3. Messiah's Obedience
Isaiah 50:4 The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 50:5 The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. 50:6 I gave my back to the strikers, and my cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I didn't hide my face from shame and spitting. 50:7 For the Lord Yahweh will help me; therefore I have not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be disappointed. 50:8 He is near who justifies me; who will bring charges against me? Let us stand up together: who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 50:9 Behold, the Lord Yahweh will help me; who is he who shall condemn me? Behold, all they shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. 50:10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God. 50:11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who adorn yourselves with torches around yourselves; walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled. You shall have this of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.
After discovering some of the things that will identity the Servant in the first Servant song and finding the Servant's mission in the second Servant song, we now see obedience in this the third Servant song. It is obedience of God and trust in God regardless of spite, evil, malice and bitterness. From verse 4 we see that the Servant is willing to learn. This willingness to learn is a lifelong learning as indicated in the phrase "morning by morning". Each morning the Servant awakes and is ready to be fully obedient to God throughout the day. On top of that his words have power. He is able to give comfort and counsel as He consoles the weary, despised and rejected. Those people who like Him are undergoing trials, temptations and having to endure. This Servant in no way rebels against God, and this Servant is sinless and offers faultless obedience to God (v5). Nothing will stop Him from living a life of obedience to God, hence not retreating or hiding (v6). The nation of Israel had forgotten to listen to God and was rebellious, disobedient and wearisome.
The Servant is also willingly suffering by giving Himself over to His tormentors, and offering His body to be beaten, scarred, shamed and spat upon. This Servant is the ultimate Prophet and willing to give His all in obedience to God Almighty. The full details of the suffering of this Servant are at this point in Isaiah still not given. But we do know at this point in Isaiah, that He is willing to obey in both his mind and his body, so that all glory will go to God. This Servant sets his face like stone towards His goal, because He knows that God will help Him to achieve. The Servant's confidence to achieve is not in His own strength to endure but rather a reliance on God's help to overcome all that would cause Him to stumble and give up. This Servant is not on a pedestal above every other human, but is rather on the same level as each person. He is not so detached from other people that He is untouchable. Rather, this Servant lives a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is achievable and a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible.
And what is the response of the people of God, Israel, to his Servant (v10-11)? Some of the people of Israel fear and obey the Lord as the Servant does, but most do not. The Servant has shown people that what God desires is not hollow words but obedience regardless of the personal cost. This Servant has shown this in His life of total abandonment to God and obedience to, and trust of, the Almighty God. Others are rebellious and will be destroyed by their own rebellion (v11) This Servant challenges everybody to make a choice. Life a life of total obedience to God, or be destroyed by your own rebellion. There is a choice to be made between righteousness and wickedness - a choice between obedience to God and rebellion against God.
Jesus as the Servant
We see here a first glimpse of what would come about when Jesus would be crucified. Did not Jesus set his face like stone towards Jerusalem and to the cross He would bear? Were not Jesus' words comforting to the tired, weak and oppressed - such as the Samaritan woman at the well? Jesus was sinless as He lived a life of total obedience to God. Was Jesus' beard not plucked out in handfuls? Was his face beaten beyond recognition by His captors? His back reduced to hamburger mince by the flagellating whips that contained metal and bone. His face was spat upon and cursed. Jesus Christ lived a life of total obedience and sacrifice to God. As we read and study the Gospels, we discover that Jesus endured and lived a life of obedient discipleship par excellence. Look to Jesus Christ, "the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls." (Hebrews 12v2-3)