Read Isaiah 42:7. We know that Jesus actually did heal the blind during his time on earth, but I think this passage is dealing primarily with spiritual blindness and spiritual captivity. What does it mean to be spiritually blind? My pastor talked about this briefly in his last sermon by quoting from a passage in Revelation about the Laodicean church. Read Revelation 3:17. People who are spiritually blind do not see reality as it truly is; they make assumptions based on the flesh, not with spiritual eyes, and have no concept of their true standing with God or how God truly sees them. Just as a physically blind person “makes up” what the sighted world looks like based on his thoughts and feelings and from what other people tell him, so does a spiritually blind person make up fantasies and delusions about who and what he is really like and what the world and God are like. The Messiah would come (and came) to remove this blindness from people so that they could see themselves as they really are, and to see God as He really is. (So part of the Messiah’s ministry would be to debunk false conceptions people have about God.) Jesus called the Pharisees “blind.” Read John 9:39-41. This was because they had no understanding of their true standing with God – they thought they were “OK” or even in excellent standing because of their religious activities.
What does it mean to be spiritually captive? And more than just captive – to be bound in spiritual darkness? Such a person knows that he is trapped and in bondage, so unlike the spiritually blind, such a person might have some understanding of his true state. Because he is in spiritual darkness, he does not see any way of escape and so lives a life of utter despair and anguish. The Messiah would come (and came) to bring light into such people’s lives – first to show them the extent of their bondage (though they probably had some idea already), then to show them how they can escape their bonds by asking for his help. Once they’ve cried out to him, he opens the door to the cell, unlocks their chains, and lets them free to live in the light. We have a dramatic example of how Jesus rescued a man from demonic bondage. Read Luke 8:26-35.
We also read about how we can become captive to sin by our own actions, as well as become lost in darkness because we choose hatred over love. Read Acts 8:20-23, 1 John 2:10-11. (Haven’t you noticed how when you are consumed with unforgiveness and/or bitterness you have difficulty focusing on other tasks that need to be done? You are so lost in darkness that it taints all other aspects of your life and relationships with others.)
Read Isaiah 42:8. Here we have a clear statement about who is speaking – “the Lord” is enough of a description. There is no other God, only Him. The mention of idols reminds us of what was debated and discussed in the previous chapter: the Lord makes it clear that idols are worthless pieces of metal or stone, simple imaginations made up by humankind. Read Isaiah 41:29.
To be continued…
Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford (notes). The Student Bible. NIV Version
H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (editors). The Pulpit Commentary Volume 10: Isaiah