Summary: The purpose and identity of the servant described in Isaiah 42
Ch 42 opens with 1st of 4 servant songs – 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-9, and 52:13-53:12
Berhard Duhm coined the term "servant songs" in his German commentary on Isaiah published in 1892
This whole passage talks of the servant – his purpose on earth and the source of his power in heaven
Read Isaiah 42:1-9
1. The Servant’s Purpose
42:1 Relationship to God
Able to carry out his God given ministry because God’s spirit is with him
Mission was not to deliver Israel from captivity and exile but rather to deliver justice to the nations
42:2 2-3 = Unique manner of the servant’s ministry to bring justice to the nations. Not an obnoxious loud conqueror.
He won’t come in shouting orders, he will be gentle and meek
42:3 He will exercise his power in such a way that he doesn’t damage the hurting (reeds) or disenfranchised (flax)
Didn’t understand this verse to mean anything more than the Servant would be gentle until I ran across a message by a preacher named Larry Brincefield then it made a lot more since.
Reeds have hollow stems. They are quite fragile.
In fact, many times when you see reeds by the waterside many of them are knocked over.
They can be knocked over by the wind... rough waters... by animals that come to the water’s edge to drink... by people
In marshy areas, you may see some reeds standing tall... but you will also find many broken down.
Once a reed is broken, it can’t be fixed.
Other plants can repair themselves and spring forth fresh growth but not reeds.
In our text, Isaiah isn’t talking about reeds... he is talking about people.
He is telling us that people can become bruised... hurt... knocked over...
In our world, there are many hurting people.
They can be knocked over by the forces of living... by other people... by disease and sickness... by the thoughtlessness and carelessness of other people.
There are many people that are bruised... broken... and hurting...
they are all around us...
they live next door to us...
they shop where we shop...
they play where we play...
they are even here tonight.
Have any of you ever let a candle burn all the way down. I have. I remember one time one burned all the way down and caught the wood shelf of our headboard on fire. When a candle gets almost down its flame flutters and it gives off more smoke than normal. This is kind of what Isaiah is talking about with the smoking flax
Flax was used as a wick for an oil lamp...
the message communicated by this phrase is a little different than the bruised reed.
Suppose you were in your home during the evening hours... before the days of electricity...
your only source of light came from oil lamps.
As the day grew dark, you would light the oil lamps scattered around the house
If you forgot to fill one with enough oil to last the night you’d notice it begins to flicker
The light begins to grow dim.
Before it goes out it starts to smolder... and with that smoke would be a bad odor
If you were close enough the smoke and smell might bother your eyes and nose.
Most people put out the light, and just use the other ones that are still burning or go on to bed.
But not the servant he will do what he can to keep it burning.
Like the reeds, the smoking flax represents people too.
These are people who started out well in spiritual things. Their lives were burning brightly...
At one time, they had a good relationship with the Lord.
At one time, they were on fire for God.
But over time... the oil begins to go out... the light begins to flicker... the joy of salvation is lost...
and their relationship with the Lord dies down to dim flickering little flame… threatened by the slightest of winds
There is some spiritual life left... but not much... it is just about to go out.
It definitely doesn’t have the strength to endure any hardships
The servant is not going to just put out the light and go to bed...
It is not His desire to destroy what little faith is left in us.
It is His desire to... trim the wick... to add oil to the lamp... fan the flame...
not to quench the light... but to bring it back to greater strength than ever before.
There are different ways that our relationship with the Lord may begin to flicker...
Maybe sin creeps into our lives....
maybe pride or selfishness creeps in...
maybe people begin to hang around with the wrong crowd...
Maybe it is neglect of spiritual duties like prayer...Bible Study...and Church attendance.
But for whatever reason that our spiritual life begins to flutter,