Author Archives: Pastor Mark

B90X2012 “Servant Song #4″

The Fourth Song is the most well-known of the Servant Songs comes to us from Isaiah 52:13-53:12.  The most graphic and appalling of descriptions regarding who the servant is and what the purpose of his mission on the planet is.  The fourth song is the most elaborate and poignant of them all.  It is the zenith of Isaiah’s message and discussion about who God is and what he is about.  It is as though we forgot the message and Isaiah needed to remind us with suddenness and intrusiveness.  Almost as if he is screaming at us, “Don’t you get the picture.  Let me draw it out for you one more time.”  The irony of it all- the servant is exalted yet abused and quiet. Buried within the Song is kind of a macro view of birth to death.

Vv. 52:13- 53:1 God is speaking

Vv. 53:2-6 Israel is speaking

Vv. 53:7-12 God is speaking

Notice in this whole section who says nothing.

Servant Song #1 was a picture of a king, #2 had hints of a prophet, and in this one we have the qualifications of a priest (52:15).

In the Ancient Near East (ANE), one would cover their mouths with their hand as they approach another king.  Here is 52:15, we see that the Servant is the King of kings, all, including kings, will shut their mouths because of who this servant is!  What a picture.

I love the flow at the end of the song- The dead (9) is alive (11), the condemned (8) is righteous (11), and the helpless (7) is the victor (12)!!  That is us friends.  The whole reason for Jesus coming to the planet.  The story of redemption and presence in our lives.

B90X2012 “Servant Songs #2 & 3″

The second Servant Song is found in Isaiah 49:1-6.  The ‘failure’ and ‘success’ of the servant: rejected by Israel, but will bring salvation to the gentiles and then to Israel.

Vv. 1-3 Israel as it was meant to be.  Israel the person became a nation- here the nation is becoming a person. The first Israel could not do it, the second one will!

Vv. 4-6 The agent, the task, and the result.  V. 5 task- redeem Israel.  V. 6 ‘a light for the Gentiles,’ the second time this is mentioned.

First song, the mystery man looks like a king, in this second song, he looks like a prophet (v. 2- “mouth”).

Servant Song number three comes from Isaiah 50:4-11.  Contradicting the ‘no-one at all’ of verse 2, there is one who testifies to listening and responding (5). “Once more the Servant speaks, letting us into some of the most deeply personal areas of his life: his communion with God, the physical and mental suffering which marks his way, and the assurance of final vindication that buoys him up. It is almost as if he is speaking more to himself than to others.  In this third song, the world at large is left out of the picture, and attention is focused on the Servant himself and his ministry to the people of God.” (Barry Webb, “The Message of Isaiah” from The Bible Speaks Today Series. (Leicester, England: Intervarsity Press, 1996)

‘Sovereign Lord’ Adonai Yahweh is mentioned four times as sort of an introductory marker (4,5,7,9).

V. 4 ‘instructed’- total knowledge to disciple and counsel. ‘Sustains the weary’- he consoles, heals, cares for, shepherds, speaks the proper word in season.

V. 6 ‘offered my back’ – Nothing he will not endure if obedience demands it.

V. 7 ‘set my face like flint’ – resolutely set out, firm resolve, determined.

V. 10 ‘who…obeys the word of his servant?’- The servant is not to be wondered at or admired, but obeyed!

V. 11 ‘provide yourselves’ – trust in self. ‘your fires’ – a different gospel. ‘torment’ – their reward- a place of pain.

The most revealing and famous of the five songs is next.

B90X2012 “Servant Song #1″

Imagine for a moment you are a citizen of Judah during the prophetic span of Isaiah’s ministry.  The dates maybe somewhere around 740-700 BC.  You saw your brothers in the North fall under siege to the Assyrians and there are strong, very strong warnings that the Babylonians are coming your way to do the same to you in the South.  Mingled in Isaiah’s words are those of hope.  A surprising mention of a servant.  In obviously distinctive and fresh language, a vision and an application of a servant who will do things for the nation never before seen or heard.  The ‘servant of God’ strand flowing through Isaiah marks a significant mysterious character whose qualities rival any prophet, priest, or king.  Five ‘songs’ are featured in the latter portions of Isaiah.

Who is this servant?  If you were hearing Isaiah’s words, you would truly be baffled.  Is it Cyrus, Hezekiah, Eliakim, a missionary, Isaiah himself, a reincarnated Moses or Elijah, the nation of Israel, another king, God himself, is it the people of God corporately, are they individual ‘believers’, or is it an individual who is a messianic figure?  The options abound for the hearers.  He is a mystery man!

The servant is first introduced in Is. 42:1-9 “Here is my servant” the great solution.

Vv. 1-4 God addresses Israel.  Justice is used three times in these verses (1, 3, and 4).  He is not just for Israel, but for the nations (Gentiles) (1). Notice how gentile he is and full of humility (2, 3).

Vv. 5-7  God (Ha’ El- “He who is indeed the true transcendent God”) addresses the Servant.  His purpose is delineated in (6,7) “a light for the Gentiles.”  There is a future reference to Is. 61 in v. 7 “to free the captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Also this verse looks back at Isaiah 7.

Vv. 8-9 God address Israel again.

There is a hint of opposition; his task is not easy, but doable.  The character and mission of the Servant: will bring salvation and a new world order.  The Spirit and justice dominate this ‘song.’

B90X2012 “Asherah Poles”

I was at breakfast the other day with Scott.  He had a question about Asherah Poles.  They have been mentioned numerous times in our reading as we journey through Biblical history.

“What are they?”

Without getting too verbose, here are a couple of tidbits of info:  The central figure in the Canaanite religion is the male creator god “El.”  He was married to a consort, Asherah.  They had a son named Baal.  Baal later replaced El.  In an act of incest Baal married his own mother, Asherah.  She is worshipped as the mother goddess of the Canaanites. All sources concur that all forms of cult prostitution, both male and female, are central to Asherah and Baal worship.

As a form of irony, children are sacrificed to strengthen ones belief in the fertility gods.  Poles as phallic symbols were cut, carved, and stood on end as places of worship. Pictures of various kinds can be found. As time went on, the female deity Asherah disappeared from the scene and the pole was just called an asherah pole to the male deity Baal. Baal worship at an asherah pole was considered one of the most vile to the True and Living God Yahweh.

As a twist of facts, two archaeological inscriptions in Southern Palestine have ascribed Asherah as the female consort to the Hebrew God Yahweh. Some would think two is enough to make a connection, however the preponderance of evidence to the contrary is much more overwhelming.  No where in the Old Testament is there even a hint that this is true.  So how the diabolical connection is made is anyone’s guess. The Lord commanded any and all worship to an asherah destroyed and obliterated.

Anything asherah is in exact opposite perspective and position as our Heavenly Father.  Issues of life, dignity of life, respect for life, conception of life, etc. are all polar opposites.

God Is Not Silent

The facts are that God has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into our familiar human words…

If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is more than a thing, it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God.

- A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God