The Book of Isaiah
James J. Barker

Lesson 38

Text: ISAIAH 42


1.     The word “servant” is found often in the book of Isaiah.  In 41:8, God is clearly referring to the nation Israel.  But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.”

2.     This does not mean that every Biblical reference to God’s servant must refer to Israel, because some refer specifically to the coming Messiah (Isa. 42:1-7; cf. Matt. 12:17-21).

3.     Jews who deny that Jesus is the Messiah insist that the “servant” of Isaiah 42:1 and 52:13 refers to Israel.  “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (52:13).

4.     But the context indicates that these prophecies are about Jesus, not the nation of Israel (cf. 52:14ff).

5.     Furthermore, the NT tells us that Isaiah 41 & 53 refer to the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 8:16, 17; 12:17-21; John 12:37, 38; Acts 8:32-35; Romans 10:16; I Peter 2:24).

6.     Interestingly, Isaiah 42:1 in the Targum, an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, reads, “Behold, my servant, the Messiah.”

7.     Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:1-11; and 52:13—53:12 describe an individual, not a nation, and they all refer to the Lord Jesus Christ.

8.     We must look at the context.  The “servant” in Isaiah 42:19 describes spiritually blind Israel.







1.     Note God the Father will “uphold” His servant (42:1).  God will  empower His servant.  He will “put His Spirit upon Him” (42:1).

2.     Therefore the Servant’s work “shall not fail” (42:4).

3.     Another important teaching brought out here (and in Matthew 12:19) is the gentleness of the Servant.   Here is a great lesson for us on soulwinning and street preaching.

4.     HA Ironside said that when he was a young preacher he used to feel guilty if he did not get up in a streetcar or a train and give his testimony. If the conductor would come and tell him to sit down, Ironside would rudely rebuke him.

5.     After some time, Ironside realized this was not the proper way to proclaim the Gospel.  Second Timothy 2:24 says, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men.”

6.     When I lived in Norfolk, I knew street preachers who would run over to cars stopped at a red light and scream at the people in the car.  That is not the way our Lord dealt with sinners (Isa. 42:2, 3).

7.     There is nothing wrong with loud, bold preaching.  Isaiah 58:1 says, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

8.     The apostle Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2).

9.     Harry Ironside said, “The devil either tries to keep you quiet or makes you think you must do what is unreasonable.  What delivered me at last and showed me there was a golden mean between indifference and rudeness was this passage (Isa. 42:2).”



1.     Isaiah 42:1 says, “He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles (nations).” 

2.     Verse 3 says, “He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”  All injustice and wickedness will come to an end at the second coming of Christ.

3.     Isaiah 42:4 says, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth…”

4.     Harry Bultema said, “The basic meaning (of the Hebrew word translated “judgment”) is usually that by punishment, unrighteousness is removed and justice triumphs…The Lord Jesus will judge the nations, and from that judgment good will result for them” (Commentary on Isaiah).  

5.     God has a plan for the nations, but it starts with judgment. In Matthew 25:32, our Lord said He will gather all nations, “and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”

6.     The God who has created this universe and who enables man to breathe can be counted on to perform everything He has said He will do (42:5).

7.     The Messiah is “a light of the Gentiles” (42:6).  The apostle Paul quoted this verse in Acts 13:47, when he spoke to the unbelieving Jews in Antioch of Pisidia.

8.     Christ will “open the blind eyes,” and “bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house” (42:7).

9.     These prophecies were partially fulfilled at the first coming of Christ, but they will be completely fulfilled when our Lord comes back.

10. Verses 13 and following describe the second coming of Christ when He returns to judge the nations. 

11. The apostle Paul describes this in I Thessalonians 1:7-9.  “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

12. The apostle John describes this second coming in Revelation 19:11-16.

13. The prophet Zechariah describes the second coming in 14:1-4.

14. Isaiah describes the second coming of Christ in Isaiah 63:1-4.

15. It is one of the great themes of both the OT & the NT.  All of history is moving toward the second coming of Christ.

16. It is not taught in the (secular) colleges and universities.  You will not hear it brought up in any of the presidential debates.  It is not going to be mentioned in the newspapers or on television.

17. But everything is moving surely and steadily to this great event – the second coming of Christ.



1.     Isaiah 42:16 refers to spiritually blind Israel (cf. 42:19). The apostle Paul speaks of their spiritual blindness in Romans 11, but then in 11:26, Paul says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

2.     God has a plan for Israel.  Ahminajihad says he will wipe Israel off the map.  It will never happen! (Cf. Jer. 31:35-37).

3.     All of the heathen nations are idolatrous, but the God of Israel condemns “graven images” (42:8, 17).

4.     All of the heathen nations have their so-called “holy books” but only the Bible contains fulfilled prophecies (42:9; cf. 41:22, 23).  

5.     Today Israel is spiritually blind and deaf (42:19, 20), but when Christ returns they will see and they will hear.

6.     Isaiah 42:21 can only be understood in the light of the Gospel. “The LORD is well pleased” because of the righteousness of Christ.

7.     Right before our Lord was baptized, He said to John the Baptist, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

8.     Right after He was baptized, God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

9.     Furthermore, Isaiah 42:1 – “I have put my spirit upon Him” – was also fulfilled at our Lord’s baptism.  And, John the Baptist’s ministry is mentioned in Isaiah 40:3-5.

10. It was God’s plan for Israel to “magnify the law, and make it honorable” (Isa. 42:21).  Israel has failed to do this but this prophecy will be fulfilled when Christ returns.

11. Isaiah 11:9 says, “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

12. What a day, glorious day, that will be!

13. But in the meantime, Israel is being chastened by God Himself (Isa. 42:22-25).



1.     The concluding verses of Isaiah 24 refer to God’s fiery judgment upon Israel – the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian captivity, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and the dispersion.

2.     We could add the horrible holocaust during WWII. And the future judgment that will be far worse.

3.     According to our Lord’s warning in Matthew 24:21, the coming tribulation will be far worse than what Israel experienced in the past.  Our Lord said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

4.     But Isaiah said, Israel “knew not” and “laid it not to heart” (24:25).

5.     Jews often say “Never again” but soon the antichrist will emerge.

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