Reflection April 15

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,  and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth;  and the coastlands wait for his law.

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to carved idols.
 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;before they spring forth I tell you of them.”       Isaiah 42:1-9

 

 

 One of the amazing things about the God we worship is that he is not isolated or independent or standoffish. In fact, the God of the Bible is thoroughly engaged and active in triune and human community.

                Isaiah 42 is a great example of God’s engaged community. In this chapter, the Lord speaks about and to his “Servant,” i.e., the one through whom God will accomplish his purposes, whom Isaiah elsewhere identifies as the Messiah. God describes the Servant:

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;

    he will bring forth justice to the nations.

2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

    or make it heard in the street;

3 a bruised reed he will not break,

    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

    he will faithfully bring forth justice.

4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged

    till he has established justice in the earth;

    and the coastlands wait for his law.

 

Contrary to human hopes and expectations, this Messiah would come as a servant rather than as a powerful leader. He is chosen and delighted in by God, the Spirit of God is upon him, He will bring justice to the nations, and though humble, he will persevere in his calling.

                In the various servant songs like this one in Isaiah, the Servant is sometimes referred to with a singular and sometimes with a plural pronoun. When ancient Israel read these songs, they actually saw themselves as the Servant. Think of God saying these words to Israel:

I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

 

This was, in fact, God’s calling for Israel. But Israel failed to live up to its calling. In the same way, we as the Church fail to live up to our calling. But Jesus, the Servant Messiah, not only did fulfill this calling but also continues to do so.

                The words that follow our section (verse 10) give us good guidance on how we are to respond to this Servant: “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth.” The Lord, Yahweh, is worthy of praise for giving us the Servant. The Servant is likewise worthy of praise, being the perfect fulfillment of God’s character and plan on earth. So worship is the right and natural response to the Servant song.

                Another response is to ask ourselves how we are embodying the vocation of the Servant. As his followers, we are called to live our lives as he did, with the same dependence on God and the same values. Do we believe that we are chosen and delighted in by God? Do we believe the Spirit of God is upon us? Do we realize we are called to bring justice to the nations? Will we humbly persevere in our calling?

                May God’s Servant, Jesus Christ, open our eyes to his truth as we continue to trust and follow Him.

Eric Bolger

Harvest