Today Isaiah switches gears from announcing judgment to speaking words of comfort and restoration. He prophesies of the coming Messiah and of John the Baptist who will prepare the people for His arrival. Later in the story, Matthew, Mark, and Luke will all quote Isaiah when describing John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’”
Isaiah compares our lives to grass which is frail and dies but says the word of God is everlasting – “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Josh McDowell writes about the endurance of the Bible in “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” – “Written on material that perishes, having to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, did not diminish its style, correctness, nor existence. The Bible, compared with other ancient writings, has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of classical literature combined.” The Bible is our source of truth from the Lord, and He will ensure that His word stands the test of time. No man or organization can destroy God’s word or what He has declared.
Isaiah shares a declaration from the Lord – “Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” When Jesus arrives, He will declare Himself to be this Good Shepherd – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus will first come as the Lamb to be slaughtered for us, but one day He will return as the King of kings and Lord of lords to rule with a strong hand.
Isaiah speaks of God’s greatness, the God of creation for whom there is no equal. Isaiah says that the Lord will renew the strength of the ones who wait on Him. Although Israel has been overthrown by the Assyrians and Judah is about to be carried off by the Babylonians, the Lord will not forget them – “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them— Those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing. For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”
Those who trust in the Lord do not have to fear because we have been redeemed by Jesus and we have a God upholding us by His might. God speaks of the coming Savior today who will bring forth justice for truth – “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law.”
Isaiah says Israel has been God’s blind, deaf, and disobedient servant, but by grace the Lord is going to do “a new thing”. He is sending His faithful Servant, His Son, to redeem His people – “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins… I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.”
When Jesus arrives on the scene, He will say to his disciples that He came to serve, not to be served – “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
God does not need us to serve Him. We need Him to serve us. Jesus served us by giving His own life to pay the cost for our sins so that we may be redeemed. And He continues to serve us today by working on behalf of those who wait on Him (Isaiah 64:4) and by working all things for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
More from Isaiah tomorrow, so keep reading. (Isaiah 40:1-44:5)