Lesson 2: Israel's Unique Relationship with God
(Scripture to Read: Isaiah 48:150:11)
One of the foundational truths of the Bible is that the nation of Israel was chosen by God to be His people in a unique, everlasting covenant relationship, and also be His vessel of blessing to the world. How well Israel carried out her calling certainly varied from generation to generation. But the nation’s low point came when years of mixing the worship of God with the worship of the idols around them caused the people of Israel to be sent into exile in Babylon. This captivity was prophesied by messengers like Isaiah, written over a century before Jerusalem was conquered.
But God also prophesied an end to Israel’s captivity and her release from Babylon. This was to be accompanied with shouts of joy like the Exodus from Egypt, when God provided water from the rock. Isaiah 49:1–6 is the second of four passages commonly called the servant songs (the others are Isaiah 42:1–4; 50:4–9; and 52:13–53:12) because they refer to the avdi, Hebrew for “my servant.” Jewish commentators differ on the identity of the servant. He is called Israel in 49:3, and yet seems to be contrasted with Israel in other places. Whether the servant is Messiah or Israel herself, these passages speak of a period of suffering followed by redemption.
- Why do you think it was necessary for God to urge His people to flee from Babylon (48:20) once the opportunity came?
- How does Isaiah 49 speak of God's love for His people, Israel?
- To what great event are the promises of 49:10-12 related?
- In the third servant song of Isaiah (50:49), how does the servant express his complete confidence in God?
Isaiah 50 ends with an exhortation against the very human temptation to "light our own fires," as it were-to be self-reliant instead of placing our complete confidence and trust in God. But true guidance and peace come from the Lord alone.