by Pastor David Groendyk
In chapters 49–55, it is made much more explicit what the true Servant of God is going to accomplish. This chapter highlights the failure of the people of God and contrasts it with the success of God’s chosen servant. The call, then, is to obey the voice of that successful servant.
In verses 1–3, the exiles of Judah feel as though they’ve been abandoned by God. They feel like they’ve been spurned by a spouse and sold into slavery. “We’re in such bad shape,” complains Judah, “so where is God?!” But God flips the script on Judah. It was not God who has abandoned his people, but the people who abandoned God. Judah suffering these hardships is not due to God’s failure, but to the people themselves sinning their way into exile. When God came calling, Judah didn’t answer (v. 2a). Seeking to drive home this point about not being a failure, God gives them a foul-smelling reminder of his power. “Can’t you still smell the dead fish from when I dried up the Red Sea?” asks God (v. 2b). God’s arm has never been too short to save in the past, so don’t think it’s too short now. Rather than blaming God for our hardships, we ought to turn towards him in humility.
The tone of this rebuke quickly turns soft as God turns to speak of his chosen Servant (vv. 4–9). The voice itself shifts too—it’s not God speaking anymore but the Servant himself. This Servant is presented as a rejected prophet. He speaks to his people in their own tongue the truth of the Word (v. 4), but he is struck, beaten, and disgraced (v. 6). Despite this beating, he remains as firm as ever in his mission, because he knows that his God will vindicate him and help him (vv. 7–8). What an amazing prophecy of Jesus who would come hundreds of years later! Not only does Jesus take on all of this suffering for the sake of carrying out the mission of accomplishing salvation for his people, but he is also a model of what it means to put your trust in God to sustain you, and Jesus himself now speaks to us the comforting truth that we need to be sustained when we are weary (v. 4). There is so much about Jesus’ past and present ministry to us wrapped up in a few short verses. Which part of his ministry do you need to remember especially today?
Finally, the Lord puts out the call to all who would hear (vv. 10–11). There are only two responses to this message of the rejected prophet-servant. Either you can choose to fear the Lord, obey this servant, and thus receive light in the midst of your darkness (v. 10), or you can choose to reject this prophet-servant, reject God, walk by your own light, and thus eventually receive torment (v. 11). As always, there is no middle ground or third option. Either you receive and serve this Servant or you reject him. Do you believe that Jesus really speaks the truth? Do you believe that he has really come to save you from your sins? If so, renounce all your wisdom and self-righteousness, and find in Jesus the truth about God and salvation.