The Mission of God’s Servant – Isaiah 50

Intro: Deut 18:18-19 – I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. Moses’ words were one of the most prominent O.T. images of the coming Messiah. God was sending a Prophet to the people.

In Isaiah 50:4-11, in what is called the 3rd Servant Song of Isaiah, the Servant of God is pictured as a Prophet preparing to do His work among the people. He seems to talk to himself, thinking aloud concerning what is required of Him. Isaiah’s picture of Jesus here portrays Him as God’s ideal Prophet.

  • God sent many prophets to His people, but they were rejected, despised, and many times killed. Jeremiah 7:25-26Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. 26 Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck.
  • Micaiah was smitten on the cheek and his prophecy rejected (1 Kings 22). Jeremiah was imprisoned and put in a dungeon (pit); the scroll containing his message was burned in the fire (Jer. 32:2; 38:6; 36:23).
  • Ezekiel was regarded not as a prophet, but as a “speaker of parables,” a singer of lovely songs—his message was rejected (Ezek. 20:49; 33:31-32).
  • Amos was told by Amaziah to go home and preach in Judah, but not in Bethel (Amos 7:12-13).
  • Jesus said that the Jewish fathers “slew the prophets” (Matt. 23:31). Stephen asked, “Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute?” (Acts 7:52).
  • The Jews were unwilling to honor Jesus as God’s prophet. The people’s attitude toward Jesus as a prophet is well summed up in the sneering remark made by those who smote Him in the house of Caiaphas: “Prophesy unto us, thou Christ: who is he that struck thee?” (Matt. 26:68).

But Jesus is God’s ultimate prophet, and God will not hold innocent those who reject His message.

I. The Power of the Prophet: The picture Isaiah presents here is only fulfilled completely in Christ, and reflects the power of His Mission as God’s Prophet:

A. The Source of His Power: Notice that the expression, “the Lord God” occurs 4 times in these verses, each at the beginning of a verse (vv. 4, 5, 7, 9). Young says this “lends an air of impression and majesty to the Servant’s words.” It also clearly indicates that the Servant received His orders from God, and He was sent from heaven by the Father. John 7:16-19 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. John 7:29 – 29 But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.” It is from, the Lord God that the Servant receives His qualifications to serve as a prophet.

B. The power of the prophet begins with his ears, not his mouth. Isa 50:4The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. The prophet’s work began when God spoke to him. He had to be ready to listen to His words, so He would know how to speak “a word in season” (at the right time) to “him who is weary” (to the right person). The Lord gave Jesus an ear to hear and a mouth to speak.

1. The Servant expresses here that the Lord God “awakens Me morning by morning”… His word is constantly fresh and relevant. The true servant does not quit listening to God’s voice because He does not lose faith in the power of the words of God. He knows it is what will satisfy and heal.

2. “He awakens my ears to hear as the learned” he is not as the fool who hears but has no desire to apply what he hears. To hear as the learned is to hear with purpose. This type of hearing is what distinguishes some from others. Ps 119:97-100Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.

C. The Power of the Prophet is His Submissive Obedience Isa 50:5-6The Lord God has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away. 6 I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

1. “I was not rebellious” (v. 5) Unlike others Jesus did not hesitate at His Commission:

            • Even Moses shrank from his call, and made excuses. (Ex 4:1Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.'” Ex 4:10Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue… Ex 4:13 – But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”
            • Jonah fled from the responsibility imposed upon him (Jonah 1:3), Even Jeremiah complained that God’s message had brought him unbearable pain, and wondered if God had failed him (Jer. 15:15-18; 20:7-18)
            •  Jesus has no such disposition. “I did not turn away.” (v. 5) Aren’t you glad HE did not! John 12:27 – Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say?’Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. His total submission is at the heart of our hope. As a true prophet, He will speak the truth to us no matter what.

2. Isa 50:6I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. Jesus understood that His mission would put Him in jeopardy. He knew about the pain. But He did not resist.

a. We can see side by side the intense hatred of those who opposed God’s servant and the inexplicable passivity of the Servant Himself. Homer Hailey says… “The inveterate hatred of mankind for the teacher of truth and the willingness of the teacher to suffer for truth are vividly set forth in this verse.”

              • Jesus suffered the scourging from both the Jews and the Romans. He was not helpless. He was completing the mission.
              • The plucking out of the hair was the expression of violent wrath or moral indignation. Ezra plucked out his own hair (Ezra 9:3); in a similar spirit. Nehemiah plucked out the hair of Jews who intermarried with the heathen (Neh. 13:2 5). Jesus submitted to the moral outrage of His enemies passively.
              • To spit upon another was an act of ritual defilement and contempt. The Servant hid not His face from this dishonor and undeserved humiliation Matt 26:62-68And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”

D. The Power of the Prophet is in His Commitment: The Lord gave His Prophet an ear to hear, a mouth to speak and now He promises to help Him in His time of need. Isa 50:7For the Lord God will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; The word disgraced here is a strong word that means confounded or perplexed. Jesus will not be thrown into confusion by the mistreatment from others. He will live up to the trust given to Him.

1. Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed (Isa 50:7). Jesus did not flinch in His commitment to the mission because He was certain of the Father’s commitment to Him. “set my face like flint” depicts hard (flint = hard stone) determination to not turn around. Luke 9:51Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, John 8:16 – 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. John 8:29 – 29And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

2. Isa 50:8-9He is near who justifies Me; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me. 9 Surely the Lord God will help Me; Who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; The moth will eat them up. The Prophet becomes bold in the face of opposition. But not because of who He is, or what He can do. “He is near who justifies Me”. This is a case where the word justify takes us to the courtroom scene. The Lord God stood ready to speak in the Prophet’s behalf and account Him as innocent of all charges.

a. The Messiah challenged His enemies. Who will challenge or accuse me in a court trial? Jesus flung this very challenge into the teeth of His enemies: “Which of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46), a challenge which no man has successfully met.

b. Because the Lord God stands by Him, His enemies will fade away like a piece of cloth that is eaten by moths (There is nothing left).

3. Isa 50:10-11Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God. 11 Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled — This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.

a. Three piercing questions:

              • Who among you fears the LORD?
              • Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
              • Who walks in darkness and has no light?

b. It seems that Isaiah is looking for true introspection from the people. If a person can honestly evaluate His relationship to God in comparison to God’s ideal Servant, then God will also help him (as He will help His Servant Jesus). It is a call for reliance on God.

c. In contrast there are those who attempt to provide their own light and walk by it. Instead of trusting in God they would confide in their own resources, and endeavor to guide themselves by a fire (light) that they have kindled. But they will not succeed (lie down in torment).

Conclusion: God will never let you be put to shame if you will trust Him.