The Wild Olive
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Paul wanted the Gentiles to be careful
not to be too full of themselves over the fact that they were now children of the kingdom while many Jews were excluded by their own unbelief. So he continues this horticultural analogy that he began in the previous verse. Both he and most of the people of Rome knew all about growing olive trees. It was probably common knowledge that you did not normally graft a branch from a wild olive tree onto a cultivated tree. You graft the good branch onto the wild olive tree.
"Your wild ('bad') olive trees may produce tiny fruit with big stones and a thin layer of bitter-tasting flesh but they have great root systems. So farmers have learnt to graft the productive branches (giving the best quality olives) onto the most effective root systems (able to access all of the plants needs) and so produce a highly productive tree which is able to grow well in poor conditions." (by Dan Metcalfe, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; 14 February 2011; http://www.askabiologist.org.uk/answers/viewtopic.php?id=5475)
Thus, the Gentiles, being branches from the wild olive tree, were grafted in place of the branches of Israel that had been broken off. They therefore were partakers of the root (i.e. Abraham and his seed, Jesus Christ) and the fatness of the tree, but this was a highly irregular and unnatural procedure. It left them with nothing to brag about. A husbandman had to do the grafting; they could not graft themselves onto the tree.
This is consistent with the words of Jesus Himself who said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:1-5) Without Christ we are all, Gentiles and Jews, males and females, helpless.
The Gentiles are thus warned not to boast against the other branches, neither against the ones on the tree nor the ones that had been broken off. The people of Israel belonged on the tree. It was their natural place; the root was theirs.
"But if thou boast," We must insert two words to make sense of this sentence. "But if thou boast, (remember that) thou bearest not the root, but the root thee." Remember who holds you up. Remember how you got there. Remember that you do not belong in the kingdom of God, but by His mercy and grace you, the wild tree, were picked up and grafted onto the good tree and, without the root, you would still be dead in your sins.
Before The Throne:
Take the time to confess your sins of pride and ask for forgiveness. We are nothing but wild trees bearing bad fruit until God grafts us onto the good olive tree, which is spiritual Israel. Acknowledge your need to be fed and supported by the vine, Jesus Christ. Without Him you can do nothing, so ask God to help you bear good fruit for His kingdom.
For Further Study:
** some. Ps 80:11-16; Isa 6:13; Isa 27:11; Jer 11:16; Ezek 15:6-8; Matt 8:11-12; Matt 21:43; John 15:6; ** being. Acts 2:39; Gal 2:15; Eph 2:11-13; Eph 3:6; Col 2:13; ** among them. Deut 8:8; Judg 9:8-9; Ps 52:8; Zech 4:3; Jonah 1:16; Rev 11:4;
** Boast not. Rom 11:20; Rom 3:27; 1Kgs 20:11; Prov 16:18; Matt 26:33; Luke 18:9-11; 1Cor 10:12; ** thou bearest. Rom 4:16; Zech 8:20-23; John 10:16; Gal 3:29; Eph 2:19-20;
The Holy Ones
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Our past traditions and our old way of life
influence the way we think today. In this sense Paul was no different from the rest of us. In his pre-Christian life, he was a Pharisee guided by the old Jewish laws and traditions of Israel. So it should not come to us as a surprise when he reverts back to those things for appropriate illustrations, which will help him explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile in eschatological Israel.
He begins by relying on a religious tradition practiced by both the Jews and the Gentiles. Both practiced the offering of the first fruits of the harvest to their gods. The Mosaic Law commanded, "Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it. Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD an heave offering in your generations. (Numbers 15:20-21)
A piece of dough was always broken off the main loaf, baked and given for an offering to the Lord. It was not permitted to eat from the dough until the first fruit was offered. The offering was holy and also made the rest of the dough, "the lump," acceptable to eat and holy.
Now Israel as a nation was made holy through the promises made to Abraham. Holiness, of course, can not be inherited, so the individual Israelite was not automatically made holy by being born into the nation. The first fruits, refers to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or perhaps only to Abraham. Since Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness, he is truly the first fruits that made the nation that descended from him holy. It was the nation as a whole, the seed of Abraham, that was set aside for God's purpose.
The second metaphor in this verse is open to a slightly wider interpretation than the first. Israel is often described as a vine or as an olive tree, as in Jeremiah 11:16, "The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken." The idea of "broken branches" leads us to the verses that we will study tomorrow. The Holy Nation of Israel, serving as the root of God's people, makes the branches that grow upon the tree, whether they are natural branches or grafted onto it, holy.
But we might also consider that out of Israel came another root, One that is truly holy. "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53: 2) The passage obviously refers to the Christ. He came into the world, born a Jew, at a time when the nation of Israel was all but dead. They were like dry ground that could not support the growth of anything holy, but Christ grew up as a tender plant to bring newness of life to the nation.
"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10) The Gentiles would seek the root of Jesse, the living Christ, and he would offer them a rest much greater than the rest Israel had received when she entered the Promised Land. Just as the root is holy, so are the branches.
God is not a respecter of persons. Every soul taken into His kingdom is holy, which means that they are set aside for His divine purpose. Gentiles and Jews are all on equal footing when they come to Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. He calls everyone to follow Him. He calls them by the testimony of those who are already a part of the vine. He calls them by the works of the branches that produce good fruit. Eschatological Israel is itself a miracle of God's wisdom and grace.
Before The Throne:
Stay attached to the tree. Pray continuously, without ceasing. Pray that God would help you to bear good fruit for the kingdom of heaven. Confess your prejudices toward other people and ask Him to remove them so that you can be an effective soul winner. Thank Him for making you holy through His Son Jesus Christ.
For Further Study:
** if the first-fruit. Exod 22:29; Exod 23:16, 19; Lev 23:10; Num 15:17-21; Deut 18:4; Deut 26:10; Neh 10:35-37; Prov 3:9; Ezek 44:30; Jas 1:18; Rev 14:4; ** and if. Gen 17:7; Jer 2:21; 1Cor 7:14;
I Magnify My Office
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
In the previous verse Paul asked,
"Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" This, as well as what preceded it, was directed at the Gentiles. Paul was commissioned to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) and thus he had the authority to preach to them in this manner.
"I magnify my office," This should probably be a new sentence and be attached to the next verse. "I honor my office, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them which are my flesh, and might save some of them." If his work with the Gentiles would bring about a jealous reaction in the Jews to take another look at the gospel and be saved, it would be a blessing that would be an honor to the apostolic office, which he held.
In the Greek text, verse 14 is a first class conditional sentence, which means that the speaker assumes it to be true. Paul believed that his ministry to the Gentiles would have an effect on the salvation of the Jews. Thus it served two purposes... the redemption of all mankind and the redemption of a remnant of Israel.
