Thursday 3 July 2014

Addendum to Contra Blumenthal: Isaiah 53

This is just simply a few comments  I have on some points made in Contra Brown on Isaiah 53:

"In order to understand the exaltation of the servant, all we need to do is read the scriptures not more than three verses before the opening of this passage:

“Burst forth with joy, sing together O ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted His people He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has made bare His holy arm to the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (52:9,10)

A few verses later we read:

Who would have believed our report and upon whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (53:1)

The arm of the Lord spoken of in verse 53:1 is the same arm of verse 52:10. In both cases the arm is revealed upon (or for the sake of) God’s servant[lii], and in both cases this revelation of the arm of the Lord allows the nations to see the salvation of the servant of God. This has not yet taken place. God promised that it will happen, and He repeated this promise many times. The revelation of God’s glory upon the people of Israel and their ultimate exaltation is a consistent theme throughout the prophecies of the Messianic era (Isaiah 4:5, 18:3, 24:23, 40:5, 52:10, 60:2,19, 61:3, 62:1, Jeremiah 3:17, 33:9, Ezekiel 37:28, Micha 7:16, Zephaniah 3:20, Psalm 98:3, 102:17).

The physical salvation of Israel that is prophesied here and it's vindication and exaltation occurs at the end of days, but it will not be the servant in an of itself that it will see a permanent physical restoration. Jesus as the Messiah grants Isaiah physical healing and bringing people back to the land, but only by first spiritually healing them from their sins and giving them a new heart so they can obey the Father. Obviously the exaltation of the servant in Isaiah 53 for both candidates is not worship in this context, I am not proving it to be such in this passage. Isaiah 53 is not even used as a proof text for the Messiah's deity as Nakdimon316 mentions in his response to Eli Cohen on Isaiah 53.

When God’s glory will be revealed over the nation of Israel, to the shock and consternation of all who despised her, the world will suddenly understand Israel’s mission. Just as God’s glory appeared openly in Solomon’s Temple in a manner which gave the nation to understand that He had chosen this building as His sanctuary, so will God’s glory appear over Israel, allowing all of mankind to understand that Israel is God’s sanctuary (2 Chronicles 7:3, Ezekiel 37:27,28)."

The only way Israel can be refined into God's own sanctuary is by his purification of them. Historically, the Jews in the context of Isaiah 53 were later restored to the land after their return from exile, at least for a time. Even today among Christians, there is a recognition that the Jews have a purpose in the redemption that God will bring. The issue of whether the Jews are saved without Jesus or not, is another issue I have written on elsewhere and will not be commented on here.

"If all that God had wanted to accomplish through Israel was to create a resting place for Himself amongst His chosen nation – Israel would not have had to undergo the torturous exile through which they suffered. God appointed Israel to serve as a sanctuary for His holiness toward all the nations of the earth (Isaiah 49:6[liii]). Israel’s mission is no less than the salvation of the world. In order to accomplish this mission Israel must suffer the refining pains of the exile, so that they can be purified to the degree that they serve as the vessel for God’s light. They must suffer not only for their own sins, but they must suffer a double measure (Isaiah 40:2), so that they can be purged for the sake of the nations as well. The task of creating a sanctuary for God here on earth belongs to the whole world, yet Israel must accomplish it by herself. Israel must be refined, not only for her own sins but for the sins of the nations as well. Israel suffers for the sins of the nations."

Considering the state of Israel at this time, they would not be able to refine the nations, let alone there own selves. Any good Israel or anyone has would not be because of themselves. Furthermore Israel's own refinement would be a result of their faithfulness and repentance to God rather than suffering on behalf of the nations, at least in this given context. I do emphasise that atonement by blood is important but in this context it isn't relevant to the point YHWH is making.

"Israel’s mission is not only redemptive in a future sense. Throughout the exile, Israel bears the torch of morality and Godliness amongst nations that revile her for it. The refining process that Israel undergoes, fortifies her in her loyalty to God’s cause. Israel was God’s servant who taught the world that each human being belongs to God, and is not intrinsically subservient to any other entity. This teaching is the root of the philosophy of democracy. Israel bore God’s message to the world that the human being is capable of finding God’s truth in the realm of the physical and in the realm of the spiritual – influencing both the renaissance of science, and the ongoing reformation of the Church. And Israel suffered in order to remain loyal to the scriptural truth that the works of men can indeed find favor in God’s eyes – the concept that lies at the root of all civilization. It is through Israel’s suffering that the nations were healed even before Israel’s ultimate mission will be brought to fruition."

Israel no doubt in one way or another has had positive influence and still does to this day. Even Israel has had some influence on me with respect to my own apologetic writings. The Church would also affirm that man belongs to God and no one else and Jesus being YHWH would not refute that. See my writings on Deuteronomy 13 why on the resurrection vindicates his claims to deity:

"There is yet another scriptural teaching that sheds light on Israel’s suffering. The chastisement of Israel brought her to levels of righteousness that would otherwise have been inaccessible (Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalm 25:18, 94:12, Proverbs 3:11,12,). The moral giants that Israel produced were refined by the national experience. The faith of the simple-folk of our nation, who maintained an island of sanity in a depraved world that sought to destroy them, was forged in the crucible of anti-Semitism. At the same time that the Jewish people were being refined, the gentile nations around them were steeped in evil. Throughout history, the “moral beacons” of the gentile world – the Church, and the Mosque – spewed forth teachings of hatred and cruelty. Countless times throughout history, the gentile society did much to provoke God’s wrath. Like Sodom before them, God would have utterly destroyed them. But God found ten righteous people in the city that stayed His hand (Genesis 18:32). Where did God find these righteous people? There is no question that there were some righteous people amongst the gentiles. But in order to find ten, God probably had to look in the Jewish ghetto. The suffering that refined the Jewish people, brought healing to their gentile neighbors (Isaiah 53:5)"

Islam is another story but it doesn't take a genius to tell you the NT doesn't produce anti-semitic "moral beacons". See my articles responding to Uri Yosef on his claims of Anti-Semitism in the NT books.

I am curious to know how Israel refines their neighbours in the context of Isaiah 53:5. In Psalm 25:18, the individual in question is calling on to have mercy on him and cast his sins away to restore him. In Psalm 94, blessed is the one who receives correction and discipline from the LORD.

These are just some comments I have on this section of Contra Brown.

Answering Judaism.

Addendum. This page may be updated in the future if any further points come to mind.

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