“My Chosen One, Whom My Soul Has Approved!”
1, 2. Why is chapter 42 of Isaiah of interest to Christians today?
“‘YOU are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’” (Isaiah 43:10) This declaration by Jehovah, recorded by the prophet Isaiah in the eighth century B.C.E., shows that Jehovah’s ancient covenant people were a nation of witnesses. They were God’s chosen servant. Some 2,600 years later, in 1931, anointed Christians publicly declared that these words applied to them. They took the name Jehovah’s Witnesses and wholeheartedly accepted the responsibilities associated with being God’s earthly servant.
2 Jehovah’s Witnesses earnestly desire to please God. For this reason, the 42nd chapter of the book of Isaiah is of intense interest to each one of them, for it provides a portrait of a servant whom Jehovah approves and another of a servant whom he rejects. Considering this prophecy and its fulfillment gives insight into what leads to God’s approval and what leads to his disfavor.
“I Have Put My Spirit in Him”
3. What does Jehovah prophesy through Isaiah about “my servant”?
3 Through Isaiah, Jehovah prophesies the coming of a servant whom he himself will choose: “Look! My servant, on whom I keep fast hold! My chosen one, whom my soul has approved! I have put my spirit in him. Justice to the nations is what he will bring forth. He will not cry out or raise his voice, and in the street he will not let his voice be heard. No crushed reed will he break; and as for a dim flaxen wick, he will not extinguish it. In trueness he will bring forth justice. He will not grow dim nor be crushed until he sets justice in the earth itself; and for his law the islands themselves will keep waiting.”—Isaiah 42:1-4.
4. Who is the foretold “chosen one,” and how do we know this?
4 Who is the Servant referred to here? We are not left in doubt. We find these words quoted in the Gospel of Matthew and applied to Jesus Christ. (Matthew 12:15-21) Jesus is the beloved Servant, the “chosen one.” When did Jehovah put his spirit upon Jesus? In 29 C.E., at the time of Jesus’ baptism. The inspired record describes that baptism and says that after Jesus rose from the water, “the heaven was opened up and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.’” In this way Jehovah personally identified his beloved Servant. Jesus’ subsequent ministry and the miraculous works that he performed proved that Jehovah’s spirit was indeed upon him.—Luke 3:21, 22; 4:14-21; Matthew 3:16, 17.
‘He Will Bring Forth Justice to the Nations’
5. Why was clarification of justice needed in the first century C.E.?
5 Jehovah’s Chosen One was to “bring forth,” or make stand out, true justice. “What justice is he will make clear to the nations.” (Matthew 12:18) How this was needed in the first century C.E.! The Jewish religious leaders taught a distorted view of justice and righteousness. They sought to attain righteousness by following a rigid code of laws—many of their own making. Their legalistic justice was void of mercy and compassion.
6. In what ways did Jesus make true justice known?
6 In contrast, Jesus revealed God’s view of justice. By what he taught and how he lived, Jesus showed that true justice is compassionate and merciful. Just consider his famous Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew, chapters 5-7) What a masterful explanation of how justice and righteousness should be practiced! When we read the Gospel accounts, are we not touched by Jesus’ compassion for the poor and afflicted? (Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; Luke 7:13) He carried his comforting message to many who were like bruised reeds, bent over and knocked about. They were like a smoldering flaxen wick, their last spark of life almost smothered. Jesus neither broke a “crushed reed” nor extinguished “a dim flaxen wick.” Rather, his loving and compassionate words and actions lifted up the hearts of the meek.—Matthew 11:28-30.
7. Why could the prophecy say that Jesus would ‘not cry out or raise his voice in the street’?
7 Why, though, does the prophecy say that Jesus would ‘not cry out or raise his voice, and he would not let his voice be heard in the street’? Because he did not promote himself, as did many in his day. (Matthew 6:5) When curing a leper, he told the healed man: “See that you tell nobody a thing.” (Mark 1:40-44) Rather than seeking publicity and having people reach conclusions on the basis of secondhand reports, Jesus wanted them to discern for themselves on the basis of solid evidence that he was the Christ, Jehovah’s anointed Servant.
8. (a) How did Jesus bring forth “justice to the nations”? (b) What does Jesus’ illustration about the neighborly Samaritan teach us about justice?