It is not entirely clear what Paul intended by the phrase, "life from the dead." It could refer to the restoration of Israel, nation that has been rejected as spiritually dead but now restored through the salvation of a remnant. Or it could refer to the salvation of spiritual Israel (Rom. 9:6; 11:25-26), both Jews and Gentiles, being restored to a new life in Christ. But, it seems that most commentators think it to mean the resurrection life to be experienced at the second coming of our Lord.
At any rate, Paul demonstrates to us that the sincere Christian must have a driving desire to see the salvation of all men. The salvation of one leads to the salvation of others, not just by provoking others to jealousy but also by their testimony. We should be willing, therefore, to suffer all things for the propagation of the gospel. Every argument that can be thought of and every appeal possible should be used. Every format for the presentation of the gospel should be learned and every new idea for its presentation should be encouraged.
The Christian has the right to use any tool within our power to win the lost to Christ. Every legitimate tool, every truth, and every method that is neither cruel nor wicked can be used, if it will lead someone to see the truth of God's love. Truth is very often painful, often causes adverse reactions, and frequently brings attacks on the messenger, but we should not shy away from doing what God has called us to do. This is not to say that we can save anyone by our own power or devices alone, for salvation only comes by the regeneration of the Spirit through the election of God.
Before The Throne:
Pray that God will allow you to bring honor to the office of priest, which every Christian holds. Pray that He will give you every tool and method available for presenting the gospel to others. Thank Him for the opportunity to serve Him.
For Further Study:
** the apostle. Rom 15:16-19; Acts 9:15; Acts 13:2; Acts 22:21; Acts 26:17-18; Gal 1:16; Gal 2:2, 7-9; Eph 3:8; 1Tim 2:7; 2Tim 1:11-12
** by. 1Cor 7:16; 1Cor 9:20-22; 2Tim 2:10; ** my. Rom 9:3; Phlm 1:12; ** might. 1Cor 7:16; 1Tim 4:16; Jas 5:20;
** the reconciling. Rom 5:10; Dan 9:24; 2Cor 5:18-20; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20-21; ** but. Ezek 37:1-14; Rev 11:11; Rev 20:4-6;
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
By the use of this purely rhetorical question,
Paul now seems to be warning the Gentile readers not to think that their salvation was only a tool, which was being used to restore Israel to God's favor. The salvation of the Jews would not diminish in any way the blessings of the Gentiles.
"Now if the fall of them..." The literal meaning of the Greek word paraptoma is, "a side-slip; an unintentional error; or a willful transgression or trespass." It is usually interpreted to mean an offence or a trespass. The offence that is referred to by this verse is the unbelief of the people of Israel.
"...be the riches of the world." By "the riches" Paul meant the gospel and all of the blessings that come with it. The promise of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and peace with God, the adoption as sons and the accompanying inheritance of the kingdom of heaven are certainly all very great riches. The unbelief of the Jews caused the riches of the gospel to be delivered to the people of the world, to everyone who was not a Jew.
"...and the diminishing of them..." This phrase has had many interpretations. Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament says, "Diminishing [ηττημα] . The literal translation. Rev. renders loss. Referring apparently to the diminution in numbers of the Jewish people. Other explanations are defeat, impoverishment, injury, minority." It seems like the diminished numbers of the Jews who were to be considered the true Israel is what Paul means here (See 9:8).
If their loss has resulted in such an overflowing abundance of spiritual wealth for the Gentiles, how much more wealth would their fulness bring. By "fulness," Paul means their repletion, their complete restoration.
Let us look at the circumstances of Israel today. They are scattered throughout the world. We do not know where the ten lost tribes of Israel are, but between them and the Jews, they must be in every country on earth. They also have the cumulative knowledge of every language in the world. They are the most stubborn, most resistant and most closed minded to the gospel of all the earth's people. Now, imagine that the Holy Spirit began to work among them, opening their eyes to see and their ears to hear. A great awakening among the people of Israel occurs and they begin spreading the gospel in every language, in every nation, and among every ethnic group on earth. What a testimony they would have! What a great wealth of blessings they could bring to all the peoples of the world!
It is in that context that Paul is asking the question, "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" There are preachers among us who have actually said that Christians should not try to convert the Jews. Their reasoning comes from some distorted eschatological beliefs that the Jews will be saved by some other method and in some other dispensation than the rest of the world. A good friend of mine would use the Greek word for this kind of thinking, "Hogwash!"
Paul looked forward to the nation of Israel being fully restored to the kingdom of God, but he knew that it could only be done one way... by the preaching of the gospel. Let's do it!
Before The Throne:
Have your thoughts toward the Jews been judgmental? Beg the Lord's forgiveness. They are ripe for the preaching of the gospel, ripe for the harvest, and ready for restoration to their former place in God's family. How can you help that happen? Pray asbout it. meanwhile, continue to spread the riches of God's truth to everyone you meet. Pray that God will give them eyes to see and ears to hear before you speak to them.
For Further Study:
** the world. Rom 9:23; Eph 3:8; Col 1:27; ** diminishing. Isa 11:11-16; Isa 12:1-6; Isa 60:1-22; Isa 66:8-20; Mic 4:1-2; Mic 5:7; Zech 2:11; Zech 8:20-23; Rev 11:15-19;
The Divine Plan
11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
This question was asked as an objection
to the facts that Paul had just stated. "Have they stumbled that they should fall?" The question concerns the finality of their fall. Is there no remedy?
"The context sharpens the meanings of the words: ἔπταισαν (stumble) and πέσωσι (fall) thus contrasted = stumbled to their final ruin, though the two words are much more nearly synonymous in common use; ἔπταισαν (stumble) is also defined by the use of παράπτωμα (fall), a slip aside, a trespass, as it is suggested by σκάνδαλον (stumblingblock, in v.9)" (R. St. John Perry; The Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, Vol. 7; The Word Bible Study Software.)
Is there then no hope for Israel? Paul's answer is, "God forbid!" (The Greek text says, "May it not be!") Their "fall" has a very broad meaning in this verse. It refers to their unbelief, their rejection of Christ, the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, their loss of their national status, the end of their sacrifices and other ceremonial rites and their dispersion among the other nations. All of this may have made any outside observer believe that there was no longer any hope for Israel. Paul wants to permanently dispel that idea. God will preserve a remnant for Himself but He has a purpose for what happened to Israel.
The complete and eternal loss of Israel was not God's intention. Instead, He used their fall to bring salvation to the nations (Gentiles). By that Paul does not mean that all Gentiles were saved but that the gospel was preached to them. The barrier between Israel and the nations was now broken down, and all had the opportunity to be adopted into the family of God by faith. This was accomplished by several factors.
When Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch in Pisidia, he warned the Jews there saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:46) And when Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he summoned the Jewish leaders and told them, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." (Acts 28:28) So we see that the hostility of the Jews toward the gospel compelled the apostles to focus their attention on the salvation of other nationalities.
Also, when the dispersion took place, the Jews, both the unbelievers and the Christians among them, were scattered among all the nations of the earth. Many Gentiles came to believe as a result of the testimony of those Jewish Christians.
The results of winning the Gentiles to Christ had as its purpose to provoke the Jews to jealousy so that they would once again desire to be part of God's chosen people. The whole of God's plan from the very beginning is not to replace the nation of Israel with the Gentiles but to be all inclusive, using one to accomplish the salvation of the other. "21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation." (Deuteronomy 32:21)
Isn't it wonderful how God has used the whole world as His stage to manipulate the history of nations and to gain for Himself a people that would be to His glory? What a show He has put on, and the best is yet to come!
Before The Throne:
Pray that God's name would be glorified among all the nations of the world and that His will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Consider you own place in His plan. While He controls all the nations of the world, He still knows the number of hairs on your head. You are an important part of His plan. Pray about that and determine what changes He wants you to make in your life and ministry.
For Further Study:
** Have they stumbled. Ezek 18:23, 32; Ezek 33:11; ** but rather. Acts 13:42, 46-48; Acts 18:6; Acts 22:18-21; Acts 28:24-28; ** for. Rom 10:19;
The Elect and the Blind
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
What then? What does all this stuff about election mean
for Israel? Paul does not beat around the bush; he blatantly states that Israel has not obtained what it was seeking. Israel was trying to earn God's favor by their own obedience to the law. Paul had already demonstrated that this was impossible. No man could ever be good enough to impress God. All have sinned and fallen short of His glory.
"But the election hath obtained it." That which men could never do was accomplished by the sovereign workings of God's grace. He chose to be merciful toward a remnant who would be saved by His grace through faith.
"...and the rest were blinded." The Greek word ἐπωρώθησαν (eporothesan) literally means that they were hardened and, by extension, that they were rendered stupid or callous, blinded to the truth. Paul does not say how they were hardened or blinded, but we can assume that this was the result of their sin. Then, God further hardened their hearts because of their sin, just as He had done to the Pharaoh when He brought Israel out of Egypt.
This thinking is in line with what the Old Testament says, and Paul does not hesitate to draw his support from it. Verse 8 loosely quotes such passages as Isaiah 29:10, "For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered." (Also see Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 6:9-10;)
Then, Paul also used Psalms 69:22-23, obviously quoting David from memory, because the quote is very loose. It follows a passage in the Psalm that is clearly Messianic, but these verses place a curse on those who have shown no pity for the suffering Messiah. The table represents their food and perhaps all their worldly pleasures. It represents at least the basic sustenance and needs. The very pleasures they sought would serve as their trap or stumblingblock to keep them from God. This is their "recompense," their repayment for their wickedness.
"Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see..." Imagine what the Jews must have thought when it was pointed out to them by Paul, a Pharisee no less, that this curse was placed on them. The very scriptures, which they purported to live by, placed a curse upon them for their unbelief and lack of love for the Anointed One who was sent from God to save them.
"...and bow down their back alway." Albert Barnes explained this in his Notes on the Bible. " The Hebrew Psa 69:23 is, 'Let their loins totter or shake,' that is, as one does when he has on him a heavy burden. The apostle has retained this sense. It means, let them be called to bear heavy and oppressive burdens; let them be subjected to toil or servitude, as a reward for their sins. That this had come upon the Jews in the time of Paul is clear; and it is further clear that it came upon them, as it was implied in the psalm, in consequence of their treatment of the Messiah."
Before The Throne:
If you are reading this, I would think that you are probably one of God's elect. Think about how fortunate you are and give Him thanks. God's grace is such a wonderful and precious thing that it demands a grateful response. Pray about how you should respond today. Pray for those around you who are walking through life with darkened eyes. Only God can open them.
For Further Study:
** What then? Rom 3:9; Rom 6:15; 1Cor 10:19; Phil 1:18; ** Israel. Rom 9:31-32; Rom 10:3; Prov 1:28; Luke 13:24; Heb 12:17; ** but the election. Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:23; Eph 1:4; 2Thess 2:13-14; 1Pet 1:2; ** and the rest. Isa 6:10; Isa 44:18; Matt 13:14-15; John 12:40; 2Cor 3:14; 2Cor 4:4; 2Thess 2:10-12; ** blinded. 9:18;
** God. Isa 29:10; ** eyes. Deut 29:4; Isa 6:9; Jer 5:21; Ezek 12:2; Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:26; ** unto this day. 2Kgs 17:34, 17:41; 2Cor 3:14-15;
** David saith. Ps 69:22-23; ** their table. Deut 6:10-12; Deut 32:13-15; 1Sam 25:36-38; Job 20:20-23; Prov 1:32; Isa 8:13-14; Luke 12:20; Luke 16:19-25; 1Tim 6:17-19; ** a recompence. Deut 32:35; Ps 28:4; Isa 59:18; Isa 66:9; Heb 2:2;
** their eyes. Rom 1:21; Ps 69:23; Zech 11:17; Eph 4:18; 2Pet 2:4, 17; Jude 1:6, 13; ** and bow. Deut 28:64-68; Isa 51:23; Isa 65:12;
The Election of Grace
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Paul wrote that, just as God had mercifully saved
a remnant of seven thousand men from the temptation of idolatry and from the persecution of Ahab and Jezebel, he has also saved a remnant of Jews at the present time. Most of the nation of Israel had rejected their Messiah and were condemned by their unbelief, but God had chosen a remnant for Himself.
The emphasis in this passage is on the words, "according to the election of grace." By "election" Paul means to say that they were chosen by God. The remnant was no different from any of the other Jews who had rejected Christ, but by the sovereignty of God they were chosen to be His people. Through the regeneration of God's Holy Spirit they were enlightened to the truth and set free from their previous beliefs and sins, which had blinded them. These are the Jews who believed in Jesus and who were added to the church.
The election of grace is an unmerited favor bestowed on sinners by a sovereign God. How much more precious is our salvation when we know that it is only acquired by God's mercy, love, and special choosing. Left to our own resources, we would be condemned for eternity, a fate which we have rightfully deserved.
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works:" Paul inserted this phrase and the rest of this verse to show that the Jewish belief that one must earn God's favor by obedience to the law is contrary to the doctrine of grace. Grace is a free gift. "Otherwise grace is no more grace." Then how can it be earned by works? It would no longer be free nor considered to be a gift.
"But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:" If it were possible to earn our salvation, God would be indebted to us. The laborer deserves the wages earned and agreed upon. His employer is obligated to pay, and that which is paid is certainly not a free and unmerited gift.
