I have been struggling for some time with the conundrum of how to get the message across in an environment where everyone is shouting and no one is listening. Everywhere we go in our culture we are shouted at by unrealistic messages from the world of advertising, politics and yes the Church as well. No one is listening to anything anyone else says, they are too busy looking for the opportunity to get their message in clearly and succinctly. No one really believes anyone else’s message, they know that whenever they say anything they are telling a mix of half truths and deceptions, so it is presumed that this is what everyone else’s message is as well.

When you are standing in a crowd of people who are shouting, you can only get your message out in short sharp bursts to rise above the background noise – Like a tweet. So much effort is involved in hearing that only simple instructions can be communicated. How can the subtleties of making disciples for Jesus Christ can be communicated? The communication of the nuance is beyond the environment.

The approach of the Navigator ministry in Slovakia is instructive. Before the Berlin wall came down the Communists were constantly bombarding the country with their message, but no one believed it. It had long been exposed as empty rhetoric. The problem was that they treated all messages the same, including the message of the gospel.

What the Navigators came up with is that one has to show people the truth instead of telling it. People would not believe any message because they had heard too many lies. If however the message was lived out in front of them, then they would be confronted with reality; they would see the congruence between message and life, the evidence of a life of faith, a person willing to love sacrificially in the knowledge that the Lord is covering them.

We see this in the life of Jesus, and it is the key idea behind Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 52 and 53. This passage however is more than Christ’s sacrifice, it points to the way God works through any believer who will walk in Christ’s footsteps.

Isaiah 52: 13 See, my servant will act wisely; (OR will prosper)
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

The one who is raised and lifted up is the Lord’s servant. This is different from the gifted speaker. We have a tendency of believing that giftedness equates to godliness. The very nature of a gift however is that gifts are given at random. They are not a repayment for good behaviour.

It is the Lord Himself who will lift up His servant in His way. However He does this, it will ultimately be for glory.

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him –
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness –

The contrast to the original impression that people had of the servant could not be more marked. They were appalled at him and considered him disfigured. The original state had no platform from which to tell a message. In our day those who tell messages have to be beautiful for anyone to take notice.

15 so he will sprinkle many nations,[So will many nations be amazed at him]
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Many will be amazed because they have seen God at work through this person. They could never hear, but now that they have seen they both understand and are silenced.

The servant is the one who has been living out the gospel all along. This is not some performance after having been lifted up by the Lord. Rather for the person to be a servant, their life is one of integrity where every aspect of life reflects the gospel. It is this servant that the Lord chooses to lift up and exalt.

53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

The message is now reiterated.

Who has believed our message? This is indeed the issue for those who speak softly and with integrity. It is a challenge that is developed, ‘To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ There can be considerable frustration at the lack of response both to the gospel and to our lives. The point is that if we wait on the Lord, patiently living as His servants, the time will come when the Lord lifts us up.

Isaiah 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

This is a description of someone who in today’s society has no voice. There is nothing that will grab the public’s attention here. Yet it is this person whom the Lord will use to show the gospel to the world. While the world is focused on the Mega ministries with their glitter, the Lord lifts up and exalts His servants, His tender shoots in dry ground. They are His heroes.