8 The Chosen Servant was to bring forth “justice to the nations.” This Jesus did. Apart from emphasizing the compassionate nature of godly justice, Jesus taught that it should embrace all people. On one occasion Jesus reminded a man versed in the Law that he should love God and his neighbor. The man asked Jesus: “Who really is my neighbor?” Perhaps he expected Jesus to answer: “Your fellow Jew.” But Jesus told the parable of the neighborly Samaritan. In the parable a Samaritan came to the aid of a man set upon by robbers, while a Levite and a priest had refused to help. The questioner had to admit that on this occasion the despised Samaritan was the neighbor, not the Levite or the priest. Jesus concluded his illustration with the advice: “Be doing the same yourself.”—Luke 10:25-37; Leviticus 19:18.
“He Will Not Grow Dim nor Be Crushed”
9. How will an understanding of the nature of true justice affect us?
9 Since Jesus made clear the nature of true justice, his disciples learned to display this quality. So must we. First of all, we need to accept God’s standards of good and bad, since he has the right to determine what is just and righteous. As we strive to do things Jehovah’s way, our upright conduct will speak volumes about what true justice is.—1 Peter 2:12.
10. Why does displaying justice entail sharing in the preaching and teaching work?
10 We also display true justice when we diligently engage in the preaching and teaching activity. Jehovah has generously provided lifesaving knowledge of himself, his Son, and his purposes. (John 17:3) It would not be right or just to keep that knowledge to ourselves. “Do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing, when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it,” says Solomon. (Proverbs 3:27) Let us wholeheartedly share what we know about God with all people, regardless of their racial, ethnic, or national background.—Acts 10:34, 35.
11. In imitation of Jesus, how should we treat others?
11 Further, a genuine Christian treats others as Jesus did. Many today face disheartening problems and are in need of compassion and encouragement. Even some dedicated Christians may be so battered by circumstances that they come to resemble crushed reeds or smoldering wicks. Do they not need our support? (Luke 22:32; Acts 11:23) How refreshing to be part of an association of true Christians, who try to imitate Jesus in exercising justice!
12. Why can we be confident that justice for all will soon become a reality?
12 Will there ever be justice for all? Yes, indeed. Jehovah’s Chosen One “will not grow dim nor be crushed until he sets justice in the earth itself.” Very soon the enthroned King, the resurrected Christ Jesus, will ‘bring vengeance upon those who do not know God.’ (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Revelation 16:14-16) Human rulership will be replaced by God’s Kingdom. Justice and righteousness will abound. (Proverbs 2:21, 22; Isaiah 11:3-5; Daniel 2:44; 2 Peter 3:13) With eager expectation, Jehovah’s servants everywhere—even those in remote places, “the islands”—await that day.
‘I Will Give Him as a Light of the Nations’
13. What does Jehovah prophesy about his Chosen Servant?
13 Isaiah continues: “This is what the true God, Jehovah, has said, the Creator of the heavens and the Grand One stretching them out; the One laying out the earth and its produce, the One giving breath to the people on it, and spirit to those walking in it.” (Isaiah 42:5) What a powerful description of Jehovah, the Creator! This reminder of Jehovah’s might gives great weight to his utterance. Jehovah says: “I myself, Jehovah, have called you in righteousness, and I proceeded to take hold of your hand. And I shall safeguard you and give you as a covenant of the people, as a light of the nations, for you to open the blind eyes, to bring forth out of the dungeon the prisoner, out of the house of detention those sitting in darkness.”—Isaiah 42:6, 7.
14. (a) What is meant by Jehovah’s taking hold of the hand of his approved Servant? (b) What role does the Chosen Servant play?
14 The Grand Creator of the universe, the Giver and Sustainer of life, takes hold of his Chosen Servant’s hand and promises full and constant support. How reassuring that is! Furthermore, Jehovah keeps him safe so as to give him as “a covenant of the people.” A covenant is a contract, a compact, a solemn promise. It is a sure ordinance. Yes, Jehovah has made his Servant “a pledge to the people.”—An American Translation.
15, 16. In what way did Jesus serve as “a light of the nations”?