"Otherwise work is no more work." Men who are paid for doing nothing cannot say that they have worked for their wages. Work is not work when the wages are paid without merit or the expectation of any kind of reciprocation.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Grace eliminates the right of men to boast of his own righteousness. There is none righteous but God and only He can bestow His righteousness on another. Grace is free but it is not given to everyone. Most men will receive the judgment that they rightfully deserve. Many are called to follow Christ but only a few are chosen. These are referred to as "the elect of God."
Before The Throne:
Has God chosen you to be a follower of Christ? You do not deserve the privilege, so worship Him and give thanks daily. Ask His forgiveness, if you have ever boasted about your own righteousness or have ever judged others for their sins. Acknowledge that you are a sinner just like others but saved by God's sovereign grace. Seek God's face and ask, "Why?" What is His purpose for choosing you? What does He want you to do with your life?
For Further Study:
** at this present. Rom 9:27; election of grace. Rom 9:11; Eph 1:5-6;
** And if. Rom 3:27-28; Rom 4:4-5; Rom 5:20-21; Deut 9:4-6; 1Cor 15:10; Gal 2:21; Gal 5:4; Eph 2:4-9; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5;
Who Will Listen?
23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? 24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. 25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.
People do not like to be told about their sins. When some disaster befalls them, they will rise up against anyone who implies that God had caused it or allowed it as punishment for their sins. Certainly, as Jesus taught, God sometimes has other reasons for allowing a calamity. The blind man was born blind so that God could be glorified through his healing. He was not blind because of his or his parents' sins. Nevertheless, Jesus did not mean to imply that the blind man's family was without sin, but only that sin was not the reason for his blindness. On the other hand, sin is the cause of most calamities. The whole world suffers under the curse of Adam's sin. Had he never sinned there would be no illness, death, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes etc. This earth would be a perfect place to live.
How would the people of Judah respond to God's message? "Who among you will give ear to this?" There was more to the message than the simple idea of verse 22. There was a reason why the people had been robbed and spoiled by their captors, but who wants to hear that kind of news?
I see a similar thing every day in my work with poverty stricken families. Many of them want help, but they do not want to talk about what got them into the situation they are in or what they need to do to get out of it. Some of them do not believe that there is any way out of poverty, so all they want is a handout and to be left alone. Others are fed up with the way they are living and are ready to try anything to improve their situation. They will listen to what we have to say.
So, God asks, "Who among you will listen to this? Who will pay attention to the details of what is to come? Who is willing to listen to the whole story?" God is looking for anyone among the people who is willing to listen and admit to the truth of the matter. He is asking whether there are any among the people who have kept their faith in Him.
"Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?" It is possible, in fact very likely, that their captors were bragging about how the Babylonian gods had given this heathen nation victory over Judah. Were any of God's people falling for that line or were most of them ready to hear the truth?
We are not much different than the people of those times. We have many among us who worship other gods. Some of them think that "Mother Nature" is an independent power or force that we cannot harness. They blame the great tragedies of earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes etc. on the forces of nature. Like the theory of evolution, everything is the product of chance. Most of our people are not ready to listen.
The people of Judah had sinned against God who is sovereign over all things. He is the one who turned them over to the robbers and spoilers and to their captors, because they were disobedient. They were not in captivity because of a string of bad luck. They were there because God had poured out the fury of His anger upon them. His fury was a fire that burned them up and, yet, they would not acknowledge Him. They did not want to hear about a righteous God against whom they had sinned. They did not want to hear that they could repent and be saved from all of this misery. People never change.
This chapter began with a description of the character and work of Yahweh's Servant, the Messiah, who would deliver His people. It ends with the reasons why God's servant, the people of Judah, are in need of a Messiah. But, who will listen?
Before The Throne:
Are you experiencing serious problems in your life? The first thing that you should do is pray and ask God, "Why?" Is there some way that he will be glorified from your situation; have you been committing some sins that He wants you to stop; or is there an important lesson in all of this that will strengthen your faith? Everything has a reason. If you are God's child in Christ Jesus, nothing can happen to you without His knowledge. Take the time to listen to what He has to say. Confess your mistakes and repent. He is a loving God who will quickly forgive you.
For Further Study:
(v.23) ** will give. Isa 1:18-20; 48:18; Le 26:40-42; De 4:29-31; 32:29; Pr 1:22,23; Jer 3:4-7,13; Mic 6:9; Mt 21:28-31; Ac 3:19,22,23; 1Pe 4:2,3;
(v.24) Isa 10:5,6; 45:7; 47:6; 50:1,2; 59:1,2; 63:10; De 28:49; 32:30; Jud 2:14;
3:8; 10:7; 2Ch 15:6; 36:17; Ne 9:26,27; Ps 106:40-42; Jer 5:15; Jer 25:8,9; La 1:14,18; Am 3:6; Mt 22:7;
(v.25) ** he hath poured. Le 26:15-46; De 32:22; Ps 79:5,6; Eze 7:8,9; 20:34; 22:21,22; Na 1:6; Re 16:1-21; ** and it hath. 2Ki 25:9; ** he knew. Isa 9:13; Jer 5:3; Ho 7:9; Re 9:18-21; 16:9; ** yet he laid. Isa 57:11; Mal 2:2;
The Blind Servant
18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? 20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. 21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. 22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
Having rebuked the heathen for their idolatry and promised a Messiah to both the Jews and the Gentiles, Yahweh turns to address His own people again for their sins.
"Hear ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see." For many centuries, God had been speaking to His people, but they had not listened to Him. He had frequently called them to repentance and often warned them of the consequences of disobedience, yet they would not listen. He had shown them His power to protect them, had demonstrated His love for them and had even lived among them, but they would not see the light.
"Who is blind, but my servant?" This is a rhetorical question, the point of which is to say that, compared to other nations, they had been given the advantage of so many more opportunities to see the truth, and they did not see it. Compared to them, no other people could be called blind or a deaf. Judah is definitely the servant and the messenger in this verse. They had been given the word of God and had broken every precept.
They are called "perfect," and the Hebrew word means, "to be safe, to be friendly, and to be at peace." God kept the Jewish people safe. They were His people, His friends, and had every opportunity to live in peace with Him, but they were deliberately blind to everything that He had done for them.
In spite of all of this, the Lord is well pleased on account of His own righteousness. God's righteousness is perfect. It demands that justice be done, and the wages for sin is death. We must understand that mercy, grace and forgiveness of sins are all contrary to justice. Yet God is pleased with His perfect righteousness, because justice will be done and He will remain merciful, full of grace and forgiving. His own Son would pay the cost of the sins of His people. The Messiah would suffer on the cross for each of us, so that our debt is paid, God's grace is extended to us and our sins are forgiven. Thus, God draws us into His perfect righteousness, not because of any merit found in us, but for the good pleasure of His will.
