Is the Job Too Small?
Lord, I am Your servant to my generation of fellow humans.
Read ISAIAH 49:1–7
Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
7 This is what the Lord says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1,2).
Occasionally I meet restless people, discontented because they feel their job isn’t big enough for them or they’re going nowhere with it. The servant (introduced first in Isaiah 42:1–9) made just such a complaint against the Lord. Like Jeremiah (Jer. 15:15,18; 20:7,18), he feels he’s not getting his message across and is wasting his time (4). It gives God the opportunity to teach the servant the reality behind it all.
Using choice imagery, the servant recognizes he was chosen, protected and equipped by God (2) to showcase God’s majesty in the world (3), but daily
experience suggests that no one’s paying any attention. He’s actually “despised” (7). God, however, says it doesn’t matter what people think of him;
what God himself thinks is all that counts (5). He may only be a servant, but he’s a servant of the Lord. Could he serve any greater master?
Furthermore, his mission couldn’t be greater. It was a mission not only to reconcile Jacob to God (5b,6a) but also to enlighten the pagan Gentiles about the Lord’s salvation (6b). It’s a global mission. Could any task be more comprehensive? The problem was that the servant’s judgments were short-term. He presently appears to be making little progress, but kings and princes will submit to him because he’s been chosen by the faithful Lord himself (7). So, however lousy you feel, servant, keep going.
People have puzzled over who the servant is. Was it Jeremiah, another historical figure, or Israel herself? Where do we Gentiles fit in, since there
seem to be lessons for us here, as well? Our explanations don’t exhaust the meaning of these verses, and the best understanding is that the “unique things” said here are about “a unique person,” Jesus, the Christ (J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah).
If your Christian experience seems mundane and unexciting, ask yourself whom you serve and what your mission is. You’re on the winning side, so persevere. Read Hebrews 10:36.
Lord, You have equipped me to do a job for You. Help me to fulfill it.
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