Read Isaiah 42:1–7.

Sometimes we forget that we are idol makers. We cling to the idols of power, wealth, pride, other people, institutions, misinformation, tradition. And sometimes we also forget that God is not silent in the face of idolatry and evil. He exposes their empty promises and reveals Christ as the remedy for our idol-making tendencies.

In Isaiah 42, God responds to the empty idolatry and meaningless false gods he addressed in the previous chapter by announcing the coming of his servant in whom he delights, and chose, and in whom his Spirit dwells. While idols are weak and powerless, God’s promised, faithful servant will bring forth justice to the entire world. He will not tread on the vulnerable or boast in pride. Instead, his tender compassion will be shown toward those who are weak, hurting, or whose faith is faltering.

So much is happening in our world today that can cause us to question where God is when the attraction of idols deludes even the most faithful among us, when injustice envelops our world like a dark cloud, and when the weak can barely breathe because their cries for relief have rendered them weary. This passage reminds us that the promised servant will one day take all that is wrong with the world and make it right. He’s chosen by God to bring justice in humility and love. He’s called by God to be a covenant for his people, the blameless agent to carry out the word and will of God.

In Matthew 12:15–21, after Jesus has healed many people who were part of a large crowd that followed him, the Word tells us that “this was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah” in Isaiah 42:1–4. All the promises of God reside in Jesus and have their fulfillment in him (Matt. 5:17; 2 Cor. 1:20). Jesus embodies truth, justice, righteousness, faithfulness, humility, meekness, and every fruit of the Spirit. And for all who call him “Lord,” through our union with him, our lives are to reflect the same—albeit imperfectly. For only Jesus has the power to bring the nations out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Only Jesus can set prisoners free from sin and darkness.

As we reflect this Advent season on God’s faithfulness to send his servant, may we remember that while justice was ultimately served on the cross, it is also a future reality that we long for as we await the Second Advent.

Kristie Anyabwile is the editor of His Testimonies, My Heritage and the author of Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study (March 2022).

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