Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Present Reality

"See, My servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him - so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals - so he shall startle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate." Isaiah 52:13-15 NRSV

Context is everything. Leading into Isaiah 53 - a chapter almost entirely ascribed to the last days of Messiah - the "servant" is assured of vindication. The day will come when those who had mistreated the "servant" will be called to account for themselves when the fullness of the Truth is revealed.

There is nothing wrong with making some parallels to Jesus, of course, for He is the "word which became flesh". Yet Isaiah seems to have a much broader context and application for the people of The Lord in the generation to which the prophet spoke as well as subsequent generations that find themselves in similar circumstances.

In fact there must be a contemporary application to all that is written and revealed in Holy Scripture for the Word to be practical and to have real meaning in the Present Reality and not strictly limited to the past or to an obscure future.

So what does the "servant song" say to the Present Reality? What sort of comfort did it provide to the people of The Lord then - and the people of The Lord now?

Again, context is everything. It must first be acknowledged that Torah - what we Christians generally (and narrowly) refer to as "the law" - had not been temporarily suspended while Torah people are in exile, whether in Babylon or America. The Word of The Lord speaks always to the Present Reality, for it is in faithfulness to the Word from which the people of The Lord will be vindicated. Even in Christian theology, we can only be "justified" by The Lord in the Word; that is, living fully and trusting in the Word regardless of how we are being mistreated or by whom.

Rather than to read this section of the Bible as strictly a prediction of Jesus' final hours and His vindication at the Resurrection, we must learn to read the entire Bible as the revelation of our God always in our Present Reality. We must come to know and trust The Lord is always at work in the Present Reality with those who are living fully in the Word in faithful obedience - not lashing out, not seeking retribution, and not by trying to make things right only for ourselves; but fully trusting there will come a day when the "servant" will truly "prosper", when the faithful will - by the Hand of The Lord - be "exalted and lift up".

The genuine "servant" of The Lord will one day "startle many nations" and those who chose to mistreat us not by our might or our intellect but by our faithfulness. Then the "nations" and those who mistreated us will see the fullness of our God and the might of our Savior.

This is our Present Reality, and it is the song of joy which can only be sung by the true "servant".

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