The righteousness of God would therefore be poured out upon His people, and His law would not be neglected, but magnified and made honorable. Not one jot or tittle would fall from the law, but His people would be saved.
But, He says, "Look at this people who have been robbed and spoiled. Look at yourselves and what has become of you, because of your blindness. You are in traps, hiding in holes, and hidden away in prisons. You have no one to rescue you. You have been spoiled by your enemy and no one says that he will restore you... except your God."
Sometimes we Christians tend to get just like the Jewish people of Isaiah's day. We have been the beneficiaries of God's perfect righteousness, our sins having been paid for by the suffering and death of our Savior. We have been given a lively hope by His resurrection from the dead. Yet, many times we live as though we are completely unaffected by what He did for us. We are deliberately blinded to what happened at Calvary and we do not listen to Christ's call to go and make disciples of every nation. We are messengers sent by God but we have forgotten to deliver the message.
Before The Throne:
Is that your spiritual condition right now? Are you a blind and deaf servant? Did you forget to deliver the message to the clerk at the store or to the mechanic at the garage or to your own family members? Pray about it. God has not delivered you to your enemies, has not cast you into prison and has not left you without a homeland. Give Him thanks for your many blessings and make a commitment to be a better messenger. Serve Him because you love Him.
For Further Study:
(v.18) ** ye deaf. Isa 29:18; 43:8; Ex 4:11; Pr 20:12; Mr 7:34-37; Lu 7:22; Re 3:17,18;
(v.19) ** Who is blind. Isa 6:9; 29:9-14; 56:10; Jer 4:22; 5:21; Eze 12:2; Mt 13:14,15; 15:14-16; 23:16-24; Mr 8:17,18; Joh 7:47-49; 9:39,41; 12:40; Ro 2:17-23; 11:7-10,25; 2Co 3:14,15; 4:4;
(v.20) ** Seeing. Isa 1:3; 48:6-8; Nu 14:22; De 4:9; 29:2-4; Ne 9:10-17; Ps 106:7-13; 107:43; Joh 9:37-40; 11:37-50; ** opening. Isa 58:2; Jer 42:2-5; Eze 33:31; Mr 6:19,20; Ac 28:22-27;
(v.21) ** well. Isa 1:24-27; 46:12,13; Ps 71:16,19; 85:9-12; Da 9:24-27; Mt 3:17; 5:17; 17:5; Joh 8:29; 15:10; Ro 3:25,26; 2Co 5:19-21; Php 3:9; ** he will. Ps 40:8; Mt 3:15; 5:17-20; Ro 3:31; 7:12; 8:3,4; 10:4; Ga 3:13,21; 5:22,23; Heb 8:10; 1Jo 3:4,5; ** it. Joh 13:31,32; 17:4,5;
(v.22) ** a people. Isa 1:7; 18:2; 36:1; 52:4,5; 56:9; Jer 50:17; 51:34,35; 52:4-11; Lu 19:41-44; 21:20-24; ** are hid. Isa 14:17; 45:13; Ps 102:20; Jer 52:31;
The End of Patience
13 The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. 14 I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, [and] refrained myself: [now] will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. 15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools. 16 And I will bring the blind by a way [that] they knew not; I will lead them in paths [that] they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. 17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye [are] our gods.
Here are more reasons to praise the LORD with a new song. He will go forth against His enemies like a mighty man of war, a great hero. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11) He would stir up, or awaken, in His followers the jealousy and zeal for His cause. Then, with a shout, with the roar of the Lion of Judah, He will prevail against His enemies.
God has held His peace and been quiet for a long time; in fact, He has been patient with us since man first sinned in the Garden of Eden. It is one of His glorious characteristics. "The LORD [is] longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation]." (Numbers 14:18) He is longsuffering, but He has placed limits on Himself. "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man..." (Genesis 6:3)
Now, He says that He will cry like a woman giving birth. These words should not be literally applied to Yahweh. He is not a man and is only using these particular words to demonstrate to us how patient He has been. It must be difficult for the author of righteousness to sit for thousands of years and remain patient while His creation runs around in defiant rebellion. God will experience an explosive sense of satisfaction as He destroys and devours His enemies.
God will make waste the mountains and hills. This could mean a complete leveling of anything that attempts to stand in His way or it could mean the destruction of governments. The herbs are the fruit upon which His enemies depended or the people who support the wicked governments of the earth. The rivers that supplied the enemy will be dried up and become like islands in a desert.
Yahweh will lead the blind on paths they had never known before. There is debate over whether this means that the physically blind will now be able to see and walk in areas they had never been through before or whether it means that the spiritually blind will have their eyes opened to the truths of divine grace. It could mean both of these things would happen. The important thing is that God will have pity on the unfortunate. He promises to never forsake them.
However, those who trust in their graven images or other worldly things will be made greatly ashamed. "The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all [ye] gods." (Psalms 97:6-7)
There is no evidence that any of the events in this passage have anything to do with the exodus from Babylon. They seem to relate to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus. They are additional reasons for the singing of a new song, and they are events to which you and I can look forward. They are good news for all believers and they have a message that needs to be carried to the modern world.
The Spirit of God will not always strive with men. He is infinitely patient but has placed limits on Himself. There will come a time when it will be too late for men to receive Christ as their Savior and repent of their sins. The moment will come, either at their death or at the return of Christ. Every lost soul needs to know this and we, as God's people, must deliver the message.
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14) Will you be that preacher?
Before The Throne:
We like to make people feel warm and fuzzy all over by telling them, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." Pray, however, for the boldness and the courage to tell people what will happen when they reject His plan. That is the only way that they can make an intelligent choice. Pray for the full message of the gospel to be conveyed to every living soul. Right now, 2 billion people do not know that there is a Christ for them to receive. They have never heard His name. Pray for them and the missionaries who are trying to reach them. The church needs many more laborers to send into the field. Ask God whether you are to be one of them.
For Further Study:
(v.13) ** as a mighty. Isa 59:16-19; 63:1-4; Ex 15:1-3; Ps 78:65; 110:5,6; Jer 25:30; ** jealousy. Na 1:2; Zep 1:18; 3:8; ** shall cry. Isa 31:4; Ho 11:10; Joe 3:16; Am 1:2; ** prevail. Ps 118:16;
(v.14) ** long time. Job 32:18,20; Ps 50:2; 83:1,2; Ec 8:11,12; Jer 15:6; 44:22; Lu 18:7; 2Pe 3:9,10,15; ** devour.
(v.15) Isa 2:12-16; 11:15,16; 44:27; 49:11; 50:2; Ps 18:7; 107:33,34; 114:3-7; Jer 4:24; Na 1:4-6; Hab 3:6-10; Hag 2:6; Zec 10:11; Re 6:12-17; 8:7-12; 11:13; 16:12,18; 20:11;
(v.16) ** I will bring. Isa 29:18,24; 30:21; 32:3; 35:5,8; 48:17; 54:13; 60:1,2,19,20; Jer 31:8,9; Ho 2:14; Lu 1:78,79; Eph 5:8; ** lead. Isa 41:3; Jos 3:4; Ho 2:6; ** crooked. isa 40:4; 45:2; Ec 1:15; 7:13; Lu 3:5; ** and not. Ps 94:14; Jer 32:39-41; Eze 14:23; Ro 5:8-10; 8:29-31; 2Th 2:13,14; 1Pe 1:3-5; Heb 13:5;
(v.17) ** be greatly. Isa 1:29; 44:11; 45:16,17; Ps 97:7; Jer 2:26,27; Hab 2:18-20; ** say to. Isa 44:17; Ex 32:4,8;
A Musical Challenge
10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. 11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up [their voice], the villages [that] Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.
God had said, "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them." These things that God revealed amounted to good news for the Jews and for all the rest of the world. God will not share the credit for these things with any men, idols or other false gods. He expects us to give Him all of the glory through song and worship.
"Sing unto the Lord a new song..." God wants to hear His praises sung with a new and more excellent music. The lyrics should reflect the emotions of a joyful heart, one that has been blessed by the grace of the Redeemer. The music should be new and different from the traditional worldly forms. It should be creative, innovative, large and written in a way that it draws attention to the glory of God.
"...and His praise from the end of the earth..." This new music should be of such high quality that it would be accepted and repeated from one end of the earth to the other. It must carry within it words that praise the LORD and it must also inspire those that hear it to join in the praise.
Who should sing this song? "Ye that go down to the sea..." All of the merchants, travelers, shippers, fishermen, and everyone else who crosses the seas. Everyone who is already on the seas, including the people who lived on the isles across the sea, are also called upon to sing. The isles might also include everyone who lived in lands across the seas. God's praises should spread across the earth by means of this new song.
The people who live in the wilderness, or the desert, are called upon to sing the new song. (Kedar is a name given to the Arabian Desert.) The people in the rocks and mountains surrounding the deserts should also sing praises to our LORD.
"Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands (foreign lands)."
Christian musicians might want to prayerfully consider this command. The praise and worship music of our day is so ordinary, so worldly, that it is sometimes difficult, when searching for a radio station, to immediately tell whether you are listening to Christian or secular music. Where is the genius and innovation of the great composers of the past? Why do we accept the lowest musical forms, written by untrained musicians who copy the world to glorify the God of the heavens.
Doesn't our God deserve His own musical form that stands out from all others, a music that is sanctified for His purposes and undefiled by the influences of sin? Let's demand excellence from our composers and lyricists. Expect to hear a new song that glorifies our Savior Jesus Christ in a way that has never been done before. God deserves some extra effort.
Before The Throne:
Pray that Christian music will begin to develop its own forms and will raise the level of excellence. Ask God to inspire our musicians to discover a new song that gives Him the glory He deserves. Pray for Christian music to permeate every society on earth and for it to become the music of choice for billions of people. If you are a church musician, commit yourself to strive for perfection and greater creativity. God deserves the effort. Give thanks to the Lord for your talents, whether they be in music or some other field. Pray that He will help you use all of your talents and gifts to glorify His name.
For Further Study:
(v.10) ** Sing. Isa 24:14-16; 44:23; 49:13; 65:14; Ps 33:3; 40:3; 96:1-3; 98:1-4; 117:1,2; Ro 15:9-11; Re 5:9; 14:3; ** ye that go. Ps 107:23-32; 148:1-14; 150:6; ** the isles. Isa 51:5; 60:9; Ps 97:1; Zep 2:11;
(v.11) ** Let the wilderness. Isa 32:16; 35:1,6; 40:3; 41:18,19; 43:19; Ps 72:8-10; ** Kedar. Isa 60:7; Ge 25:23; Ps 120:5; ** let the inhabitants. Jer 21:13; 48:28; 49:16; Ob 1:3;
(v.12) Isa 24:15,16; 66:18,19; Ps 22:27; 96:3-10; 117:1,2; Ro 15:9-11; Re 5:9,10; 7:9-12;
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
The promise that God would give His Son as the Covenant Sacrifice and as a light to the Gentiles is now confirmed. Turning from His Son, God addresses the people directly to assure them that the conversation they had just witnessed would be fulfilled.
"I am Yahweh: that is My name." It is as though God is saying, "First of all, let's come to an understanding of who I am. I am the self-existing God of creation. I can do what I have said."
The psalmist, Asaph, put it this way: "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth." (Psalms 83:18) It would be of no benefit to the honor and glory of Yahweh for Him to promise something that He would not or could not deliver. The truth is that there is nothing beyond His capabilities, except failure.
That is why He has allowed us to witness the promise made to His Messiah. The fulfillment of the promise will bring glory to His name, and He will not share it with another. Credit for the salvation of mankind would not be given to any man or image. Only Yahweh, the divine trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, would receive any glory for the redemption of mankind. All the praise must go to Him, because salvation is through grace. The Father gave His Son as the atoning covenant sacrifice, without whom no man could be saved.
"Behold, the former things have come to pass..." We must remember that Isaiah probably wrote these things during the early years of Manasseh's reign in Judah, which was many years before the captivity. These words however are designed to comfort the people who were in the final days of their captivity. Everything that happened to Judah from Hezekiah's reign until the captivity had been prophesied, so that the people could look back from the captivity, during the reign of Cyrus, and see that God had been one hundred percent faithful to His predictions. These are the former things mentioned in the verse.
Yahweh says, "Look, everything I have told you has come true. Now, listen to me. I am telling you some new things that are equally as certain to happen." This is the foundation of our faith. God has never failed to deliver on a promise or a threat. He has proven Himself over thousands of years to be faithful to every word that He has ever given us. How can we doubt Him now?
"Before they spring forth I tell you of them." This compares God's new promises to seeds that are still in the earth waiting to sprout. Several commentators want to ascribe this section of Isaiah to a different author, claiming that it had to be written much later in order for the prophet to have seen that Cyrus was about to release the captives etc. However, this last clause demonstrates the folly of that idea. This was written before the seed of the captivity had begun to sprout. To claim that Isaiah could not have written it denies that God had the ability to tell Him about it. It steals the glory from God and ascribes it to some other prophet who supposedly wrote it because he could see from the politics of the day what was about to happen. Yahweh will not share His glory with another.
Before The Throne:
God guards His glory very jealously, yet we often take credit for things that He has done. We have no power to accomplish anything except for the power that He has given us. When is the last time that you have taken credit for your work? for your charity? for your faithfulness? for your knowledge? for your talents? You need to confess these things to God, asking Him to help you learn to humble yourself and to give Him the glory for all things. Make a commitment to glorify, or "brag about," Him to someone every day. Give Him thanks for being faithful to His word. Thank Him for the Covenant Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
For Further Study:
(v.8 ) ** that is. Ex 3:13-15; 4:5; Ps 83:18; Joh 8:58; ** my glory. Isa 48:11; Ex 20:3-5; 34:14; Joh 5:23;
(v.9) ** the former. Ge 15:12-16; Jos 21:45; 23:14,15; 1Ki 8:15-20; 11:36; ** new things. Isa 41:22,23; 43:19; 44:7,8; 46:9,10; Joh 13:19; Ac 15:18; 1Pe 1:10-12; 2Pe 1:19-21;
Given For A Covenant
5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Now, God turns from speaking to the people of the captivity and speaks directly to the Messiah. We have in this short passage, therefore, a window through which we can hear a private conversation within the Godhead, a loving word from the Father to the Son. Such precious opportunities are rare and this short study cannot do it justice. It will demand that the reader spend many hours meditating on the depths of what God has allowed us to witness.
Yahweh begins by clearly identifying Himself, so that we should not doubt who the speaker is. He is the Creator of the heavens, the One who has stretched them out with such magnificent beauty that, on a clear night, they take our breath away. He is the Creator who has spread out the vast expanse of earth that stretches from horizon to horizon and seems to touch the edges of heaven. We are on the earth, because He has placed us here, and we live, because He has given us the breath of life. The spirit that dwells in these bodies is placed there by God and is created in His image and for His purpose. He is the One who will now speak precious words to His beloved Son, the Messiah.
"I Yahweh have called thee in righteousness." God has "called" His Son for a righteous reason.
"What, however, is righteousness? The root suggests conformity to a fixed norm or standard. A weight, for example, is said to be righteous (tzedeq) because it conforms to the standard (cf. Deut. 25:15)." (Edward J. Young) The fixed standard for behavior is Yahweh Himself. Thus, He is telling His Messiah that His calling has a divine purpose. It has been perfectly reasoned, perfectly justified, perfectly planned and will be perfectly executed, because it serves the heart and will of Yahweh.
"...and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee..." These are words that might be spoken by any father to his son and they allow us to better understand the relationship between the heavenly Father and Son. It is an assurance of the Father's love and concern for His Son. In this case, we know what the Son was being called to do. He would have to go through a difficult ordeal. The Father has assured Him, however, that the cause is righteous and that He will be there holding His hand and protecting Him.
"...and give thee for a covenant of the people..." This is why the Messiah has been called. Most commentators interpret this to mean that the Messiah was called to be a party to the new covenant or the mediator of the covenant. He certainly is both the mediator and a party to the covenant and much more. He is the covenant!
Adam Clarke has pointed out that berith is often used to mean, "the covenant sacrifice," and felt like this would be a better translation. I think it expresses much more clearly what the Son was being called to do and illustrates the passion of what Yahweh is saying in these verses. He was calling His only begotten Son to be the sacrificial Lamb that would take away the sins of the world.
God has said, "I will give thee..." As the covenant sacrifice, the Lamb of God, the Messiah would be a free gift to the people. The new covenant would therefore be a covenant of grace.
Commentators have disagreed about who is meant by "the people." Some think it means all people throughout the earth and others argue that it can only mean Israel. If we understand the Messiah to be given as the covenant sacrifice, the people must be Israel, because only they had any covenant with God. Only Israel was told to sacrifice the lamb for their sins, and the Messiah's sacrifice would be the final and all-sufficient sacrifice.
By God's unlimited grace, however, the Son was also given for the Gentiles. He would be the light that makes the knowledge of God available to all people. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) He is the light of our salvation, the way, the truth and the life. He would open the eyes of mankind after several millennia of blindness. He would free the prisoners from the darkness and dungeons of sin. He is the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world and, even though the Gentiles had no covenant, they had many sins that had to be covered by His blood.
Herein lies the heart of God when He says, "I will hold thine hand, and will keep thee," to His Son. We cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for the Father. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
Before The Throne:
We have witnessed a heart-felt moment in eternity in which God not only expressed His love for His Son, but also showed how much He loves you. He gave His Son to you so that you could have life! How will you respond to His words today? Please pray about this. Do not leave this prayer time without encountering God's love and experiencing a change in your own life. What will you give back?
For Further Study:
(v.5) ** he that created. Isa 40:12,22,28; 44:24; 45:12,18; 48:13; Ps 102:25,26; 104:2-35; Jer 10:12; 32:17; Am 9:6; Zec 12:1; Heb 1:2,10-12; ** he that spread. Ge 1:10-12,24,25; Ps 24:1,2; 136:6; ** he that giveth. Ge 2:7; Job 12:10; 27:3; 33:4; 34:14; Ps 33:6; Da 5:23; Ac 17:25;
(v.6) ** called. Isa 32:1; 43:1; 45:13; 49:1-3; Ps 45:6,7; Jer 23:5,6; 33:15,16; Ro 3:25,26; Heb 1:8,9; 7:2,26; ** and will hold. Isa 41:13; ** and give. Isa 49:8; Mt 26:28; Lu 1:69-72; Ro 15:8,9; 2Co 1:20; Ga 3:15-17; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; 13:20; ** a light. Isa 49:6; 51:4,5; 60:1-3; Lu 2:32; Joh 8:12; Ac 13:47; 26:23; 1Pe 2:9;
(v.7) ** open. Isa 29:18; 35:5; Ps 146:8; Mt 11:5; Lu 24:45; Joh 9:39; Ac 26:18; 2Co 4:6; Eph 1:17,18; Re 3:18; ** to bring. Isa 9:2; 49:9; 61:1; Ps 107:10-16; 146:7; Zec 9:11,12; Lu 4:18-21; 2Ti 2:26; Heb 2:14,15; 1Pe 2:9;
The Isles Are Waiting
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
As we continue to look at God's promise to send a servant, whom we have identified as the Messiah, we are given an understanding of how He would conduct His business. Some men, when given power or an important task, can be very aggressive toward the weaker members of society. They fail to empathize with the poor, the sick, the crippled etc. and will inadvertently or purposely roll right over them on their way to completing their mission. God's servant is described as doing things very differently from what we might expect.
"He shall not cry, nor lift up..." The Servant was not going to be someone who would make a loud disturbance in order to get attention. He would not lift up his voice. Matthew quoted this passage in 12:18-21, translating it as, "He shall not strive nor cry..." Thus, we might understand the verb "to lift up" as meaning, "to strive, to wrangle, or to argue." The bearer of truth and of good news does not need to argue His point. Truth is absolute. Others may argue against it, but truth needs no one to defend it. The servant would present His message in a soft gently spoken manner. Those who came to Him would hear, but He would not shout so that those who had no interest would hear His voice in the streets.
