“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.”
—Isaiah 42:6–7 (ESV)
In Isaiah 41, we see a major evil plaguing the Israelite heart: idol worship. People abandoned their Lord and were bowing to man-made idols again. God responded by rebuking both the idols and those who worshipped them. To the idols, he said, “Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you” (Isaiah. 41:24).
The Lord then prophesied that one day he will send his chosen servant who will bring justice to the earth and true deliverance to his people. He will free them from their slavery to idols and remove the darkness that was plaguing their hearts.
This chosen servant is none other than Jesus Christ, and Isaiah 42:6-7 is a prophecy regarding God’s plan to use his servant to bring salvation to his people.
The first declaration of the prophecy is that God’s presence will be with his servant. He who has called him will not leave him to the task alone. The Lord says, “I will take you by the hand and keep you” (Isaiah 42:6). As the servant carries out the work of his divine purpose, the Lord himself will actively uphold and sustain him.
The second pronouncement is that the servant will be God’s gift to the world. Notice that verse six does not say that the servant will give God’s covenant to the nations, but that he, himself, will be given as the covenant. Likewise, it does not say that he will share God’s light with the world, but that he himself will be given as “a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). God has given Jesus, himself, as a gift to all who believe in him.
Finally, the closing portion of the proclamation notes that the servant will serve a purpose, to bring deliverance to the world, by being a light. God told him that by his light he will “open the eyes that are blind,” deliver the “prisoners from the dungeon,” and bring out “those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7). Darkness signifies spiritual alienation from God, the source of all life and light. Jesus removes this separation for all those who put their faith in him. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
What a joy and blessing to read of God’s promised, covenantal gift of Jesus Christ the Righteous as the Light of the World, chosen to bring salvation to his people. And yet, even while this Old Testament passage is pointing forward to Jesus Christ, we can clearly see great parallel truths that apply to all believers today who are called to be his servants.
In Acts 26, when Saul was knocked over on the road to Damascus by the blindingly brilliant light of Jesus, he was appointed by Christ as a servant and a witness. He told Saul, “‘I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’” (Acts 26:17b–18 ESV). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus further proclaims all true followers to be “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).
Just as God promised to send Christ to bring freedom to the captives, so Christ has called and commissioned us, as fellow servants of light, to be his witnesses to that same end. Believer, you walk in step with your righteous calling when you display the light of Christ and proclaim the freedom-granting truth of the gospel to those separated from God in idolatrous darkness.
God does not leave you alone as you glorify him in this mission; his presence will continually guide and support you. You can rest in the same reassuring truth the Lord spoke to young Joshua, who was overwhelmed after Moses’ passing and lacked confidence that he could do the work God was calling him to do. “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Josh. 1:5).
Paul Masih lives and serves in northwest India his wife, Kristi, and their children, Emma and Caleb. Paul is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Chandigarh and the executive director of Uttermost International. Uttermost is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization founded by Paul to help facilitate ministry partnerships with their church network in northwest India.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay