FOLLOW THE LIGHTHOUSE OF GOD’S INSTRUCTION OR TORCH YOURSELVES – THE VICTORIOUS SERVANT/DISCIPLE HAS GOD AS HIS HELPER IN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND PERSEVERING COMMITMENT
Our daughter Jenny worships at Capitol Hill Baptist Church – one of their key ministries is
9 Marks of a Healthy Church : might be helpful to review them – check out their website
II. Biblical Theology
III. The Gospel
Important to check up our church and see how we are doing in each of these areas
Focusing in on the area of Discipleship this morning from Isaiah 50
Motyer: The third Servant Song (4-9) is autobiographical like the second, but unlike both its predecessors it contains no reference to the Servant. It is the attached comment (10-11) that reveals who the speaker was. . . contradistinction moving from verses 1-3 to verse 4 . . . There is no single parallel or identity between the Servant and Zion; they are the many, he is the one. The distinction between them has become a gulf.
(also 42:1-9 – Successful mission of the Servant – bringing Justice on earth; 49:1-6 – God’s Secret Weapon Unveiled – strength, scope and success of His mission; 52:13-53:12)
Marks of an Obedient Servant / Disciple – what does the ideal Servant of the Lord look like? The Messiah is actually our Model for being a faithful Disciple – Do you want to know what true Christian discipleship looks like? Look at the earthly walk of the Master!
Business training: importance of mentoring – spend time with someone who has the traits you admire
Application: FOLLOW THE LIGHTHOUSE OF GOD’S INSTRUCTION OR TORCH YOURSELVES
I. (:4-5) THE TONGUE AND THE EAR OF A DISCIPLE –
A. Tongue of a Disciple – Offers God’s Word to the Weary
“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.”
Young: uses designation “The Lord God” four times in this passage and always at the beginning of a verse (vv. 4, 5, 6, 9). This combined name lends a tone of majesty and impressiveness to the servant’s words. What the servant speaks is truth because of the covenant God who has all power over the creation.
Look at the order presented here in Isaiah 50
First proclaiming God’s Word; secondly receiving more intake
We might think the order would be reversed: you hear something from God and then you
proclaim it – Why this order?
God has already taken the initiative to communicate to us and bless us – we need to
respond on the pathway of discipleship and then be open to more revelation
The tongue belongs to one taught by God; a learned one
Delivering the gospel message to the weary in a way that meets their need
Young: Matt. 11:28 – The weary are the bruised reed and smoking flax
The message of the gospel is what is needed – the good news that God brings salvation by grace through faith – not by works which we perform
– The unsaved need the gospel
– The saved need the gospel each day
Oswalt: the Servant’s task is a prophetic one; he is to declare God’s word to the world
How did Christ do in offering God’s word to the weary?
– John 4:13-14 to the Samaritan woman at the well – “the water I give you . . .” – how weary was this woman who had bounced around in relationship after relationship
– Luke 5:13 — the cleansing of the leper – “I am willing, be cleansed” – social outcast
– Luke 5:20 – the healing of the paralytic lowered down by ropes thru the hole in the roof – “Friend, your sins are forgiven you . . . Get up and walk” – severe handicap so that he was at the mercy of being cared for by others
– Luke 7:48 – prostitute anointing feet of Jesus – talk about a weary woman – “Your sins have been forgiven . . . Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
– Luke 9 — Not just dealing with individuals in need – but feeding the 5,000; gospel of John speaks of Him offering the bread of life to the weary
Maclaren: A mission addressed to ‘the weary’ is addressed to every man, for who is not ‘weighed upon with sore distress,’ or loaded with the burden and the weight of tasks beyond his power or distasteful to his inclinations, or monotonous to nausea, or prolonged to exhaustion, or toiled at with little hope and less interest? Who is not weary of himself and of his load? What but universal weariness does the universal secret desire for rest betray? We are all ‘pilgrims weary of time,’ and some of us are weary of even prosperity, and some of us are worn out with work, and some of us buffeted to all but exhaustion by sorrow, and all of us long for rest, though many of us do not know where to look for it.
How are we doing in our mission of Proclamation? We have been too quiet for too long!
B. Ear of a Disciple – Listens Eagerly Each Morning to God’s Instruction
“He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”
Woke me up very early Friday morning (wasn’t really ready to preach this last week – funny how the Lord works that out) – much more motivation from this passage
Do we have a true sense of Christian discipleship – awakening each morning as Samuel did to the call of the Lord God — what do you want me to do in serving you today? Can’t afford to wait until evening to ask this important question
Get our Marching Orders from the Lord
1 Sam. 3:9 “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”
Is. 6:8 “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Here am I. Send me!”
Heb. 10:7 “Behold I have come to do your will, O God”
Jesus would awaken early and go off by himself to pray and to communicate with His Father; you can be sure that He was listening eagerly to God’s instruction for the day’s agenda
Who sets your agenda each day?
