I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16
The prophet Isaiah had been moved upon by the Holy Spirit to bring forth a revelation concerning what the Messiah will be like when he arrives. The opening word in chapter 42, “Behold,” meaning, “Prepare for a new revelation,” tells us to ready ourselves for a new picture of the Messiah to come.
We find the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew 12. Jesus found out that the Pharisees had held a council to plan to kill him. How did he react? “When Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself ” (Matthew 12:15). Jesus could have called down a legion of angels to protect himself or called down fire from heaven to consume his enemies. Instead, Jesus merely withdrew from them and continued to minister to the desperate.
Matthew says this was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets” (12:19).
Here is what Isaiah’s prophecy is saying, in essence: “The Messiah isn’t coming to force anybody into his kingdom. He isn’t coming as a loud, boisterous, overpowering personality. You won’t get to know him by outward signs or by human reasoning. Instead, you’ll hear him speak with a still, small voice in your inner man.”
“Behold” the tenderness of Jesus toward sinners!
How wicked do sinners have to become before God gives up on them? What about serial murder? Is that the last straw? The answer is simply this: God has said his mercies fail not. They are everlasting.
We must get the picture Isaiah portrays about the Savior. He’s saying, “I have preached judgment, telling you what is going to happen to Israel. But there’s something else you must know about the Messiah. He is coming as a tender deliverer. He’s going to set free those who are shut up in depression and despair. No one will be too blind to have their eyes opened by him. No one will be too deaf or too hardened to be healed. And no prison will be able to keep its grip on those he sets free. He can release any sinner from any bondage.”
We’ve got to become acquainted with this Savior, who nurses bruised reeds and hovers over every spark of hunger, ready to fan the flame.
There may be hard cases in your family, at work or in your neighborhood. As you look at their lives you think, “Yes, Jesus has power, but I can’t imagine that person ever being reached. I can believe for anyone but him.”
I have news for you: that person is probably the one Jesus has his eye on right now. You don’t know what’s going on inside that person, the pain he carries, the despair he endures. He is bent and bruised, perhaps about to break. But there may be a spark in him that is invisible to the human eye. Do not give up on him. Jesus hasn’t. He will not put out any spark.
“Behold” the tenderness of Jesus toward you.
Our tender Jesus promises, “I won’t break you down. And I won’t give up on you.” He comes to us quietly and lovingly says, “Let me heal that deep bruise. Let me tear down those hard walls and restore you.”
I thank God we have such a tender Savior. Consider this word from Isaiah about the Messiah: “He shall not fail nor be discouraged” (Isaiah 42:4). The New American Standard Version translates it this way: “He will not be disheartened or crushed.” The New International Version phrases it, “He will not falter or be discouraged.” And the original Hebrew reads, “He will not recede [back off], neither will he be crushed, until he has established justice on the earth.”
Beloved, Jesus is not going to back off from you. He won’t be hindered or stopped until he has done all he can to put you on your feet and set you free. Maybe you’ve failed the Lord terribly. Are you disheartened or discouraged because you wonder how long he can be patient with you, how long he’ll put up with your stumbling? Isaiah says he will not be disheartened. Jesus hasn’t lost heart over you; he hasn’t given up. He is determined to walk with you all the way.
You may ask, “But doesn’t there come a time when Jesus finally says, ‘Enough, it’s all over’? What about all the Scriptures describing nations, people and individuals who were cut off when Israel was finally judged? Saul was cut off. Even in the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead after being judged. Nations and empires have been crushed throughout history.”
The answer to this is also found in Isaiah 42: “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart” (Isaiah 42:24-25).
The purpose of God’s judgment is always to draw his people back to himself. Israel became so set in their disobedience, so hardened to his Word, divine fury was poured out on them. Our Savior’s tenderness is always available. He reaches out lovingly and patiently to every broken reed, to raise us up to new life and hope.
Isaiah leaves us with this precious promise from our tender Lord: “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (42:16).