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The Servant Will Bring Justice (Isaiah 42:1-4)

Daniel Barta

Nov 22, 2023

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Isaiah 42:1-4

God called the nation of Israel to consider His chosen Servant in whom He delights and whom He will uphold. This Servant would come to do a task - a work. God promised to send this Servant on a mission with an objective. We learn three facts about this work through God’s revealing word of Isaiah 42:1-4.

God’s Spirit empowers the Servant’s Work.

‌...I have put my Spirit upon him; (Isaiah 42:1 ESV)

Isaiah wrote much of the Spirit being on the Servant. God's Spirit provides to the Servant wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, along with the knowledge and fear of the LORD (Is 11:2). It is the Spirit that equips and enables the work of the Servant as He “brings good news to the poor… bind[s] up the brokenhearted… proclaim[s] liberty to captives… and open[s]… the prison to those who are bound” (Is 61:1-2).

God sends the Servant to establish justice.

‌‌...he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1 ESV)

By the phrase “bring forth justice” Isaiah speaks of the Servant’s establishing a “well-regulated government.”(1) The phrase, “bring forth justice,” should not call up images of a judge in a courtroom making judicial decisions but rather a king issuing rules and commands as he governs.

‌Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, (Isaiah 32:1 ESV)

God promised that the the Servant’s establishment of a just government would first correct the injustice of the past and present (Is 11:3-4) while also producing kingdom citizens who act justly and righteously in the future (Is 11:6-9; 32:2-8). God through His Servant will settle disputes, take up the case of the abused, the oppressed and the wronged. He will give to the wicked their just reward, and pay back evil to the evil doer. He will also so work that those under His reign will forsake their unrighteous ways; they will begin to act justly. They will follow His righteous rules and love His wise commands. Injustice will one day have no place in the land governed by the Servant.

God’s Servant Will Succeed by Meekness

God’s Servant, empowered and animated by the Spirt, “will bring forth justice.”

‌He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth... (Isaiah 42:4 ESV)

The Servant will not stop until justice has, in fact, been established. He will take His throne and He will root out all unrighteousness and all injustice. He will work tirelessly until the mission given to Him by God is accomplished in its entirety.

His success comes in a surprising form.

2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:2–3 ESV)

This Servant conducts himself in a tamed and controlled manner. He is not being raucous or boisterous. He does not operate as a “bull in a china shop.” He does not break weak things, but with tender care preserves them. This servant establishes a government of justice through gentle, loving, and patient service rather than violence.

God Brings Justice through Jesus.

God reveals the identity of the Servant who will bring justice as none other than Jesus Christ.

  • The Spirit of God descended on Jesus and remained with Jesus (Jn 1:33; Mt 3:16; Lu 4:18; Ac 10:38).

  • The government is on Jesus’ shoulders (Mt. 3:2, 4:17, 10:7; Mk 1:15; Lk 1:33; Jn 18:36; saiah 9:6-7)

  • The government of Jesus was established through gentleness (Mt 11:29, 12:16-20; Mk 14:61; Jn 18:10-11; Ac 8:32-35; I Pe 2:23)

Many thought Jesus would come to set up His kingdom through power and strength. Many looked for a promised Messiah who would rally the troops, collect weaponry, and go to war with the powers of the world. Instead, God sent Jesus who quietly, lovingly, and gently laid down His life. He did not establish His kingdom by shedding the blood of his enemies. Instead, He poured out His own blood for the sake of His enemies.

Put Your Sword Away

In the moments right before Jesus’ execution, the disciple Peter, grieved by Jesus’ arrest, unsheathed his sword and went on attack (Jn 18:10; Lu. 22:49-50). Jesus responded to Peter, “No more of this! Put your sword into its sheath” (Lu 22:51; Jn 18:11). When Peter struck the enemy and cut off his ear, Jesus knelt down and with gentleness in His touch healed His enemy and made Him whole (Lu 22:51).

The message to Peter and to any who would seek to follow Jesus after him was clear. Jesus did not come to arm up his comrades. He will not identify His movement for justice with a raised fist. His slogan will not be a threat of violent uprising and rebellion like those who chant “No justice, no peace.” Instead, he calls the citizens of His kingdom to do as He did. We are to pick up our cross and lay down our swords. This is the way of His kingdom.

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21–24 ESV)

(1) Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Vol. 3, p. 286). Logos Bible Software.

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