15 As “a light of the nations,” the promised Servant will open “the blind eyes” and liberate “those sitting in darkness.” This Jesus did. By bearing witness to the truth, Jesus glorified the name of his heavenly Father. (John 17:4, 6) He laid bare religious falsehoods, preached the good news of the Kingdom, and opened the door to spiritual freedom for those in religious bondage. (Matthew 15:3-9; Luke 4:43; John 18:37) He warned against performing works that belong to darkness and exposed Satan as “the father of the lie” and “the ruler of this world.”—John 3:19-21; 8:44; 16:11.
16 Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) He proved to be so in an outstanding way when he offered his perfect human life as a ransom. Thus he opened up the way for those who exercise faith to have forgiveness of sins, an approved relationship with God, and the prospect of eternal life. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) By maintaining perfect godly devotion throughout his life, Jesus upheld Jehovah’s sovereignty and proved the Devil a liar. Jesus truly was a giver of sight to the blind and a liberator of those imprisoned in spiritual darkness.
17. In what ways do we serve as light bearers?
17 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples: “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) Are we not also light bearers? By our way of life and by our preaching work, we have the privilege of directing others to Jehovah, the Source of true enlightenment. In imitation of Jesus, we make known Jehovah’s name, uphold His sovereignty, and proclaim His Kingdom as mankind’s only hope. Further, as light bearers we expose religious falsehoods, warn against unclean works that belong to darkness, and expose Satan, the wicked one.—Acts 1:8; 1 John 5:19.
“Sing to Jehovah a New Song”
18. What does Jehovah cause his people to know?
18 Now Jehovah turns his attention to his people, saying: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images. The first things—here they have come, but new things I am telling out. Before they begin to spring up, I cause you people to hear them.” (Isaiah 42:8, 9) The prophecy about “my servant” was uttered, not by one of the valueless gods, but by the only living and true God. It was bound to come true, and it did. Jehovah God is indeed the Author of new things, and he causes his people to know of them before they occur. How should we respond?
19, 20. (a) What song must be sung? (b) Who today are singing the song of praise to Jehovah?
19 Isaiah writes: “Sing to Jehovah a new song, his praise from the extremity of the earth, you men that are going down to the sea and to that which fills it, you islands and you inhabiting them. Let the wilderness and its cities raise their voice, the settlements that Kedar inhabits. Let the inhabitants of the crag cry out in joy. From the top of the mountains let people cry aloud. Let them attribute to Jehovah glory, and in the islands let them tell forth even his praise.”—Isaiah 42:10-12.
20 The inhabitants of cities, of villages in the wilderness, of islands, even of “Kedar,” or encampments in deserts—people everywhere—are urged to sing a song of praise to Jehovah. How exciting it is that in our day millions have responded to this prophetic appeal! They have embraced the truth of God’s Word and have made Jehovah their God. Jehovah’s people are singing this new song—attributing glory to Jehovah—in more than 230 lands. How thrilling it is to sing in this multicultural, multilingual, and multiracial chorus!
21. Why can the enemies of God’s people not succeed in silencing the song of praise to Jehovah?
21 Can opposers stand up against God and silence this song of praise? Impossible! “Like a mighty man Jehovah himself will go forth. Like a warrior he will awaken zeal. He will shout, yes, he will let out a war cry; over his enemies he will show himself mightier.” (Isaiah 42:13) What power can stand up against Jehovah? Some 3,500 years ago, the prophet Moses and the sons of Israel sang out: “Jehovah is a manly person of war. Jehovah is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his military forces he has cast into the sea, and the choice of his warriors have been sunk in the Red Sea.” (Exodus 15:3, 4) Jehovah was victorious over the most powerful military force of that time. No enemy of God’s people can succeed when Jehovah goes forth as a mighty warrior.
“I Have Kept Quiet for a Long Time”
22, 23. Why does Jehovah ‘keep quiet for a long time’?
22 Jehovah is fair and just, even when executing judgment against his enemies. He says: “I have kept quiet for a long time. I continued silent. I kept exercising self-control. Like a woman giving birth I am going to groan, pant, and gasp at the same time. I shall devastate mountains and hills, and all their vegetation I shall dry up. And I will turn rivers into islands, and reedy pools I shall dry up.”—Isaiah 42:14, 15.
