Review Isaiah 42
Explain why the servants mentioned in chapter 42 must find fulfillment in two very different servants.
- The first servant is righteous and saves the world; the New Testament points to Jesus as the fulfillment, gentle and righteous Savior for the world. Jesus is the fulfillment of the first servant mentioned in this chapter.
- The second servant mentioned is sinful and rebellious, given to punishment because of unbelief, the speaker says, “against Lord we have sinned.” It is found in the unrepentant portion of Israel, the godless nations, and all unbelievers who refuse to listen to the Lord.
There is a play on words with the picture of “blindness.” Contrast what is meant by “the blind” in 42:6-7,16 and the “blind” in 42:18-19.
- The first group are the helpless who need God to lead them, by faith in him they “see.” God is the cause for their real and spiritual sight.
- The other are led by God but reject his ways and so become “blind.” They are the cause for their own spiritual blindness.
This chapter has a theme wrapped around sound and sight. Find at least four different places sound is the focus and review what is meant by each. Which picture speaks the loudest for you?
- 42:2 “he will not cry out, he will not raise his voice, he will not make his voice heard in the street.”
- 42:10-12 “Sing to the Lord… let (all creation) shout”
- 42:13 “The Lord … will shout. Yes, he will raise a war cry.”
- 42:14 “I have been silent for a long time… but now, like a woman giving birth, I will scream.”
Use 42:24 to create a suitable title or theme for this chapter. Share some other fitting themes for the chapter.
- We sinned; God gave consequences.
- Sinners are blind and deaf to God’s ways.
- The Messiah will shout like a hero, his people will shout for joy
- The true servant will come to the blind and deaf servant.
- Listen, you deaf! look, you blind!
- Take to heart the suffering sent by God.
Isaiah 43:1-13 “The Lord Gathers His Chosen People as Witnesses”
Can you list any places that you would never go (dangerous neighborhood, jungle, cave etc.)? God equips us to fearlessly tread with his Word places we might otherwise never dare to walk.
43:1-2 List some of the comforting truths and promises given to Israel in these verses. Share some examples from Bible history where these promises were literally kept. Explain why we can be certain these same comforts and promises apply to every believer.
- He is their creator, redeemer, and calls them by name, he takes ownership of them, he promises to protect them and remain with them everywhere they go.
- Comforting after what we read just earlier: Is 42:25 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.
- Each one of these statements is repeated for all believers in the NT.
43:3-4 Recall the social and political situation in ancient Israel at this time. Assyria was a brutal empire that went after all the nations in the region, including Israel. Assyria would be conquered by Babylon. (Nineveh was destroyed in 612BC). Babylon in turn would be conquered by Cyrus II “Cyrus the Great” from Persia in 539BC. In the end, wealthy Egypt and Cush would be crushed, in effect serving as “bait” for Cyrus’ conquest, but not Israel. Explain why we still need the comfort of knowing God directs the affairs of every nation.
- God says he has redeemed them. The main point here seems to be that these were wealthy nations, but God values poor Israel more.
- Seba: often understood as Yemen, across gulf of Red Sea. A place mentioned four times and a people mentioned three times in the biblical text. One of several nations God gave as a ransom for Israel (43:3). They were also a source of wealth (45:14), together with Egypt and Ethiopia. Cush: LXX reads Ethiopia
43:3-4 Based on what we just read in the closing of the previous chapter, evaluate how much Israel actually deserved goodness from God.
- They did not deserve his love, but he had in grace chosen them and made promises for them.
43:5-7 God would gather his scattered people from all the nations. Explain how this is a picture of what he does for the Church.
- He promises to bring back the scattered remnant of believers.
- Extends beyond a return from Babylonian captivity, extends “to the ends of the earth.”
- We bear the same titles as “sons” and “daughters” through faith.
- We are called by the name of God, baptized into him, heirs of his promises.
- Note 43:7 contains more than description of ownership, it implies he has the power to do all they need.
43:8-13 Once again Isaiah employs the rhetorical device of setting up a trial. Who are the two different parties called to give testimony?
- (Verse 9 ff) God calls upon all others to give witness, the spiritually blind. These are unable to point to any God who foretold and fulfilled like the Lord did.
- Jesus opens up the same promises to his witnesses, he is with us, he protects us, and he will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom at last.
How would Israel serve as a witness for the Lord?
- Out of all the world’s nations they had the revealed truth of God and his promises for the world.
- They were to record his promises and point to the coming chosen one. They had all God’s past faithfulness and fulfillment to give them a starting point for proclaiming his future promises in Christ.
- Note the progression “know…believe… understand…there is no other Savior… you are my witnesses”
43:12 “I have revealed and saved and proclaimed” Explain why this is a great summary for God’s plan of salvation for all.
- He prophesied the Christ, he sent the Christ, he sends out messengers still to proclaim what Christ has done. The people of Israel proclaimed in Isaiah’s time, all believers do this in the New Testament until Christ’s return.
- Revealed: both in Word and the Word made flesh.
- Saved: through faith in the promise revealed and promised one who saved us on the cross.
- Proclaimed: through prophets and the writings of Scripture, still through his Church and his Word.
What sort of “Witness protection program” does God give his people? Share how that ought to embolden us as we serve him as his witnesses today.
- They never need fear anything since God is with them and promises full protection and redemption.
The Non-Christian group Jehovah’s Witnesses derive their title from this chapter. Yet they reject the ecumenical Creeds of the Christian Church. Share some of their basic tenants and explain why they are actually only found mentioned in 43:8.
Share how you have seen God gathering his Church from various places around the world.