Isaiah 49:1-7 The Servant of the Lord Introduces Himself
The animated film “An American Tail” was released in 1986 and it became the highest grossing non-Disney animated film. It was about mice who were arriving in America because they were trying to get away from all their troubles in Europe, especially cats. In one prominent scene the mice are facing off against the cats and they start to make a battle cry, “Release the secret weapon!” They keep echoing this cry until the secret weapon is finally released and sends all the cats running. In Isaiah chapter 49 God shifts the focus to reveal that he will soon release his secret weapon.
49:1 Now the servant of the Lord first mentioned in Isaiah 42 speaks and identifies himself. The identity of this special servant is kept an enigma at the start of the chapter. Compare this verse with what we read in Matthew 1:20-22.
- The Scriptures reveal that God has called and plan Jesus’ birth long before it happened.
49:1 Compare with 49:6 to explain why this special person wants to make announce himself to the distant nations.
- He is not only going to rescue Israel, he is going to bring salvation to all the world.
49:2 Elaborate on the meaning of each of the pictures given for this servant as a secret weapon.
- His Word would be powerful. Note the Christ spoke with authority and people were amazed at his Words.
- He was concealed until the right time came. Jesus existed from eternity. But he took on human flesh “When the time had fully come…” (Gal 4:4) and carried out his work.
- He was a polished arrow, concealed in God’s quiver. The Lord struck with the perfect strike by having Jesus defeat the devil with one blow by his death on the cross.
49:3-6 Describe this servant’s mission.
1) His end goal. (49:3)
- 1) His goal was to bring glory to the Lord. This was Jesus’ mission as he brought glory to the Father by completing the work he was sent to do as the atoning sacrifice for sin.
2) What it would look like before he completed his task (49:4)
- 2) His task would almost appear as if it was all for nothing and “Labored in vain.” And that he had failed. Jesus would die and be placed in the tomb. But would not end in failure or death. He would rise and receive his just reward. According to his human nature he would be exalted.
- Note Psalm 22 the Messiah expresses agony yet confidence, Garden of Gethsemane, coming down from mount of transfiguration, the rejection of Jerusalem, Bread of life discourse led to mass defection of disciples, after mount of transfiguration “How long am I going to have to put up with this?”
- YET strong expression of confidence
- According to his human nature it was hard for Jesus to carry out his mission. Yet did not despair or sin, but always trusted the Father and brought glory to God.
3) Who his primary object of interest was. (49:5)
- 3) Jesus emphasized that he came for Israel
4) How far the scope of his work would extend (49:6)
- 4) Yet Jesus made it clear that his salvation was to go out to all nations as Israel shared the good news of his victory.
- This is sometimes called the Great Commission of the OT (Compare Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8)
49:7 Find both Christ’s state of humiliation and exaltation described in this verse.
- The nation despised and abhorred him. He became a servant of all. Yet all will bow down before him because he is risen and will return in glory to judge the earth.
- “Abhorred by the nation” and “Kings will see you and rise up”
- The Jews despised and rejected the Messiah, but all nations will praise him as Lord.
- Compare with Philippians 2:6-11
- “rulers will bow down before you.” This word is reserved for those who give homage to a king. When applied to God it indicates worship.
Review Isaiah 49:1-7
Contrast Israel as a nation and people (48:8) with this servant who speaks here.
- The people of Israel were conceived and born in sin, they failed to glorify the Lord.
- This servant was chosen by the Lord because he is holy and will bring glory to the Lord.
- He who is sinless and without fault will bear the sins of all (Is 53).
This servant under discussion is not Cyrus anymore. It is referring to “Israel.” Compare this servant to the servant of the Lord who was first presented in Is 42:1-8. Share any parallels and what new descriptions might be added here.
- This servant veiled his glory. He humbly worked by the power of his Word (42:2 & 49:2)
- This servant will not falter or fail, Israel did fail at many times to fulfill their role.(42: & 49:4
- This servant brings light and is himself a light for the Gentiles. (42:6-7 & 49:6-7)
List at least three reasons why the servant speaking here must be someone from Israel, namely, the Messiah, but cannot refer to Israel as a whole nation.
- Israel failed to be the perfect servant in whom God delighted. This servant is God’s delight.
- Speaks in the singular -it is a singular man who fulfills this role.
- This servant will have the Spirit poured out on him, not all Israelites were believers.
- He is from Israel, but also sent to Israel.
- Israel has never had a world-wide mission or offer of salvation to all.
49:3 This servant speaks in the singular, yet he is called Israel. Revisit each of the pictures and descriptions of the servant in these verses and explain how they are fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Christ is true God, born of the line of David according to his human nature. (Mt 1, Rom 1:1-3)
- Christ is chosen by God and called by name.
- Christ is honored by the Father.
- Christ worked by the power of the Word.
- Christ was revealed by God at just the right time.
- Christ appeared to have failed but did not fail when he rose in victory from death.
- Christ was rejected and despised, but prophecy reveals all will bow to him.
- The salvation offered in Christ extends to all people.