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Isaiah 49: 1-7 (NIV)
1 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my birth he has made mention of my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”
4 But I said, “I have laboured to no purpose;
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.
Yet what is due to me is in the LORD’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
5 And now the LORD says –
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honoured in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength –
6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Many regard this as the second of four “servant songs” in the Book of Isaiah. “Israel” has been called to be a witness to Israel and “to restore the tribes of Jacob”. The servant of verse 3 has a broader role, however, than witnessing only to Israel. He is to be “a light for the Gentiles” in order to bring the salvation of God to the ends of the earth (verse 6b). In this respect, the servant is greater than Israel; the servant is the obedient emissary of God, reckoned in Old Testament times to be the Messiah.
As we consider the life and ministry of Jesus, we see direct parallels between Jesus and this “servant, Israel”. We see the declaration of verse 7b affirming the glorification of Jesus after his resurrection and ascension to be with the Father:
Kings will see you and rise up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.
Child of God, does this passage challenge you personally? Consider verse 3. Remove the word “Israel” and insert your own name where “Israel” appeared. The verse now reads:
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, <<…………..>>, in whom I will display my splendour.”
Child of God, you have been invited into the Kingdom of God for a purpose. You have the promise of eternal life in the presence of the King. You know that eternal life for you is a present reality. You are in the Kingdom now, today. You are in the Kingdom not for your own comfort or peace of mind but because the King, the Lord Jesus, invites you in your worship of him to proclaim his sovereignty to the world.
As was the case with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13: 47) you, <<…………..>>, are his servant, in whom he will display his splendour. You might not consider yourself yet to be a “polished arrow” but your shine is sufficient for whatever the Lord has in store for you today. He invites you just as you are to serve him in faith so that his glory, rather than yours, shines to bring his salvation to the ends of the earth.