The latter portion of Isaiah, beginning with chapter 40, is filled with hope. Israel receives the title that rightly belongs to all of us: a worm (41.14). Yet God does not ultimately treat his people as they deserve. He lavishes them with love. Isaiah 42-43 display this as clear as anywhere else.
We’re more sinful than we realize…
42:18 Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind, that you may see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,
or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them;
his ears are open, but he does not hear…
…24 Who gave up Jacob to the looter,
and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned,
in whose ways they would not walk,
and whose law they would not obey?
25 So he poured on him the heat of his anger
and the might of battle;
it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand;
it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart.
And yet, we’re more loved and accepted than we could ever fathom…
43:1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
…6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Is the God of the Old Testament a God of wrath and anger, while the God of the New Testament is a God of love? This is grace. And it is only able to be true of us because of the true servant, Jesus Christ: “Behold my servant whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Isa 42.1). He is the only one who did not sin and was the only one pleasing to the father in-himself. But he took our place, taking the heat of God’s anger (42.25) because of his great love for us. What should only be said of him can also shockingly be said of us: His people are precious in his eyes, and honored, and he loves us (43:4). Amazing.