“I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:6–7

Virtuous characteristics of faithful men are desperately needed today. In fact, they always are, and always have been. Every society needs individuals who have a skilled and firm grasp on morality, personal integrity, and practical knowledge of truth who then become men of action, hardened to the obstacles of opposition to good and the corrosive effects of evil thinking. In effect, men who know what they are about, like the “Sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

An individual’s society, both his close society of family, friends, and acquaintances, and his wider society, are always in perpetual need of such informed and godly resolve. At the same time, the need is rarely recognized as an imperative by any society but rather as a vague impression that something is amiss when individuals of steadfast resolve are silent or absent. The ill winds in society tend to make individuals of godly resolve feel insignificant and irrelevant, unnoticed and unnecessary. Men and women of sterling character and keen spiritual sense are most often noticed when their faithful qualities are absent. Lest that reality discourage you, take note of a little biblical lesson on flint.

Flint is a common, hard stone found in and around the Holy Land. It is a variety of quartz and quite common. It is unremarkable, in and of itself, but it is invaluable for its purposes. It has been used by the ancients to make knives and other sharp instruments, like arrowheads and primitive axes. Even today, its property of throwing sparks when struck by metal is useful in starting a fire. Archeologists look for sites where chert piles are prevalent as a telltale sign of human activity long ago.

The biblical use of the phrase “set My face like a flint” is expressive of many nuances. The overt concept is the idea of the hardness of resolve, come what may. Less obvious meanings include the formulation of the plan behind the action, the crafting a plan to the necessities of the purpose, the elevation of the purpose over one’s personal interests, and the reckoning of the person as a humble instrument of service. The expression may be used in our day to communicate firm and resolute action in the midst of contempt, ridicule and opposition.

Our text has an obvious Messianic application in that verse 6 is an allusion to our Lord’s crucifixion (Matthew 26:67, and 27:26, 30). A wider reading of the verses prior to verse 6, in pursuit of revelation concerning the Messiah, reveals that Jesus Christ was expert and skilled in the use of His tongue—genuinely meeting needs of people during the days of His ministry. Verse 5 reveals His servant heart as a willing servant of His heavenly Father, never turning away from the duties levied on Him by God in fulfillment of His mission?—?even to the point of the calumny, ignominy, and injury He would endure.

In light of His imperative mission, dedicated will, and His humble servant’s heart of obedience, is it any wonder that “He set His face like a flint” describes Him to a “T” (smallest detail, like jot and tittle)! Such dedication to His mission demanded His whole person. He was so thoroughly engaged in His redemptive purpose and fulfilling God’s just demand of sacrificing Himself as the “Just for the unjust” that He thought of nothing else. Nothing would dissuade Him and nothing would retard Him. It was such a sharp focus and an all-consuming purpose that Luke states in 9:51, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” He did not shrink from the great task and would do all that was necessary to accomplish the saving His own.

Interestingly, the words that describe the rock from which Moses drew water in the wilderness indicate this same flinty type stone (Exodus 17:6). 1 Corinthians 10:4 reveals that the instance of dogged allegiance to His own people and self-sacrificial provision utilizing this flinty rock as a type of Christ in the Old Testament. He protected and sustained by His presence. Paul’s connection allows us to gain a greater understanding of our Lord’s resolute course.

His was not a resolution that was stern, mechanical, and heartless resignation. His focused motive was on rescue for the sake of love. Hebrews 12:1f, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” His resolute visage, single-focused mind, and will to work was for the noble purpose of saving you from the worst possible loss and delivering you to the greatest possible gain so that you would be beloved of Him for eternity!

He who was thus firmly dedicated to shed His blood for you that you may live, certainly deserves that you “set your face like a flint” to tirelessly serve Him (1 Corinthians 15:58). Trust and obey.