"A bruised reed shall he not break..." The word "bruised" is referring to something that has been broken or crushed but is still intact. A reed grew in the marsh, could be easily uprooted, swayed with the wind and, when dried, was easily broken. One that has already been crushed could easily be broken completely off. It is used symbolically in this verse to represent the oppressed people of the world, those who are hanging on to this life by a bare existence and perhaps a little faith. The servant would not harm them.
"...and the smoking flax shall he not quench." This is similar to the example of the reed. Perhaps it describes people whose fire has been quenched. There is still a little heat and smoke coming from them, but no light. They have little faith left in their own righteousness, little hope in anything worldly and hearts that are about to give up. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)
To these poor and afflicted people, the Servant would bring judgment, or justice, or the law, unto truth. He would bring them fair treatment, even mercy and grace, and the opportunity or right to be called the sons of God. His word would be truth and His grace would replace the law.
This would not be an easy task. It would not be accomplished quickly or without suffering, but the Servant would not quit. He would not fail, would not get faint, would not weaken and would not be discouraged. The final result is that He would set His judgment in the earth. The kingdom of God will reign on earth as it does in heaven and there will be justice, mercy and grace for all.
The final statement in our passage is particularly important for the modern church to understand. "...and the isles shall wait for His law." Something will have happened to the nations across the seas, "the isles," that will prepare them to receive the Servant's words. They would be waiting for His "torah;" not the Law of Moses but the law of grace. They will have become disillusioned with their heathen gods and mystical beliefs and will be ready to hear the truth.
The day has come. The Islamic radicals are showing the entire world how such false doctrines can lead to violence and how they provide little comfort to the poor or wretched people of this world. While radical Islam bombs innocent women and children, the church of God's Servant has been silently reaching out to provide love and care for tsunami victims, earthquake victims, epidemic victims, the world's starving populations and those who live under oppressive regimes.
The gospel is being embraced by tens of thousands of people around the world each day, yet there are many who never hear it. The spread of the gospel is not keeping up with the world's population growth, but the isles are desperately waiting. They are ready to hear the good news.
Before The Throne:
You and I must ask what our role in this amazing fulfillment of prophecy should be. Is God calling you to go? Should you send money to support our missionaries? Perhaps you are being called to raise and prepare future missionaries. Maybe God wants you to help with the relief effort. It could be that all He wants you to do is help to pack boxes for overseas shipment. You have a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Servant's work. Pray until you know where God wants you to serve.
For Further Study:
(v.2) Zec 9:9; Mt 11:29; 12:16-20; Lu 17:20; 2Ti 2:24; 1Pe 2:23;
(v.3) ** bruised. Isa 35:3,4; 40:11,29-31; 50:4,10; 57:15-18; 61:1-3; 66:2; Ps 103:13,14; 147:3; Jer 30:12-17; 31:18-20,25; Eze 34:16; Mt 11:28; 18:11-14; Lu 22:31,32; Joh 20:19-21,27; Heb 2:17,18; ** He shall. Isa 11:3,4; Ps 72:2-4; 96:13; 98:9; Mic 7:9; Joh 5:30; Re 19:11;
(v.4) ** shall not. Isa 9:7; 49:5-10; 52:13-15; 53:2-12; Joh 17:4,5; Heb 12:2-4; 1Pe 2:22-24; ** and the isles. Isa 2:2-4; 11:9-12; 24:15,16; 41:5; 55:5; 60:9; 66:19; Ge 49:10; Ps 22:27; 72:8-11; 98:2,3; Mic 4:1-3; Zec 2:11; Ro 16:26; 1Co 9:21;
Behold My Servant!
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
In this chapter, Isaiah focuses on the character and work of the Messiah.
He begins with a call from Yahweh for us to pay special attention to His servant. However, this time the servant is not Israel as in 41:8. This is someone whom God upholds, or sustains, and therefore loves. Furthermore God has chosen this person. "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious." (1 Peter 2:4)
He is precious, because God's soul is delighted, or well pleased, with Him, and this could be none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) There is no other person in all creation who could delight the LORD, for to do so one would have to be without sin.
This Servant has had the Spirit of God placed upon Him. The idea of this is confusing, because Jesus is God, and therefore is one with the Holy Spirit. However, when He became flesh and took on the form of a man, some might question His divinity. As a man, He still had the full measure of the Holy Spirit and was still fully God, fully divine. "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." (John 3:34)
In the synagogue at Nazareth, where Jesus had attended services since His youth, He read and commented on Isaiah 61:1, shocking those who heard Him. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:18-21)
Finally, we are told that this Servant will bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, and we must seriously question what that is supposed to mean. The Hebrew mishpat literally means "a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judiciously." However, by extension of that basic meaning, it has been used in a very wide variety of meanings. One of those uses is to mean, "justice, including a particular right, or privilege." This is probably the meaning that it carries in this verse.
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1:12) The word "power" in this verse would be better translated as "authority, or right." There is no exclusion of any people group from this right. "As many as received Him..." means Jews and Gentiles. The gospel of Christ is the "power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Thus, this is one of many verses in the OT that tells us that the Messiah will bring salvation to the Gentiles. There can be no doubt, therefore, that this chapter introduces the character and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a piece of scripture that has been completely fulfilled by His life, death, burial and resurrection.
We are summoned to behold Him or, as God Himself has said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." (Matthew 17:5)
Before The Throne:
Will you listen to Christ today and submit yourself to Him? If you have received Him as your Savior, you have acquired the right to be called a son of God. Pray about that. What difference should that make in the way you live your life? Does it change your attitude about anything? Ask God to give you a vision of what a member of His heavenly family should be doing here on earth. What is His plan for your life and where should you begin today?
For Further Study:
(v.1) ** my servant. Isa 43:10; 49:3-6; 52:13; 53:11; Mt 12:18-20; Php 2:7; ** whom I. Isa 49:7,8; 50:4-9; Joh 16:32; ** mine elect. Ps 89:19,20; Joh 6:27; 1Pe 2:4,6; ** my soul. Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mr 1:11; Lu 3:22; Eph 1:4,6; Col 1:13; **marg: I have. Isa 11:2-5; 59:21; 61:1; Mt 3:16; Mr 1:10; Lu 3:22; Joh 1:32-34; 3:34; Ac 10:38; ** he shall. Isa 32:16; 49:6; Mal 1:11; Mt 12:18; Ac 9:15; 11:18; 26:17,18; 28:28; Ro 15:8-16; Eph 3:8;