Chapter 49 seems to be written in a new voice. Someone who is both Israel and Other; coming to accomplish what Israel was intended to do.
“He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver.” (49:2) Sounds like Revelation 19:15!
The dialogue moves back and forth, between the Servant, the LORD, and the people Zion. But this sweet familiar voice reappears in chapter 50, prophesying something else:
“I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.” (50:6-7)
Like I mentioned a few days ago, 49-55 are dedicated to this Servant of the LORD Redeemer. Sometimes the poetry and multiple voices make it confusing to follow, but other times the voice of Jesus is crystal clear.
What is He saying? What is He promising? Who are the peoples of Zion? Who is the mother who received the certificate of divorce? All good, important questions. Let’s stay engaged!
Zion is often referred to as, not only Israel, but the larger people of God, a community including every nation. These people are never out of the focus of the LORD.
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” (49:16)
The mother (49:1;50:1) is usually referring to Judah, with Israel (the northern kingdom) being her sister. The LORD sent her away (exile), and the certificate of divorce doubles as the evidence chronicling her infidelity.
The Servant, Jesus, is different in every way: unrelentingly faithful, obedient and unashamed. I think our best application is to ask ourselves the question He asked in 50:10.
“Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”