Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Servant in Isaiah 49

February 28, 2011  
Filed under Sermon Notes

Isaiah 49.1-22

The following are the sermon notes for the 8th Sunday after Epiphany, 2011 by Fr Van McCalister. Links to corresponding audio files may be found at the end of this article.

The prophet Isaiah

Who: Son of Amoz. Married with two sons [7.3; 8.3] “Isaiah” means “The Lord Saves”

What: Prophet to the kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.

Where: Judah and Jerusalem

When: active circa 740-681B.C.

Why: Pending Assyrian invasion (Israel 722BC) and Babylonian Captivity (Judah 586BC)

A Prophet is one who speaks forth – oracles from the Lord.

Prophetic messages often have three or four layers layers:

1. the prophet’s now

2. an immediate future

3. a final consummation, or distant future

4. a general principle

Some of those principles are found in Isaiah 55 (Canticle 10 – BCP 86)

Isaiah 55:6-9, 11

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

. . . so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

How might we summarize these principles?

  • God desires that we find Him.
  • Repentance is crucial. Mercy is promised.
  • God’s thoughts are different than our thoughts
  • The Lord’s Word is sure and certain.

If we accept these principles, how is God revealing Himself in Isaiah’s prophecy and more specifically in chapter 49?

J. Alec Motyer identifies three messianic portraits in Isaiah:

1. The King in chapters 1-37

2. The Servant in chapters 38-55

3. The Anointed Conqueror in chapters 56-66

Isaiah 49 falls into the second portrait: the Servant.

Chapter 49 is a portrait within the portrait: It is sometimes called the Second Servant Song, chapter 42 being the First Servant Song.

Prior to chapter 49, we see the nation of Israel/Jacob stumbling to fulfill its destiny.

What was Israel’s destiny? To be “a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon, And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” [Isaiah 42.6b-7, and Is 49.9 below]

The nation of Israel’s purpose was to be a Light to the Nations – to show the world the way to God.

Instead Israel was under judgment because of idolatry: the worship of foreign god’s.

Isaiah, continues the portrait begun in chapter 42 and reveals how God is going to fulfill His plan for Israel by raising up a Servant who will faithfully complete that task.

As we consider these opening verses of chapter 49, consider the fact that this oracle was given 700 years before the birth of Jesus!

Does the Lord want to be known? Absolutely! And his plan of salvation has been planned in detail centuries before Jesus was born.

Isaiah 49.1 begins with a unique call . . . “Listen to me, O Coastlands”

Luke 1:31

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

Isaiah 49.2 Sword and Arrow

Matthew 10:34

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 49.3 The call of Israel is turned over to The Servant

Jacob/Israel inherited the promises made to the nations through Abraham [Gen 28.13-14]. The Servant is promised to fulfill that covenant in His person since Israel the nation failed.

Genesis 28:13-14

And behold, the Lord stood above it [the ladder] and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. [14] Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

John 4:22 [Jesus to the Samaritan woman at the well]

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews

Isaiah 49.4 I have labored in vain . . .

The Messiah [Christ] glorifies the Father through His obedience

Isaiah 49.5 who formed me from the womb to be his servant . . .

Jesus formed for the redemption of Israel/Jacob

Isaiah 49.6 to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light to the nations

Christ will/does bring salvation to the nations via God’s preservation of Israel.

Simeon recognizes this when he sees the boy Jesus – the consolation of Israel – presented at the Temple!

Luke 2:29-32

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

Isaiah 49.7 to One deeply despised…the servant of rulers . . . princes…shall prostrate themselves

The Servant is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 [Lent – Passion – Good Friday]

Even so, His victory is assured.

Isiah 49.8 In a time of favor I have answered You; in a day of salvation I have helped You; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people to establish the land

Christ is the New Covenant! [2 Cor. 6.2]

“He will be the covenant in His own person.” [Motyer, p 352]

Isaiah 49.9 the prisoners . . . shall feed along the ways

Israel failed their mission as noted in 49.6-7, so the Servant will carry it out. He will also turn the desert into green pasture land: the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 and John 10

Isaiah 49.13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult O earth . . .

Creation will rejoice to see the Servant’s mercy and compassion.

Isaiah 49.14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forgotten me”

Israel is slow to recognize her deliverance

Isaiah 49.15-18 Can a woman forget her nursing child?

Of course I haven’t forgotten you: Look I have engraved you on the palm of my hands!

Illustration: the Hand Song by Nickel Creek

The destroyers may come but God has the blueprint of Jerusalem (the geographical locus of salvation) carved into his hand!

His plan of salvation for Israel and the nations will never be forgotten. In fact . . .

Isaiah 49.19-20 surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants

The New Jerusalem – the Bride of Christ is bursting at the seams!

Isaiah 49.21 I was left alone; from where have these come?

The grieving mother is suddenly overwhelmed with more children than she could imagine.

Isaiah 49.22 I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples

That signal [standard] is the Cross!

We have Good News to declare.

Illustration: the movie To End All Wars: Dusty Miller

Testimony: Our new brother baptized as a baby but gave his life to the Lord yesterday.

The Servant’s message of salvation is our gift to the world – our joy to proclaim.

Sources: Commentary on Isaiah by J. Alec Motyer, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series; The Orthodox Study Bible (Septuagint Old Testament)

To listen to the audio for this sermon, click here: Isaiah 49

To listen to the text from Isaiah, click here: Isaiah 49.8-18

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