Thursday, July 26, 2012


He says, ‘It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob
and restoring the protected ones of Israel.  I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Isaiah 49:6 HCSB)

We cannot save ourselves—like a drowning man who cannot swim, as a woman falling from a cliff who cannot fly, as a person trapped in a fire that cannot escape, as one who is terminally ill and there is no cure.   It is hopeless.  We are helpless.  We must have a Savior!

God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves and has done it in such a manner as to manifest His supreme glory.  He sent His Son to become a servant bearing our sin that we who are servants of sin might bear God’s image as sons!

Isaiah’s focus in a section of his prophecy, stretching from chapter forty nine through fifty seven, is on this Servant of Yahweh—the Lord Jesus Christ.  Chapter forty nine presents to us the salvation the Servant has secured for us.

There was His INCARNATION.

“Coastlands, listen to me; distant peoples, pay attention.  The Lord called me before I was born.  He named me while I was in my mother's womb.” (Isa.49:1)

All the world needs to hear; the most distant peoples need to be told.  He could only save us by becoming one of us—and would be tempted at all points as we are, yet without sin.  Through the miracle of a supernatural conception in a virgin’s womb, He would be born fully human and yet wholly divine, with the flesh of Adam’s race, but untainted by the sin of Adam’s nature.  Before His birth, the Servant was named—Jesus: “Yahweh is Salvation” and Immanuel: “God with Us.”

Paul puts it this way concerning Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.  Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.  And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8 HCSB)

Isaiah also points to His DECLARATION.

He made my words like a sharp sword; He hid me in the shadow of His hand.
He made me like a sharpened arrow; He hid me in His quiver.” (Isa.49:2)

He would be the Living Word—the ultimate revelation of God.  In all He expressed by life and lips He declared the Word of the Lord.  Those who heard Him marveled that no one had ever spoken like He did.  His words would be like a sword—the Sword of the Spirit—by them routing the forces of darkness, penetrating to the depths of men’s souls, laying bare their hearts. 

He was hidden for a time, until He would be revealed at the precise moment in history that God decided to manifest Him as His Servant.  The Apostle Paul said,

When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5 HCSB).  To see Jesus is to see the Father; to hear His voice is to hear the voice of God.

Isaiah shares His SUBMISSION.

He said to me, ‘You are My Servant, Israel; I will be glorified in him.’” (Isa.49:3)

Christ is so identified with His people that He is called by their name—and we might add that His people are also called by His!  He was the fulfillment of all that the man Israel ought to have been but could never be; the servant the nation Israel was chosen to be and failed to be.  From Adam, downward, all had fallen short of the glory of God.  None attained the standard of perfect submission which man was created to live under—ever-abiding in the will of God—that is, until this model Man and perfect Servant came.

Jesus lived as man was meant to live.  Although God in the flesh, He lived in the flesh as a Servant—only doing what the Father said—utter reliance, utmost obedience marked His every moment.  He came to do His Father’s will.  Zeal for it consumed His every thought, desire and action.

Then, the prophet describes His REJECTION.

But I myself said: I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and futility…” (Isa.49:4a).

Such zealous servants are branded by the carnal as fanatics.  They are rejected by those who do not understand them and are made uncomfortable by them.  None would ever be more disturbing than Jesus. 

His family thought Him insane.  The religious leaders branded Him a devil.  The nation at last evaluated Him and said He was only worthy of death.  John phrased it like this, “He was in the world, and the world was created through Him,
yet the world did not recognize Him.  He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” (John 1:10-11)

At His birth He was rejected from a place in the inn and was given a manger in a stable.  In His ministry, He was driven away and despised—no place to pillow His head, though even foxes had their dens and birds their nests.  He prayed in Gethsemane in such agony—no man cared—His closest disciples were sound asleep, until He was seized by an angry mob and then they deserted Him.  Betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, He was in the darkness of a dungeon awaiting His death—rejected, alone.

But, the story doesn’t end there.  Isaiah speaks of His VINDICATION.

yet my vindication is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.” (Isa.49:4b)

Rejected in His crucifixion, He would be vindicated in His resurrection!  Because He was crowned with thorns, He would ultimately be crowned in triumph!

Look again at the passage in Philippians:

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.  For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (2:8-11)

In His incarnation, there was His declaration, submission and rejection which led to His vindication.

Isaiah goes on to add that this culminates in His DOMINION.

And now, says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel might be gathered to Him; for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is my strength—He says, ‘It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel.  I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ 

This is what the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, says to one who is despised, to one abhorred by people, to a servant of rulers:Kings will see and stand up, and princes will bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel—and He has chosen you.’” (Isa.49:5-7)

He has ascended, and will one day return to earth in power and glory—the Servant who will be Sovereign.  Christ will gather Israel under His dominion and all Israel shall be saved.  He will rule over the nations—every Gentile bowing under His scepter.  The Light of the World will illuminate the globe with the glory of God.  This will be the consummation of His salvation—His redemptive work complete!  Behold, He makes all things new!

Isaiah looked forward to these wondrous events.  He was earnest to predict them.  We can look back at all the Servant has done and anticipate the climactic moment of His return.  We should be eager to proclaim Him!

This is the practical point Paul makes in the aforementioned text—the second chapter of Philippians.  The mission of the Servant is to be embraced by us.  As He was sent into the world, so we have been sent as the Body of Christ—willing to suffer, to stand alone if need be, in order to be rewarded with the welcome to heaven some day, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  There we will reign with Christ!

The Apostle Paul puts this message between two bookends.  On one side stands the foundational appeal, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…” (Phil.2:5) and on the other the fundamental application:

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you] both to desire and to work out His good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling and arguing,  so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.” (Phil.2:12-15)

Let your light shine!

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