Wear Out Like a Garment

Believing in God and Jesus Christ, also means not believing in some other things. Faith makes exclusive claims on the believer. It also means that others may not like our choice.

Jesus faced the same problem. The Jews expected a victorious Messiah. He would be that, but he first had to be the Suffering Servant (see the servant songs in Isaiah 42:1-9, 49:1-13, 50:4-9, and 54:13-53:12). This servant would be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations. He would have God’s revelation and be completely obedient, but he would also be rejected and die as a guilt offering. Amid these themes of rejection and suffering, there is also a theme of vindication:

He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. Isaiah 50:8-9 ESV

The servant would be vindicated by God. The servant would outlast his adversaries.

In the next chapter of Isaiah, people who know righteousness and have the law on their hearts are addressed.

Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations. Isaiah 51:7-8 ESV

Believers too will face reproach. But just as Jesus the Servant was vindicated, the person with the law written on the heart can outlast the adversaries. Note the similar metaphor in 50:9 and 51:8. The adversaries are like a garment that will wear out. What is true for the Servant is also true for the believer. Adversaries and reproach are temporary, but God’s righteousness and salvation are forever.

Jesus warned, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24, ESV). If Jesus was called names, we shouldn’t be surprised at the same treatment, but Jesus’ vindication should give us courage. The prize of the upward call is worth it all. It is certain and eternal, but the adversaries’ opposition is temporary – they will wear out like a garment.

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