The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study
Chapter 42: Behold my Servant
by I Gordon
Alright... we are back in the book of Isaiah and is this study we are
looking at chapter 42. Before we get into chapter 42, I just wanted to
give you a little bit of a background to this whole section of Isaiah
chapter 40 - 66. Isaiah foresaw a time of great difficulty of God's
people Israel. He saw a time when they would be exiled from the land
and would be exposed to all sorts of practises and false religions and
false gods in those Gentile nations to which they were exiled. And
these were nations that cared not for the true God or for His ways. So
Isaiah writes and prophecies and he warns them of the dangers and the
snares that would come their way. But he also wrote to give them hope
that someone is coming, someone who could right the wrongs and
establish righteousness and justice in this earth. As I was reading
this and thinking about it I could not help but notice the parallels to
today. This world has some major escalating issues and the U N. isn't
going to help. It's a kind of a strange world... In one sense we have
technological advances that occur at unprecedented rate and devices
invented to control every aspect of our lives to try to make things
simpler and yet at the same time the world spins out of control. Yes,
knowledge increases but at the same time so does lawlessness, violence,
disrespect and ungratefulness. So God's answer to such a condition is
the same today as it was in the days of Isaiah - 'Behold my Servant -
He will bring forth justice to this earth'.
Context context context...
So what we are going to look at today is the first four verses in
chapter 42. But to understand the context of what led up to these four
verses, let's do a real quick summary of chapter 41. If you have a look
in your bibles turn to verse one of chapter 41. It starts off with
"Coastlands, listen to Me in silence, And let the peoples gain new
strength; Let them come forward, then let them speak; Let us come
together for judgment.
So it is God Himself who is speaking and He is actually talking to the
Gentile nations, all the coastlands, and He is actually saying come
forth and we are going to sit down in judgement together. What God was
doing in this whole chapter is surveying the entire religious and
spiritual thought and actions of these Gentile nations and He was
seeing if there was any merit to it. If you have a look in verse 21 of
that same chapter you get this glimpse of a court room scene where God
has got the Gentiles on trial! He says
Isaiah 41:21-24 "Present your case," the LORD says. "Bring forward
your strong arguments," The King of Jacob says. Let them bring
forth and declare to us what is going to take place; as for the
former events, declare what they were, that we may consider them
and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming; declare
the things that are going to come afterward, that we may know that
you are gods; indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look
about us and fear together. Behold, you are of no account, and your
work amounts to nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.'
Look also at verses 28 and 29 how this chapter ends... This is God
speaking, and He says:
Isaiah 41:28-29 "But when I look, there is no one, And there is no
counselor among them Who, if I ask, can give an answer. "Behold,
all of them are false; Their works are worthless, Their molten
images are wind and emptiness.'
So that's basically God's assessment of the best that these nations
could offer - It's wind and it's emptiness! And if God were to survey
the Gentile nations today what would He find? He would find the New
Age, He'd find atheism, He's find evolution, materialism, humanism...
and He would say it is total wind and emptiness - there is nothing to
it! There is nothing that can help the soul of man in any of that...
ultimately it is simply emptiness. So that's the background. God
examined the philosophies of the nations and is presenting a case
against the Gentile nations. And that is what leads us into chapter 42
for in chapter 42 you have God's answer! You have got something that
does amount to something.
God's solution to the emptiness in the Gentile nations
Isaiah 42:1 "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom
My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth
justice to the nations.
So straight away God says 'Behold My Servant' Who is this? This is
actually the first mention in the book of Isaiah of several passages
that describe the coming one who Isaiah calls 'the Servant'. And it
starts in verse one with God's command to this failing world. God's
command to His people and His overriding theme and purpose of the
entire Bible is really summed up in this verse here. 'Behold My Servant
whom I uphold'. As we go forth in the book of Isaiah and look at some
of the other chapters that talk about the Servant what we shall see is
that the Servant is the promised Messiah - the only one that can bring
peace to the heart of man and peace to this world. So it starts off
'Behold My Servant' What do you think 'Behold' means? Behold means to
look intently, to fix your gaze. It also means to consider and to
perceive. And the whole Christian life is really based around this
'Beholding'. The Christian life begins with this looking unto Jesus.
It's what John the Baptist said when he first saw Jesus - 'Behold, the
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. But the Christian
life doesn't just begin there. Every aspect of coming into what God has
for us is a new beholding of His Son - the Servant, the Messiah. The
New Testament says that we are changed as we behold in a mirror the
glory of the Lord. So as we look at the glory of Jesus Christ through
His nature and character, who He was then and who He is now and who He
is in us, well that is how we are actually changed.
So the world is looking for answers but unfortunately in many wrong and
different directions. But only a few are actually following God's
command to 'Behold His Servant'. Now if we were to Behold Jesus Christ
what would we see? What do we see from Isaiah 42? First of all I want
to point out that we would see someone totally unique... someone who
came to do the will of God 100% of the time - twenty four seven. You
know the first thing we learn in Isaiah about this one, this Messiah,
is that it says 'Behold My Servant'. Jesus was a
He was a bond Servant of the Father. He only did and said that which
came from the Father and He could not be distracted from this. He
couldn't be distracted by praise, by fear or by temptation. And we see
here in Isaiah that it gives God's testimony of His servant. He says:
'He is my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put My Spirit
Do you know what delights God? What delights God's heart is when we
delight in delighting Him.
