Isaiah 42

Isaiah 42  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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This throws into relief the opening of chapter 42, where the prophecy turns from Israel, as the failing servant of God, to introduce the Lord Jesus as the true Servant of God. Our attention is to be fixed on Him for He is the chosen One in whom the delight of God rests. He it is who will bring forth judgment for the nations, and not only for Israel. Here again we find a prophecy which was fulfilled in part at His first advent, but awaits His second advent for the fulfillment of other details.
The prophecy is quoted in Matthew 12:14-2114Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. 15But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16And charged them that they should not make him known: 17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18Behold 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 show judgment to the Gentiles. 19He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. (Matthew 12:14‑21) as showing the lowliness and forbearance of His coming in grace. The Pharisees were indeed as unreliable and worthless as a bruised reed, and as objectionable as smoking flax, yet He neither broke nor quenched them. He was not an agitator, inflaming the multitude. The powers that were against Him were calculated to make any servant of God be discouraged and fail, yet He carried on His service to the end. He brought forth judgment according to truth by His sacrificial death and resurrection, though we must wait for the second coming to see the public establishment of judgment in the earth, so that the most distant isle shall wait for His law.
Our attention having been called to this true Servant, we have in verses 5-9 words prophetically addressed to Him. In verse 5 the acts of God in creation are stressed. Not only are the heavens and the earth the work of His hands but mankind also. He has given us not only the breath of our bodies but also the spirit, that is man’s distinguishing feature in contrast to the beasts. Now this mighty Creator has called His true Servant in righteousness and established Him as a covenant to the people and a light to the nations. In verse 9 Jehovah is presented as declaring new things, so we may discern that the new covenant is predicted here, though not stated with the fullness found in Jeremiah 31.
We may note that Ezekiel 36 predicts the new birth, which is needed if the blind eyes are to be opened, as in verse 7 of our chapter, to “see the kingdom of God” (John 3:33Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)); whilst in Jeremiah we have predicted the new covenant, under which the kingdom will be established. In Isaiah we have many of the new things predicted, that will mark the kingdom when it is finally established under the rule of Christ.
These new things will move those who enter into them to “Sing unto the Lord a new song”; and the thought, of how the glory of the Lord will be manifested and His praise be sung, fills verses 10-12. But the next verses show that what will bring blessing to His people will mean judgment and destruction to His foes. While the call will come to many who once were deaf and blind, that they may hear and see, the folly and judgment of those who turned to idols will be revealed.
The chapter closes with an appeal to those of Isaiah’s day in view of these things. Israel had been called as God’s servant and should have been a messenger to the nations on His behalf, yet they had been blind in all essential things. As to privilege they were “perfect”; as to their moral state they were blind. Still, as verse 21 indicates, God is not thereby defeated. His righteousness will be established and His law magnified and made honorable doubtless in connection with His true Servant. But for the present all was failure on the part of Israel and consequently they were spoiled and robbed, and the law dishonored by their disobedience.