For many who have gone out to the global missions fields, these verses have had a powerful effect. Certainly, that’s the case for Donna and me. Isaiah continues to describe the Servant who will come. Here, in the opening verses, however, the servant is identified as Israel in whom the Lord expected to be glorified and through whom his message of redemption would be taken to the coastlands and the people from afar (vs. 1). Like Jonah, though, Israel so often seemed concerned only about herself.
The picture shifts. Isaiah begins to speak of another, one who will minister to Israel but also bring salvation to the world. God, along with his Servant, is concerned about Israel, yes! But God’s plans and purposes are far greater than merely Israel. He will save for himself a people from all the nations: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (49:6). It’s hard to read this text and not sing:
Jesus, Lord of my salvation, Savior of my soul
Send me out to the world to make You known
Jesus, King of every nation, this world’s only hope
Send me out to the world to make you known. –Steve Fee