The Gift of Justice

Key Verse: “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.”
—Isaiah 42:1

Selected Scripture:
Isaiah 42:1-9

ISAIAH PROPHESIED OF Cyrus, a type of Christ, 150 years before Israel was released from Babylon. The mind of the prophet is led, however, to a far greater deliverer than Cyrus, at times losing sight of him and the restoration of the Jews to their own land altogether. In fact, Isaiah’s attention seems to be fixed wholly on the future Messiah. Today’s lesson describes this servant, guided by the Lord’s Spirit to deep compassion, going forth to bring justice to the nations.—Isa. 42:1

This prophecy says of our Lord he will not make the “bruised reed” or “smoking flax,” picturing those who are described as already broken down with a sense of sin and calamity, even more wretched. Nor will he deepen their afflictions, or multiply their sorrows. The sense is, that he will have an affectionate regard for the broken-hearted, the humble, the penitent, and the afflicted. (vs. 3) It continues, “He will not lose hope or courage, he will establish justice on the earth. Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.” (vs. 4, Today’s English Version) Matthew, in 12:17-21, quotes Isaiah’s prophecy and attributes the fulfillment of it to Jesus.

According to God’s instructions it was the duty of his representatives to tell the Gospel to whoever had ears to hear—to the Jews first, but also to the Gentiles. The Lord showed that the lamp of Truth which God had now lighted was not for the Jews exclusively, but as the prophet had already declared, it was to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles,” and also salvation unto the “ends of the earth.”—vs. 6; Luke 2:32; Isa. 52:10

The prophet continues, “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: 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.” (Isa. 42:5-6) Isaiah here points to the blood of Christ which will seal the New Covenant by which Israel and the Gentiles will come into covenant relationship with God in Christ’s thousand-year kingdom.

The blessing of the world in that kingdom means the breaking open of the prison-house of death and the setting at liberty the captives, who for six thousand years have been going into the grave. For this reason our Lord is called the Life-giver, because his great work will give back life to the world of mankind who lost life in Adam. The Lord tells of this great work saying “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28,29 Revised Standard Version) When Isaiah said, “He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles,” this resurrection by judgment will be the opportunity to demonstrate willingness to obey God’s commandments in Christ’s kingdom.—Isa. 42:1

This is as the Lord promised, “The former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.”—Isa. 42:9

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