Summary: The Servant’s great task is establishing a way for people to come to God. The prophecy indicates the wider fuller redemption & the true return of the real captives. These promises find fulfilment in the experiences of souls on their journey back to God
ISAIAH 49: 8-13
The role of this Servant of God is pivotal. The Servant’s great task is stated here as making it possible for people to come to God. How can such an impossibility be accomplished? This formed and chosen Servant of God is exchanged for a covenant with the people.
The prophecy is far too wide reaching to be exhausted by the return of the exiles. It is thus intended to indicate the wider fuller redemption and the true return of the real captives. These and the previous promises all find their fulfilment in the experiences of souls on their journey back to God. Here we have some characteristics of that journey.
What should be our response to the fulfilment of God’s covenant of grace? The response to the Servant’s work on behalf of God’s people is joy in which nature itself participates. [Yet the final fulfilment of the prophecy seems to await the millennial kingdom.]
I. THE COVENANT WORKER, 8a.
II. THE COVENANT WORK, 8b-9a.
III. THE COVENANT’S WORKING, 9b-12.
IV. THE COVENANT’S WONDERS, 13.
In verse 8 with the world listening in, God address His Servant directly. Thus says the Lord, “In a favorable time I have answered You, and in a day of salvation I have helped You. And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, to restore the land (earth), to make them inherit the desolate heritages.
So certain is this prophecy that God speaks as if it had already occurred but it was obviously a future event. In the time of God’s favor and the day of salvation are similar or parallel events. The Lord promises that in the hour when He moves to save the world, He will answer and help His Servant (verbs refer to continuous action). In a time of favor reflects the idea of the Jubilee Year (Lev. 25:8ff), that time when the captives were freed, and inheritances restored to the rightful stewards under God’s ownership (see also Isa. 62:2). The day of salvation is the day God accomplishes salvation for His people.
How does the LORD intend to answer and help? God will enable the Servant for a series of tasks [all indicated by a preceding lamed]. Above all, He is to be God’s covenant to the people. [Israel has broken God’s covenant again and again, so that legally speaking it is null and void. Yet God still intends to offer it in a new form (42:6; see Jer. 31:31-34 for the New Covenant).] The Servant Himself (42:6, appoint-natan) will be the embodiment of God’s covenant with His people, that is, the personal bond and means which unites God’s people and God in a new relationship. This will happen because the Lord will empower the Servant to be a covenant for the people. This new covenant is the result of the Servant being heard and helped.
II. THE COVENANT WORK, 8b-9a.
As the embodiment of the covenant, the Servant will do several things. First (8b) He would restore the land, and allocate desolate heritages. The extent of the restoration is the earth. [Earth could also be translated land. Land would localize the restoration to Palestine or it could infer the metaphorical promised land. If so it is the restoration of the way back to living under God’s will and receiving His promises on a journey to the promised land of heaven.] [Oswalt, Isaiah 40-66, 297]