Isaiah 42 – The Mission of God’s Servant & The Chosen

Yesterday I said that You are harder to understand than a computer.  I apologize for that, because really You’re not.  You are if someone tries to figure out why You are doing whatever, but if we just listen to You then You’re like  an open book.  We aren’t supposed to try and figure You out, we’re supposed to just trust You, that’s what faith is all about.

Cyrus the Great
Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians.

Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.

“An he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7).

 1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

42:1-2 – quoted in part in Matt 12:18-21 with reference to Christ.  There are four “servant songs” in which the servant is the Messiah: 42:1-4 (or 42:1-7 or 42:1-9), 49:1-6 (or 49:1-7 or 49:1-3), 50:4-9 (or 50:4-11), 52:13-53:12.

He is “Israel” in it’s ideal form.  The nation was to be a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6), but the Messiah would be the high priest who would atone for the sins of the world (53:4-12).

Cyrus was introduced in ch. 41 as a deliverer from Babylon, but the servant would deliver the world from the prison of sin (see v. 7).

“My servant” – see 41:8-9, Zech 3:8.  In the royal terminology of the ancient Near East “servant” meant something like “trusted enjoy” or “confidential representative.”

“Judgment” – a righteous world order (see v. 4).

2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

“Not cry, nor lift up…in the street” – the servant will not be a typical ruler who leads by loud proclamations; instead he will bring peace.

3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

“Bruised reed” – a bent reed, figurative of someone who is weak (see Ps 72:2, 4).  The servant will mend broken lives.

4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

The Tomb of Cyrus the Great: A Simple Tomb for a Great King
In the middle of the Iranian desert, in the ancient town of Pasargadae, stands the Tomb of Cyrus the Great, a monument to one of the most important rulers in Persian history. Cyrus was the founder of the Achaemenid Dynasty (c. 550-330 BC), which became the world’s largest empire before it was eclipsed by that of Alexander the Great.

As the “father of the Iranian nation,” Cyrus II of Persia, known as Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the first world leader to be given the epithet “the Great,” due to his conquering the Median, Lydian, and Neo-Babylonian empires.

The tomb was discovered by Alexander the Great in the late 4th century B.C. when he had conquered the Persian Empire. The most extensive description can be found in the Anabasis, the history of the campaigns of the Macedonian king, composed by Arrian of Nicomedia in the second century AD.

It is the fullest surviving account of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire, which survives complete in seven books. According to Arrian’s writings, Alexander commanded the Greek historian Aristobulus, who accompanied Alexander on his campaigns, to enter the tomb.

Inside he found a gold coffin, various ornaments studded with precious stones, and a table set with drinking vessels. The tomb was originally ornamented with an inscription that, according to Strabo’s notes, the famous Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian, stated:

“O man! I am Cyrus the Great, who gave the Persians an empire and was the King of Asia. Grudge me not, therefore, this monument.”

The inscription, with minor variations, was also mentioned by Plutarch and other ancient sources. However, no trace of any such inscription survives today.

“Wait for his law” – as do the nations in 2:2-4.  The servant will be a new Moses (see Deut 18:15-18; Acts 3:21-23, 26).

5  Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

“Called…righteousness” – similar to the call of Cyrus.

“Covenant” – the Messiah will fulfill the Davidic covenant as a king and will institute the new covenant by His death (Jer31:31-34; Heb 8:6-13, 9:15). 

“Light” – parallel to “salvation” in 49:6.

“Gentiles” – the work of Messiah will bring blessing to all nations, in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in Gen 12:3.

7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

“Bring out…prison” – from the prison of Babylon and also from spiritual and moral bondage (compare 61:1 and Lk 4:18).

8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

“New things” – the restoration of Israel.

10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.

12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.

13 The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.

“Mighty man” – a warrior.  God will fight as He did as the Red sea (Ex 15:3).

“Jealousy” – zeal with which he attacks his enemies.

“Cry, yea roar” – raise a battle cry that causes panic among the enemy.

14 I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.

“Long time” – during Israel’s humiliation and exile.

“Refrained myself” – the Hebrew verb is also used of Joseph, who controlled his emotions  while he tested his brothers (Gen 43:31; 45:1).

15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.

“Make the rivers islands” – perhaps to make travel easier.

16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

17  They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.

18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.

19 Who is blind, but my servant?  Or deaf, as my messenger that I sent?  Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant?

“Messenger that I sent’ – a term associated with prophets (see Hag 1:13; Isa 44:26; Mal 3:1).  Israel failed in its mission to be God’s messenger to the world and lead the nations to worship the true God.

20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.

Parthenon Temple, Athens, Greece
Parthenon, temple that dominates the hill of the Acropolis at Athens. It was built in the mid-5th century bce and dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena Parthenos (“Athena the Virgin”).

The temple is generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order, the simplest of the three Classical Greek architectural orders.

Directed by the Athenian statesman Pericles, the Parthenon was built by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias. Work began in 447 bce, and the building itself was completed by 438.

The same year a great gold and ivory statue of Athena, made by Phidias for the interior, was dedicated. Work on the exterior decoration of the building continued until 432 bce.

21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.

“Magnify the law…honorable” – not a future event but referring to how God honored His law in the past by communicating the law to Moses and the people in the awesome setting of mount Sinai (see Ex 34:29).

Israel was supposed to have fulfilled its mission as God’s messenger by keeping the law (Deut 4:5-8) and showing the nations the blessings and benefits of living under God’s righteous rule.

22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

“Robbed and spoiled” – by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

23 Who among you will give ear to this?  Who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?  Did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned?  For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

“Who gave Jacob for a spoil…?” – Babylon conquered Israel, not because their gods were stronger than the Lord, but because the Lord was punishing His people (1 Kgs 20:23).

25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.

“Poured upon him…anger” – Israel had a foretaste of the day of the Lord.

Some religions teach that you have to be baptized to be saved, is that true?  Also, what about the Virgin Birth, what if someone believes in Jesus, but not of the Virgin Birth?

The Chosen

This is complicated and I don’t have all the answers either.  Yesterday we talked about freewill and predestination.  We are all predestined to live on earth and we all have the freewill to believe or not to believe in Jesus Christ; to spend eternity with God or with Satan.

Acropolis, Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

The word acropolis is from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, “highest point, extremity”) and πόλις (polis, “city”). Although the term acropolis is generic and there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as “The Acropolis” without qualification. During ancient times it was known also more properly as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the first Athenian king.

While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495 – 429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site’s most important present remains including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.

The Parthenon and the other buildings were damaged seriously during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball.

Many think that certain people are predestined to be saved.  This is not exactly true, but then again, it’s not exactly false.  What is not true is that some are predestined to go to hell:

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways’; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Eze 33:11).

Before I say anymore let me clear something up, The Chosen and God’s people are not the same.  God chose the Israelites, the Jews, to be His people simply because He had to have a bloodline for Jesus, and I will prove this to you in a minute. 

If someone is of that bloodline that doesn’t mean they are chosen or saved, Paul is very clear on that:

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26-28).

And Jesus even said:

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias (Isaiah) prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their hearts is far from me” (Mk 7:6).

“Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matt 22:29).

Those people that are saved are people that have faith in Jesus Christ, that’s all there is to it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever lasting life (Jn 3:16).

Judas Iscariot, the disciple that betrayed Jesus, was a Jew.  No where in the Bible does it say that Judas asked Jesus to forgive him for what he did, he hung himself(Matt 27:5).  Therefore, as I said, just being in the same bloodline or being a Jew does not give you salvation.

Many say that once you’re saved you can’t lose your salvation.   Who says that, probably the Catholics and people like them.  The Bible says otherwise:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

Golgotha or Calvary?
“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull” (Mk 15:21-2).

According to all our historical records Jesus was crucified somewhere outside the city wall of Jerusalem. He was sentenced to death by the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, at the Praetorium, which we can now locate at the western entrance to Herod’s place.

Matthew and Luke repeat Mark, who was their source. John also names the place as Golgotha–place of the Skull, but he adds a detail, “the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city,” thus visible to passersby (Jn 19:20).

Golgotha is Aramaic for Skull. The more familiar name Calvary is based on the Latin Calvariae, or Skull, the word Jerome used when he translated the gospels into Latin. How or why the place got this name is unknown.

There is a late Jewish tradition, known also by Christian fathers like Origen, that Adam’s skull was buried in Jerusalem, which accounts for the tradition so common in medieval art of placing a skull at the foot of the cross.

Some have speculated that the name might be related to “Goliath,” based on the text of Samuel that mentions David bringing his severed head to Jerusalem (1 Sam 17:54).