When we make it our aim to want to be pleasing to Him... When we offer
ourselves (even when we are broken and useless in many regards), when
we offer into His hand all that we are, to be used and to make
something of - that is what delights Him. Jesus Christ offered Himself
up 100% and that delighted the heart and soul of God.
The Servant - The Ultimate Non-Showman
Isaiah 42:2 "He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice
heard in the street.
Now this is not saying that He was not going to speak! We know that
Jesus did. He did go around teaching, instructing and helping people.
What this is trying to bring out is that He was the ultimate
non-showman! In contrast to the Pharisees, Jesus Christ did not need to
be noticed, or recognised. He never put on a show!
Let's look at one example of this. It is in Matthew 12 verse 15-21:
Matthew 12:15-21 'But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there.
Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was
to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "BEHOLD, MY
SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is
WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM
JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES. "HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR
WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS. "A BATTERED REED HE WILL
NOT BREAK OFF, AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT, UNTIL HE
LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY. "AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE."
So Matthew quoted the passage that we are looking at today - Isaiah
42:1-4. So firstly he knew that this passage was about Jesus. But he
also knew that it was fulfilled in the fact that Jesus warned people to
actually not say who He was! He was not there to be a showman, to whip
up a crowd or anything like that. He never, ever drew attention to
Himself, put on a show or tried to entertain or please the masses. He
was there solely to do the will of God. Full stop! The man who comes to
do the will of God doesn't have to resort to fleshly efforts to please
Jesus gave the Word that God the Father had placed on His heart and He
did not ever try to please the crowd. But look at what we have got
today... the surveying of non-Christians to see if the church service
is right for them. It's just a load of nonsense. Let's go back to the
book of Isaiah and look at verse 3.
Are you a bruised reed or a smouldering wick?
Isaiah 42:3 "A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick
He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.
Another reason why that this Servant was unique is the type of people
that He ministered to. Verse three speaks about 'bruised reeds and
Jesus Christ did not come just looking for perfect reeds. He came
looking for those who knew of their need for Him. Nor did He come
looking for those that were already burning brightly.
What this marvellous passage in Isaiah 42 is telling us that a lot of
us are like broken and bruised reeds or we are like a dimly burning
wick that is just giving of a tiny bit of smoke and a little bit of
light... but Jesus isn't going to extinguish us or throw us away!
This world is actually leaving more and more people battered and
bruised and with little light. All of us feel this way at times. Maybe
you do today? There are some problems in this life that only Jesus can
deal with. But thank the Lord that God has sent One to this world, to
live, to minister, to die and to be raised again so that He can come
into our hearts and grant us the hope, strength and encouragement that
we need. He is not one that will ever turn His back on us.
The Servant will never quit the ministry
Isaiah 42:4 "He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has
established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait
expectantly for His law."
This verse says that He will not be disheartened or crushed. It is the
same Hebrew word that is in verse 3 where it is translated 'bruised'.
It basically means, cracked, broken, bruised, crushed or discouraged.
What it is saying is that there will never, ever come a time when Jesus
Christ says 'I have had it with you, you've blown it too many times'.
There will never, ever come a time when Jesus will just give up.
He will not be disheartened, or crushed until He has established
justice in this earth. Praise the Lord that this is His ministry as our
High Priest as well. He will ever intercede for us. This is the one who
has said that He will never leave or forsake us. That's God's servant,
that's the One who God asks us to behold. And God is in the business of
restoring damaged reeds so that we can make some pretty good music
again. The Bible says that we 'have this treasure in earthen vessels so
that the surpassing greatness of the power will be from God and not
from us.' So yes, that means that we will be battered from time to
time. We will be bruised, we will be cracked but that is actually God's
will. Why? So that something of God's character, something of God's
life can come forth through our life.
Jesus Christ is God's absolute unique 100% Servant. He is unique in His
commitment. He is unique in His compassion. Has wasn't attracted to
people who looked like they had life sussed and everything was working
just as they had planned. He wasn't attracted to the perfect looking
reeds down by the river side. What actually attracted Him were those
that He ministered to and spent time with. They were battered reeds and
smouldering wicks... many of whom society had totally given up on! But
praise God that He is also unique in His endurance. Jesus Christ will
not give up, He will not back down, He will not change plans, He will
not be discouraged until He has established justice in this earth. And
that is what He will do. That is what we long for. That is what we hope
for. There is a day coming when this earth is going to be transformed
by the coming again of the Messiah and the setting up of His Kingdom
where justice will reign from one end of the earth to the other. That
is the hope that we have and that is what we look for... but until that
day we need to behold the Servant of God. We need to behold Jesus
Christ. We need to behold His character. We need to turn our eyes and
look into His face and to see who He is in us and through us. Amen.