Summary: 1) The Messiah’s Anointing (Isaiah 42:1), 2) The Messiah’s Achievements (Isaiah 42:2–4) 3) The Messiah’s Assurance (Isaiah 42:5–9)
If you work hard enough and long enough, you begin to feel trapped. Perhaps it seems like vacations will never come, or when they do, you cram in so many activities that you wish you could have really had a vacation. It’s easy to feel trapped by obligations, debts, workload, and expectations.
The prophecies of Isaiah 42 were written after 701 B.C. from the standpoint of the latter part of the Babylonian captivity, when Babylon was the great enemy of Judah. Isaiah, in these prophecies, projects himself over 150 years into the future and writes from the standpoint of a prophet living in Babylon at that later date; The prophecies were addressed to the captives in Babylon, but by double reference and by projection, these prophecies are addressed to the Jewish remnant who will be in spiritual Babylon at “the time of the end. They are prophecies of consolation. They promise pardon, restoration, and glory to the Jewish remnant. They portray the present wickedness against the final overthrow of the wicked and the present sufferings with the final blessedness of the just. (Gingrich, R. E. (1993). The Book of Isaiah (45). Memphis, TN.: Riverside Printing.)
After the death of Christ, the disciples of Christ in Jerusalem were scared and demoralized. They felt defeated by the opposition. When the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2) they began to understand what the world saw as a defeat was actually a victory. They realized that they were not to see things and fight like the world did. The understanding and power from the Holy Spirit took an immobilized fearful group, and revolutionalized their lives.
Those who the Spirit changes and uses are those who no longer see themselves as being able to change their circumstances by their own power. They do not see hope in the ways and systems of this world but see the servant of God, Jesus Christ as the only source of hope and life.
Isaiah 42 introduces the first of the “servant songs,” (cf. Isaiah 49:1-6, 50:4-9, 52:13-53:12) (Briley, T. R. (2000-). Isaiah. The College Press NIV commentary. (130–131). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub.).
Isaiah 42:1-9 shows the Spirit empowered ministry of Jesus Christ. We see: 1) The Messiah’s Anointing (Isaiah 42:1), 2) The Messiah’s Achievements (Isaiah 42:2–4) 3) The Messiah’s Assurance (Isaiah 42:5–9)
1) The Messiah’s Anointing (Isaiah 42:1)
Isaiah 42:1 [42:1]Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (ESV)
With the word Behold calls attention to the greatest of all themes, the work of the Lord’s servant. All to whom the message comes are to turn their thoughts away from the idols of vanity to the One who can bring ultimate salvation and deliverance to His people. We see all this happening through the filling by the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah had already identified Israel as God’s servant (41:8). Yet it would seem that the word is here used in a different sense from 41:8, and is not merely an identification of Israel. The servant is the Messiah, the deliverer.
God the father acts to uphold/hold him fast. The verb simply means “to sustain,” and here refers to the divine aid to the servant. The fact that God thus sustains the servant shows that God holds him in the deepest affection.
The very atmosphere of the passage suggests something distinctive about this servant. He belongs to God, and God willingly acknowledges him. The designation is one of honor, as is shown by the parallel word chosen/elect. He who is the servant, is also the elect of God; and he whom God has chosen is also God’s servant. The term points to one who stands in a peculiar relationship to God. The servant’s work is not such that anyone can perform it. He who is to carry it out must be chosen of God Himself.
Please turn to Matthew 3
The one whom God has chosen is also one in whom God delights with the fullness of His being. God has so found acceptance in him that even His soul delights in him. The word is employed in the Mosaic law of God’s delight in the sacrifices. The perfect verb refers the continued delight God finds in His servant. The New Testament uses this expression of Christ Himself (cf. Matt. 17:5).
Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (ESV)