Jesus Christ - The Servant of God


August 28, 1998 ~ Ivanhoe Holiness Camp

September 6, 1998 ~ Pickering Standard Church


Isaiah 49:1-13 - Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations; Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.  He made my mouth like sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.  He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."  But I said, "I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.  Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reword is with my God."  And now the LORD says - he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength - he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."  This is what the LORD says - the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel - to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers; "Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."  This is what the LORD says: "In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, 'Come out,' and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'  They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.  They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.  He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.  I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up.  See, they will come from afar - some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan.  Shout for joy, O heavens, rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains!  For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.


Call attention to v. 6:  "...I will also make you a light to the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth,"


A - Israel needed to be restored to their God

-          the Israel of Isaiah's day was a nation divided

-          the ten northern tribes were soon to be conquered by the Assyrians and taken away to endure captivity in a foreign land

-          the two southern tribes would experience times during which they were faithful to God alternating with times during which they were not faithful to God, eventually they too would be conquered by a foreign power, the Babylonians, and taken to endure captivity in a foreign country

-          the Israel of Isaiah's day was only partially faithful to God

-          it was for their disobedience that the nation would be destroyed and made the prisoner of nations that did not know the God of Israel, the one true God, and which were utterly corrupt.  God told the prophet Habakkuk He would use these nations to conquer Israel to punish her and Habakkuk responded by saying:


Habakkuk 1:12-17 - O LORD, are you not from everlasting?  My God, my Holy One, we will not die.  O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish.  Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, you cannot tolerate wrong.  Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?  Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?  You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler.  The wicked foe pull all of them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food.  Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?


He could not understand why God would allow a Godless nation to plunder His chosen people.  God responded by telling Habakkuk that these Godless nations would also be punished for their excess's, and that the period of their captivity would not go on forever.  Through the Holy Spirit Jeremiah spoke the following prophecy:


Jeremiah 29:10-14 - This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place [the promised land].  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."


God would restore Israel both to the promised land and to Himself; the prayer that Daniel makes to God asking Him to restore Israel asks for both spiritual and physical restoration, not because the people deserve it but because of God's great mercy:


Daniel 9:17-19 - Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.  For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on you desolate sanctuary.  Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, listen!  O Lord, forgive!  O Lord, hear and act!  For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name.


B - This Restoration Could Occur Only Because of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Further along in Isaiah’s Servant prophecies, Isaiah makes clear that it would be because of the substitution of the servant in Israel's place that she would be forgiven and made right with God:


Isaiah 53:4-6, 12 - Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all...For he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


Jesus said this Himself when He told His disciples that there was no other way to the Father but through Him:


John 14:6 - I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.


Israel’s God, and our God, is a forgiving God, as He told Moses on Mount Sinai:


Exodus 34:6-7 - And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.”


Yet in His forgiveness there is the foreknowledge of Christ crucified.  God is forgiving not because He is able to overlook sin, Habakkuk’s complaint abundantly answers that fear, He is forgiving because His own Son will pay the price for sin and take upon Himself our punishment as well as that of the Israelites.


C - The Restoration is not limited to the nation of Israel.  Isaiah's prophecy of the servant, which we are studying here, indicates that the servant, Jesus Christ, for no other could possibly have made even one man right with God, would also be:


Isaiah 49:6 - A light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.


In John we read of Jesus telling Nicodemus that all who believe in Jesus Christ throughout all the world will be forgiven and made children of God - only those and no others:


John 3:16-18 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him [as it was already condemned through the fall].  Whoever believes in him is not condemned [he has been saved from his sin and made a child of God], but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son [the only One who could save him].


Salvation is universal in that, if each one of the five billion or more people alive on earth at this instant suddenly gave their lives over to the control of God, He would save each one of them.  Sadly, not everyone in the world will do so; I think that each of us can think of friends, relatives, or acquaintances that have deliberately refused the free gift of God.


D - Because of His Sacrifice the Servant is Worthy of Praise.  Isaiah goes on to say that the servant will receive honour:


Isaiah 49:7 - This is what the LORD says - the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel - to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers:  "Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."


Those who put Him to death, as was said earlier, despised Jesus, and yet because of His perfect obedience He will receive the greatest honour, as we read in the letter to the Hebrews:


Hebrews 1:1-4 - In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.  So he became as superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.


God will give His Son all glory because He was faithful in His mission and because of this many millions of people will be permitted to enter heaven, the kingdom of God:


Revelation 5:11-12 - Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.  They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!  Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"


Let us receive this salvation, thankfully, giving God glory for saving us through Jesus Christ, and giving Jesus Christ glory for giving Himself up for our sakes.  He is worthy.  He alone is worthy!