(1) Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. (2) And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; (3) And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.(Isaiah 49:1-3)
Let us take a moment to learn about this Servant who is speaking.
First, notice that this servant is called. The verses make it clear that He has been called “from the womb”. This servant is human. He is “from the womb”.
Notice that he is named before the womb because his name is mentioned while he is in the womb. Do you remember what the angel told Joseph in a dream?
(20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.(Matthew 1:20-23)
He is also distinct from the nation of Israel which was also called a servant. It is clear here that he distinct from Israel as an individual because He will be used to restore Israel (the nation).
Second, notice that He was concealed. In verse two we two different references to weapons.
The servant’s mouth is compared to a sword. Jesus is referred to as “the word” in John 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made… (14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.(John 1:1-3, 14)
So, according to this text, the Servant will use His words to do what he was sent to do.
The servant is also compared to an arrow. The servant says the Lord made him a “polished shaft”. In ancient times archers would oil down an arrow to make it slice through the air more effectively and penetrate more deeply into the intended target.
Notice that there is concealing language made about this servant. The servant says, “in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me”, and “in his quiver hath he hid me”. The servant is concealed and prepared by the Lord to be revealed and propelled at the appropriate time.
Isn’t this a great description of Christ Himself? Christ certainly existed in the Old Testament. He was active in Creation. Colossians 1 says He is before all things. Yet Christ’s earthly ministry came about in the “fullness of times”. Paul said it this way:
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.(Galatians 4:4-5)
The Servant is revealing here that God would reveal Him to the world at just the right time. This is a great description of exactly what Jesus first coming looked like. When Jesus was baptized at the beginning of His earthly ministry, God the Father made comment that was quite similar to verse 3 in today’s reading:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.(Matthew 3:16-17)
Christ’s ministry was a revealing ministry.
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (9) Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?(John 14:8-9)
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;(Hebrews 1:1-3)
A few points of application:
- God’s mission has always included the elements of calling, preparation, and revealing.
- It is clear that Jesus is the Servant in this passage.
- Even though there may be times where it seems as though God may not be working, He always has a plan, and is always working.
- God’s mission and plan is often much bigger than what we know. His ways are bigger than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
Which of these principles effect your life the most today: Calling, Concealing, Revealing, or Preparation?