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This awesome servant.... (5)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? Isaiah 53: 6-8 [circa 710 BC]

A long, long time ago (c. 710 BC) a prophet (a “foreteller”) named Isaiah wrote in advance about Jesus of Nazareth (on earth c. AD0 – AD33). He did this so as to set out the promises of Almighty God the Lord to the LORD’s own people – Israel.

Why did they need promises from the LORD? Well, in short, the nation of Israel was facing complete and utter disaster in Isaiah’s day.

When we in Jersey think of disaster befalling us we think about the possible decline of Jersey’s finance industry. We think of a shortfall of taxation revenues leading to a cutback in public services like health and education. Not so Israel, the people of God, in 700 BC. Eighty per cent of the nation had been either killed or exiled to other countries a century or so earlier when the Assyrians struck “like a wolf on the fold”. Within another century or so, the remaining twenty per cent would be decimated and exiled to Babylon – to live there as defeated aliens without a country of their own.

But why? Why this awful punishment?

Because they no longer lived as the people of God. Some of them kept to their outward religion but their hearts – and the hearts of all others - were also far from the LORD.
‘Thus says the Lord: “I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.”’ (Isaiah, Jerusalem, BC 710)

Isaiah was required by the LORD to proclaim to them what, one future day, the servant of the LORD would suffer FOR THEM – in their place.

So wonderful are the words of Isaiah – written in Hebrew and translated into Greek well before Jesus was born – that they are worth reproducing for all to read in a thoroughly modern format: The Message Copyright 2003 E F Peterson. Here’s the second half -

He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening?

He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.

Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.

And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest.

He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many; he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
‘Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool’ (Isaiah, Jerusalem, BC 710)
Jesus was well able to say to the Jews circa AD 30; “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,  yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
Richard Syvret

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