who will uphold us. We need one to have mercy on us. We need one to make a way to come before the throne of God. We need to be redeemed by grace alone.
Don’t rest in yourself. Don’t run off to do more. Wait on him. Rest in him. Find healing and satisfaction in him. Put your hope in him and him alone.
If he is your redeemer then there must be a commitment there. A commitment that you are not looking elsewhere. A commitment to know and read his word. He tells us how to live. If you’re not interested in that then you’re not really interested in following him.
Marriage: Commitment to her. I was willing to stand up in front of all my friends, family, all others, and say I am committing myself to her… That formed a new relationship. She is my wife. Belongs to me. I am hers and belong to her.
The Lord has provided a servant for us, and when we commit to him, we become a servant of the Lord. We are bought and owned. Redeemed and forgiven. We have a new walk.
God has made a way for us all to find life in him. To find forgiveness. But you have to make a decision if you are going be devoted to what he has done for you. Will you follow him. Will you change your life for him. Not just a one time decision on a Sunday in 3rd grade. But an ongoing commitment to him….
People: United/Committed through promises.
We are united to Jesus through faith/words.
- Who is this passage talking about? How does it connect with other passages in Isaiah like chapter 9 and 11 of Isaiah?
- What stands out to you most about what this “servant of the Lord” will do?
- How does this passage demonstrate God’s commitment to his people?
- How does it help you to know you are not the chosen one?
- How would you describe your commitment to God?