Lessons Of Discipleship From Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50 holds important lessons for a disciple. It says from verse 4 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. 5 The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. 6 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. 7 “For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. 8 He is near who justifies Me; who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me. 9 Surely the Lord God will help Me; who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; the moth will eat them up. 10 “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.

While this Scripture started out as a word for Israel as a servant of God, it swiftly deals with Jesus, who as the Son of God yet God Himself would become the greatest servant of both Jew and Gentile by dying on the cross for our sins. Isaiah on a number of occasions prophesied about Jesus, for example in chapters 7 (v 14), 52, 53 and 61.

It is written in John 5:39: “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” In other words, Jesus claimed that His life and career were predicted and prophesied by the Old Testament books written by the Hebrew prophets that preceded him by hundreds of years. These prophets had claimed that God inspired their writings. Since no human mind can predict in such detail hundreds of years into the future, this became a line of evidence that Jesus said his contemporaries could use to verify if indeed Jesus came as part of a Divine Plan or if the whole gospel account was the product of some elaborate human scheme. Two thousand years later, the data that Jesus referred to is still available for us to examine and consider for ourselves.

In Isaiah 50, we find of the Lord that it says “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.” Jesus thus says that the words He speaks are the words of the Father in Him. It says in “John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” The Scripture is also intended to contrast the Israelites, who were unlearned, to Jesus, who is all Wisdom and Understanding.

The Amplified translates the Isaiah Scripture as follows: “The Lord God has given Me [His Servant] the tongue of disciples [as One who is taught].” Here the word “learned” is actually translated as disciple. Remember, the word in Greek for disciple is transliterated mathetes (literally, the learning one) and is derived from the verb manthano which means “to learn”. It occurs about 264 times in the Gospels and Acts. It means ‘One who learns instruction from another‟ or a disciple is likened to an apprentice who learns from his master tradesman. He can also be likened to an imitator of his teacher. Learned in the above Scripture is the Hebrew transliterated word ‘Limmuwd’ which means taught, learned, or disciple. But this is not learned according to mere Law or theory, but according to the true wisdom and knowledge of the eternal Kingdom. After all, of Jesus we read “Matthew 7:29: because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”

Yes, Jesus was the true first disciple, for He followed His Father and the will of the Father. All that He is and learned from the Kingdom and from the Father He taught and showed on earth. This is true discipleship! And of Jesus, it says He has been given the tongue of the learned to speak to those who are weary. Glory to God. Of Jesus, in Matthew 11 we read: 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

So as a disciple of God, we must also be walking with God in such a manner that we have the tongue of a true disciple, thus one learned in the true wisdom and knowledge of heaven! And for what purpose? For self-exaltation or self-glorification? No, to speak a word in the right season to the weary. And who are the weary? They are anyone who is still burdened by this world, by the weight of sin and by the oppression of the devil. After all Isaiah 61 says the following of Jesus: 1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners.” As this is the mandate of Jesus, who is the Son of God yet also a learned disciple, this also becomes our duty to proclaim a word and truth to set the captives free. And setting the captives free involves freedom in the spirit, soul, and body.

Regarding the tongue, it says in “Malachi 2:7 For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” Indeed, as the disciples of God, we are also but of the holy priesthood who need to preserve and speak only the Truth of God as the messenger of God. After all, Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. We must seek to have the tongue of a true disciple – declaring and speaking only the Gospel of the Kingdom, for such a word shall uplift, edify and equip.

We then read in Isaiah 50:5 “The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” Jesus submitted to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. We read in “Mathew 26: 39 And after going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup [q]pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus was obedient even unto the cross. Indeed, as disciples, we must remain absolutely obedient to the will of the Father. We must not be rebellious to His Will, His Word, His Way, or Truth. Jesus taught in “Matthew 6: 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We must remain faithful, loyal, and true to the Word of God. In the seven letters to the churches in Revelations 2 and 3 we often read “He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches.” Indeed, we as disciples need to be filled by the Spirit of God, thus worshipers in Spirit and truth. so that we may hear and obey. As disciples, we need to allow God to open our ears so that we walk in understanding and true wisdom.

In Isaiah 50:6 it says “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Indeed here we find the Servant remained obedient though provoked to rebel by excessively vile treatment. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by remaining submissive to the Father’s will. These things happened to Jesus at His trial and crucifixion. “Matthew 26:67: Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote [him] with the palms of their hands.” Jesus endured all the pain and humiliation for us. He was not forced to suffer all of this. At any time, He could have stopped the whole thing. He went through all of this willingly knowing it would bring life to His creation. Isaiah prophesied about the suffering of Jesus in “Isaiah 53: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; the punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, and by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.”

Jesus taught in Matthew 16: 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Indeed, there is a cost for following God. Jesus knew such cost. So did the Apostle Paul and every other disciple. It is the cost to forsake all, to serve, to follow, to obey, and to deny the self. We as disciples are called to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), to show mercy, to show kindness, to sow peace, and to seek the Kingdom. This is the heart of the Beatitudes as taught by Jesus and His teachings in Matthew 6.

We then read in Isaiah 50:7 “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” So sure was Jesus of the Lord God’s help that He resolutely determined to remain unswayed by whatever hardship might await Him. Jesus demonstrated this determination in setting His face to go to Jerusalem to be crucified (Luke 9:51). Jesus was not to be turned away from doing what He had set out to do. The victory for all of Christendom was won on the cross. This was not a defeat, it was a victory. The words of Isaiah reminds of “Ezekiel 3:8-9: Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. I have made your forehead like emery (diamond), harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house.”

We are called as disciples not to be afraid. We must persist in our pursuit of Christ. We must set our face like a flint – therefore resolute, determined, and steadfast in delivering the Gospel. Paul writes in “2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error].” We must therefore persevere, run the course, and persist no matter the challenge or the resistance. On addressing the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, we read: “8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” As a disciple of God, we must remain unwavering in our pursuit of the Kingdom, for God is with us and we are more than conquerors.

We read in Isaiah 50:8 “[He is] near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who [is] mine adversary? let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who [is] he [that] shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.” Jesus rose from the grave and left no doubt at all of who He was. Who can stand against Him? The answer is no one. At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Not even death could overcome the Lord Jesus. He was victorious in even that.

Because He lives, we shall live also. In Him, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Yes, the devil will accuse and the world will mock the disciples, but we are called to abide in Jesus (John 15) so that our victory is secure, our hope unwavering and our faith bolstered! This is the heart of “Psalm 23: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Indeed, Jesus Christ is the Judge of all mankind. As disciples, we must follow Him and fulfill the Great Commission. He is the Lord of Hosts and the Battle belongs to Him. In this world, we will have strife and trouble, but God is our victory and the hope of glory.

Lastly, we read “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.” Indeed, Jesus is the Light of the world and we are called to shine such a light (Matthew 5). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Darkness is the absence of Light. To be saved, we must put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. “John 8:12: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

As disciples of God, we must fear the Lord, and we must obey His voice. We must walk in the light according to “1 John 2: 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Indeed, we must trust and have faith in God! As disciples, we must seek the Kingdom above all, turn away from wickedness (Psalm 1) and seek the true path of holiness and purity.

May the Lord awakens us morning by morning as disciples, so that we may have the ear to hear as the learned. May we remain steadfast, not rebellious and not turning away from the Truth, for only the Truth – thus Jesus – sets free (John 8:32). To Jesus be the honor and glory. Amen

Riaan Engelbrecht

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