Isaiah 49 began a Messianic theme that continues in today’s Scripture reading, Isaiah 50. I am taking liberty to review Isaiah 49, and consider Isaiah 50 for today’s devotional.
With the warning of captivity on the horizon, the prophet Isaiah reminded the people they had broken their covenant with the LORD, yet, He had not forsaken them as His people. Summoning the “isles” (the far-flung nations), the coming Messiah revealed His calling, His complaint, and His commission.
The Calling and Qualifications of the Future Messiah (49:1-2)
Before He was born, the Messiah was called by God “from the womb” (49:1), and His name was given while He was yet in His mother’s womb (Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21). His speech would be powerful, “like a sharp sword” (49:2a; Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12), and before He was born, He was with God (“He hid me,” 49:2b).
The Complaint of the Messiah (49:3-4)
The LORD had appointed Israel as a people to be His servant, and a testimony of His glory to the world (49:3). Yet, the children of Israel had failed God, and they would reject the Messiah when He came (49:4a). Nevertheless, the Messiah would desire to fulfill the work and the will of His heavenly Father (49:4b), and would “bear [the]iniquities” of His people (53:11).
The Commission of the Messiah (49:5-13)
Isaiah 49:5 reminds us the Messiah would be commissioned to be the servant of the LORD, while He was in His mother’s womb (49:5). Before He was born, He was appointed to call Israel back to the LORD (49:5-6a). He would come into the world to be “a light to the Gentiles” (John 14:6; 8:12), and bring salvation to all who would receive Him (49:6b; Romans 10:9-13).
The Messiah would be “the Redeemer of Israel, and [the LORD’s] Holy One,” but He would suffer rejection, and His people would despise Him (49:7; Isaiah 53:3-7; Mark 15). Though He was rejected at His first coming, Isaiah prophesied the day would come when Christ would be seen in His heavenly glory. In that day, “Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of the Lord that is faithful, And the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee” (49:7b; Philippians 2:10-11; Mark 16:19).
God’s Love for His People (49:14-21)
In captivity, the children of Israel would complain, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (49:14). Isaiah answered their grumbles, describing the LORD like a loving mother (49:15), and promising He would not forget His people, for He had engraved them “upon the palms of [His] hands” (49:16).
Though Babylon would overthrow and destroy Jerusalem (49:17), the LORD promised He would gather Israel to her land, and her return would be as glorious as the coming of a bride (49:18). Indeed, so many would return to Israel the land would not be able to contain them (49:19-21).
In a work only the LORD could do, Isaiah prophesied the Gentiles would not only be stirred to set the Jews at liberty, but they would bless and assist them (49:22-23).
A Loving, Forgiving Husband (50:1-3)
Isaiah compared the LORD to a loving mother who nurses, loves and cares for Israel (49:15-17). In Isaiah 50, the LORD described Himself as a loving, forgiving husband. Though Israel had broken covenant with Him, He promised He would not divorce them as His people (50:1-3).
By sin and disobedience, the children of Israel had become slaves to sin, and broken their covenant with God; yet, God would not divorce Israel (50:1). Remembering He had power to dry up the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-31), and when they were athirst in the wilderness, He provided rivers of water (50:2). The LORD promised He would redeem His people (50:2a).
The Humiliation and Ministry of Christ, the Messiah (50:4-11)
Isaiah 50:4-11 gives us a prophetic portrait of the two-fold ministry of Christ. His heavenly Father would teach Him to “speak a word in season to him that is weary” (50:4-5), and to suffer for the weary (50:6). Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be beaten (“I gave my back to the smiters,” (Matthew 27:26, 30), and His beard would be “plucked off” (50:6a). He would be shamed by those who spat upon Him (50:6b; Matthew 26:67).
The Messiah would look to His Father for help, strength and favor (50:7a). Though He would suffer affliction for our sins, Christ would be obedient, and accept His suffering without shame (50:7b). He would trust God to vindicate Him for His sorrows (50:8).
Closing thoughts – Those who fear, revere, and obey the LORD may sometimes find themselves in dark places (50:10), but when those times come, they should, like Christ, “trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God” (50:10).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith