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Isaiah 41.8-10 is the first time in Isaiah that we are introduced to the concept of God’s servant. What could servants in Isaiah’s day expect from God? What can servants of the Lord expect from him in 2021?
Isaiah wrote this approximately 700 years before the time of Jesus.
But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
You whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41.8-10)
Let’s examine each verse and see what a privilege and responsibility it is to be God’s servant.
God’s Chosen Servant
Israel could trace their servant role to Abraham. When God chose Abraham, he included all of his descendants.
God told this to Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12.2-3).
Abraham and his descendants were chosen to be his servants. God promised to bless them, but also that they would be a blessing to the rest of the world.
Jesus added another dimension to what it means to be a servant of the Lord. He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.
“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” (John 15.14-16).
To be a friend and servant of Jesus Christ is an honor and privilege that is unequaled. By no means should we ever minimize this gracious gift.
— As friends and servants, we can know the plans of God.
— We are called to bear fruit, or as God told Abraham, to be a blessing to other people.
— It makes sense that the Master will help his servant when needed. The way God blesses us and benefits people around us is by answering our prayers.
Part of God’s Plan
Verse 10 reminds God’s people of his profound grace, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.”
The ancient hymn, “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing,” describes the human condition with clarity.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.
When we wander away from God in rebellion, unbelief, and idolatry, he does not cast us off. Rather, he renews his commitment to us.
Our sin does not eliminate the servant and friendship relationship we have with him. His faithfulness in the light of our unfaithfulness makes his love and grace known to the world.
The old bumper sticker, “Christians Aren’t Perfect, Just Forgiven,” is partially true. Yes, God forgives our sin. Praise God! Yet, there is more.
Forgiveness is not intended to be a round-and-round repeat of sin and forgiveness ad infinitum. The purpose of God’s grace is to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
“I AM” for Us
Verse 10 returns to the great “I AM” message of Isaiah. God’s essential name is revealed in the verb, “I AM.” He is active for us.
God’s I AM becomes an “I will” for his people. With three “I will” statements, God promises to care for his people.
I will strengthen you,
I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41.10)
God’s message about his relationship with us should reach its intended purpose in our lives.
(1) It should radically change what we believe about ourselves.
If we are a friend and a servant of God, we are valuable. Whatever we have previously believed about ourselves, God’s word is true and good. We are quite important to him and his work in the world.
(2) Our sin does not eliminate our role in God’s plan.
Isaiah does not recommend a life of rebellion and sin. However, Isaiah also proclaims God’s active love on behalf of sinners.
Our sin should drive us to God to receive grace, forgiveness, and restoration. In our restored state we will be a living display of what God desires to do in human life.
(3) God’s help is available to strengthen us and bring us to victory.
Paul’s words of praise were right on target, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15.57).
As we receive God’s grace and forgiveness, we can turn to God for help in every aspect of our lives. We are his friends and servants, who will join him to make a difference in the lives of others.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.
I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.
Please email your prayer requests to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.