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This awesome servant.... (2)

(1-) Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb; from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”(-1) (2-) And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him - for I am honoured in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength - he says: (-2) (3-) “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”(-3) (4-) Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”(-4) Isaiah 49: 1-7 [written c. 710 BC]

A long, long time ago (c. 710 BC) a prophet (a “foreteller”) named Isaiah wrote about the future. Isaiah belonged to a tiny – but proud – nation, the nation of Israel. That nation originated in a man named Israel – his original name was Jacob – and he had twelve sons. Israel dates back to around 1800 BC and from that time onwards, that nation – Israel – was singled out internationally as the “people of the LORD God Almighty”.

It was to these people – Israel, Jacob’s children, Jacob’s tribes – that the LORD gave the Ten Commandments. These Commandments were so “right” that almost all nations of the world adopted them – and even now have them as the basis of their jurisprudence – their laws.
‘No other man has ever humbled himself so greatly; and no man has ever been more exalted as a result.’ (John Blanchard)

The sad thing about Israel – the man and his twelve sons and all their progeny – is very much on the record in that nation’s archival books. One of those books is that written by the “foreteller” Isaiah. Sad thing? Yes, the sad thing is that, by 700 BC, Israel had taken so many downward steps – away from the LORD and His Ten Commandments – that the LORD’s awful punishment was about to fall upon them.  The “foretelling” Isaiah was instructed by the LORD to say that the nation would be almost completely wiped out by its neighbouring huge warlike nations.

Justice was about to take place in BC 710. But the LORD instructed Isaiah to write something more to these people of God. Please read Isaiah’s words in bold above. They’re in four parts. And they are “foretelling”.

In part (1) the words are those of a person chosen by the LORD, a specially created person, a descendant of Israel, a person who would “glorify” the LORD. This is a person who, to all appearances, has wasted his life. But this person knows that his reward is with the LORD. These words could well have been on the lips of Jesus Christ in prayer to his Father in AD 30.

In part (2), the LORD’s servant discloses (foretells) that he was formed from the womb (Mary’s womb?) to bring “Jacob” (the people of Israel) back to the LORD, in fact, to re-gather Israel to the LORD after those people of God had been scattered as a punishment. Jesus came to “his own” national heritage, “his own” people did not in general receive him – but all who did receive him became “sons of God”.

In part (3), the servant of the LORD discloses (foretells) that the LORD says to him that the task of restoring Israel to be again the people of God is too light a task for him. In addition, this servant will bring the light of the LORD God to all the nations. That’s what has happened to Jesus during the past 2000 years. Non-Jews, non-Israelites have turned to the light – the light being Jesus himself.
‘All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever 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.)

In part (4), the servant discloses (foretells) the deepest encouragement given to him in his deepest distress and when he is hated by the nation of Israel. (Is this what happened in AD 33 when Jesus is wrongly convicted by the Sanhedrin of crimes worthy of death – and passed to the Romans to be crucified?) 

This encouragement is that, despite the terrible trauma, deepest rejection and death, this chosen servant of the LORD will have kings and princes among his followers. Her Majesty the Queen said so in her Christmas broadcast.
Richard Syvret

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