Summary: The Servant of the LORD had a special mission to perform: To bring the revelation of God in his glory to human beings.
FINDING THE LIGHT ON A DARK NIGHT
I’ve told you about my telescope before. My Visa card has these reward points with which you can redeem for various items. I traded mine in for a refracting telescope. It has always been my desire to gaze at the moon and the stars and just observe their beauty.
Well a few weeks ago when after several cloudy days the moon came out I got my chance. If you have never used a telescope before you might think it was as easy as pointing the instrument towards the moon and looking into the eyepiece. That’s what I thought. I was wrong.
The moon was full and bright but I couldn’t find it in the eyepiece. There’s a little star finder scope on the top but that didn’t help either; I think it needed alignment. Swinging the telescope up, down, left and right, it occurred to me that this should not be that hard. Of course it wasn’t my fault, the scope must be broken.
Finally I took out the eyepiece and looked at the mirror inside and saw a flicker of light. Moving the scope slightly I found the moon and centered the scope on it. Slipping the eyepiece back in, I finally observed the elusive moon in all its glory. But in only a minute the moon moved a significant distance out of range and I was surprised that I had to retrain the telescope. I spent a good hour doing this until the moon was out of range.
On the dark night of the soul, when hearts are at their lowest and your zeal is flagging, how do you find the light? The Bible is our telescope for finding God. Like the moon it may seem obvious where God is, yet finding the Scripture that meets our needs, that tells us about God in a way that we need him, can be elusive. We may not even have the energy to look.
When night seemed to be darkest, Judah was wondering if they would ever see the light of dawn. At that point God gave Isaiah a song – the Song of the Servant. The words of this song told not how to find the light but how the light would find you.
1. Are you a bruised reed?
The song begins by introducing the servant of the Lord: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations” (v. 1).
There is an immediate question of who the servant might be. Was Yahweh talking about Israel? He has at times referred to them as his servant (in the singular). Yet as we read on we find that the servant of the Lord is an ideal figure. Where Israel has failed and been spiritually weak, we don’t get that impression of the servant of the Lord. In fact, the servant is God’s answer to their weakness and failure.
Whoever he is, his mission is clear: he will bring justice to the nations. What is this justice? We think of justice as being fairness. Justice is more than fairness, it is nothing less than putting God’s plans for his people into full effect and to make known the truth about the LORD. We could say that justice is a summary word for “revealed truth.” Everything that is not of Yahweh, that is not godly, is unjust. So to know Yahweh is to know justice.
The servant of the LORD will reveal God to the people. And this is how he will do it: “He will not cry out, or raise his voice in the streets” (v. 2). His ministry will be quiet, unaggressive, and really unthreatening. Then it says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (v. 3a). What is the servant of the LORD saying about God with reeds and wicks?
A bruised reed he will not break. What are bruised reeds good for? Reeds would be common along the Sea of Galilee. They are hollow stemmed and quite fragile. All it would take to bruise or break them is a strong wind or a fisherman’s boat coming to shore.
When I thought of reeds I wondered what good they were anyways. Then I remembered that we used to use them on the mouthpieces of clarinets and saxophones. You would wet your reed, slip it into the mouthpiece and blow. If it was cracked however, it was no good – the sound would be distorted. You would throw it away.
Isaiah’s song is talking about people though. Bruised reeds he will not break and throw away. Who of us thinks they are a bruised reed? Life has a way of knocking us down. Society can declare us bruised and unusable and we tend to believe it. We easily subscribe to the false idea that we are useless.