TO CHEW ON: "And He said to me,
'You are My servant, O Israel
In whom I will be glorified.'" Isaiah 49:3
Chapters 49 to 55 of Isaiah talk much about the Servant of God. They are sometimes referred to as Servant Songs. In answer to the question, who is the servant, Halley's Bible Handbook says:
"In some passages the Servant seems to be Israel, the Nation, and in other passages the Messiah, the ONE in whom Israel would be Personified. And the passages are pretty well blended, the context itself indicating which is meant" - Halley's Bible Handbook, p. 303.
Taking Mr. Halley's comment as permission to interpret who the Servant is by context here, it appears that the first two verses of Isaiah 49 refer to the Nation-of-Israel-Servant. In them, Isaiah mentions things about Israel that help explain the large role this nation has and is playing in world events:
- God has called her into existence:
"The Lord has called Me from the womb
From the matrix of My mother He
has made mention of My name"(Got to love the NKJV alliteration—the humming sound of all those 'm's. I count eleven!)
- Her influence is powerful, far exceeding what one would expect from such a small nation: "And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword."
- Her defense has been unusually effective: "(He has) made Me a polished shaft"
- She experiences God's protection: first nurtured within the womb, then "...hidden in the shadow of His hand ... in his quiver."
- Her existence and role have and will serve God's glory: "You are My servant, O Israel, In whom I will be glorified."
Israel is much in the news these days. I am writing this the day after Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress, against the wishes of President Obama.* He, with others, is in negotiations with Israel's enemy Iran. In his speech Netanyahu laid out what Israel fears from a nuclear-equipped Iran, whose leaders have openly stated they want her destroyed.
As those who have read the end of the book, we believe that Israel will not be destroyed. In the interim, let's:
- Interpret world events through the lens of the Bible, realizing that God is sovereign and not puzzled or confounded by any of the things happening in the Middle East or on the world stage.
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and for wisdom for her current leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.
- Continue to give Israel—the "apple of God's eye" (Zechariah 2:8-9) our political and moral support.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your plans in which the nation of Israel has played and is playing a vital part. I pray for wisdom for her leaders and protection for her people. May You get the glory from Your servant Israel. Amen.
MORE: Following events in the Middle East
If you are interested in following events in the Middle East and getting help with interpreting them from a biblical perspective, author and speaker Joel Rosenberg is a great resource. On Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog (Tracking events and trends in Israel, Russia and the epicentre) Rosenberg posts links to current articles and opinion, keeping readers in the loop about world events in ways that the mainstream media never will.
He has also written numerous books—fiction and non-fiction—that deal with Israel and end-time prophecy.
If you have an opportunity to attend one of his lectures or simulcasts—take it. I attended one last year; it was excellent.
* How significant that Netanhayu addressed Congress on March 3rd, the day before Purim (March 4-5, 2015), when Jews celebrate their deliverance from an ancient threat to their existence, brought about by the courage and obedience of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai - Esther 9:20-22.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.