Summary: The servant who labours under the burden placed upon him.
Being involved in gospel ministry is the GREATEST thing you can do with your life. There will be days when you say to yourself, ‘Praise the Lord! I love making an ETERNAL difference in the lives of people! I love TEACHING Bible lessons to the kids. I love SINGING in the choir. I love helping out in the church. I love WITNESSING to my neighbours and friends with the gospel of Jesus Christ! I love it, I love it, I love it’!
And then again, you’re going to have days when you say to yourself, ‘What the HECK am I doing? My FRIENDS give me a hard time. I don’t get any RESPECT. I get asked QUESTIONS I cannot answer. People won’t SPEAK to me because I am Christian. The LORD is asking for too much of me’.
Ministry can be tough and overwhelming. And this is true for the servant who we meet in Isaiah.
This morning we are CONTINUING our studies from the servant songs. We are looking at these songs because they HELP us to understand Jesus. Now it’s IMPORTANT that we not only explain the songs, but we extend our radar into the whole book. For the ministry of the servant fits into God’s plan to REDEEM and restore this sin-ridden world.
To this end, the Book of Isaiah falls neatly into TWO sections (slide). The FIRST section (chapters 1 to 39), addresses Israel’s continuing sin and rebellion. The HEARTS of the people are so hardened that nothing will turn them, and so the PROPHET brings a message of judgment and exile. The old, earthly Jerusalem is condemned—‘They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him’ (Isaiah 1:4b).
The SECOND part of the book (chapters 40 to 66) opens with words of consolation. ‘Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for’ (Isaiah 40:1–2). Isaiah CLOSES with the emergence of the New Jerusalem. A place of undefiled worship. A place where God is eternally glorified.
From the old Jerusalem to the new Jerusalem—from the old creation to the new creation—this is the concern of the Book of Isaiah.
I hope you are concerned about moving from the old creation to the new creation. In fact I hope you are feeling a little UNCOMFORTABLE because you will not understand the treasurers in this book unless you are living in some DISCOMFORT. You will NOT appreciate these servant songs unless you think of yourself as a REFUGEE in this world.
Every good thing we have is a GIFT from God. But those same gifts risk becoming our IDOLS. Israel succumbed to idol worship. They became self-centred and inward looking. They carried on as though GOD tolerated their forgetfulness. They FORGOT the covenant. They FORGOT to be disciple-making disciples. They FORGOT that heaven is their home. They FORGOT to be a people belonging to God. They FORGOT to declare the praises of him who called them out of darkness into his wonderful light.