In Isaiah 49:1-13, the Servant speaks about his role and his ministry, and he is disillusioned at first. But God responds that He has a glorious plan for His Servant.
Who is speaking?
- It is not Isaiah, because prophets never begin “Listen to me”. They began “Thus says the Lord”, and they do not usually address a worldwide audience.
- It is not the LORD because 49:1 says “The LORD called Me from the womb”.
- It is not the nation of Israel because 49:1 says “The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me.”
- We know it is the Servant because of the task given to this speaker.
The Servant’s Testimony (49:1-6)
1Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me.
2He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver.- Isaiah 49:1-2 NASB
- From the beginning, the Servant was formed and named and called for a specific task.
- Compare with Luke 1:30-33.
- The Servant will restore the nations by his word, not by the sword.
- His word will be effective (sharp sword) and accurate (polished arrow).
- He was prepared in secret for this task. We know virtually nothing of the first 30 years of Jesus’ life.
3And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
4But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.”
- The Servant will pick up the calling of the nation of Israel and he will succeed where they failed.
- At first, it looks like the Servant failed. Compare with Matthew 23:37-39 and Matthew 27:32-44.
- But the Servant trust that God will vindicate him.
5And 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),
6He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”- Isaiah 49:5-6 NASB
- The LORD says restoring the nation of Israel alone is too small a task for the Servant.
- He be a light to all nations instead.
The Lord’s Testimony (49:7-13)
7Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and its Holy One, To the despised One, To the One abhorred by the nation, To the Servant of rulers,”Kings will see and arise, Princes will also bow down, Because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.”
8Thus says the LORD, “In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;
9Saying to those who are bound, ‘Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ Along the roads they will feed, And their pasture will be on all bare heights.
10“They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them And will guide them to springs of water.
11“I will make all My mountains a road, And My highways will be raised up.
12Behold, these will come from afar; And lo, these will come from the north and from the west,
And these from the land of Sinim.”
13Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted. – Isaiah 49:7-13 NASB
- The LORD confirms that the Servant will be despised and rejected, but that he will also be vindicated.
- God will establish a new covenant through the Servant.
- The Servant will be greater than Joshua for his land will be anew creation of ultimate rest.
- The Servant will be greater than Moses for he frees us from slavery to sin and he gives us food which does not perish but which produces eternal life. .
- The Servant will be greater that Solomon for his city has no geographical obstacles, no internal divisions and not one soul is lost.