Isaiah 49:6 (ESV) … “(The Lord) he says: “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.”
In our text before us, we find Isaiah speaking to these demoralized Jews who are in exile. Isaiah points out how they had failed to live up to their mission of being a witness of the Lord God Jehovah to the nations of this world. Israel had failed, and by their failure, they were a mockery to their ancient identity as the Israel of God.
The question then, is the purpose of God therefore defeated? The answer is a resounding NO! God will provide a substitute for Israel. A replacement that will live up to the name. This forward-looking prophecy is of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He will become not only the substitute for Israel but for the entire world. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:30–31, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
As Raymond Ortlund Jr. writes, “Christ becomes our everything! His only failure was our failure, and our only success is his success.” In other words, Christ is our great substitute not only in death but also in life! Where we fail to gain salvation through good works or a self-made religion, Christ accomplishes it by His finished work of redemption on the Cross.
Here in verse 6, the Lord makes the astounding statement that the task of restoring Israel to himself is not a massive enough work for the promised Servant. The promise is, that He is of such a nature, calling, and preparation that he should be given a more substantial task: Saving the World!
What Isaiah promises, the New Testament proclaims, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and there is no other. He is God’s anointed and appointed “light for the nations.”
This promise from Isaiah only further highlights the strong saving words of Jesus recorded in John’s Gospel. For John tells us, that Jesus said himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).