"But thou, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen...
Thou art my servant." Isaiah 12:8,9.
"Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my
soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment
to the nations." Isaiah 42:1.
"Who is blind as my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that
I send? Who is blind as he that is made perfect, and blind as the Lord's
servant." Isaiah 42:19.
"Behold my servant..." Isaiah 52:13.
A closer reading of the context of the above passages will
make clear that they do not all refer to one and the same "servant." Two
servants are mentioned, one in chapter 12, the other in chapter 42 and 52. The
one a disappointment and heartbreak; the other the Lord's delight. The one a
failure and a reproach; the other a triumph and glory. With chapter 40 a new
prospect opens up; blessings and promises and hopes are made known, but these
are all secured in and by this latter Servant. The nations are to reap the
benefit and their "desirable things" are to come and judgment is to be
established for them, but only through this Servant in whom the Lord has His
delight. The first servant has failed, and his failure is contained in one
comprehensive word - "idolatry." It is indeed a comprehensive word. The Old
Testament sense is still the only idea which the majority have of idolatry;
that is, the worship of heathen gods in the form of images, etc. But in the
New Testament it is clearly revealed to be a matter of the spirit or heart,
and therefore is of far wider dimensions and far more inclusive. For instance,
covetousness is said to be idolatry.
The Cause of Failure is Idolatry; What is Idolatry?
Idolatry is a divided heart. If in any particular the heart
is divided, and the Lord does not have the full and final place, that is
idolatry. A reservation, another consideration and influence from another
direction, an affection, ambition, possession, pursuit, indulgence, which
stands in the way of the utter will of God and His Glory is idolatry. Upon
that thing, and because of that divided heart the heavenly purpose will crash,
the vocation will break down, the servant be a disappointment, and the
blessing to the world be hindered. That servant will be set aside.
Worldliness is Idolatry?
But worldliness is not necessarily going out with the world
in its pursuits, pleasures, passions, interests. Worldliness is
world-likeness, and world-likeness is to be actuated by the spirit of the
world. What is that? In a word, it is personal interest. This can be just as
strong in the things of the Kingdom of God as in other things. Ambition,
reputation, prestige, influence, power, opportunity, advantage, recognition,
appreciation, success, following, acceptance, favour, place, etc., this is the
world-spirit. They all contain - recognised or unrecognised - pride, jealousy,
envy, covetousness, prejudice, unbelief, bitterness, and many other things
which come out when such considerations are thwarted or checked.
"The Lord looketh on the heart." "The heart is deceitful
above all things." This deceitfulness is found in the fact that so many who
started well, making great sacrifices, paying a great price, suffering much
for their stand, and being greatly used of God, have eventually come to a
place of self-importance, importance to God, importance to God's work, and
this quite imperceptibly, so that they still regarded themselves as the truest
and humblest of men, but not recognising that their real spiritual
ministry and message had gone, and an "ability" which is of man has taken the
place of that ability which is of God through utter dependence and brokenness
upon Him. This deceitfulness works so slowly, so minutely, so adorned, as to
defeat any detection but that of the eye which is "as a flame of fire," but at
length, however great may be the seeming gain, for all the deepest
spiritual purposes of God that servant is a disappointment, a heartbreak, and
is set aside.
Loud and strong as may have been his denunciations of worldliness; clever
and able as may have been his exposures and analyses; the horror of this thing
has not haunted his secret chamber of prayer. The very extensiveness and
ponderousness of his programme has been the occasion which this thing has
silently and subtly taken to insinuate its sinister presence.
All this only suggests the direction in which there stands
The Servant in whom the Lord Delights.
The 19th verse is the key to the character and life of
such. Here, of course, is the Lord Jesus, the model servant of Jehovah. As
such we are regarding Him here. His atoning work as in chapter 53 stands by
itself. We do not share that service, and in that matter we cannot be like
Him. But in the principles of His life we are called to be one with Him, and
as they truly govern us, so we also may approximate to the place in Christ
where the Lord's delight may be in us. Two things, then, are said to
characterise Him; blindness and deafness.
Israel, the failing servant, was said to be both of these;
but Israel was blinded and deafened by idolatry. The Lord Jesus was
Blinded and Deafened by Devotion.
While there is a blindness and deafness which is a tragedy,
there is that which is a glory.
Satan found in Him no ears or eyes for any of his voices
and visions when in the wilderness he sought to suggest that necessity has no
law; love has no law, and success has no law. Even when these suggestions are
wrapped up in scripture the true Servant of the Lord will not listen or look.
Starvation, long delay and rejection, and the bitterness of Calvary are chosen
rather than self-preservation, self-advancement, and self-realisation if these
mean a hair's breadth deviation from the will of God. God's end can never be
assured if God's method is not honoured. No crowd can rush this one into a
mock kingdom which will complicate the spiritual issue of His mission. No
kindly solicitude for His safety and comfort expressed through the sentiment
of an intimate friend can divert Him from the accepted way, and make Him
insensible to the fact that it is still the adversary - the serpent - twisting
and fawning. No bribe in the nature of a promised belief in Him and a
following, even when things have reached the point of the most unspeakable
suffering can bring Him from the Cross. This Servant is
A Whole Burnt Offering.
He is here in recognition of God's rights and is out to
secure them for Him. The rights are all gathered up in one phrase, "Thy Will,"
and that will requires the uttermost abandonment with not a suggestion of "My
Will." Such an abandonment will ever make the servant of the Lord to be "not
of this world" in mind and spirit. It will mean many a saying of "Nay." It
will bring much misunderstanding: and the opportunists will get all the
advancements in a realm of a certain kind of success. Satan will make such the
object of his untiring attention. But spiritual value can never be weighed and
measured in the judgments of sense, and life must never be measured by the
wine drunk but by the wine poured forth.
There are eyes and ears which depend upon blindness and deafness for their
sight and hearing. In this representative and model Servant of Jehovah the
very fact of His utter blindness and deafness in one realm secured and
maintained for Him a vision and a voice in another. Hear Him: "Nothing of
Himself... but what He seeth the Father doing, that doeth He." "As I hear I
speak." He lives in full view of the heavenly activities of the Father, and
within the Oracle of His spirit the voice is never silent. Only for one
terrible moment while our sins were all upon Him laid, as the Brazen Altar
engulfed Him was that vision withdrawn and that voice hushed. But we need
never share that, it relates to atonement for sin, and He has by one offering
forever perfected the comers thereunto. He has been found faithful.
May we also present our bodies a living sacrifice, and on no consideration
turn from that Cross which means the Will of God fully done. It is not worth
it to have our request and leanness of soul as the price. It is no gain to
have gratification of the outer eyes and ears and a lost inner vision and