Study Notes

Isaiah 42:1-8


Although we're studying the book of Isaiah tonight, I'd like you to turn to Matthew chapter 12...

The Pharisees had been hassling Jesus on the Sabbath day. His disciples had picked heads of grain to eat, which they insisted was a violation of the Sabbath day laws. Then, inside of the synagogue, Jesus had healed a man whose hand was withered. Although Jesus told them that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, Matthew writes,

Matt. 12:14-21 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES. HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS. A BATTERED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK OFF, AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT, UNTIL HE LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY. AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE.”

Matthew said that Jesus was the fulfillment of these verses before us in Isaiah 42. As a result, we're going to have the opportunity to discuss Jesus from a prophetic perspective. Isaiah basically invites us to look at the nature of Jesus, the ministry of Jesus, and the deity of Jesus.

42:1 My Servant

The Father describes Jesus as "My Servant." Peter used this very title to describe Jesus during the sermon from Solomon's Porch (Acts 3:13).

Paul said that Jesus' entire attitude was that of a servant:

Phil. 2:6-7 ...although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Jesus said of Himself that He...

Matt. 20:28 ...did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

My Soul Delights In Him, My Spirit Upon Him

The Father also said that His soul delighted in Jesus, and that He had put His Spirit upon Him. This was made clear to us at Jesus' baptism, when...

Matt. 3:16-17 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am wellpleased.”

Justice To The Nations

Jesus will also bring forth justice to the nations. That word justice (Heb: "mish-PAWT") is based on the word for judging and governing. We are eagerly awaiting the day when Jesus Christ returns to earth and establishes His kingdom on earth.

First, He would perform the judgment of the nations:

Joel 3:2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel...

Then, He would establish a world-wide, godly goverment.

Is. 2:3-4 ...the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.

42:2 He Will Not Cry Out

At first reading, this seems a bit odd. Obviously, we have seen zeal for the house of God consume Jesus as He turned over the tables of the money changers and poured out their coins (John 2:14-17). We can only imagine Him raising His voice as He said to them,

Luke 19:46 ...“It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

We assume that His voice must have been loud as He said over and over in Matthew 23,

Matt. 23:13 “...woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites..."

But we may be wrong. Jesus may have never raised His voice at these events. But he did cry out...

John 11:43 ...with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”

And Matthew (Matt. 27:46; 27:50), Mark (Mark 15:34), and Luke (Luke 23:46) all describe Jesus crying out with a loud voice on the cross.

In view of these passages, we cannot say that Jesus never raised His voice. But Matthew assists us in understanding the point of Isaiah 42:2. It is not that He'd never speak loudly. It is that He wouldn't aggressively promote Himself or loudly draw attention to Himself.

Matthew said the fulfillment of this passage was,

Matt. 12:15-17 ...Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet

Jesus wasn't into publicizing Himself. I think that "The Message" has a good interpretation of this verse:

Is. 42:2 (MSG) He won't call attention to what He does with loud speeches or gaudy parades.

When He cleansed a leper, He said,

Matt. 8:4 ...“See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest..."

Later, He...

Matt. 16:20 ...warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

Even when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead,

Luke 8:56 Her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.

Jesus always seemed to be doing the opposite of what a P.R. consultant would be telling Him to do!

42:3-4 He Will Not Break A Bruised Reed

Very rarely did Jesus discuss His own nature. He most often let His actions demonstrate His heart. But one description He did make of Himself was,

Matt. 11:29 “...I am gentle and humble in heart..."

Jesus is gentle. Unlike the Jesus that some denominations present, Jesus is not holding a giant sledgehammer, waiting to capitalize on your weaknesses by slamming you when you fail.

When I was young in San Diego, there were several swampy places I could go to see cattails. I never stopped being interested in looking at those fuzzy hot dogs stuck onto reeds. An interesting thing about them is that if they take an impact, they will bruise, and begin to slump over, sagging terribly.

Sometimes, I feel like that reed. I can't support the weight of my sins. I'm dragged down in demeanor, sinking into depression. Some Christians I know would become accusatory: "Where's your joy, brother? Aren't you saved? You need to be Spirit-filled!"

But Jesus doesn't come down on us like that. He is one who props up a bruised reed. He isn't one who blows out smoldering wicks.

Not Be Disheartened Or Crushed

The great thing is that - unlike us - Jesus never gets like that. This becomes more obvious when we look at the Hebrew verbs in verses three and four:

"Bruised" in verse three is the same word as "crushed" in verse four. (The Hebrew is "Raw-TSATS.")

"Extinguish" (kaw-BAW) in verse three is a close relative of the verb "disheartened" (kaw-HAW) in verse four.

So, while we as reeds get bruised and defeated, Jesus never does. While we as lights sometimes smolder and threaten to go out, Jesus never does. He's going to press on until things are set right, and justice is established on this earth.

42:5-7 A Covenant

The Father said to Jesus that He was going to appoint Him as a covenant to the people and a light to the nations.

Jesus introduced this concept to us when He instituted the Lord's Supper.

Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

The book of Hebrews has much to say about the new covenant that Jesus established, including the fact that the first covenant for the people of Israel was made obsolete (Heb. 8:13) by it.

A Light

Jesus would be a new covenant to the Jews, but would also be a light to the nations. He said of Himself...

John 8:12 ...“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

And John wrote of Him,

John 1:4-5, 9 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it ... (He) was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

Opening Blind Eyes

Part of being the Light meant giving light to those in darkness: opening blind eyes.

Jesus certainly did this spiritually for people, but also physically. One day, Jesus said,

John 9:5-11 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.” So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.”

Jesus equated being the light of the world with opening the eyes of the blind, even as Isaiah 42:7 does.

Bring Out Prisoners

That verse also mentions setting prisoners free. Again, we see the application of that both spiritually and literally.

Spiritually, the Truth makes us free.

John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."

In Romans, Paul talked a lot about how Jesus has set us free from sin.

But literally, Jesus set captives free as well. After He was crucified, He descended into the lower parts of the earth (Eph. 4:9) and led on high (Eph. 4:8) those who were captive in Sheol, in Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:22-26).

42:8 The Deity Of Jesus

God has just given glory to His servant, but then says, "I'm the Lord. I won't give My glory to another." There's a reconciliation problem here for people who claim that Jesus Christ is not God. Especially when you read verse eight in conjunction with what Jesus prayed in John 17...

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."

Jesus in His prayer claims to be eternal, and to be glorified with the Father. If He is not God, this is a terribly blasphemous prayer.

But we know that our Savior is God, even as Paul told us that we are...

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus

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