Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.(Isaiah 49:1-7)
Israel, the nation brought into being by God out of an old man and woman, barren and past childbearing age, is God’s own servant nation. He brought them into being to be a priest and a witness of Him to the nations of the world, But Israel herself has become blinded, she has fallen short of her Holy calling. Isaiah cries out…
Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant?(Isaiah 42:19)
There will be a restoration of Israel to her priestly calling, but for the present, If Israel fails to be the Servant, The Servant of the Lord shall embody Israel.
The Servant of the LORD is called Israel, for He shall represent Israel, and in that capacity, Israel shall fully and faithfully serve the LORD. Remember that before Israel was a nation, it was a name conferred upon an individual, Jacob.Once again, the name is conferred upon an individual, the Messiah, the Servant of the LORD, he shall be Israel.
Israel was tested in many ways, and the record of her failures and successes is open for all to see. Did she not fail in the wilderness? She murmured and complained and refused to learn the lesson, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God…” .
Did she not also fail in the test at the Holy mountain, after Moses had been gone for forty days and forty nights, when she worshipped the golden calf, and forsook God?
Israel also failed the test of the Temple, when in the days of Jeremiah, she said, “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD…” as a talisman,a substitute for true faith and devotion to God. Salvation history records three major tests for Israel; the test of the wilderness, of the temple and of the mountain, and thrice she proved faithless.
But consider the Servant, the very embodiment of Israel, who was sent as Israel into the wilderness again to be tempted of the Devil, on the issue of food. Would God provide? Or should He “turn stones into bread”?
The Servant had to pass the test of the temple as well. The embodiment of Israel was taken to the very pinnacle of the Temple, and tempted to presume upon God’s word, putting God to the test.
Finally the Servant had to pass the test of the mountain, when He was tempted to worship Satan as a shortcut, a compromise, an alternative to waiting upon the unseen and unfelt God.
The true Israel, the Servant of the LORD, remained true to God through all of them, He was “tempted in every way, yet without sin…” , putting himself under the Word and authority of God by saying “It is written….” in the face of each temptation to defect.
Was Israel called to be a priest and offer sacrifices? Jesus is the ultimate priest, a man who knows sorrow and affliction, joy and triumph, who can relate to the weakness of men, and yet remains faithful to God. The sacrifice? We shall see in the third and fourth Servant Song that the sacrifice He offered to God, was himself, as a substitute, a scapegoat for sinners.
As Israel was to take the Word and name of Israel’s God to the ends of the earth, so too, the true Israel, Jesus, has magnified the Law of God to the ends of the earth. Why is it that from one end of the earth to the other, people read the Jewish Bible, call upon the God of Israel, sing songs taken from the Psalms, raise their children on Proverbs, and name their children after Hebrew prophets?
Because the LORD told his Servant, that is the Messiah,
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth…