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Shut mouths

See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him (so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals) so he shall startle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which had not been told them they shall see and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. Isaiah 52: 13-15

 

It’s rather difficult to think of something which would shut mouths – especially the mouths of today’s “kings”. See bold above where the original Hebrew word for “kings” is “melek“- i.e. “governmental heads” of any kind.

 

This ancient writing dates back to BC 710 and to the city of Jerusalem which was facing then exactly the same situation which it faces today. Around that nation strong and violent forces were gathering to destroy it.

 

Isaiah had a very difficult task: he was asked to broadcast to them and to future generations the words of the LORD God Almighty. Those words foretold the virtual annihilation of that nation and people. And those words were duly fulfilled in BC 584.

 

The nation of Israel did not exist anymore from that year – until AD1948.

 

It would be a brave man who today would cause to be broadcast to Jersey a message like Isaiah’s. It’s acceptable to report serious economic decline – but not to forecast it.

 

Woven into that forecast of soon-to-follow destruction and exile of Jerusalem and the people of Israel, however, was a message of supreme hope, part of which is in bold above. And, interestingly, that message of supreme hope is applicable in Jersey today. And it’s the message that causes governmental rulers to shut their mouths....

 

The LORD God wanted Isaiah to record this: See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Note the words”lifted up”.

 

One useful tip for students who are trying to understand a sentence with brackets in it is t miss out the words in brackets altogether when first reading it. Just as there were many who were astonished at him (….) so he shall startle many nations. Therefore many would be astonished at the servant of the LORD God. And in the same way this servant would startle many nations….

 

How? The words in brackets provide the explanation - so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals…  This servant of the LORD God – this man - would suffer terribly.

 

That’s where the shut mouths come in. When governmental rulers see the suffering – beyond reason – beyond human contemplation – of the servant of the LORD God they shall shut their mouths because of him. Governmental rulers around the world today are left speechless by a servant of the LRD God who suffers terribly. They are not prepared to suffer like that for the good of those they are governing.

 

But there’s more. Isaiah was asked to broadcast the reasons why kings shut their mouths because of this servant of the LORD God – this one who would come to Israel in the midst of their own suffering.

 

First reason: for that which had not been told them they shall see. The thing about the suffering servant of the LORD God that will startle these national leaders and, indeed, nations, is something which they will see without being told what it is. They’ll see it by looking at the terrible suffering of this man, this servant. Will they see themselves in a new light?

 

Second reason: for […] that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. Please go back to the first sentence in bold above: my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Amazing isn’t it? In being “lifted up” this suffering servant will be “lifted up”. And governmental rulers will have to contemplate another ruler who is far, far above them.

 
‘If Socrates would enter the room, we should rise and do him honour. But if Jesus Christ came into the room, we should fall down on our knees and worship him’. (Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, 1769-1821).
 
‘All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of mankind on this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.’ (Anon.)
 
Richard Syvret

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