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 as My Servant? Or deaf as My Messenger that 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, but for the present, since Israel fails to be the servant of the LORD , the Servant of the LORD shall embody Israel.
The Servant of the LORD is called Israel for he represents Israel, and in that capacity, Israel faithfully and truly serves the LORD.
Remember that before Israel was brought into existence, it was an ideal name conferred upon an individual, Jacob. Once again the name of Israel is conferred upon an individual, the Messiah, He is the true Israel.
Israel was tested in many ways and the records of her successes and failures are well known, open for all to see in scripture. Did she not fail in the test in the wilderness? She murmured and complained and refused to get the lesson that “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes out of the mouth of God…”.
Israel also failed at the test of the mountain. Moses ascended to be with God and with nothing to see and no visible leader, Israel fell into the worship of the golden calf. She soon forsook the LORD.
Se also failed the test of the temple. God gave her a beautiful temple and indwelt it, but in the days of Jeremiah, they would not repent and turn to God, being presumptuous and thinking that the presence of the temple would protect them and free them to do what they wanted to. “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD “was their slogan. Israel turned the “hholy House of God” into a mere talisman, a good luck charm.
Salvation history records three major tests for Israel, all of which they failed; the test of the temple, and of the wilderness, and of the mountain, all of which proved them to be faithless.
But consider the Servant of Jahweh, the very embodiment of Israel, sent into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil again, first of all on the issue of food.
Would God provide in His time and in His way? Or should the LORD’s servant “turn the stones into bread”?
The LORD’s Servant had to pass the test of the temple as well…for He was taken up into the very pinnacle and tempted to do a very presumptous thing, abusing God’s Word and putting the Father in Heaven to the test.
Finally Jesus had to pass the test of the mountain, a shortcut to glory, by compromising, worship Satan instead of waiting upon God .
In Jesus, the true Israel, all three tests were passed, He was “tempted in everyway, yet without sin”. In the face of every temptation He put himself under the Word of God, saying “It is written…” and refused to defect from God his Father.
Is Israel called to be a Priest and offer sacrifices of atonement and the ministry of mercy? Jesus is the ultimate Priest, The man of sorrow and joy , affliction as well as triumph, He fully tasted human experience including death. He knows human weakness and can relate to all, but he never broke faith.
The Third and fourth Servant song emphasize that He made himself the sacrifice, He is the prayer offered to God for us sinners, a propitiation and a substitute.
Israel was to take the Word and name of God to the ends of the earth, and the Gentile nations would come to know the “Lord God of Israel” through Him. What Jew has done that more extensively than Jesus? The Father told Him in the Servant Song,
“It is a light thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob…and to restore the preserved of Israel, I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation to the ends of the earth…”