Others have seen the name as describing a despicable place of execution, where skulls and bones would be strewn about. Still others, have seen it more as a physical description–perhaps of a craggy rock-like hillock that gave the appearance of a skull.

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Heb 6:4-6).

So Who is Chosen?

I have not found anything in the Bible that says that certain people are chosen to be saved.  God does have His favorites, not meaning that He loves them more, just that He prefers them to do His work.  Take Moses for example:

“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom 9:15-16).

God is not just a God, He will also be your friend if you choose:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…” (Ex 33:11).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou has spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name” (Ex 33:17).

Yet, remember, God knew Moses and all of us before we were even born (Eph 1:4-7), and we don’t know what we were prior to our human birth.  Did we exist prior to that?  I would say yes because God says that he knew us before the world was even created.

God works with those that love Him:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Moreover whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom 8:28-30).

Here is where things can get confusing.  Was Moses predestined to be one of the Chosen?  That I don’t know because I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says that and I don’t know what we were prior to our earthy birth.

Yet, even if Moses was predestined to be a prophet, he didn’t have to be one, God doesn’t make us do anything that we don’t want to do.  Just like we were all predestined to come to earth, we don’t have to go God’s way, that’s our choice:

“And  if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15).

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Prov 16:9).

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Ps 37:23).

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).

Jesus’ House in Nazareth?
Archaeologists working in Nazareth — Jesus’ hometown — in modern-day Israel have identified a house dating to the first century that was regarded as the place where Jesus was brought up by Mary and Joseph.

The house is partly made of mortar-and-stone walls, and was cut into a rocky hillside. It was first uncovered in the 1880s, by nuns at the Sisters of Nazareth convent, but it wasn’t until 2006 that archaeologists led by Ken Dark, a professor at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, dated the house to the first century, and identified it as the place where people, who lived centuries after Jesus’ time, believed Jesus was brought up.

Whether Jesus actually lived in the house in real life is unknown, but Dark says that it is possible.

”Was this the house where Jesus grew up? It is impossible to say on archaeological grounds,” Dark wrote in an article published in the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review. “On the other hand, there is no good archaeological reason why such an identification should be discounted.”

Jesus is believed to have grown up in Nazareth. Archaeologists found that, centuries after Jesus’ time, the Byzantine Empire (which controlled Nazareth up until the seventh century) decorated the house with mosaics and constructed a church known as the “Church of the Nutrition” over the house, protecting it.
Crusaders who ventured into the Holy Land in the 12th century fixed up the church after it fell into disrepair. This evidence suggests that both the Byzantines and Crusaders believed that this was the home where Jesus was brought up, Dark said.

The Htory of the Jesus House
Until recently few archaeological remains that date to the first century were known from Nazareth and those mostly consisted of tombs. However in the last few years, archaeologists have identified two first-century houses in this town. (The other house was discovered in 2009 and is not thought to be where Jesus grew up.)

Yet then again, God always gets His way:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isa 54:11).

God does nothing that is not in His best interest.  What is His best interest?  For us to be happy and safe.

The scripture directly above and those directly following makes me think of Jonah and the whale.  God wanted Johan to go to Nineveh and tell the people that if they didn’t change their evil ways (Jon 1:1-2) He was going to destroy them in 40 days.

Jonah hated the people of Nineveh because they were horrible evil people, so he tried to run from God and ended up in the belly of a whale.   After being in the whale for three days, (due to the scriptures it appears that Jonah went to hell – Jon 2:6), but he prayed for forgiveness and God saved him.

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? (Rom 9:20-21).

Here’s the kicker, God created the whale (Jon 1:17) for the sole purpose of swallowing Jonah and the whale vomited Jonah onto dry ground at God’s request (Jon 2:10).

So we can question, does God really give us freewill?  Yes He does, Jonah could have stayed in the belly of the whale and spend eternity in hell.  It was his choice to pray to God and it was through God’s grace that Jonah was saved.

To summarize all I have said, God loves everyone the same, everyone on earth were predestined to be born on earth as a human being, and out of those that accept Jesus God will choose to do His bidding.

As the following scripture says, God prefers the weak or unpopular or unknown to do His work (see Heb 11 for examples of some of the people God chose).

But unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor 1:24-27).

But Most Of All,
Know That Nobody is Chosen To Go To Hell
That is Each Person’s Choice. 

In the following scripture Jesus is talking to his disciples, but it pertains to everybody (see Jn 17).

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (Jn 15:15-16).