C. Key = Persevering Commitment to Obey and Proclaim God’s Revelation
“The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back.”
Young: By placing the word first in the phrase, Isaiah gives to it a certain emphasis: Back I did not turn. No rebellion, no apostasy, no treacherous faithlessness is found in the servant.
Remember the story that Jesus told of the disciples who made various excuses (some of them sounded pretty legitimate) and were not willing to pay the cost of discipleship –
Luke 9:62 “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
Apostle Paul reported on those who turned back and were not faithful to the missionary mission
– He had problems with Mark in this regard
– At one point he was all alone except for faithful Timothy (Phil. 2:21 – “they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus”)
Great temptation not to follow through on being obedient to our mission; great temptation to make excuses and to turn back; Once the Lord has opened our ear, we have a responsibility to respond in persevering and faithful obedience
Beall: the picture is not that of a great warrior, but of an obedient Servant who listens to God’s word and obeys Him.
Constable: The Servant claimed to have always responded obediently to whatever God had spoken (cf. John 8:29). Clearly, the Servant could not be Israel or any mere human person or group of people. Opening the ear is something that God had done for Him; He had given the Servant the ability and the desire to hear and respond obediently to the Word of God. On the other hand, the Servant had not turned back from it once He had heard it (cf. Exod. 4:13; Jon. 1:3; Jer. 20:9, 14).
Maclaren: Obedience of the servant: ‘My meat is to do the will of My Father’; ‘For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness’; ‘I came down from heaven not to do My own will.’ By His servant’s words: ‘Obedient unto death’; ‘Made under the law’; ‘He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.’ It is involved in the belief of His righteous manhood. It is essential to true manhood. The highest ideal for humanity is conscious dependence on God, and the very definition of righteousness is conscious conformity to the Will of God. If Christ had done the noblest acts and yet had not always had this sense of being a servant, He would not have been pure and holy.
II. (:6-9) THE BACK AND FACE OF A PERSECUTED OVERCOMER –
A. (:6) The Back of a Disciple – Undeterred by both Physical and Emotional Persecution
1. Physical Persecution – Hurt / Pain
“I gave My back to those who strike Me,”
Undeterred = Not discouraged or not refraining from continuing on the pathway of discipleship
Matt. 26:67ff; 27:26ff; John 19:1ff
Young: beating on the back to punish evil men – Prov. 10:13; 19:29; 26:3; Ps. 129:3
Motyer: a revelation of suffering to come, bravely faced and endured in obedience to the Lord God. Not a suffering because of wrongdoing (as 42:24; 50:1) but through costly obedience; a suffering not merited but accepted, described in terms of the judicial act of flogging, gratuitous torture and personal humiliation.
Christ could have drawn the sword to fight back as His disciples did
Christ could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set Him free
Take your best shot – I am not changing course
2. Emotional Persecution – Humiliation / Shame
“And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.”
I Pet. 2:22-23
Constable: Disdain and abuse are the inevitable consequences of obeying God consistently by declaring His messages. All the true servants of the Lord experience this to some extent (2 Tim. 3:12 “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”). This is only the second reference to the Servant as a sufferer (cf. 49:7). This theme receives major exposition in the fourth Servant Song. The Servant said He gave Himself over to this type of treatment. It is one thing to endure such treatment, but it is quite another to gladly submit to it without defending oneself. These descriptions picture persecution that Jesus Christ endured literally (cf. Matt. 26:67; 27:30; Mark 14:65; 15:16-20; Luke 22:63). If we did not have the fulfillment of this prophecy in the life of the Lord Jesus, it would be easy to interpret this verse as only a figurative, poetic description of suffering. The literal fulfillment of this and other first advent prophecies should encourage us to expect the literal fulfillment of second advent prophecies. Jesus laid down His life on His own initiative (John 10:17-18).
Young: The Oriental regarded the beard as a sign of freedom and respect, and to pluck out the hair of the beard is to show utter contempt.
Phil. 2 speaks of the humiliation endured by our Savior
B. (:7-9) The Face of a Disciple — Overcomes by Virtue of Confidence in the Lord’s Help and Ultimate Vindication
THE VICTORIOUS SERVANT HAS GOD AS HIS HELPER
1. (:7) Confidence in Divine Help Fuels Perseverance
“For the Lord God helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I shall not be ashamed.”
Luke 9:51 set his face to go to Jerusalem; would not be diverted
Heb. 12:2 “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”
Rich Cathers: When God was preparing Ezekiel for his ministry, He warned Ezekiel that the people would be stubborn and would not pay attention to him. Yet God also promised Ezekiel that He would make Ezekiel just as stubborn as they were. God said He would make Ezekiel’s forehead (Ezek 3:9 NIV) …like the hardest stone, harder than flint
Beall: The expression, “I have set My face like a flint (i.e., hard rock),” is echoed in the NT, as Luke records that when it was time for the Lord’s crucifixion, “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). . . All His accusers will grow old as a garment, eaten by moths (see Hos 5:12; Matt 6:19-20; Heb 1:11).
