Thread: Isaiah 49v1-6 and John 12
June 24th 2006, 06:04 AM #1
Isaiah 49v1-6 and John 12
Greetings. Isaiah 49:1-6 is the second of four Servant Songs. There is a distinction between Israel as God’s servant, and this particular servant who is introduced in the first song by:
Isaiah 42:1 (KJV): "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."
We are called upon to behold him, and our attention is drawn to the fact that his work and ministry would extend to the Gentiles.
These two elements are also found in the second song:
Isaiah 49:1-3 (KJV): "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."
This message is particularly relevant to us who live in the isles and the lands distant from Judea. The gospel was preached in Jerusalem and Judea, and then the Apostles spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. In these latter days the gospel has spread to the isles, to a people from far. We are called upon to behold God’s servant, and Jesus himself as The Servant calls upon us to listen to him and hearken. The reason is because he is the one whose mouth is like a sharp sword and through him God will be glorified.
The ministry of Isaiah and Jesus was prophesied to be largely ineffectual with their contemporaries, the children of Israel.
Isaiah 6:9-10 (KJV): "9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
These words are applicable to Isaiah and also to Jesus as a number of NT quotations verify.
The Servant also echoes this failure of Israel to respond:
Isaiah 49:4-5 (KJV): "4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength."
The words "I have laboured in vain" indicate Jesus’ thoughts towards the end of his ministry. John 12 records the last public ministry of Jesus and the failure of the nation to believe and accept him as their Messiah.
John 12:37-41 (KJV): "37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."
The tentative failure of his ministry to Israel drove home the realisation of the coming crucifixion and he expresses his distress at the coming rejection:
John 12:27-28 (KJV): "27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
Jesus takes up the language of Isaiah 49 when he speaks of God’s name being glorified and God endorses that His Name will be glorified through Jesus as Isaiah 49 had stated:
Isaiah 49:3 (KJV): "And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
Another interesting connection between Isaiah 49 and John 12 is that Jesus spoke these words at the visit of the Greeks, and this anticipates the gospel going forth to the Gentiles as depicted in Isaiah 49. Jesus speaks of the ultimate success of his work:
John 12:32-33 (KJV): "32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die."
We live at the end of an era, perilous times when the world can easily turn away our ears and eyes from beholding God’s servant and allowing his word to shape our lives. The message of The Servant in this second song is relevant to us:
Isaiah 49:1 (KJV): "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far;"
June 24th 2006, 07:09 AM #2
Re: Isaiah 49v1-6 and John 12
Excellent points! Yes, all the time that God was dealing exclusively with the Jews, he had in mind blessing all mankind:
"…I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. … and the isles shall wait for his law. … for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles…"
"…he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light"
"And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light;" - Matthew 4:13-16
While only a relatively small remnant of Jews have accepted Jesus as their Messiah, He has proved to be a light to the Gentiles: Hundreds of millions have left the idolatry and pantheism of their ancestors to remember the true God.
This is exactly what the Bible prophesied would occur. Note these verses that were written at a time when each nation had its own gods and goddesses, and only the tribes of Israel worshiped the God of the Hebrew Scriptures:
"All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." (Psalm 22:27)
"All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name." (Psalm 66:4)
"That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations." (Psalm 67:2)
"God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him." (Psalm 67:7)
"All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name." (Psalm 86:9)
"O LORD ...the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods." (Jeremiah 16:19-20)
How unlikely those words would have seemed to non-Israelites at that time, had they even had the curiosity to read the religious writings of the Jews!
The early Christian writings, too, prophesy about the God of Abraham:
"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." (Revelation 15:4)
How unlikely this, too, must have seemed at a time when the powerful Roman empire had only recently crushed Jewish nationalism, tore down the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, scattered the Jewish captives to the four corners of the empire, and was in the process of hunting down and publicly executing the remaining followers of the Jewish Messiah Jesus!
Yet, in spite of overwhelming odds, these ancient biblical prophecies have proved true. The God of Israel is worshiped today by people of all nations, even by millions in a land as foreign to Israel as China. I myself have visited Japan and shared in worship with Japanese Christians. Besides the Jews, billions of Christians and Muslims throughout the entire world claim to worship the God of Abraham.
Yes, the God of the Jews finds worshipers everywhere today -- just as He prophesied in the Bible thousands of years ago.
Many, however, give Him mere lip service. The term "Christianity" has been hijacked by people with political agendas and corrupt personal pursuit of power and money -- just as "Judiasm" was misused in the first century when Jesus preached in the land of Israel. But, just as God's judgment came against Jerusalem in that generation, so the return of Christ will soon bring God's intervention in this corrupt and hypocritical world today.
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