January 12, 2015

Today you should read: Isaiah 49

Today’s passage is yet another strong messianic scripture. In fact, some have struggled with it because it is so pointed and descriptive. Could it be that this is really talking about someone coming hundreds of years later? History tells the story well enough, and as Christians, we can be sure of it. This specific chapter is considered the second of four “Servant Songs” found in the prophets. Here is a great note on that from the ESV Study Bible, since we already visited this concept in Isaiah 42.

…Servant Songs, fulfilled in Jesus Christ (cf. 49:1–13; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12). Isaiah sprinkles references to “the servant of the Lord” throughout chs. 40–55. Often it is a title for the people as a whole (41:8–9; 42:19; 43:10; 44:1–2, 21, 26; 45:4; 48:20), but at times the servant is a specific person within Israel who is distinct from the whole, with a calling to serve Israel and beyond (49:5–6; 50:10; see notes on 52:13; 53:11). The second Servant Song (49:1–13), which clarifies that the servant is distinct from Israel, also calls him Israel (49:3); this is best explained as identifying the servant as the representative and embodiment of the whole people. This last point shows why the traditional Christian reading, that the servant is a messianic figure, accurately captures Isaiah’s intent. First, in the Davidic covenant, David’s heirs represent and embody the people as a whole: Israel is God’s “son” (Ex. 4:22–23), and the king becomes God’s “son” on his coronation (2 Sam. 7:14; cf. Ps. 89:26–27). Therefore the servant follows the pattern of David’s heirs. Second, the servant achieves the expansion of his rule throughout the Gentile world (Isa. 42:1–4; 52:13–15), which is the work of the Davidic Messiah in chs. 7–12. Third, later prophets describe an heir of David, and especially the Messiah, as the servant (Ezek. 34:23–24; 37:25; Hag. 2:23; Zech. 3:8; cf. Jer. 33:21–22, 26), which supports reading the servant in Isaiah as a messianic figure. In addition to his royal function, the servant also has a prophetic role (Isa. 49:1; 50:4, 10) and a priestly one (53:11; cf. Ps. 110:4, which folds a priestly role into Messiah’s royal office). Isaiah’s audience must know that God will restore the exiles and then fulfill the mission of Israel by means of the servant whom he will raise up at some unspecified time after the return from exile: this is where their story is headed.

After reading this incredible chapter, we are easily overwhelmed. What can we take away from this passage?  I propose a few thoughts.

First, God’s long, comprehensive plan of redemption will not be thwarted. Many have and will try to thwart it. They cannot and will not. From beginning to end, His plan will come through and it will prove true.

Second, God’s unfathomable love to us is palpable. He showed this to Israel time and again through the prophets, kings, judges, promised land, and countless provisions. But how did it show it to us? No question: through Jesus Christ. That’s what this passage is all about. God’s Son would show love to us when we didn’t deserve it. And now, He continues to show it to us through His Holy Spirit, who lives in us, guides us, empowers us, and comforts us.

Finally, God desires obedience from His children. This is not just for His honor, though that would be enough. It is for our good as well. The more we resist His will, the more harm we experience, internally and often externally. He sent Jesus to be the one to show us the right path. His sacrificial death on the cross gives us an example to follow: unwavering obedience to the Father.

What did the Lord teach you today? God bless you, CPC family.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

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Author: cpclexington

Lexington & Richmond KY

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