The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 42 Part 1


We end this week with Isaiah 42:1-9

There are many things prophesied about Messiah in the book of Isaiah. These prophecies reveal to us what He is going to bring about – how He’s going to establish justice, righteousness, holiness and G-dliness. The glory of G-d will be manifested through Him. One of the ways that Isaiah reveals Messiah is by calling Him a servant – the Servant of the L-rd.

This name, ‘servant of the L-rd’, is highly debated. Some say it is a reference to Israel, the Jewish people. Others emphatically state that it is a title that is referring to Messiah. When we carefully study the prophetic text (in the days to come) we are going to learn that sometimes this title is indeed speaking of Israel (the Jewish people). G-d has placed a call upon Israel. They have a unique calling and a special purpose. However, the vast majority of these prophecies refer to ‘the servant of the L-rd’ as Messiah – the Redeemer, the Saviour. 

We cannot ignore that Scripture reveals a close unity, a connection, between Israel and Messiah. For example: In Exodus we read about how Israel wound up in Egypt and G-d brought them out of Egypt. Similarly, in the New Covenant, Yeshua’s parents took Him to Egypt and G-d also brought Him (Messiah) out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1, Matt 2:13-15). Often prophecy is spoken of as concerning Israel, but it is fulfilled by Messiah. This teaches us a very important theological truth: ultimately it will be Messiah who completes the call of Israel in this age. G-d, through covenant, loves the Jewish people. He has anointed and sanctified the land of Israel for a purpose. However, it is going to ultimately be Messiah who brings about and completes the purpose and call that G-d had for Israel. Not only will Israel benefit from this, but so will all the nations – those to the outermost parts of this earth. 

v1: Uphold: A term of support. Some will point out that this word ‘support’ also alludes to an obligation – it reveals a provision (this one is provided for and looked after).

  • I uphold: G-d the Father is saying that He is the One who is going to support, provide for and assist this One – this Servant of His. This Servant, because He is upheld by the Father, is going to be successful. He is going to accomplish the call that is upon Him. 
  • My soul: The very essence of who G-d is. 
  • Delights: A word of desire, a word of want. G-d the Father is behind Messiah (His Son). He desires everything that Messiah is going to bring about, as it is all the outcome of His will.
  • I have put (set): This is revealing G-d’s Sovereign choice. G-d has anointed Messiah and set Him apart for a purpose. 
  • I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles: There is a relationship between the moving of the Spirit of G-d and the establishing of justice. The Spirit of G-d moves to bring about justice. Justice is one of the character traits of G-d. When the Spirit of G-d moves, we see the character of G-d being manifested in many different ways. 
  • Justice to the Gentiles (nations): This is an important truth. The work of Messiah goes beyond simply the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The work of Messiah is going to have an effect in all of G-d’s creation. 

v2: He will not cry out, nor raise His voice: G-d brings about His will by speaking (“Let there be…and there was” – Gen 1:3). G-d doesn’t have to scream or yell to get people’s attention. He simply speaks with authority. Elijah heard the still, small voice of G-d (1 Kings 19:12-13).

  • The street (Outside): In the public places. Messiah will accomplish what He needs to accomplish (justice and righteousness) without having to announce it to the world, without having to wait for their permission. G-d is going to do what G-d has willed to do. Messiah’s Word carries power and authority. His Word alone produces an action. He does not need to instruct a third party to produce the result He desires. Messiah has power and strength. His power and strength, however, are not what are necessary for Him to accomplish what His Father has given Him to do. He accomplishes His Father’s will with the authority He has – His Word – not the loudness of His words, but the authority that His words contain. 

v3: A bruised reed: Something that is very fragile.

  • He will not break (bruise): He is not coming with a massive display of strength to accomplish and to set things in order. Messiah does not need a massive army to bring about the desired change. Although He has great power, He does not need this power to bring change. His Word (His authority) is enough. 
  • Flax: Something which is easily consumed by fire.
  • Quench: Extinguish
  • Justice for truth: Justice is brought about through the power and the authority of truth. 

v4: Fail…be discouraged: Literally Extinguish or bruiseThese are the same words found in Isaiah 42:3 for bruise and extinguish, but in this verse the translators have translated them differently.

  • Established justice in the earth: Justice is repeated and emphasised. Messiah, the Servant of the L-rd, is committed to justice – that which is proper and right in the sight of G-d the Father. 
  • Justice…and…His law: There is an undeniable connection between G-d’s truth, justice and law. This truth is now being revealed within a Torah (law) context – Messiah stands on bringing forth His law, which is necessary if justice is going to be experienced.
  • Coastlands: The distant places, the islands. If one can control the distant places, have an impact upon them, then it shows one’s strength, power and anointing. The Scripture is boldly promising that even those who are in the distant places are going to wait patiently, in hopefulness, for what G-d is promising through His Servant.

v5: G-d…who created the heavens: When this phrase is used in the Bible it is often phrased as ‘created the heavens and the earth’. Here, however, it is the heavens which are emphasised. The heavens, in many ways (especially in the New Covenant when the ‘heavens’ are spoken of), relate to the Kingdom of G-d. 

  • Stretched them out: G-d put the heavens into the order that He wanted them to be in. This is something that, from our perspective, would be a really difficult thing to do. If someone can do something that’s really difficult, then, logically, He can do something that’s not so difficult. It should not be hard for us to accept that if G-d can put the heavens into order that He can also set in order the things of this world.
  • Spreads forth (literally: Beats): This is also a word that means to put into a right condition. 
  • That which comes from it: This could also be a synonym for people or for descendants.
  • Spirit: This is what sets humans apart from the rest of G-d’s creation. Humans are unique and different. 

Note: This verse emphasises two things: G-d is bringing a change to this world and to the ones who dwell in this world. 

v6: You: Many of the translations capitalize this word. G-d the Father is calling, and He has called the Servant of the L-rd. The implication is that this ‘You’ is referring to the Son of G-d – Messiah. This capitalization helps the reader to understand that this is a Messianic prophecy.

  • Righteousness: Everything that Messiah is about has to do with righteousness. He works out righteousness in His creation. Apart from Messiah, no one can be righteous. He is the only source of righteousness. 
  • Covenant…people…light…Gentiles: Prophecy is often written down as Hebrew poetry, and one of the chief characteristics of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. Here we see parallelism. Covenant is parallel to light, people is parallel to Gentiles. Frequently in the Scripture ‘light’ is spoken of/used for the purpose of revealing something (illumination). The take-away from this verse is that it is only when we are in a covenantal relationship with G-d (through Messiah) that we can see (perceive/receive) the revelation, illumination, of G-d. Without that covenant we are going to be in darkness.

v7: Bring out: This is a word of freedom. It is also a word used within a redemptive context.

  • Blind eyes…prisoners…sit in darkness: These words are also all parallel. Those who dwell/sit in darkness are prisoners. Those who dwell in darkness do not have any revelation or illumination. A lack of light (revelation from G-d) leads to bondage (prison). Those who are in bondage do not have the freedom to serve G-d, as they do not have or understand truth – they are unable to utilise that which they do not have. 

v8: L-rd: The sacred name of G-d is used here. This is the name that speaks about the G-d who was, the G-d who is and the G-d who is to come. This is the name of G-d that makes mention of His uniqueness. 

  • My name…My glory: G-d’s Name (name is synonymous with character) and His glory are parallel. When we understand the name of G-d (His character) we are going to understand what is glorious – the character of G-d is glorious. 
  • Graven images: Statues, idols, carved images.

Note: People are either going to be moved by the character of G-d and so enter into a covenantal relationship with Him (thereby receiving illumination or understanding), or the opposite is going to be the case – People will reject G-d, their eyes and lives will remain in darkness, and they will have no hope. 

v9: The former things have come to pass: G-d had declared His plans to the people and these plans had come to fruition – G-d’s Word had proven faithful. 

  • New things: Through Messiah (His work/ministry) new things were going to burst out and spread forth. G-d told the prophets that Messiah was coming. He was going to give of Himself in order to establish a New Covenant. It is through this New Covenant that justice is manifested, and righteousness is established. 
  • I tell you of them: G-d reveals what is going to happen before it actually happens. He doesn’t leave His people in the dark about what He is doing or about what He intends to do – Amos 3:7. G-d tells His people these things so that we can understand what He is up to, so that we can have the privilege of participating with Him.

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