Isaiah chapter 49

Isaiah foresees a unique Servant of the LORD. This Servant will will evangelize the Gentiles. And he will restore Israel.

 


 

NOTE: This text includes one of the four “Songs of the Suffering Servant” in Isaiah:

 


 

THE LORD’S SERVANT WILL EVANGELIZE THE GENTILES

 

VERSE 1. Listen, islands, to me. Listen, you peoples, from afar: the LORD has called me from the womb; from the inside of my mother, he has mentioned my name.

islands … you peoples, from afar. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »

called me from the womb. The LORD God exists outside of our limited space-time continuum. He sees it all. To him, all exists all at once. He calls us by name before we even exist.

he has mentioned my name. That is, “he called me by name.” God called Isaiah by name. And he calls you by name too.

 

VERSE 2. He has made my mouth like a sharp sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. He has made me a polished shaft. He has kept me close in his quiver.

BBE translation. And he has made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shade of his hand he has kept me; and he has made me like a polished arrow, keeping me in his secret place;

a polished arrow. Isaiah is a tool in God’s arsenal and is highly effective.

However, in other passages in the Bible, the term “arrow” is a euphemism for “children.”

Psalm 127:4-5. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. They won’t be disappointed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

 

VERSE 3. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

You are my servant. To follow the path of a seeker of God—this is to be a servant of God.

Seeking the LORD God is itself a ministry. It a way of serving the Most High God. And it ministers to other people. Our seeking shines the glory of God to other people.

in whom I will be glorified. God shows his glory to other people through us. To have our own life glorify God would be a dream-come-true for us believers.

 

VERSE 4. But I said, “I have labored in vain. I have spent my strength in vain for nothing; yet surely the justice due to me is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.”

I have labored in vain. For those who have been in ministry for a long time, it is easy to feel this way. The hours are long; the work is wearisome; and the results are few. It sometimes feels fruitless. Yet we surrender it to God.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta remarked, we are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful.

 

VERSE 5. Now the LORD, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, says to bring Jacob again to him, and to gather Israel to him, for I am honorable in the LORD’s eyes, and my God has become my strength.

NLT translation. And now the Lord speaks—the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength.

formed me from the womb to be his servant. This introduces something we call the ministry of being a seeker. That means you seek the LORD God. You are not apathetic or rootless. You are in love with God and devoted to growing in your relationship with him.

God made you to be a seeker. It’s in your design. Augustine put it this way: “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you.”

commissioned me. The LORD God called Isaiah to full-time ministry. Isaiah gave up a secular career and only did ministry.

In our day, the LORD God calls some people to professional ministry. We could also describe it as “full-time” or “salaried.” Have you been called to professional ministry?

  • If YES, then change your career to professional ministry
  • If NO, then do NOT change your career to professional ministry

That is how most people see it. However, we see it in reverse: you are already called to ministry. You need a special calling from God to be exempted from it.

to bring Israel back to him. Isaiah’s was a ministry of restoration.

my God has given me strength. God can make even the weakest people become strong:

Isaiah 49:5. Now the LORD, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, says to bring Jacob again to him, and to gather Israel to him, for I am honorable in the LORD’s eyes, and my God has become my strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9. He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

Hebrews 11:34. quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, grew mighty in war, and caused foreign armies to flee.

 

VERSE 6. Indeed, he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give you as a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.”

NIV 1984 translation. he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Book of Isaiah and from the entire Bible.

too small a thing. When it comes to evangelism, many people have far too small a vision. They think trivially. God calls us to a grand vision of bringing the light of the faith to entire nations.

for you. God has big plans for Isaiah. He will be the human agent that evangelizes the whole world.

a light. In ancient days, a candle burned in the Tent of Meeting. But in our day, the light is to shine from within us. How can you let your light shine? Read more »

for the Gentiles. God has big plans for the Gentiles. He always has their evangelization on his mind. He wants them to be in on his eternal salvation.

that you may bring my salvation. This is the Ministry of Evangelism. Isaiah will boldly proclaim the message of the One God. It will restore the Jewish people to faith. And it will bring Gentiles to faith.

to the ends of the earth. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »

Indeed, God has big plans for Isaiah. And God has big plans for us.

If we believe our mission in life is to touch just a few token souls here and there, then our vision is way too small. Thatʼs not enough. God would make of us a light to the entire world:

Isaiah 49:6. Indeed, he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give you as a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.”

Isaiah 60:1. Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the LORD’s glory has risen on you.

Isaiah 60:2. For truly, the earth will be dark, and the peoples veiled in blackest night; but the Lord will be shining on you, and his glory will be seen among you. (BBE translation)

Isaiah 62:1. For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch. (NAB translation)

Matthew 5:16. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 25:4. but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

1 Thessalonians 1:7. so that you became an example to all who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.

Perhaps we will go directly to the ends of the world ourselves; perhaps it will be our spiritual progeny who go.

How might you begin preparing to impacting the whole world for Jesus Christ?

 

VERSE 7. The LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, says to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and rise up, princes, and they shall worship, because of the LORD who is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

 

THE LORD’S SERVANT WILL RESTORE ISRAEL

 

VERSE 8. The LORD says, “I have answered you in an acceptable time. I have helped you in a day of salvation. I will preserve you and give you for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritage,

I will preserve you. That is, “I will keep you safe.” Some people object to going overseas for missionary work. Their concern is safety. However, for the person of faith, safety is not an issue. God promises to keep us safe.

 

VERSE 9. saying to those who are bound, ‘Come out!’; to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves!’ “They shall feed along the paths, and their pasture shall be on all treeless heights.

those who are bound. Some people have been imprisoned spiritually for years. They’ve lingered in emotional dungeons for decades. Like the Israelites, they were lost in the desert for half their life.

Now the LORD God is about to bring them into their Promised Land. These prisoners of gloom will come out and not be afraid. There will be plenty of lush pasture.

 

VERSE 10. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun strike them: for he who has mercy on them will lead them. He will guide them by springs of water.

guide them by springs of water:

Psalm 23:2. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

 

VERSE 11. I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be exalted.

make all my mountains a road. That is what John the Baptist did.

Isaiah 40:4. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain.

Luke 3:5. Every valley will be filled. Every mountain and hill will be brought low. The crooked will become straight, and the rough ways smooth.

 

VERSE 12. Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.”

these shall come from afar. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »

From all over the world, God’s scattered people are regathering.

 

VERSE 13. Sing, heavens, and be joyful, earth! Break out into singing, mountains, for the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.

NIV 1984 translation. Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

Shout for joy. This regathering of God’s people is joyful. Even the sky itself will celebrate and shout for joy.

the LORD comforts his people. He consoles us.

have compassion on his afflicted ones. The LORD shows compassion to people who have been oppressed.

 

VERSE 14. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”

BBE translation. But Zion said, The Lord has given me up, I have gone from his memory.

I have gone from his memory. Sometimes it can feel as though we’ve been forgotten by God.

 

VERSE 15. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you!

a woman. What does the Bible say about women? Here are all the verses we found that mention a woman in the Book of Isaiah and in the entire Bible.

Yes, these may forget. In the U.S., we have a hyper-exalted view of motherhood. It can blind us to the fact that some mothers mistreat their own child. Some mothers abandon their own child.

I will not forget you. The LORD God will not mistreat us. He will not abandon us.

 

VERSE 16. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Your walls are continually before me.

I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. God has written our names on palms of his hands.

We Christians sees this in a literal sense. We are written on the palms of Christ’s hands. The “pen” that did the writing was the nails pounded through his hands to the cross.

 

VERSE 17. Your children hurry. Your destroyers and those who devastated you will leave you.

ICEL translation. Your rebuilders make haste, as those who tore you down and laid you waste go forth from you.

Your rebuilders make haste. God hastens to restore us.

Your destroyers … will leave you. God forces our destroyers to depart from us forever.

 

VERSE 18. Lift up your eyes all around, and see: all these gather themselves together, and come to you. As I live,” says the LORD, “you shall surely clothe yourself with them all as with an ornament, and dress yourself with them, like a bride.

 

VERSE 19. “For, as for your waste and your desolate places, and your land that has been destroyed, surely now that land will be too small for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.

 

VERSE 20. The children of your bereavement will say in your ears, ‘This place is too small for me. Give me a place to live in.’

 

VERSE 21. Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has conceived these for me, since I have been bereaved of my children and am alone, an exile, and wandering back and forth? Who has brought these up? Behold, I was left alone. Where were these?’ ”

BBE translation. Then you will say in your heart, Who has given me all these children? when my children had been taken from me, and I was no longer able to have others, who took care of these? when I was by myself, where then were these?

Who has given me all these children? When we give ourselves to the Ministry of Evangelism and the Ministry of Discipleship, we will have “children.”

Our “children” will be those people who accept our ministry and benefit from it. They in turn will go out, in the fullness of time, and do likewise. Their recipients will do likewise.

Eventually, there will be a vast multitude of people who have, in some way or other, benefitted from our feeble attempts at evangelism and discipleship. In a spiritual sense, they are our “children.”

 

VERSE 22. The Lord GOD says, “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and lift up my banner to the peoples. They shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

 

VERSE 23. Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; and those who wait for me shall not be disappointed.”

NIV 1984 translation. Kings and queens will serve you and care for all your needs. They will bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.

Kings shall be your foster fathers. God turns the tables for his children who have suffered. They were the tail; now they have become the head.

Those who trust in me will never be put to shame. This is a powerful statement!

 

VERSE 24. Shall the plunder be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives be delivered?

 

VERSE 25. But the LORD says, “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the plunder retrieved from the fierce, for I will contend with him who contends with you and I will save your children.

BBE translation. But the Lord says, Even the prisoners of the strong will be taken from him, and the cruel made to let go his goods: for I will take up your cause against your haters, and I will keep your children safe.

I will take up your cause against your haters. God will fight those who oppose us. We have a protector! God will stand up for us.

I will keep your children safe. That is a very powerful promise.

 

VERSE 26. I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh; and they will be drunk on their own blood, as with sweet wine. Then all flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

all flesh shall know. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »

 


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.