Isaiah 42


‘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. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” Isaiah 42:1-4

The Servant Of The LORD

This chapter and the next, speak of the mediator of Israel and the Saviour of the Gentiles.

In this chapter, Isaiah introduces a servant that is different from his servant Jacob and cannot refer to his shepherd Cyrus of Isaiah 45:1 / Isaiah 44:28.

The New Testament finds the fulfilment of this prophecy in Jesus Christ. The coming Saviour is embodied in the idea of Israel. The first seven verses of chapter 42 are purely Messianic.

These verses indicate how the Messiah brings to the Gentiles, God’s right judgement in a peaceful way, Luke 4:18-21, for the New Testament fulfilment. Jesus certainly had the Spirit on Him, John 3:34.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following, concerning ‘my Spirit’.

‘The Lord Jesus was divine, yet as Mediator he is everywhere represented as ‘the anointed’ of God, or as endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah 11:2. Also, Isaiah 61:1, where the Messiah says of himself, ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because be hath anointed me’, Luke 4:18. Before he entered upon his public ministry, the Spirit of God descended on him at his baptism, Matthew 3:17, and in all his work he showed that he was endowed abundantly with that Spirit.’

Isaiah tells how the Messiah will manifest Himself in the world as a quiet, gentle, and humble individual, the opposite of self-seeking, Matthew 6:1-7.

He will draw all men to Himself and He will bring justice to the downtrodden. His mission is not to destroy but to seek and to save, Luke 19:10.

The Messiah will not be broken nor His strength diminished until He brings the redemption, in other words, He will accomplish His mission.

Jesus was the fulfilment of all that Israel was supposed to be, Isaiah 36:6 / Ezekiel 29:6. In the New Testament, Matthew quoted this whole passage in Matthew 12:18-21, stating that the prophet Isaiah had written this, and applying every word of it to Jesus Christ.

‘This is what God the LORD says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42:5-9

God now addresses His servant, the Messiah. The Messiah has an exalted mission answering to the exaltation of Him who called Him. The Messiah will not lack the power to fulfil His mission.

By the Messiah, God makes a new covenant with His people, Jeremiah 31:31-32 / Micah 5:5. ‘To open the blind eyes’, Isaiah 42:17, refers not to a physical act but a figurative one, Isaiah 35:5 / John 9:39-41 / Luke 4:18,19.

He would be a light to the Gentiles, Acts 26:18, and in being a light to those in bondage, He would give freedom, John 8:32-36. The ‘prisoners’ are spiritual prisoners, Ephesians 4:8 / Hebrews 2:14.

God pledges His Name and honour to the accomplishment of the Messiah’s work and there will be restoration blessings of the return from the Babylonian captivity, and secondly, the redemption offered, this is predicted before it happened.

Song Of Praise To The LORD

‘Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands. The LORD will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.’ Isaiah 42:10-13

The prediction of new things is manifestly the works of God. These new things will be an occasion for all the earth to sing a new song because they are set free, Isaiah 12:1-6 / Isaiah 25:1-12 / Isaiah 26:1-10.

Even the plundering Arabs of Kedar will sing in jubilation, shouting the praises of God from the highest mountains. The ‘rock’ is a reference to Petra, the capital of the Edomites.

‘For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame.’ Isaiah 42:14-17

God would overcome His enemies after He held His peace long enough. He had restrained His speech, but now He will break forth as a woman suddenly giving birth to a child.

In order for this deliverance to take place, a great change must come. The land of captivity is turned from a garden land into a wasteland. This is indicative of the destruction that is going to come upon the captors of Israel.

The redemption of God’s people is to furnish them a deliverance which they knew not, that is, the decree of Cyrus. God’s work is twofold, judgement for idolaters and salvation for His own people. Those who were spiritually blind will see His grace and those who trusted in idols will be shamed.

Israel Blind And Deaf

‘Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one in covenant with me, blind like the servant of the LORD? You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.” Isaiah 42:18-20

The blind are told to free themselves from their blindness and deafness, Isaiah 6:10 / Romans 11:25. They are completely blind and completely deaf, John 9:40-41 / John 15:22.

Israel was the blinded servant, she was blinded because of the great things that God had done for her throughout her history. She had all the opportunity to witness the direct work of God in the life of the nation, but she turned away to be her own master.

‘It pleased the LORD for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious. But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, “Send them back.” Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart.’ Isaiah 42:21-25

These verses form a reproof toward Israel in a severe tone because so much has been committed unto her. Despite the glory given to Israel, when she fell into captivity no one could deliver her but God. Israel must remain in her afflicted condition until she changes.

Burned children usually shun the fire, but the nation of Israel didn’t learn, Hosea 4:6. Until Israel was willing to see her condition she would remain in this condition. The fury of God kindled the flame of war all around the Jewish nation and spread desolation everywhere.

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