Isaiah 50:4-11 (NIV)
The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.
I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.
Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.
It is very common to read these verses and say, “Oh, these are about Jesus, the suffering Servant.” But I think we miss out when we don’t read them as written as well. Yes, these unquestionably point to Jesus, but they were also true of Isaiah himself, a faithful servant of the Lord (whom the Talmud tells us was ordered sawn in two by the wicked King Manassas, but who stayed true to the very end). And, if we are in Christ, then these words need to be true of us as well. We, like Jesus, and like Isaiah, must be people:
- Who have a tongue that knows how to sustain the weary with a word (v4).
- Who waken each morning with our ears already tuned to the Lord’s voice, intent on obeying every word (v5).
- Who won’t turn back from doing and saying exactly what God instructs, even in the face of bitter persecution (v6).
- Wo rely on the Lord so strongly that opposition only sets us on God’s path more firmly and fully, and makes us rely on Him more completely (v7).
- Who face accusers confident in our own faithfulness to God and in our essential righteousness in Him (vv8-9).
- Who calls people everywhere to the same faith in the Lord that we ourselves walk in (v10).
- Who confront spiritual laziness and outright idolatry among God’s people, and pronounce God’s words to them as a warning and encouragement to repent (v11).
All of those are not simply tings that characterized Jesus. If we are Christlike disicples (God’s ultimate plan for all of us – cf. Romans 8:29 and context), then these need to be things that characterize us more and more at the deepest level of our souls.
Father, this is a challenging vision, but it is precisely what You have told us that You have in store for each of us: transformation in to the image and likeness of Jesus. Help us to keep this vision crisp and clear before us every single day, so that every single day we can open ourselves to the melting, molding, transforming power of Your Spirit that dwells in our hearts, so that You can make us all just like Jesus. Amen.