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Isaiah 49:1-7

Bible Study

(For Chapters 42, 49, 50 and 53 regarding the Servant, Christians read them and see Jesus.

This is a bad thing to do first off. It stops us from seeing what it is saying to the exiles. We should try to read in its historical and literary questions BEFORE asking the Jesus questions.

These spoke first to those in exile. These are not a straight forward foretelling of Jesus. So it is not a one-for-one foretelling of Jesus’ life – See note on 52:14)

Read vv. 1-2 and Jeremiah 1:5&9. What does this mean for the Servant’s ministry?

God knew and selected him before conception (Jer. 1:5) – You don’t pick the job, God picks you before you were born.

His ministry was to cover the whole earth. God will speak through him, God will direct him, God will protect him

What does it mean for him to be called servant in v. 3? Why is he called Israel?

Servant: God displaying His glory through the servant. Servant glorifies God, shows God’s glory.

Israel: Messiah (?), leads Israel, represents Israel in punishment (ch. 53). He is the head of the nation, the ideal Israel through whom God will be glorified. He’s the perfect representative of Israel, he will establish the perfect Israel. He will bring Israel to God.

Read vv. 4-5. How does the Servant describe his ministry and fate in vv. 6-7?

It doesn’t seem to be effective, or have purpose.

v. 4: "in vain" – during the messenger’s life he had little success. He was there to call Israel to YHWH – this failed, they refused to listen to him. It appeared as though the ministry failed, BUT…(ch. 53) (Aside: Jesus’ ministry fits this description)

But he acknowledges there is results brought by God – rewards…with God, God is looking after history.

What happens to the Servant’s ministry and his fate in vv. 6-7?

Role/Ministry: To restore Israel – bring her back to God, be a light to the nations (something Israel was meant to be, but failed at – Servant being Israel, taking her role). To bring the nations to God, save them. The nations will despise him.

Fate: The whole world will bow down because God chose it, and chose him.

What does this text say about the role of the Servant?

Spread the word of God.

Serve God.

Do God’s will – obedient, even when it seems futile (v. 4).

Bring Salvation to the whole earth – made right and brought into a close relationship with God.

Be glorified by nations and kings.

What does this mean for Israel in exile? For us?

Israel: Israel will think it’s strange that gentiles will be saved. The Servant will bring Israel back to God. Israel is to be an example to the nations. The Servant will be Israel and do this – bring nations to God (v.6; c/f 42:7)

Us: Trust God. Good will come. We are in exile in this world. We are to tell others so that they can know salvation.

v. 6: Israel and nations.

Acts 1:6-8 Come to Israel, Judah, Samaria, then to the ends of the earth.

We are part of it.