Summary: Learning biblical living from the servant songs of Isaiah.
The Servant of God: a pattern for living.
By Lieutenant Andrew Clark, The Salvation Army.
The wonderful book of Isaiah was written some 600 or more years before the time of Jesus, yet in chapters 40-55, we have what are called the servant songs: songs about the Servant of God. Who is the servant? Well, it refers to three people.
Firstly, the people of Israel, who, of course, didn’t match up to all God had expected. The songs are a picture of what Israel should have been.
Because Israel failed to be the servant of God, secondly and ultimately, the words are perfected in the person of Jesus. You can read the chapters 40-55 through and it is as if you are reading one of the gospel accounts of Jesus life even although it was written so long before he walked on earth as the Servant and Son of God.
They also apply to us as the church. We are servants of Jesus Christ. That is our ultimate calling in life, to be servants of God.
Living as God called us, as a servant of His, gives us the ultimate pattern for living. Jesus himself states that he came "to serve and not to be served and give his life as a ransom for many."
Lets together look at the character of a servant of God. We will see how Israel failed to do it, but how wonderful Jesus did it and it is his example we are to follow.
1. The servant has a relationship with God
Verse 18 tells us that every servant of God is in a living relationship with him. Not just that, he is the very possession of God, that is the main feature of the relationship, we are a possession of God in which he delights. He loves us to the very core of our being. He loves us as he loved Jesus.
Every parent loves their child very much, most good parents would do almost anything for their children because their children are their delight. God proved that he would do anything for us by sending his Son to die.
We often don’t understand this fact. That as a church, as a Salvation Army, as an individual, God has an extreme love for each and every one of us. He has a passion for us. You know, the Greek meaning for the word passion used in this passage means suffering. God delights in us so much that it called him to suffer, it as an extreme love.
We need to accept that the love of God for us is beyond all measure, but also, we, as servants, just like Jesus, have to love each other, the towns we live in, the world we live in with that same deep passionate love that does anything to reconcile people to God, even when love means suffering. Israel we not willing to bend their rules to welcome in the other peoples who did not know God, they wanted God for themselves. We cannot make the same mistake again.
2 The servant has the resources from God
The servant of God, which means you and me, not only is the delight of God, but the servant has resources from God. Verse 18 goes on to say that God will put his Spirit in us. We desperately need the resources of God.
There is the story of an Olympic runner, who as well as his own shorter distance race, chose to run the marathon as a test of his ability, he had done marathon before and thought he could do it. He set of and ran a great race, but be the time he had come to nearing the end, he could barely walk. He fell to his knees and started to crawl. If anyone had helped him, he would have been disqualified. Exhausted, he kept crawling, but then he could go no further and collapsed. Eventually, some stewards had to lift him off the road. You see, the run had taken place in a warm country, he was from a colder country, he had become dehydrated because he hadn’t reckoned on the day being so hot, and had little water to drink, so he fell exhausted.
That is an excellent example of the church, the Army, how we expect to keep on running our lives without stopping to meet with God, to drink deep from his wells of spiritual refreshment. Even Jesus had times when he would come away from all the hustle and bustle and pray alone to seek that refreshing from God, not only when things were difficult, but in the good times also. We need time daily to come before God and be nurtured by him. If you don’t eat for a day, your belly starts to rumble and I am sure we all know, that if we don’t spend enough time with God, our lives start to crumble! Israel forsook God, forgot all about him, and their nation was destroyed.