I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness."
These words of the prophet Isaiah are looking forward to a future time. They are foretelling what is yet to happen and some one who is yet to come. In his day the eyes of the Israelites had become blinded to the God who in his mercy had brought them out from Egypt and delivered them into the promised land. Since then there had been years of idol worship, rebellion and exile. A darkness has descended upon the nation that has resulted in spiritual blindness and captivity. Into this the prophet gives a message of hope. Of a time when God will free his people both from their spiritual blindness and captivity. So who is it that this passage is speaking of and what does it mean that he is given as a covenant to the people, that he is a light for the nations, that he opens eyes that are blind, and he brings out prisoners who are in the dungeon?
1) Luke 1:78-79 reads, "because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death."And Luke 4:18 reads, "He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind." The words here are so similar to those found in Isaiah that they must be taken to be the fulfillment of what was predicted. And in both these passages it is speaking of Jesus.
2) The covenant spoken of here is not mainly one between God and sinners. Although it will have huge ramifications for sinners as it will usher in a new age of salvation through the one who will come and die in their place. It is first and foremost a covenant between the Father and the Son whereby the Father asks his Son to come into the world to achieve his plan to save sinners and the Son willingly comes. It is a covenant made before there was ever a world in which sinners needed to be saved and it is a covenant between those who have always loved each other and been in total accord with one another so that their wills are one. Salvation is therefore a joint venture for where the Son goes the Father promises to him that, "I will take you by the hand and keep you."
3) For Jesus to be, "a light of the nations" can mean that he has come to break through the darkness of sin and satan that has kept sinners from seeing God. But I do not think this is mainly what it means. Instead I think it mainly means that all that has been revealed of God in the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. He has come to bring knowledge of God in a way that is personal and intimate. For God has come to dwell not in a temple made by human hands whereby only the priest was allowed to approach but in a man in whom the fullness of God dwells. Now the doors are flung open so that all can approach and know God the Father through him. This is why in answer to Philip's question, "Lord, show us the Father" Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still don't know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:8-9)
4) For Jesus, "to open the eyes that are blind" means for him to give sight. It is not enough for Jesus to reveal the fulness of God the Father in himself. Sin and satan has so blinded humanity to God that they cannot and will not see him even as he stands before them in human flesh. Jesus therefore had to come not only to show who God is but to give sight so that he may be seen. And that by seeing they may see one who was sent to give assistance, who has come to reveal himself as their Saviour. Jesus therefore gives sight in three ways. (a) He gives sight so that blind sinners are able to see their own sinfulness before God. (b) He gives sight so that sinners can see the hopeless situation they are in before a holy God whose wrath they are under and the desperate need for a Saviour. (c) He gives sight so that sinners may see him as the one who has come to save them from their sins and the wrath that they deserve.
5) For Jesus to, "bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness" it means for him to free his people from spiritual bondage. They remain in darkness, unable to see, and unable to escape. The prisons in which those in spiritual bondage find themselves have no doors even if they had the ability to see them and find them. There is not hope for a remedy to be found to the situation from within the four walls of the prison. There is only one hope of rescue. That is help will come from outside from one who is able to tear down the walls that prevent escape and who is able to guide those imprisoned out to freedom. Jesus lived in a nation that was not only enslaved by the oppression of Roman rule but which was also under the oppressive rule of sin and satan and spiritual darkness. He came to permanently set his people free. This he did on the cross when he triumphed over the power of sin and destroyed the works of satan.Through his death he gives life. By being sentenced to the punishment of the cross he sets men free.
Dear Christian what hope there is in Jesus. There is hope for those who do not yet see Jesus. There is hope for those who are enslaved to the darkness of sin and satan. One has come who has the authority and the power to set them free. All power and authority has been given him by the Father to do what is impossible for any man to do for himself. Do people seem so hard of sight as well as hard of heart that it seems almost unimaginable that it will change. Take heart dear Christian. The Lord Jesus in his omniscient power is able to save sinners no matter how long their blindness or how long their captivity. He came to set sinners free.