A Vision Planted in the Heart of God’s Story
This text in Isaiah is one of the most important in history. But it is filled with mysteries. The Ethiopian in Acts 8 shows the challenge. Great scholars like W. Brueggemann point to its difficulty. As Christians with help of Acts we hear it as a direct prediction/description of Jesus.
A text nearly 600 yrs old when Jesus lives. People puzzled. Who are the people in the poem?
God, “Arm of Yahweh,” the “many,” “nations,” “kings.” “The Servant” – is that Israel as in
Is 49:3? Or a person turning Israel back to God as in 49:5? Then “we!” Who are “we”? Israel? Those who have seen the Servant but misperceived him and now have realized a greater reality about him? Us today, now reading this text? We recognize ourselves in the “sheep gone astray”!
The Servant is in the midst of this swirl. As we see him, he is with the sinful many, bearing their sorrows and sins. He embodies God’s will and delight; he is the “Arm of Yahweh.” He is the one whom people see but do not see, hear but do not hear. Till he astonishes us by transforming us! He is God’s people but also the appalling/exalted sign for all nations. Israel and humanity. The vision uses both future verbs and past tense verbs. Is it describing past or predicting future?