2. (:8-9a) Confidence in Divine Vindication Answers All Attackers
a. 2 Encouragements Regarding Ultimate Vindication
“He who vindicates Me is near;
Behold, the Lord God helps Me;”
b. 3 Rhetorical Challenges to Rebuff All Attackers
“Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other;
Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me.
Who is he who condemns Me?”
Language sounds like Rom. 8
3. (:9b) Confidence in the Coming Wrath of God
“Behold, they will all wear out like a garment;
The moth will eat them.”
Expression speaks of gradual decay
Maclaren: Two forms of destruction are here named. There is a slow decay going on in the opponents and their opposition, as a garment waxing old, and there is a being fretted away by the imperceptible working of external causes, as by gnawing moths.
(:10-11) APPLICATION: CALL FOR OBEDIENCE VS. REBELLION —
TWO CONTRASTING RESPONSES — WALKING IN LIGHT OR IN DARKNESS
Another one of these transitional paragraphs
A. (:10) Response of Obedience
1. Description of the Obedient Disciples = Submission
“Who is among you that fears the LORD,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?”
Young: Thus, those who do fear the Lord and obey the voice of His true Servant may nevertheless be in darkness. Like the Servant Himself, they too must be subject to afflictions and follow their Lord through affliction, death, and hell that they may come to the celestial city. In this world they will have tribulation; but the Servant has overcome this world, and they have but one recourse, to trust in the Lord who has revealed Himself to them in His ways and works, and to lean for support upon their God, who will never fail them.
Oswalt: Those who follow this Servant may indeed walk with him into the darkness of frustration, injustice, humiliation, and abuse. But this does not mean they should forgo their reliance on God.
2. Call to Continue to Walk by Faith
“Let him trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.”
Beall: Obedience to the Servant is paralleled with obedience to the Lord. In vv. 4-9 it was the Servant who was obedient; now, the people are enjoined to obey the Lord and the voice of His Servant (see John 5:23: “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him”; John 14:9: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”). As Young aptly states, “The Servant’s word is God’s word, for God has set the Servant’s mouth as a sharp sword (cf. 49:2)” (Isaiah, 3:304). Isaiah encourages those who walk in darkness, with no light, to trust in the name of the Lord (compare the Messianic passage Isa 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”; and John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”).
B. (:11) Responses of Continued Rebellion
1. Description of the Arrogant Rebels = Self-sufficiency
“Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,”
Motyer: Those who continue in their own way, dealing with life’s darkness by a “do-it-yourself” remedy, are doomed. How true it is to this life that those who trust walk in darkness and those who are self-sufficient walk in light! . . . The picture here is of people seeking to equip themselves, out of earthly resources, to deal with earth’s dark experiences. They feel the need of nothing they cannot generate for themselves.
2. Call to Continue to Walk in Rebellion
“Walk in the light of your fire
And among the brands you have set ablaze.”
Young: this command contains a touch of irony, as though the prophet had said, “You have rejected the Lord and kindled your own fire to escape the darkness; well, go now and take your course of life in that very fire. See how it will become not your salvation but your destruction.”
3. Warning of Coming Wrath of God
“This you will have from My hand;
And you will lie down in torment.”
Martin: lie down in torment – Luke 1623, 28; Rev. 20:13-15; 21:8
Beall: Continuing with the metaphor of light, the Lord commands those who seek to provide their own source of light (rather than trust in the Light of the Lord) by lighting a fire, to walk in the light of that fire. The idea here seems to be that they will be the cause of their own destruction (compare 50:1b: “for your iniquities you have sold yourselves”) by the fire of their own making (so also Rom 1:24, 26, 28: God gave them up to their own sinfulness). Instead of getting help from God’s hand (see 50:2 for the hand of God), they will lie down in torment at the fire of judgment, a fire that they themselves have set, rather than trusting in the Light of the Lord.
Oswalt: There is only one light in the darkness of human sin: the one kindled by God in and through his Servant. To refuse that light and to embrace some other is to open oneself to a devouring flame.
Scott Grant: How are we to survive in this place? Isaiah presents us with two options: 1) We can trust in the name of the Lord and rely on our God. 2) We can kindle a fire, encircle ourselves with torches and walk in the light of our own fire. We can rely on our God in the darkness of confusion, or we can try to dispel the darkness of confusion with our own light. By relying on God, we draw close to him, abide by his word and trust that dawn will break. By lighting our own fire, we reject the opportunity to draw near to God, and we devise our own methods to make life more manageable, more quickly. At more extreme levels, this means resorting to deception, manipulation, intimidation and the like. At less extreme levels, it means making the elimination of the confusion a greater goal than drawing near to God.