Thursday, October 31, 2013

Isaiah 49 The Servant Delivers

Isaiah 49 sermon                             Oct 2014

The Servant Delivers

Read Isaiah 49:1-13
Who is or has been our best Prime Minister ?

Australian Federal Government elections were recently held and we have a new Prime minister.
But who is or has been up there as the best?

What of Edmund Barton our first back then in 1901? Who was instrumental in the writing up of our Constitution? Delivered us from being a Colony.
But who have been Great?

Perhaps standing out in Australia is Robert Menzies who planned well ahead past his days in office to bring about the Snowy Mountains Scheme and planned for water and power for future Australians. Deliverance to a secure future.
I can think of some hard working prime ministers- like Kevin Rudd who even got his own staff a bit off side it is reported because of his grueling work ethic

What about the world’s Greatest Treasurer? Paul Keating! Economic deliverance!
If we go overseas we immediately think of Winston Churchill in England. Who rallied England together to fight Hitler and the Nazis. I am told by someone who nursed him later in life that he was a bit of a grouch but then He had to be strong to do what he did.
Military Deliverance.

Many in hindsight almost think of Neville Chamberlain who was prime minister of England before Churchill as a traitor when he tried to appease Hitler just before the invasion of Poland. Perhaps not so great a prime minister then?
If you go back number of years you have the prime minister who legislated against slavery! Charles Grey. Deliverance from Slavery.

Do you know what Prime Minister means? What the words mean?
Look at the dictionary meaning of prime and how it is used!

Is it no wonder that politicians take prime minister to mean first in rank or quality or importance or authority, chief! That says something about them doesn’t it?
But if you look at those two words prime and minister
            even when prime is first in rank or degree, the second word minister means servant!

            We could paraphrase it “the first to serve”
             Or perhaps number one servant.

In Isaiah 49 we come to the second of Isaiah’s servant songs. The first came in Isaiah 42:1-9, which Sean preached last week, and chapter 49:1-13 is the second,Chapter 50:4-11 is the third and the best known Isaiah 53:13-53:12 is the fourth.
Yet the kind of Servant we find here isn’t anything like our Prime Ministers who rule from strength.
We will see today a bit about this Servant and what this means for Israel and what it means for us today.

But let’s put chapter 49 in context, in chapter 48 we read of a guy who is going to do mighty things for Israel. In a nutshell he is going to bring about political deliverance.
He is a political deliverer!

Some theologians have had a big problem with this guy because back in chapter 44 and 45:1 he is named – and named years before his birth!
And for those theological skeptics who struggle with the supernatural and God     knowing in advance this is a big dilemma
                        so they solve their problem by saying that stuff was written later after the return of the exiles to Israel
                        and so they end up with 2 or even three Isaiah’s writing the book Isaiah.

But we aren’t so dumb are we? After all back in Isaiah 9 & 11 we met Isaiah speaking of God become man to save!
Anyway back in Isaiah 44:28: he is named  - Cyrus. He is God’s Shepherd!

This pagan king of the Persians is God’s Shepherd,
Who will beat the Babylonians
            and rule over the Babylonian empire and so rule over the Jews in Exile in Babylon.

I don’t know if you heard what I just said then for this is truly amazing. God chose a pagan king to deliver his people. He not only chose him but 45:1 God says this pagan, this Cyrus is God’s anointed. A King! A messiah  Wow.
And though he delivers the exiles back to the land of Israel he isn’t the king Isaiah has been speaking of during chapters 1-39.

That was a special king – a child born, who is King – Isaiah 9:6-7. Wonderful Councilor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, He will reign on David’s throne, of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. 
So in the immediate context of chapter 49 of the servant, we hear of Cyrus who will deliver God’s people. He will succeed, there is no question about it. So says God in 48:14-15.

            He is God’s chosen ally,
               He will carry out God’s purpose against Babylon.
           God has called him, brought him and he will succeed in his mission.
            That is what God says.

What a wonderful God we have.
                        One who promises and then fulfills his Word to smallest detail!
But the one we read about in chapter 49, this servant,  is not Cyrus.

Now we are confronted with a different person. He is the servant of the Lord and He speaks just like God does in Isaiah.
            Do you see it there in the very first few words. “Listen to me

            I speak and you listen! Just like in 48:1 44:1
And what’s more this impacts the whole world,
            it isn’t merely for Judah to hear and take notice of,
              it wasn’t just a bit of encouragement for Isaiah himself to hear,
                it’s for all the islands, even the distant nations – it is for all gentiles on this planet.

Here the Servant speaks and so hear what he says about his mission.
The second thing that is significant here is that both these words, listen” and “hear” are the imperfect tense. And that means everyone who reads it  - including us, and those born tomorrow or in a 1000 years, all need to hear this, all need to stop thinking of what they are having for lunch and listen to the Servant!

Verse 1-
Before this servant was born God made mention of his name, and not only that but before he was born the Lord called him!

            It’s not some abstract call as in I have a plan which I have started and I am going to have a servant who is central to it – no – “he is called” means he was already even before birth.
From my birth He - God has made mention of my name
        – Jesus – Luke’s Gospel told God names Him. In Luke 1:31
            the angel told Mary they are to give their child the name Jesus.
                 Because he will save from sin.
           And this name is what Joseph and Mary gave their child as Luke 2:21 states.

Third some have suggested from verse 2 that this servant is a prophet. Yet if we stick with the book of Isaiah and look at chapter 1:20 we see that the sword is an instrument of judgment! And even back there sword and the mouth of the Lord are mentioned together! the point I think Isaiah is getting at is that the servants main instrument of ministry is the Word. He doesn’t come with a sword like Cyrus did. Rather, He speaks.
This is one reason the Servant isn’t Cyrus.
            Cyrus ruled through military might, this servant acts through the spoken word.

And it further says in the shadow of His hand he hid me. Why would the father hide this servant? We see the same notion cropping up in the next verse about God concealing him in His quiver. As a brightly polished arrow God concealed him in his quiver.
What is going on here?

Perhaps that his kingship as mentioned through Isaiah 1-39 esp Isa 9 is concealed.
Better still is to see that until his unveiling

Until the time he began his ministry, when he began preaching and performing miracles, 
his identity is clouded,
     concealed from all.
Then, in verse 4 immediately after telling us this he says “you are my servant Israel in whom I will display my Glory.”

This is a real kick in the teeth for national Israel – they knew God’s covenant with Abraham meant they were to show forth God’s glory to the World to be a light to the nations, but they failed miserably in this over and over again. That reality is confirmed for us in chapter 48:1b. READ it.

            insincerity – “not in truth or righteousness” it’s all a sham.
            And in 48:9 it’s only for God’s own name that he delayed his wrath!

So God is raising up a deliverer,
           a true Servant who will do what Israel the nation had been called to do and failed.
           God does not pussyfoot around,
             He doesn’t say things because like us he likes to hear his own voice.
                  I can’t just pass by the point of this for us Today.
          Today we need to come to grips with this reality.
                Our youth don’t like to be told by their parents that they are disappointed in them.

One of my daughters finds this notion abhorrent.
Yet you need to hear if you are doing the wrong thing,
            I am sure that Miley Cyrus’ father is disappointed in her at the moment!
              And We need to hear it ourselves 
             - that we have disappointed others.
                   It’s not that our parents don’t love us anymore
                     but that our actions are wrong,
                        unrighteous, at times even wicked.

So when we think of where we stand today
          Jesus having died on the Cross for our rebellion,
              and risen again,
                              Then His Words are not to be sniffed at!

Don’t thumb our nose at Jesus – because there are consequences. Just as Israel found out.
But there’s another aspect to what is said here we need to be amazed by.

It says God will give his glory to this Servant.
Rob Corner in our Bible Study when we were doing chapter 42 pointed this out. That back in chapter 42:8 God said he doesn’t give his glory to another, certainly not idols!

And yet here God says of this Servant  ---- I will glorify Him.
           It shouts out to us about the significance and standing of this Servant.
          After all, the expectation is that a servant glorifies his Master, yet here it says God will glorify His Servant.
And as we see from this chapter it should have evoked a question from the Jews over and over again

Who is this servant?
That should be the question these chapters raise in the minds of Isaiah’s hearers,
            As it should arise in our minds.
See how verse 7 of chapter 49 draws us again to ask it. God says “You are my servant Israel”
Just who is this servant?
It is not Cyrus. I think you will agree from what we have seen already in the description of this servant, but it also comes out in vs 5-6 and also in his mission.
It is not Israel the nation – though she was called to be the Servant of the Most High and be a light to the nations.
We need to feel the impact of that,
                        as God’s people, as Israel, heard Isaiah speak of Israel as God’s servant over chapters 40
à 48
            Let me read you a couple
            Turn to 48:20
                  And then again in 44:1
                   And then in 42:19 he speaks of Israel his servant being blind
In 8 chapters à 9 times he reminds Israel they are His servant.
And then in chapter 49 he calls the Servant Israel, and yet it’s clearly not national Israel.
And the servant mentioned here in 49:3 is not the remnant of Israel.
We can see that the servant isn’t national Israel nor the remnant from Verse 5 of chapter 49 – that verse is the clincher. It has to be the Messiah, Jesus, the suffering Servant since he alone is able to bring Jacob back to God, to gather Israel to himself ! 49:5
There is just no way that Israel or a remnant could bring themselves back to God. As someone has said, that’s like trying to lift yourself off the ground by your own shoe lasses.
And the second determinative factor is also mentioned there in verse 6. This servant will bring Salvation to the Gentiles, or as the NKJV says He will be salvation to the Gentiles! This servant is on about Spiritual Deliverance.
So in these verses we have Who the servant is
And at the same time we are told part of his mission.
Now in verse 4 it seems that the servants estimation of the success of that mission,
            the mission to bring Jacob back to God,
                        To gather Israel to Him   à was considered vain. Ineffectual.
But the point Isaiah makes here is that even though from a human point of view,
From that of the servant,
The mission was seen as failure,
Seen from God’s point of view, God’s estimation, its not.
And that is what counts.
What we miss if we read too quickly and don’t study the passage is that even in this verse there is another slap in the face to national Israel.
In verse 4 it speaks of justice ( mishpat ) – where the NIV has the words “due me
But back in Isaiah 40:27-31 Israel, national Israel had the gall to accuse God of disregarding the right or justice of Israel and it was for this reason they had grown faint and lost strength, vs 29,31
But here this servant though having laboured and spent his strength yet he realises his justice is with God, he proclaims his reward is with God.
In other words, there’s no excuses, just trust! 

