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


[Revelations 7:16-17/Leviticus 25:8-22]

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.]





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.


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]

[Paul’s use of this verse (2 Cor. 6:2) shows that he clearly understood it to apply to the messianic age (which had come with Jesus).]

The first half of verse 9 continues identifying the work of the Servant. Saying to those who are bound, ‘Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

The imagery goes far beyond any merely physical release. As the embodiment of the covenant the Messiah would also set the spiritual captive free. It is the Son who makes us free, and then we are free indeed (Jn. 8: 32-32). The imagery is also that of spiritual blindness, desolation, disinheritance, and imprisonment that is far more permanent and deadly than any thing temporary or physical. As in 40:3-4, this freedom seems to signify a change in the people’s spiritual lives.

Notice the way the prisoners are freed from sin and those in the darkness of ignorance are enabled to come to the light. It is by the word of the Servant. The mighty word of the Servant of God brings to us the light of liberty.

Does your soul need to be free from the bondage of sin and guilt? Jesus Christ, the Servant of God, can bring the glorious freedom and empowerment of His new covenant into your life.


The second half of verse 9 begins to speak of the return to God’s land that the Servant will have made possible. [That discussion extends through v. 12.] Along the roads they will feed, And their pasture will be on all bare heights.

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