The book of Isaiah contains some of the most poignant prophecies about the coming Messiah. Chapter 50 focuses on the theme of God’s light shining in the darkness, pointing to Jesus as the Suffering Servant who would bring salvation. Though facing rejection and persecution, the Messiah’s obedience would result in the ultimate victory.
- Though facing divorce and exile, God has not abandoned His people
- The Messiah is portrayed as the Suffering Servant, obedient even unto death
- Those who trust in God have no need to fear, for He will vindicate them
- Walking in the light requires trusting God more than our circumstances
- Even in the darkness, we must continue to shine as lights pointing to Christ
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God Has Not Abandoned His People
The opening verses describe Israel’s unfaithfulness resulting in her “divorce” from God and “selling” into exile. Yet God declares He is still capable of redemption, needing no one’s assistance. This offers hope that though facing judgment, God has not abandoned them completely.
“Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce,
whom I have put away?
Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?
For your iniquities you were sold,
and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.”
(Isaiah 50:1, NKJV)
Israel feels the estrangement of their sin and cries out in dismay. Though they have been unfaithful as a nation, God declares He is still able to save individuals who turn back to Him. His hand is not shortened by their disobedience (Isaiah 50:2).
This offers encouragement that even when we mess up or feel distant from God, He always stands ready to forgive and restore us. We may walk through times of spiritual drought, but that does not mean God has abandoned us. He patiently waits for us to turn our hearts back to Him that He might pour His grace upon us again.
The Obedient Messiah, the Suffering Servant
Starting in verse 4, the prophecy takes a dramatic turn, switching from addressing Israel to the voice of an individual – the coming Messiah. He is described as having the tongue of a disciple, waking each morning with an eagerness to hear from God. This points to the Messiah’s complete dependence on and obedience to the Father.
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.”
(Isaiah 50:4, NKJV)
Though facing resistance and persecution, the Messiah sets His face like flint in determination to obey God. The descriptions parallel the prophecies of the Suffering Servant found in Isaiah 53. He endures scorn, mockery, and physical abuse without retaliation, trusting God to vindicate Him.
“I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6, NKJV)
Jesus fulfilled these prophecies perfectly during His first coming. Despite the rejection He faced, He maintained complete obedience to the Father’s will, even unto death on the cross. This passage emphasizes the Messiah’s willingness to suffer as part of God’s redemptive plan. He trusted the Father to the end.
As followers of Christ, we will also face mistreatment and rejection at times. Isaiah 50 reminds us to set our faces like flint, fixing our eyes on eternal glory rather than current circumstances. The Suffering Servant endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), setting an example for us to remain faithful through whatever trials we face.
Those Who Trust God Have No Need to Fear
Starting in verse 7, the passage contrasts the obedient Messiah with the disobedient nation. Though rejected by men, the Messiah testifies He has set His face like flint, confident the Lord God will help Him and justify Him in the end. This points to the Resurrection, where God powerfully vindicated Jesus as the righteous Suffering Servant.
In contrast, those who kindle fires to light their own way apart from God end up lying down in torment (Isaiah 50:11). Fearing men more than God leads only to futility and judgment. But those who walk in faith have no need to fear:
“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:10, NKJV)
If we find ourselves stumbling in darkness, feeling distant from the Lord, this passage provides the remedy – trust in Him. Turn back to the Lord who stands ready to forgive and revive our hearts. Walking by faith requires fixing our eyes on the Suffering Servant who perfectly modeled willing obedience.
We can confidently obey, even in the face of resistance and scorn, because we know God will justify us in the end. Our circumstances cannot change this eternal reality anchored in Christ.
Shining as Lights in the Darkness
At the time Isaiah gave this prophecy, Israel faced the “darkness” of exile and separation from the temple. Isaiah calls them to continue being a light pointing to God, trusting in His redemption and salvation.
Centuries later, the Jewish leaders rejected the Messiah even as Jesus perfectly fulfilled these Isaiah prophecies. Yet in the midst of this “deep darkness” (Isaiah 60:2), the gospel continued spreading through the bold witness of believers.
Just as God called Israel to shine His light even in exile, we are called to shine the light of Christ in our culture today. Though facing opposition and scorn, we have the promise that God will justify and vindicate us as we walk in faithful obedience.
Fixing our eyes on Christ gives us courage to stand strong when all around seems dark. People need the light of hope we have in the gospel. Are we living each day as lights pointing others to the Savior?
May this commentary on Isaiah 50 encourage you to walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8), shining the hope of Christ in every circumstance! The darkness cannot overcome His light.