There are many fascinating literary styles and patterns in the back half of Isaiah. It is truly a masterpiece. 40-48 is one, 49-55 anther, and 56-66 is it’s own (also a chiasm, an ancient literary type, which creates an arrow of focus. Think of it as E-D-C-B-A-B-C-D-E. The outer corresponding sections mirror each other and bring the focal point to A. But more on that when we get there!)
Each of these three sections build on each other, and use the word “Servant” multiple times, but in reference to different people. 40-48 calls Israel “My Servant”. 49-55 references “The Servant of the LORD” (Christ), who accomplishes what Israel could not. Lastly, 56-66 calls the “Servant” the Redeemed.
The one exception to this is 42:1-9, which is about Christ: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” (42:1)
Focusing, now on the themes of this first section, the LORD encourages Israel in the midst of this tremulous time.
“But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (41:8-10)
It all sounds so lovely and fatherly, which is why verse 14 always makes me laugh:
“Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the LORD, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”
He causally slips in a “you worm”. Haha. Catches me off guard, every time.
He’s going to take care of Israel, but notice the new word He introduces: Redeemer. He will go on to use it 13 more times in Isaiah, and not just for Israel, but for the whole world.
You will also notice, in the 40-48 section, an on-going comparison of The LORD and idols. He spends a good amount of time mocking them for being deaf, mute, lifeless and generally worthless.
“Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together.” (41:23)
“Do something. Anything.” He mocks.
I feel, if we pay attention, we can find the whole Gospel in Isaiah 40-66. It’s incredible. So let’s pay attention, namely, to the first step of admitting how lame our idols are. I’m very excited for these chapters and love your thoughts and observations, as always.
Bring your idols to the LORD, today, and pray for His power to open our deaf ears and blind eyes to see His truth.