The Book of Isaiah
THE SERVANT OF THE LORD
Text: ISAIAH 49
1. We have noted in earlier messages that the term “servant of the LORD” is found often in the book of Isaiah.
2. In Isaiah 41:8, God is clearly referring to the nation Israel. And it would appear that Isaiah 49:3 is also a reference to Israel.
3. However, not every Biblical reference to God’s servant refers to Israel; some refer specifically to the coming Messiah (cf. Isa. 42:1-7; Matt. 12:17-21).
4. 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).
5. But the context indicates that these prophecies are about Jesus, not the nation of Israel (cf. 52:14ff).
6. Furthermore, as we saw earlier, 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).
7. Our text tonight is similar in many ways to Isaiah 42:1-7, since both passages declare that the servant of the LORD is to be a light to the Gentiles (cf. 49:6).
8. Although the servant is called Israel in verse 3, He is also differentiated from Israel. Verses 5 & 6 say that He is to bring Jacob back to God, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to preserve the restored of Israel.
9. These Scriptures would not make any sense if the servant were Israel. The servant is an individual. The servant is the Lord Jesus Christ, because only God can bring Israel back to God. Only God can raise up the tribes of Jacob, and preserve Israel, etc.
10. But how are we to understand Isaiah 49:3? The Scofield Bible says, “The Lord Jesus and the believing remnant of Israel are here joined. What is said is true of both.”
11. We see this in Hosea 11:1. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” This is clearly referring to the nation Israel and their deliverance out of Egypt. But when it is quoted in Matthew 2:15, it is speaking of Christ, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
12. “What is said is true of both” (Scofield Bible, p. 757). Christ is “the ideal Israel, the representative Man of the nation” (Merrill Unger).
13. Isaiah 49:2 refers to our Lord’s second coming. “And out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword” (Rev. 1:16). “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Rev. 2:16).
14. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations…” (Rev. 19:15). “And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth” (Rev. 19:21).
I. JESUS IS THE LIGHT TO THE GENTILES (49:1—7).
1. Israel’s rejection of the Messiah at His first advent resulted in the Gospel going out to the Gentiles (Isa. 49:6; cf. Acts 13:46-49; 28:25-28).
2. Today the Gospel is going out around the world, but Isaiah 49:6 will not be completely fulfilled until Christ returns (cf. Isa. 11:9; 66:23).
3. Isaiah 49:7 refers to the humiliation of the Messiah, a frequent theme in this section of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”
4. God the Father is identified as “the LORD (Jehovah), the Redeemer of Israel, and His Holy One” and He is speaking to the servant of the LORD, “Him whom man despiseth” (49:7).
5. Christ is “Him whom the nation (Israel) abhorreth” (49:7). The Jews still abhor the name of Jesus. But things will be much different when Christ returns.
6. Then Israel will repent (cf. Zech. 12:10).
7. Then, “Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship…” (49:7).
8. Isaiah emphasizes the exaltation of Christ as well as His humiliation. Isaiah 52:13 says, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.”
II. JESUS IS THE COMFORTER OF ISRAEL (49:13).
1. “Thee” in Isaiah 49:8 refers to the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. “In an acceptable time” (49:8) means according to God’s appointed schedule.
2. The apostle Paul quotes this verse in II Corinthians 6:2. Paul’s application means now is the acceptable time to get saved. Now is the day of salvation.
3. Though Paul applied this Scripture to this dispensation, these prophecies will not be fully realized till Christ returns (cf. 49:13).
4. Today Zion is discouraged (49:14). But God assures Israel that He will never forget them nor forsake them (49:15, 16).
5. Isaiah 49:18 refers to the restoration of Israel. Israel will clothe herself with all the returning exiles, and put them on as an ornament, and bind them on as a bride.
6. Israel is described as a bride in Isaiah 54:5.
7. Verses 19—21 refer to the destruction of Israel during the tribulation, and their prolific increase during the millennial kingdom.
8. Zechariah 13:8 says, “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.” This means two-thirds of the population will be “cut off and die.”
9. Isaiah describes Israel’s happiness during the millennium. Because of their increase in population, they will need more land (49:19).
III. JESUS IS THE JUDGE OF THE WORLD
1. The Lord God will lift up His hand to the Gentiles, and set up His standard to call the peoples to assist in the restoration of Israel (49:22).
2. The kings and queens of the earth shall literally bow down to Israel with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of their feet (49:23).
3. The LORD says that He will contend with those who contend with Israel (49:25). This is a good warning for Iran and the other Muslim nations who have vowed to destroy Israel.
4. Furthermore, the LORD will make Israel’s oppressors eat their own flesh and become drunk with their own blood (49:26).
5. This theme is brought out vividly in the book of Revelation. “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (Rev. 16:6).
6. In that day, “all flesh” shall know that the LORD God of Israel is the true and only Saviour (49:26b).
1. All efforts today to bring peace to the Middle East are never going to work because the Bible tells us there will be no peace without “the Prince of Peace.”
2. Until then, our Lord told us there will be “wars and rumours of wars” (Matt. 24:6).
3. Or as our Lord put in Luke 21:9, “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.”