We have two uses of the word and name of Jesus (Yeshua) in Isaiah 49. It would easy to just select the two key verses, but I much rather have you read the whole context. It is powerful and speaks mightily of the Messiah to come, with His name woven into the text.
Did the people know this back in Isaiah's day? I doubt it, but given their captivity and their hope for deliverance, these verses would not only comfort them but echo the cry of their heart for salvation.
We can hear the name of the One who would make release from an even more painful captivity--sin and death--possible, for us and the world.
Jesus inaugurated His ministry by reading from Isaiah:
"He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
'The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.'
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'”
The listeners would be very familiar with all of Isaiah. Here is Yeshua standing before them and reading about yeshua ("salvation"). Would they grasp that the very man standing in front of them was the embodiment of true salvation?
The captivity in Babylon did not last forever; the Jews eventually returned. But the people went on sinning. They still felt alienated from God. They eventually died.
Many generations later, a man would stand in a synagogue, and read from the words of the prophet who had promised salvation from captivity. He would state categorically that the words had been fulfilled. Quite a statement from a carpenter's son, if that's what he was.
Let's look at the first part of Isaiah 49. It is powerful:
"Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, 'You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.'
4 But I said, 'I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.'
5 And now the Lord says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—
6 he says: 'It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.'
7 This is what the Lord says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: 'Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.'
8 This is what the Lord says: 'In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 9 to say to the captives, "Come out," and to those in darkness, "Be free!" They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.'"
As we are working through the Old Testament, and finding Jesus throughout its pages, we see Him very much represented in Isaiah, who focuses mightily on the Servant of the Lord. We all have read Isaiah 53, which describes the suffering of this Servant and His death for our healing and restoration. Yet I find it interesting that yeshua is not mentioned--the word for salvation and Jesus' name, in Isaiah 53.
Yet yeshua is found in Isaiah 49.
I believe that Isaiah is presenting this Servant by His character and His deeds.
Names represent the character of someone in the Old Testament. God's name--Yahweh--is not just what Moses was to call Him. It is His character as well: "I AM Who I AM." Moses was given an insight to the One he was to serve. This One has always been and will continue to be. He was not made by human hands or dependent on human ritual or belief. Moses is privileged to be introduced to Him, but whether or not the children of Israel believe in Him, this One will exist and reign in the universe He created and still sustains.
That is why there are many names for God in the Old Testament, for each name gives an insight to Who He is, an aspect to His character. Like a multi-faceted diamond, that catches light as you look at it from various angles, so too do the names of God give us a flash of light into Who He is.
So, Isaiah in chapter 49 is telling us who the suffering Servant IS: He embodies salvation, for the Jews and for the Gentiles. He is chosen in the womb to be the Servant and the Covenant for the people.
Isaiah 53 tells us what the Servant will do, how He will be received and what His mission is.
But in the end, the two are really inseparable. Who the Lord is and what He does cannot be divided. All He does is based on Who He is, and Who He is, is revealed by what He does.
Have blessed day as you ponder the majesty of Who He is and what He does.