Every builder of houses knows that a building must rest on a firm foundation. If the foundation is defective, the house will eventually have other structural problems that will lead to an inevitable collapse. In the same way, every local church must be built on the Lord Jesus Christ. Read the words of the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 3:9-11). For this reason, every gathering of believers in Christ and individual members of these assemblies (local churches) need to pay careful attention to these words of God about Jesus Christ. Even more, all need to focus on Jesus the Messiah as God encourages. In this text, God the Father lifts up the Son and calls everyone to look at his Son, who is his Servant. He tells us that his Servant is his Chosen One, that he delights in him, and that he has put his Spirit on him. Next, let us listen carefully to the mission or task that the Father sent his Servant to accomplish.
God assigned a task to the Servant of the Lord (42:1d). It was to “bring justice to the nations”.
What is the meaning of “justice”? Certain words are difficult to translate from one language to another. The Hebrew word for justice is more comprehensive than our English word. Every word must be translated in its context with other words. This is what can make word studies very dangerous, especially when they try to tell the meaning of a word from its supposed roots. Use word study tools, including concordances cautiously.
In the general context, Isaiah uses the word “justice” three ways:
- God’s order in creation (40:14). God made everything according to his own counsel and wisdom.
- In 40:27, it speaks of the judgment or legal decision that God’s people expect when they present their situation to the Lord. They expect the Lord to bring his holy order into their lives.
- The Lord invites the nations to come to him for a hearing about who is in charge of history (41:1). In this meaning, the Lord asserts his rule over all, and his people can trust him (41:8-10). When the Lord’s justice comes, people live in peace.
What is very surprising in our text is that the Servant of the Lord will bring the Lord’s justice or order to the nations. All might seem chaotic as Cyrus and his Persian armies conquer many nations (41:2-3). But Cyrus and his empire was not the goal of history; instead, the Servant and his accomplished mission will be mankind’s ultimate destiny.
God had a purpose in this mission. This text is part of the unfolding of the story of God’s glory in Christ. Think of a paper road map or a trail map for hiking in parks. As you hold it in your hand neatly folded, you can’t see much of the trail or road system. But as you unfold it, you can find the way to your destination. God gradually unfolds his plan in the Scriptures, but he has one great eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:11). Our text is part of the unfolding plan, which God increasingly made clear (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 2:7-9; 117:1-2) until the Lord Jesus accomplished eternal redemption and his apostles explained it in the New Testament Scriptures.
All this leads to the new humanity that God would bring about in Christ and his people (Ephesians 2:11-16).
We need to keep God’s plan before us. God’s “unfolded map” has been given to us, so that we won’t lose our way in the foggy times of our lives. We need to keep the whole map before our eyes, so that we might know our place in God’s story. You see, we can become much to focused on our small situations. Yes, you have your sins to fight, your pain to endure, your calling (job, career) to fulfill, and your family and friends to love. But there ought to be more to your and my interests than the immediate situations we are in. We are here for God’s purposes, and so we need to look at the whole unfolded map and consider everything God is doing. Doing this helps us see the greatness of the Lord Jesus, and how we are to labor with him toward his goals. Since Christ will bring justice to the nations, and we are in him, we are to participate in this purpose. What are your group, your church, and you doing?
Grace and peace, David