( 49:4 recalls the complaint of Israel in Isaiah 40:27-31.1 In that text Israel accuses Yahweh of disregarding the "right" or justice (mispa, 40:27) of Israel and for this reason they have grown faint and lost strength (koa, 40:29, 31). In Isaiah 49:4 the prophet-Servant complains to Yahweh, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength (koa) for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause (mispa) is with the LORD, and my reward with my God."
In contrast to this self-evaluation, Yahweh is much more positive in his assessment of his Servant. In other words a parallel is being drawn to the nation Israel with this servant Israel. for one, failure at justice is an excuse used for growing faint and “weary” but for the Servant whose labour seems small, yet will he put his trust in God – who declares the Servant has done no small thing and there will be fruit. One trusts ( the Servant ) the other gives and excuse and wander soff to do their own thing! ( national Israel ) GW )

Though in the servants estimation of failure at that time to bring Israel to God, yet
            God goes even further and says I will add to that mission,
                        not only to gather Israel to him
                                    but make Him to be a light for the Gentiles.
            That was part of the nation Israel’s job from Genesis 12 where God declared promises to Abraham. And yet they failed to live up to What God required.
It is in verse 6 we see how different the deliverance of this servant is from Cyrus and Israel. This servant brings salvation to the gentiles. It is spiritual deliverance, not merely deliverance from exile. It is deliverance from sin and separation from God!
The good news of Salvation from sin, through Jesus is to go out to the ends of the earth, to Gentiles, to all the nations.

And we end with this is what the Lord God says vs 7. To his chosen one, the one – and get this, this is prophetic here, it speaks of the messiah’s rejection by the nation Israel. see in verse 7 “to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation”, the nation there has the definite article, signifying that it is speaking of the Jewish nation. It is singular!
He was abhorred by his own nation. God knows it. He knew it.
And it speaks of active hostility, not passive neglect.
What a tragic sad note.
Yet the Scripture by admitting this reveals the knowledge of God that knows everything. And is in control.
There’s so much here, but today we will end at that verse,
So what about the application for us today?

We have seen the application for Isaiah’s hearers and readers,
   For Israel.
    They needed to see deliverance from exile isn’t enough.
       Return to the promised land wasn’t enough.
         They needed salvation,
           They needed sin dealt with,
     and so the point about Isaiah 49 is that they should ask
     Who is this Servant?
And secondly they need to deal with their sin.
So also for us today the application is ?
   What sort of deliverance have we experienced?
     What do I consider Jesus has delivered me from?
     If I think this servant only brought economic deliverance
       Or deliverance from being destitute – from adversity.
         Or deliverance from bad health
          Or deliverance from loneliness.
               From being an outsider, so now I belong to a group.
     Did I become a Christian merely to feel happiness?
       To be delivered from boredom?
What was it for you?
Because IF it wasn’t deliverance from sin and being made right with God the Creator
              THEN if it’s not that, then you won’t bother to live how God says!
            BUT what God says matters!
              Israel learnt that to its detriment!
But a second thing to learn here today is about making excuses for our inaction.
Israel made excuses for not doing as God said, but Isaiah 49 points out the Servant Israel, though he thought his mission had been ineffectual, still He would Trust God.
            My reward is with my God.
              That’s the attitude we need to take.
He calls us to care for one another, pray for one another, to encourage one another,
    To grow in the Lord Jesus Christ,
To be transformed by the renewing of our mind, instead of having our minds filled with television programs we need to fill it with the word of God and that means taking up the bible and really grappling with it.
Let’s Pray

No comments: