Dec 8, 2023
At the close of the Servant’s declaration of the LORD’s persistent help and constant support (Is 50:4-9), He turned to address believers - those who by faith trusted the LORD.
10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? (Isaiah 50:10 ESV)
In Isaiah, this audience consisted of a few in number; they recieved a name from the LORD. He called them the “remnant.”
5 In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people... (Isaiah 28:5 ESV)
God promised to strike down Israel because of their sinful rebellion, and He did so by the hands of several kings from nations such as Syria, Assyria, and Babylon. Though they deserved to experience complete and utter destruction and annihilation, God promised to spare a remnant, to preserve a small number whom He kept for himself. It is to this remnant off in exile that the Servant speaks, and in His words we might glean a few important lessons.
A Believing Minority Existed
Although the people as a whole rejected God and his Word, a small portion feared God and obeyed. Think of men and women such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai. They went into exile with the rest of the Israelites. But, they listened to the word of the LORD. They trusted in His promises. They clung to Him. They listened to the prophet’s message about the Servant and fought the fight of faith.
This “Remnant” Walked in Darkness
This darkness does not refer to man’s ignorance of God like so many other references to “darkness” in the Bible (see Ep 4:17-18). Rather, this darkness refers to the delay between their obedience and the fruit of their obedience. They sowed by faith acts of obedient faith, yet they had not yet seen a single bud emerging on the vine. They clung to the LORD and found themselves brought into captivity, exiled to foreign kingdoms and living as outsiders in a strange land. They lost much and suffered much all while clinging to faith. Yet, no reward seemed near. No signs of a change, of rescue, of reward could be detected. They walked in darkness unable to see the good treasure their faithful obedience laid up for them.
Even In Darkness, the Remnant Must Rely on the LORD
In darkness, obedience and continued trust grow harder and harder. Many would go into exile confident that God would again restore and deliver them as He promised. This hope surely held many heads high as their captors led them away from their homes. Surely many of the remnant went off into captivity thinking, “We will be ok. God will not abandon us.” But after a decade or two or three or seven, surely doubts arose in the minds and hearts of the remnant. No doubt some, if not all, at times wondered, “We have been faithful for sixty long years, if He has not rewarded our faithfulness by now, He will not ever reward us!”
In these dark moments, God required that the remnant act trusting in God’s character and power rather than in what they see with their own eyes. They needed to beat back the doubts awakened by the rise of uncertainty from their present and temporary situation by
10…[trusting] in the name of the Lord and [relying] on his God. (Isaiah 50:10 ESV)
God established before His people a reputation. He revealed Himself both by speaking to them and by acting for and towards them. They knew Him. They had heard his voice and watched His hand work. According to this knowledge of God, the truth about Himself that He had revealed was to be their guiding light in the present darkness.
Those Who Abandon the Truth about God to Walk by Their Own Understanding will Perish by God’s Own Hand
While those who rely on God will live, those who replace God’s Word with man’s wisdom and counsel will surely perish.
10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10 ESV)
In effect, God says, “I know you cannot see it right now. I know you cannot figure it out. I know you did not expect what you now experience. But, don’t forsake my Word. Throw yourself on Me by obeying. I will surely keep you. If you don’t, you will surely die!” This “Obey or Die” message does not go out to the remnant like the threat of a malicious king seeking to keep a fearful people under His strong rule. Instead, this warning goes out as from a loving and caring father who desires to see his children know life and not death, to prosper and not perish.
God’s Servant, Jesus, Came to Rescue the Remnant and Remove the Condemned.
Jesus, the Servant, came as the light. He made known the truth about the invisible God. He put the full glory of God on display. This light separates all of humanity into two groups - The remnant and the rejected, the wheat and the tares, the goats and the sheep, the sons of God and the sons of disobedience, the children of light and the children of darkness, the sons of Adam and the sons of Abraham.
Those who belong to the remnant are those who love God, trust God and obey God. They, like the Servant, experience much suffering along the path of obedient and faithful service, but the remnant are not deterred. They do not turn to left or right so that they might go a different way consistent with the wisdom of the world. They do not lean on their own understanding nor retreat to the wisdom of their own evil hearts.
Instead, they receive the testimony of Jesus about the LORD. They hear His message and they trust His Word. By faith they pick up their cross and they follow. Though for a season they suffer, they hope against hope knowing the God who preserved Jesus, even through death, will also preserve them. On the other side of their great suffering - though they cannot see it now - an eternal weight of glory will be revealed. A harvest of infinite treasure awaits the faithful. In that day, Jesus will once and for all say to the disobedient, “Depart from me I never knew you,” and to the faithful He will welcome, “Come into my rest!”
Resolve to Obey the Voice of the Servant
Do you hear the voice of the Servant speaking to you? He comes to you with a word for your weary soul. Does your heart look around and wonder, “What has obedience gotten me so far?” Are you tired of laboring with almost nothing to show for it? Does continued obedience look like nothing more than a road leading to nowhere? Does the thought of sitting down and resting from your obedience appeal to your soul?
Stay faithful. Resolve to obey. Even though the world finds God’s Word and instruction outdated, antiquated, and irrelevant, do not share in their foolishness. Though His guidance for your life goes against your greatest desires and passions, trust that the pleasures He will supply in due time will rise higher than any pleasure promised to you by disobedience.
The LORD proved faithful to the Servant. Jesus endured and from death He arose to glory. For you too, obedience may lead to death. But, like Jesus, God too will raise you to glory. Resolve yourself to obey the voice of the LORD.