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Summary: Based on the Servant Passages in Isaiah this sermon focuses on the New Testament church fulfilling it’s purpose to be the light to nations in the world today.

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CALLED TO BE LIGHT

Isaiah 49:1-6

“I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may l reach to the end of the earth” (vs 6)

This passage of scripture is part of what is known as the “Servant Songs” in the book of Isaiah. There are four distinct passages of scripture that are identified as “Servant Songs” in the book of Isaiah – 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 53:1-11. The “servant” motif is found in many other places in Isaiah, but these passages focus on the call and commissioning of the “Servant.”

It is hard for us to read these scripture passages without thinking about Jesus Christ, but the servant passages are hotly debated and many suggestions have been put forward as to who this servant might be. Remember the Ethiopian Eunuch? - READ ACTS 8:26-35

Note verse 34 – “The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”

It is a fair question and deserves to be taken seriously. There are in fact several layers of understanding involved in the “Servant Passages.”

I. THE SERVANT PASSAGES REFER TO ISRAEL

1. There are different views about Israel’s purpose in God’s overarching plan

2. God’s purpose for Israel was very simple - God’s purpose in calling Israel was to have a people to call His own

3. There were no such people before God called Abraham out of Ur

4. God called Israel into existence!

5. When God called Abraham, He promised him four things – a name, a land, descendents, and that he would be a blessing to all people

6. In Genesis 12:3 God said “through you all the nations of the world will be blessed” (Gen 12:3)

7. This is a key to the purpose of Israel, the Chosen People

8. They were chosen to be a blessing

9. They were blessed by God in many ways, but all of that was a part of God’s Sovereign work preparing them, molding them, getting them ready for the Supreme Blessing

10. Paul, speaking as a Jew, refers to the many ways that God had blessed this people – READ ROMANS 9:1-5

11. Paul focuses on the fact that Israel was chosen by God to be the people through whom Messiah would come into the world

12. Long before the fulfillment of that coming – Gal 4:4 - “the fullness of time” – Israel was in the world, called, chosen, set apart to be the people of God to reveal to the world God’s love, grace, purpose, mercy, longsuffering and desire for relationship with all people groups

13. Exodus 19:6 (NIV) – “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” – bridge builders between God and man

14. Isaiah 49:6 – “I will give you as a light to the nations”

15. The nation of Israel came to believe that she was called to be blessed and she forgot to be a blessing

16. Israel failed to fulfill her purpose to be light, to be a missionary nation (the book of Jonah is the story of Israel’s failure to be the missionary nation God created her to be)

17. The people who were called to be light to others were walking in darkness

18. God pronounced judgment upon Israel’s failure to be light many times and in many ways including through the prophets and ultimately through the Babylonian Captivity

19. Jesus speaking to the religious leaders of Israel said,“I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” (Matt 21:43)

II. THE SERVANT PASSAGES REFER TO THE PROPHETS

1. The prophets of God became the light of God during dark times

2. The prophets represent the fact that God always has a people, a remnant

3. The prophets were clearly “suffering servants” of God

4. READ HEBREWS 11:36-39

5. The prophets of the OT remained faithful and called Israel to repentance

6. Jesus spoke of how Israel persecuted the prophets (Matt 23:37 NIV)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

7. The prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, et al, were suffering servants

III. THE SERVANT PASSAGES REFER TO JESUS

1. Well of course the servant songs are about Jesus!

2. How could anyone not see Jesus in the words of Isaiah 53?

3. READ ISAIAH 53 (NLT)

4. The OT is the story of God’s promise to send One born of the seed of woman who would crush the head of the serpent

5. It is the story of Abraham’s call to be a blessing to the whole world

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