Here Is My Servant, Whom I Uphold

42: 1-9

   DIG: In Isaiah’s time, a king’s servant stood in a position of great importance. What terms express this servant’s relationship to God in 42:1-7? His mission? His character? Who is the servant referred to here? Why will God’s Servant not shout or cry out (see Proverbs 8:1-4 and 9:13-18)? What is meant by a bruised reed and smoldering wick (see 36:6)?

   REFLECT: In what ways does Jesus fulfill this picture of God’s Servant? Which of those qualities have you experienced recently? When was the last time you felt like a bruised reed? Looking back on it, how did Jesus find a way to let you know that He was right there with you? How did He treat you with tenderness even if you did not recognize it as such at the time?

    As the Cone of Isaiah comes to it’s point (see Hl – The Cone of Isaiah), the LORD is speaking and He presents the Servant, the Messiah, to the nations of the world and to Judah in particular. Not coincidentally, the Trinity is in view here. Evidence from the TaNaKh that ADONAI is indeed a Trinity is found in the fact that only three Persons are ever called God, and no more than three Persons are ever seen together. There are four examples of the Trinity in TaNaKh; the first is seen here in 42:1. The Trinity can also be seen in 48:12-16; 61:1, and 63:7-14.

    Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations (42:1). Six things are said about the Servant. First, God says He is My Servant, His special Servant (John 4:34 and Philippians 2:5-8). Secondly, He is the One that God upholds (Mark 1:12-13). Thirdly, He is God’s chosen (First Peter 2:4-6). Fourthly, ADONAI says of Him, "You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). Fifthly, God says: I will put My Spirit on Him (42:1a). Sixthly, He will bring fourth justice to the nation (42:1b).

    Here is the first mention of the Trinity in the TaNaKh. Notice the three Persons in this first example. The first Person is the Speaker, who is seen by the pronoun I. The second Person is the Speaker’s Servant, or as He says My Servant. And the third Person is said to be My Spirit. Here is a passage where there are three and only three Persons, no more and no less. Three times Isaiah describes the placing of the Holy Spirit on the Messiah: once in 11:2, a second time here in 42:1, which is also referred to at the baptism of Christ in Matthew 3:16-17 and Luke 3:22, when the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the visible form of a dove, and a third time in 61:1. This passage deals with the public ministry of the Servant. And finally, what is said about the status of the Servant is that He will bring justice to the (Gentile) nations (42:1b). This He will do at the Second Coming.

    Then we have the manner of His ministry. He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets (42:2). So while the apostles will be active in street evangelism, Yeshua will not. Matthew connects the quietness, the soft-spokeness of the ministry of Jesus with the prophecy of Isaiah here. Matthew 12:15-21 quotes 42:1-4 with some minor variations, relating it to Jesus and His ministry in Israel. As the LORD’s Servant, Jesus did what Israel could never do. He perfectly carried out the will of the Father so that people everywhere may believe. This is an example of the New Covenant interpreting the TaNaKh.

    In addition, the way that He will conduct Himself is described. A bruised reed He will not break. This phrase means He will not crush the oppressed. He will help the oppressed, not crush them. He will be characterized by mercy, truth, and justice. Those who come to Him for help will be accepted and treated with great tenderness.159 And a smoldering wick He will not snuff out (42:3a). The smoldering wick refers to those who have lost all hope. He will not snuff out our hope, but gives us hope.

    Finally, we are told that the Messiah will succeed in His ministry. Four statements are made to that effect. First, He will not falter or fail. Second, He will not be discouraged till He establishes justice on the earth (42:4a). If there was any time that Jesus should have been discouraged, it was when Israel rejected Him as the Messiah and said He was demon possessed. Yet, God says that He will never be discouraged. Nor do we find any discouragement in the statements that Christ makes during His ministry. Third, in faithfulness He will bring forth justice (42:3b). Justice has not yet been done on the earth. But when Christ returns at the Second Coming, distant lands will put their hope in His Torah (42:4b). Back in Chapter 2 Isaiah stated that when the Messiah reigns from Jerusalem, the Torah will go forth from Jerusalem. So distant Gentile lands will wait for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

    The fact that Jesus is compassionate and mends broken lives does not mean that the lives of believers will be without sorrow. After all, Yeshua made it quite clear when He said to His disciples: In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33). Yet many times when trouble comes, it is easy to forget that Jesus, a man of sorrows (53:3), is still right there with us even if we cannot feel His presence because of our overwhelming pain. Sometimes nothing consoles me when I am in pain. Praying or reading my Bible does not even give me relief from my torment and I feel guilty about that. But despite my feelings, as I look back on my time of trouble, I can see that He is a Promise Keeper and there really are His footprints in the sand as He carried me through it.

