This week, I started listening to Christmas music on the way to work. Our 24/7 Christmas music radio station plays everything from crooning Bing to the musical equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater. One frosty morning, fresh off my Isaiah Advent reading and a mug of hot tea, the radio wished me a Holly Jolly Christmas that was positively jarring.
Christmas really is “the most wonderful time of the year” for Christ followers, but there is so much left unsaid in the average Christmas song. Reading through Isaiah this year is deepening my desire for truth-saturated music to accompany the prophet’s unveiling of God’s rescue plan, first through a coming Divine King in Isaiah 1-39 and then through a coming Servant in Isaiah 40-55.
Isaiah’s four Servant Songs point to Jesus with startling clarity–but only because I’m reading with the benefit of truth revealed in the New Testament. One by one, they unwrap the character and the assignment of Messiah. Let the music of grace and God’s provision wash over your heart as we rehearse Isaiah’s four songs of the suffering Servant.
Isaiah’s Four Servant Songs
- Unstopping and Unstoppable (Isaiah 42:1-9)
The promised Servant will bring justice, comfort, and encouragement. Best of all, he will not fail to accomplish his purposes, for he knows in advance the outcome of all his decisions and actions.
- For All Nations (Isaiah 49:1-13)
The Servant will be womb-formed, and his mission is the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people, not merely to one nation, but to all nations.
- Suffering and Glory (Isaiah 50:4-11)
Here, the Servant makes it clear that he will accomplish his purposes and God will be glorified, but it will happen through suffering. He is absolutely certain of God’s help and determined to fulfill the divine will, come what may.
- Humiliation and Exaltation (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
The final song underscores the Bible’s divine authorship, for there’s no other way a seven-hundred-year-old description could contain such minute detail, as God reveals to Isaiah the brutal facts of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. Isaiah 53 insists that Christmas joy is intimately linked with Good Friday suffering and Easter resurrection.
Obedience Requires a “Flinty” Faith
Long ago, I learned that one of Elisabeth Elliot’s favorite verses came from the third servant song:
The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”Isaiah 50:7
Flint is hard and tough, and it’s a stone that, historically, has been used in making tools and starting fires. Jesus practiced a “flinty” obedience to all that our redemption required because he had a “flinty” faith in and commitment to God’s sovereign plan.
There are ten thousand points of application in this week’s reading from Isaiah, but this is mine: I want to sing the Servant’s song of obedience.
God’s assignments do not always come with all the details I would like to have. However, his help is available in fulfilling his purposes in my life. It is my privilege to obey and to follow.Tweet
Or… Elisabeth Elliot said it so much better:
God is God. Because he is God, he is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in his holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.”
What assignment from God is requiring your “flinty” obedience today? Let’s take the grace that’s offered for this moment and set our faces toward obedience, trusting for his help which cannot fail.
Because “he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found,”
God’s mission–revealed in Isaiah–is the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people, not merely to one nation, but to all nations.Tweet
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