Into the Name

Woven throughout the later chapters of Isaiah is the theme of a new Exodus, a return from the exile of Babylon. Yahweh opens the eyes of the blind, He frees the prisoners from the dungeon and leads them out. He causes His light to go before them, just as He did with the pillar of cloud and fire, and levels the ground for them to walk on. He puts the worthless gods and those who trust in them to shame.

Isaiah 42 opens with a picture of the servant of God on whom He has put His Spirit (ruwach) and who stands in contrast to the idols that are nothing but empty wind (ruwach). He begins, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” This language is echoed in Matthew 3, at the baptism of Jesus, “The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him…and a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, I take delight in Him.’” (see Leithart)

God establishes His covenant by His name and in His servant, “I am Yahweh… I will give you as a covenant for the people.” Jesus, of course, is that covenant and shares with the Father the glory of His name. He is the one who brings the former things to pass. He is the “new thing”, the new declaration by the Father to His people.

It is also the church, the body of Christ, through whom God “will bring forth justice to the nations.” The church was baptized with the Spirit on Pentecost and sent out to take the message of the kingdom to the ends of the earth. Paul stands as a representative of Christ and of the whole body when God says, “he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name.” The church – Christians – as bearers of the name of Christ, bring His justice to the nations, as He said, “disciple the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

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