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Over the past two weeks we have looked at the substitutionary, sin-bearing death of the Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant of God, and his resurrection by which that death and its saving purpose are validated.

For God, and for Isaiah, the work of the Servant results in such a sure salvation that sheer joy is the appropriate response. This joy, this bursting forth with singing, is actually commanded.

In Isaiah 42:10-12, having described his Servant and his saving work [verses 1-9] God commands us to sing a ‘new song’ to him – a song of praise, and glory and joy.

‘Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth …’

In Isaiah 49:13, having described the Servant [verses 1-7] and the impact of his work [verses 8-12], God commands the whole universe to burst into song and sing for joy, because of his great compassion.

‘Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth: burst into song, O mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.’

In Isaiah 52:8-10, anticipating the description of the Servant and his substitutionary death [52:13 – 53:12], the command to joyful and exuberant singing is again given:

‘Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy …
Burst into songs of joy together …
… all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of God’.

Yet again, in 54:1, after this final Servant Song, the command to sing is given:

‘Sing, O barren woman … burst into song, shout for joy …’

It would be quite wrong for us to limit this command, this singing, this exultant, exuberant joy, to the nation of Israel. It is quite obvious that something far bigger than the salvation of Israel is going on here. Yes, Israel is included. But so are the nations, the islands, the ends of the earth. And so is the universe itself.

Something of this is anticipated in Isaiah 12, where we would do well to meditate on the whole chapter. The Lord himself is our salvation; the Lord himself is our strength; the Lord himself is our song. With joy we come to him and we are saved. And in the strength of that salvation we are commanded to thankful, joyful singing:

‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you’ [verses 4-6].

Similarly, in Isaiah 24:14-16, we are told of world wide songs of joy giving glory to Jesus Christ –

‘They raise their voices, they shout for joy,
from the west they acclaim the LORD’s majesty.
Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;
exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea.
From the ends of the earth we hear singing:
“Glory to the Righteous One”’.

Shortly after his resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, commanded that the truth about him be taught to ‘all nations’ [Matthew 28:19-20]. It was never God’s intention that his Servant would save only Jews, as Isaiah makes clear in 42:6; 49:6 and 52:15. Even so, this command to sing for joy goes out to the whole world, to the ends of the earth.

Even so, in the ‘last day’ this song of joyous praise will rise from believers from all around the earth:

‘... I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” ‘ [Revelation 7:9,10].

Even so, may we sing with joy and confidence today, and every day, as we rejoice in Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, our Saviour - the Lamb who was slain, the risen Lord.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014, 2023