Summary: The 2nd Servant passage reveals the Servant of God who restores His people so that salvation reaches the ends of the earth. This prophecy can help us understand what it means to be a servant of God.
THE SERVANT OF RESTORATION
Chapter 49 begins another section of the book. It begins with the second Servant passage and reveals the Servant of God who restores His people so that salvation reaches the ends of the earth.
So the focus shifts from the physical captivity of Israel to the moral and spiritual captivity of Israel and the whole world. God has promised to liberate His people from Babylonia captivity, yet physical freedom does not automatically translated in to spiritual liberty and service. How is God going to take a rebellious people and make them His servant? God will do so by His Servant in whom the glory of God resides. He will restore His people and make them a light He will send into the dark world.
Though this reading is a prophecy to help people identify who the Messiah is, it can be helpful for us to. Our passage will help us understand what it means to be a servant of God.
I. GOD’S CONCEALED SERVANT, 1-4.
II. GOD’S COMMISSIONED SERVANT, 5-6.
III. GOD’S CHOSEN SERVANT, 7.
God’s Servant is the speaker in verses 1-5. Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me.
Just like the Lord Almighty, the one speaking summoned the islands or continents (41:1) and those peoples distant from God to listen (46:3) to Him because of His special "calling" from the Lord. This One has been called into human flesh that all peoples might hear Yahweh’s purpose. God told Joseph and Mary to name Him Jesus even while she was carrying Him in her womb (Mt. 1:21; Lk. 1:31).
Verse 2 reveals God’s special preparation of this One. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword. In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me. And He has also made Me a select arrow. He has hidden Me in His quiver.
This Servant was concealed by the hand of Yahweh until the divinely appointed time. During that period of concealment His mouth was equipped to be a sharpened sword. This means that His mouth would develop the capacity to speak formidably for God. [It could be a weapon to destroy the disobedient (1:20; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 1:16; 19:15).] He will accomplish God’s will not by military force but by a revelation of God’s Word. God’s Word is more powerful than all the armies of man. It is God’s Word that causes breaking down and building up. This Servant would bring God’s fullest and purest Word to man.
[Cyrus will restore the nation to Jerusalem by military power, but the restoration of the Servant would be accomplished by something far greater. The nations would be restored by the revelation of His life. Oswalt, Isaiah 40-66, 290]
He was also likened to a sharp arrow, or a polished shaft, held in readiness for battle against the enemy. He was a prepared effective weapon of God. Israel was used in spite of its qualifications. This One will be used because of His qualifications.
Every time we open our Bibles, we need to open our hearts to the searching power of God’s Word. Hebrews 4:12 says the Word can reach to the depths of our souls in making God’s truth known to us. One way we can prepare ourselves for this encounter with God is to pray for a willing spirit and listening ear as we study. I suggest you write the words of Hebrews 4:12 on a card and use it as a book mark in your Bible for a month. The card will be a reminder to begin your daily study with prayer.
Verse 3 indicates the important purpose of God’s Messiah. And He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory."
In order that all will realize not only His importance, but the importance of His mission He is called YAHWEH’S Servant. The Servant was to display God’s splendor (Isa. 49:3; 60:21; 61:3). God has been appointed Him for this particular task and as a result of His work, God will be seen in all His beauty (42:23; 60:21; 61:3).
Why is the Servant here called Israel? This cannot refer to the nation because the Servant is to draw that nation back to God. The Messiah is called Israel because He fulfills what Israel should have done. In His person and work He exemplifies the nation.
Verses 1-3 reminds us that every servant of God’s is ministering because God has taken the initiative to: Select them as a servant, to prepare them as a servant, and to be showcases of God’s love. Verses 1-3 also seem to indicate that this qualified Servant would be amazing successful, but that was not to be so. His success is found not on earth but with God.