    This is what God, ADONAI says: He who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it (42:5). The one who called the Servant to establish His kingdom on the earth was in fact the Creator of the earth. As a result, the Servant’s ministry would not be something new, but would be, in fact, the renewal of the creation. The exclusive use of participles points us to the identical descriptions of God earlier: He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and it’s people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in (40:22). Equally important is the fact that the Servant is the One who gives breath or spirit, to us. His concern for us is seen next as One who brought us into being and sustains us with every breath we take.

    God the Father then commissions the Servant. He promised His Servant full and constant support in the accomplishment of the mission entrusted to Him. I, ADONAI, have called You in righteousness. The call to the Servant comes from God and is translated in righteousness. Then comes the promise. I will take hold of Your hand (the Father will sustain Him). I will keep You and will make You to be a Covenant for the people (42:6). The word people is singular here, so God is talking about a united northern kingdom of Isra'el and southern kingdom of Judah. The relationship of the Servant to the Jewish people is to be very intimate. Jesus Christ is to be the One who will fulfill the Jewish covenants. He will be the mediator of the covenants and is the basis for the teaching of Messiah in the different feasts of Isra'el.

    He is not only the mediator and the maker of the Covenant, He is also the essence of the Covenant itself. God says: You will be a Covenant. The Covenant God is talking about is the New Covenant. Now Isaiah will mention the New Covenant in two places (54:10 and 61:8). But it is Jeremiah who gives us the details (Jeremiah 31:31-34). It is also mentioned in Ezekiel 16:60. Therefore, we have three of the four major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel that mention the coming of a New Covenant. The concept of a New Covenant is found within the pages of the Old Covenant. And even though God said: I will make a New Covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31). ADONAI declares that the Servant will restore the tribes of Judah and bring back the faithful of Isra'el He has kept (49:6c). This is part of the condition of the New Covenant that is made with the Jewish nation.

    The Gentiles would also benefit. God the Father said: I will also make You a light for the Gentiles (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Au – For My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation), that You may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 42:6c, 49:6 and Luke 2:21-40). So anyone who receives salvation, Jew or Gentile alike, would receive it from the Messiah or the Servant of the LORD. In relationship to the united kingdom of Isra'el, the New Covenant will ultimately lead to her final salvation and restoration (see Kp – My Chosen People Will Inherit My Mountains). To open eyes that are spiritually blind and to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness (42:7). For centuries the Gentiles had dwelt in darkness because they did not have the Scriptures. Only when the Gospel moved out of the land of Israel to the Gentiles, did they finally receive light (see the book of Acts for the rest of the story). This is exactly what Luke 2:28-32 and John 8:12 state regarding Christ; that, although He came primarily for the Jews, the Gentiles would also benefit because He came to be their light.

    Here God said: I am ADONAI, that is My name (see my commentary on Exodus At – I Am Has Sent Me To You), I will not give My name glory to another or My praise to idols (42:8). The name of ADONAI, or the LORD, implies that He is a covenant keeper. He faithfully carries out His promises. The fact that He alone is the Covenant Keeper of all other gods is the uniqueness of His glory. God said I will not give My Shechinah glory to another or my praise to idols. No idol will ever be the Covenant Keeper.

    Because God alone transcends the world, He alone can explain the course of history. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you (42:9). God says that some of His earlier prophecies, or the former things in the book of Isaiah have taken place, or have been fulfilled. Especially prophecies dealing with the Assyrian invasion and destruction. But He now announces that He has new things, or prophecies, to declare. And as God fulfilled His former predictions, so will He bring His new ones to realization. God, unlike idols, can tell the future, and this divine ability adds to His glory.

 

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