Mystery Man of Isaiah

The Calling of the Mystery Man to Ministry

Have you ever been so pre-occupied doing something, or your eyes 'captured' so that you haven't noticed what is happening around you? It is rather unsettling, even embarrassing when someone shouts almost in your ear to get your attention. Well, you will appreciate what Isaiah is trying to do in chapter 41:28 – 42:1.

The Lord was saying to His people through Isaiah: "For I looked, and there was no man; I looked among them, but there was no counsellor, who, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Indeed they are all worthless; their works are nothing; their moulded images are wind and confusion."

The Nation of Judah was 'bewitched' by idolatry. Its focus was captured by the cultic practices which were offensive to the God of the Covenant given at Mount Sinai. To break the spell, Isaiah seems to scream at them "Behold!"

To what is Isaiah seeking to turn their gaze? It is to a person, a special person. "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My elect One in whom my soul delights! I have put my Spirit upon him." Surely we have here another picture of the Mystery Man who pervades the writing of this prophet.

To Gentile ears the term 'servant' implies a subservient position. It makes the person so designated less than the ones being served. But in the Scriptures it is often a term rich in meaning, prestige and authority. That great statesman Moses is considered to be a 'Servant.' No one in their right mind would denigrate Moses as being beneath them.

The same applies here: "Behold! My Servant . . . " It is a position of honour, responsibility and accountability. It stems from the association of the Servant with the Person and work and purposes of Yahweh.

Isaiah is wrenching their gaze away from the hypnotic power of idolatry and its abominable practices, to the unblemished, unsullied character and bearing of the Servant – God's Servant. He wants them to get a good look at the One who will reclaim the nation of Israel and Judah for the Lord God. More than that, this Person will be the One who will capture the hearts and allegiance of the Gentiles.

The character that unfolds in chapter 42:2-4 is fascinating. It is entirely different from the usual hero types. The Servant isn't initially some sword-waving swashbuckling commando trampling down all who stand in his way. The prophet tries to inform the readers that God's Servant comes with a different approach.

He is exercising a ministry of compassion to draw men and women unto God in praise, thankfulness and adoration. There is plenty of Scripture to warn us that compassion spurned or disfigured will be changed into judgement from which there is no escape. However, before that takes place God seeks to link people to Himself through the character and ministry of the Servant.

We read these verses of Isaiah 42 one by one: "He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.'" No rabble rouser is this Man. No agitator for violent overthrow of the existing systems. He wouldn't use modern day technology to inflame the volatile natures of certain followers. History has a long list of such men and women who have led their followers into destruction and the world into chaos. The Servant has another agenda. It is tender caring, it is justice, and it is truth based on righteousness.

"A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench" – this is just simply an amazing picture of the tenderness and perseverance of this Man. The "bruised reed" has been hurt; it is struggling to stay upright; it is vulnerable to the slightest miscalculation of attention and thereby is in danger of collapsing in pieces. His sensitivity is such that a person in such a condition is safe.

The "smoking flax he will not quench" creates a picture in the mind of the flame slowly but surely dying. The fuel has just about finished. Somehow this Servant can re-ignite the failing sparks, refuel it without extinguishing it, and bring it to life again. Such is the impact this Mystery Man, otherwise known as the Servant, will have upon those who trust themselves to His care.

"He will not fail nor be discouraged, till he has established justice in the earth" says this will not be easy. He will not be overwhelmingly appreciated or universally endorsed without effort or time being involved. The human heart is such a mixture of self righteousness and sin, do-it-yourself endeavours, and 'the world owes me a living' attitude, that even the Servant is resisted in His compassion and call to justice and truth.

However, He is not discouraged. He has a calling from the Lord God of Hosts, and the sureness of its fulfilment refreshes Him in the midst of people's rejection of both Himself and His message.

It is readily seen that the Servant is not limited to the land of Israel, called the Land of Promise, "a land flowing with milk and honey." Whilst that will be His special delight His intent is to establish justice across the whole earth. That is a goal worth waiting for. That is a promise worth hanging in there for. The Servant will achieve it. What a joy to live under it!

So, as our journey through the writing of the prophet takes us ever deeper into the mystery of the Promised One, so too it presents a clearer and clearer definition of the Man. As we continue our journey, Isaiah confronts us with the greatest challenge to our understanding, and at the same time reveals an awesome insight into the Mystery Man's commitment to reclaiming for God people such as you and I.