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The Name of the Servant (Isaiah 49:1-4)

Daniel Barta

Nov 27, 2023

In the first Servant song (Is 42:1-13), God called to the people of Israel, “Behold my Servant.” Now in Isaiah 49, God speaks to the nations. He says to the coastlands and then the people from afar, “Give attention.”

To what should the nations give their attention? To the LORD’s Servant they should turn their gaze. The LORD called this Servant “from the womb” and to Him He gave a name. That name is above every name and superior in excellence to all others (Phil 2:9; Heb 1:4).

The term "name" carries more significance than a simple term of identification. To possess a name is to possess a reputation. When the wise poet said, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Pr 22:1), he did not mean a good name like Daniel should be chosen over an inferior name like Bob. Instead, the proverb highlights the reality that wise men seek to be known for good, admirable, and praiseworthy qualities rather than to possess great wealth. “Better,” says the wise writer, “to be thought of well in the community than to possess luxury and financial security.”

So when God says that He gave His Servant a name, He means that He set him apart for a purpose and that He will make Him known for something. The Servant will possess a reputation.

This raises an important question - For what will the Servant be known? The answer comes in Isaiah 49:3​

3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (Isaiah 49:3 ESV)

The Servant’s name in this text is identified as “Israel,” and for a specific reason, “In [the Servant] I [the LORD] will be glorified.” In other words, the reputation or the name of the Servant will be one with the LORD’s. He, the Servant, will make the Name of the LORD known in the world. He will glorify God. He will make public the truth about God so that God’s people know Him rightly.

While the Name of the LORD possesses many facets, two main ideas stand out in the book of Isaiah. First, the LORD reveals Himself as the Mighty One (Is 1:24; 49:26; 60:16). He stretches forth His mighty arm to do whatever He wills. No one can frustrate His plans or put a stop to His work. He stands as the Creator and He rules over His creation without breaking a sweat.

Second, the LORD reveals Himself as the Savior. The Mighty One exercises His power to rescue. His strong arm does not oppress but delivers (Is 62:6-12). He possesses the biggest stick, but to the surprise of the world He uses His big stick not to beat the world into submission but to beat back the enemy and to bring salvation to His people (Is 63:12).

10 The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

This Servant of the LORD will glorify God by revealing Him as the mighty Savior of the nations. He, the Servant, will serve as the mighty arm of God and through Him salvation will even “reach the end of the earth” (Is 49:6)

God Saves with Power through Jesus, His Servant.

In Isaiah 9, the prophet declared ahead of time that a child would come with great authority and power. His name would be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6). This might and authority and power would be seen in the great act of salvation he would bring as He broke the “rod of [man’s] oppressor” (Isaiah 9:2-7).

Eventually this child arrived in the small town of Bethlehem as a son born to the virgin Mary. Even as this son remained in the womb, an angel of the LORD appeared to Mary’s future husband with this message:

20 ...“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21 ESV)

It is in this Jesus that God reveals Himself as the great Savior of the world. This Jesus lived on the planet earth for a short 33 years demonstrating the great might of God by healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the masses from a lunch box, walking on water, casting out demons, and forgiving sins. Armed with great might, this Jesus did not ascend to the height of political authority. He did not lead a rebellion against the ruling empire. He did not subject all the nations under His iron fist. Instead, he went to a cross. He laid down His life, all in a successful effort to Save people from their sins. This was the purpose given to Him (Jn. 17). He did not come to conquer men by force, but to make known the Name of God, so that the nations would know that He is both LORD and Savior and besides Him there is no other.

Take the Message of Jesus to People far Away

If Jesus possesses the power to save, we the church should know a great confidence and resolve to take the gospel of Jesus to all people. If He can save the family of four living in a small mud home in the jungles of Peru from the darkness of pagan religion, we the church should take the gospel to them with confident expectation that He will indeed extend salvation. If God has revealed His ability and willingness to save the Islamic family united in a hatred and committed in a jihad, we the church should be ready to suffer much in an effort to publish the good new of Jesus to them. If God can save those running our schools, working in the office next to ours, or living in the home next door, we the church should not remain silent about Jesus.

Each person needs Salvation, and we have great news for them. God has revealed Himself in Jesus as both able to save and ready to save. Let us not sit idly by as men and women remain in darkness all while salvation is possible in and through Jesus. Let us be bold. Let us be faithful. Let us be willing to suffer, to take risk, and to invest much in taking the message of Jesus Christ to those who need His strong arm to save them.

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