Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mallards on a pond in the village of Raspordin

Monday, August 7, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Aug 8, Isa 49-53

Today's readings are Isa 49-53.

Isa 49 is crucial to our understanding of the narrative of Isaiah. Our narrative, so far, has traced the story of a king, usually portrayed as the nation of Israel, who is oppressed by the world. The king and Israel bear certain similarities. Both are God's chosen people, His messengers, leaders assigned to proclaim His word and His will in every way. Now, have become servants, carried away by hostile nations. Yet, God promises redemption for them and has promised to bless the world through them.

It would be easy to assume that the story of the king who becomes a servant is about Israel as a nation and people.
But, Isa 49:1-6 personify the servant. No longer a nation, He is represented as a man. He has been formed in the womb and has a name (Is 49:1). His mouth is like a sharp sword (Is 49:2). In Isa 49:3, His name is Israel but the reference is no longer to the nation, it is to an individual.

Then, in Isa 49:7, we see this phrase, “the Redeemer of Israel and His Holy One.”

God will use this person to redeem Jacob (the undivided nation of Israel). He will be God's strength and the "light of the world." The personification is complete. Isaiah’s narrative is now about an individual, the Holy One of Israel.
The rest of the chapter is devoted to reminding the nation of Israel of their role in God's plan and the promises He has made to them.

Isaiah has been leading up to this. Both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms will fall and be taken captive. God will redeem the remnant and bring them home. He will do this through His servant, the Holy One of Israel. The prophecies we've heard are not just for the immediate future of Israel, they are the revelation of God's plan of redemption for all eternity.

Isa 50 further clarifies the difference between Israel as a nation and Israel as the Holy One, the Servant. Israel has been rebellious, the Servant will be obedient. Nonetheless, those who believe in Him will be saved (Isa 50:10-11). Isa 51 develops this point further.

There is more startling news in Isa 52-53 as some of the details of God's plan for redemption are described. The deliverance will come through the suffering of the Servant. He will be despised and rejected by His own people. God will afflict Him and crush Him, putting the sin of many upon Him. Finally, once the sin is placed upon Him, God's wrath will be satisfied, and the Servant will be exalted (Isa 53:10-12). 

Isa 49-53 is an incredible twist to the story of a chosen people. Even though they have been unfaithful and disobedient, God, by His grace, will deliver all those who believe through the suffering the Servant, His only Son.

The foundation for redemption is laid. The details will not be understood for nearly eight centuries, not until Jesus Christ, the suffering servant, appears taking on the sins of all believers, the sins of you and me, absorbing the wrath of God for us, in our place, and then being lifted up into heaven.

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