“Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (Isaiah 49:1 – 3)
I have real problems with some portions of Isaiah; or more accurately how commentators interpret and explain portions of Isaiah. Every where I turn, seeking illumination of these passages, what I find are theories and redirection that applies what the writer of the book of Isaiah wrote to what the Messiah might say, and then try to explain why it sounds so strange – that is, why it does not sound like the Messiah that is talked about in the New Testament.
“But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.”(Verse 4)
Such as this verse, where it seems that Jesus is bemoaning the fact that he had so little luck persuading the Jews that he was the chosen Messiah. The commentators on mass seem to have contrived to create a rationale for why the writer of the book of Isaiah is accurate in the words he puts into the Sent Servant of the Divine:
“This is to be regarded as the language of the Messiah when his ministry would be attended with comparatively little success; and when in view of that fact, he would commit himself to God, and resolve to extend his gospel to other nations. The expression used here is not to be taken absolutely, as if he had no success in his work, but it means that he had comparatively no success; he was not received and welcomed by the united people; he was rejected and despised by them as a whole.”
It just grates on me, beloved reader. It just grates on me! I think what grates the most is that so many of the prophecies of the Messiah come with a perceptive and bias that is part of the writer’s/prophet’s own life and experience. When the Divine says the Godself will do a new thing, you cannot base that on anything that anyone has experienced thus far.
“And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength – he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Verses 5 – 6)
And yet there seems to be a logic to it; either it is concerning the Messiah as he was revealed to the Jews in and about Galilee/Nazareth, or the writer of the book of Isaiah is speaking of someone whose life and career will be likened to a savior and redeemer. It is said that the book of Isaiah had great importance amongst the Jews (who started out as Israelites) and that they pointed to it as informative of their faith. If that is so, why did they (who the writer of the book of Isaiah said who would ignore the Messiah) end up ignoring the Messiah after all? Surely if in the time of Jesus they had heeded what the collection of Isaiah’s writings said they would would have said to one another, “this fellow Jesus reminds me of what good old Isaiah wrote about!”
“Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Verse 7)
I dearly wish I could talk to the prophets both major and minor, and find out what it was like writing the books that we find in the Holy Bible. I am talking about everyone from the writer of Genesis up to and including the writer of the book of Revelation. I know though that time is far off. And until that time/day I struggle with unraveling the mysterious of scripture; not only what is in the book we call the Bible but all that was written about the monotheistic faith that centers on the Deity we call the Lord God. I wonder too about other Deities of other faith traditions, but it occurs to me that in my life I will only have the time, energy, and ability to study One. Shalom & Selah!