I have put my spirit upon my servant; he will bring forth justice to the nations. – Isaiah 42:1
Justice. Are there times when you hope for things to be just? Do you ever desire that life be fair?
By the time we reach Isaiah 42, God’s people are craving justice.
The first half of Isaiah has been warning. The people of Israel were rebelling, God was saying essentially, “Repent or I will take my hand of protection off of you.”
Did the people of Judah repent? No.
Did God take his hand of protection off? Yes.
Did the Babylonians come and was there exile? Absolutely.
And so we turn to this next part of Isaiah … hope! The words of warning are now giving way to assurances of hope.
Hope was first immediate: Israel will be restored. For example, as it says just a chapter later (and as our church frequently sings), “When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and the wind and the waves will not overwhelm you. Do not fear.” Hope! “I have called you by name and you are mine.” Forgiveness. Restoration.
This was also a promise of justice. The Babylonians attacked God’s people. And while God’s people surely deserved judgment, judgment is God’s prerogative, not man’s. Thus, in this section of Isaiah, God’s people were hearing forgiveness, restoration, hope, and justice. And that’s the immediate message for the people in roughly 500 BC.
But woven into this short verse is another message of forgiveness, restoration, hope, and justice. Do you see it? It’s prophecy. Messianic prophecy. “I [the Father] have put my spirit [the Holy Spirit] upon my servant [Jesus Christ, the Son].”
How do we know that this is about Jesus? The Gospels tell us! Speaking of a time of healing and miracles, Matthew 12:17-18 records that “this was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”
Isaiah 42:1 proclaimed forgiveness, restoration, hope, and justice to exiled Jews. And that was a gift. But this verse promises more. To all who feel the sting of injustice, the pangs of hopeless, the worry that they can never be forgiven, a sense of lostness and exile, God promises to bring restoration.
In Christ’s Love,
a guy so familiar with the
gift of justice and restoration
that I sometimes take
it for granted