23 Before taking judicial action, Jehovah allows time to pass in order to give wrongdoers an opportunity to turn from their bad ways. (Jeremiah 18:7-10; 2 Peter 3:9) Consider the case of the Babylonians, who, as the dominant world power, desolate Jerusalem in the year 607 B.C.E. Jehovah permits this so as to discipline the Israelites because of their unfaithfulness. However, the Babylonians fail to recognize the role that they are playing. They treat God’s people far more harshly than God’s judgment requires. (Isaiah 47:6, 7; Zechariah 1:15) How it must hurt the true God to see his people suffer! But he withholds taking action until his due time. Then, he labors—like a woman giving birth—to liberate his covenant people and brings them forth as an independent nation. To accomplish this, in 539 B.C.E., he dries up and devastates Babylon and her defenses.
24. What prospect does Jehovah open up for his people Israel?
24 How thrilled God’s people must be when, after so many years of exile, the way home finally opens up for them! (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23) They must be delighted to experience the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise: “I will make the blind ones walk in a way that they have not known; in a roadway that they have not known I shall cause them to tread. I shall turn a dark place before them into light, and rugged terrain into level land. These are the things that I will do for them, and I will not leave them.”—Isaiah 42:16.
25. (a) Of what can Jehovah’s people today be certain? (b) What should be our determination?
25 How do these words apply today? Well, for a long time now—for centuries—Jehovah has let the nations go their own way. However, his appointed time for settling matters is close. In modern times he has raised up a people to bear witness to his name. Leveling any opposition against them, he has smoothed the way for them to worship him “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) He promised: “I will not leave them,” and he has kept his word. What of those who persist in worshiping false gods? Jehovah says: “They must be turned back, they will be very much ashamed, those who are putting trust in the carved image, those who are saying to a molten image: ‘You are our gods.’” (Isaiah 42:17) How vital that we remain faithful to Jehovah, as did his Chosen One!
‘A Servant Who Is Deaf and Blind’
26, 27. How does Israel prove to be ‘a servant deaf and blind,’ and with what consequences?
26 God’s Chosen Servant, Jesus Christ, remained faithful to death. Jehovah’s people Israel, though, prove to be an unfaithful servant, deaf and blind in a spiritual sense. Addressing them, Jehovah says: “Hear, you deaf ones; and look forth to see, you blind ones. Who is blind, if not my servant, and who is deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as the one rewarded, or blind as the servant of Jehovah? It was a case of seeing many things, but you did not keep watching. It was a case of opening the ears, but you did not keep listening. Jehovah himself for the sake of his righteousness has taken a delight in that he should magnify the law and make it majestic.”—Isaiah 42:18-21.
27 What a lamentable failure Israel is! Her people repeatedly fall away to worshiping the demon gods of the nations. Again and again, Jehovah keeps sending his messengers, but his people pay no heed. (2 Chronicles 36:14-16) Isaiah foretells the consequences: “It is a people plundered and pillaged, all of them being trapped in the holes, and in the houses of detention they have been kept hidden. They have come to be for plunder without a deliverer, for pillage without anyone to say: ‘Bring back!’ Who among you people will give ear to this? Who will pay attention and listen for later times? Who has given Jacob for mere pillage, and Israel to the plunderers? Is it not Jehovah, the One against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they did not want to walk and to whose law they did not listen? So He kept pouring out upon him rage, his anger, and the strength of war. And it kept consuming him all around, but he took no note; and it kept blazing up against him, but he would lay nothing to heart.”—Isaiah 42:22-25.
28. (a) What can we learn from the example of the inhabitants of Judah? (b) How may we seek Jehovah’s approval?
28 Because of the unfaithfulness of her inhabitants, Jehovah allows the land of Judah to be plundered and pillaged in 607 B.C.E. The Babylonians burn Jehovah’s temple, desolate Jerusalem, and take the Jews captive. (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) May we take to heart this warning example and never turn a deaf ear to Jehovah’s instructions or a blind eye to his written Word. Rather, may we seek Jehovah’s approval by imitating Christ Jesus, the Servant whom Jehovah himself approved. Like Jesus, may we make true justice known by what we say and do. In this way, we will remain among Jehovah’s people, serving as light bearers who praise the true God and give him glory.
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True justice is compassionate and merciful
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In the parable of the neighborly Samaritan, Jesus showed that true justice embraces all people
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By being encouraging and kind, we exercise godly justice
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By our preaching activity, we display godly justice
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The approved Servant was given “as a light of the nations”