What’s the Difference?
An Open Response to Eric
This letter is a response to Eric’s comment: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/isaiah-53-micah-7-and-isaiah-62/#comment-13485
Thanks for your questions and for the time and effort that you invest in this discussion. It is through discussions such as these that we can arrive at the truth.
I pointed out that the servant of Isaiah 53 acknowledges his own guilt. This is not my opinion but this concept emerges from the words of the prophet. The prophet clearly says that the servant needs to see his own soul as guilty (verse 10) in order for God’s purpose to succeed through him. In one of your recent comments you asked, what then is the difference between the servant and those who had went astray that the prophet mentioned in verse 5?
I think your question goes to the root of the difference between our opposing world-views. Christianity teaches that if someone is guilty on one point of the Law it is as if he violated all of the Law. But this is not the teaching of the Jewish Bible. The Jewish Bible teaches that every human being sins and even angels are imperfect (Job 15:14,15). But this doesn’t stop God from proclaiming that He sealed a covenant with Abraham because Abraham had listened to His voice, obeyed His commandments, His statutes and His laws (Genesis 26:5). David sinned, but this does not stop God form pointing to Him as an example of obedience (1Kings 11:34). Not only are Abraham and David examples of obedience but their merit protects their progeny as well (Exodus 32:13; 2Kings 20:6).
David proclaims that his sin is ever before him (Psalm 51:5). But he is still God’s faithful servant whose merit can protect others.
The servant of Isaiah is no different. As it is with David, so it is with every servant of God. Part and parcel of being a servant of God is the acknowledgment of guilt. No human being can claim sinlessness and certainly not a truthful servant of God. But this does not mean that the servant cannot protect others through his merit. Just as David attained his spiritual level of closeness to God through trials and tribulations, so it is with the servant that Isaiah is describing. And had David only needed to protect himself, he would not have had to undergo so much suffering. It was because God wanted David to protect all of Israel that God brought him through so much suffering.
But David himself never expresses this concept for a minute. Nowhere in David’s many words will you find him speaking of his suffering as a benefit for others. But the prophet testifies that David’s merit did protect his city. The same applies to the servant described in Isaiah. God brought him to great levels of righteousness so that his merit can even protect others. And this was accomplished through suffering. But the servant needs to focus on his own guilt in order for the suffering to accomplish its purpose.
So Eric, there is a difference between someone who is loyal to God but has human failings as opposed to someone who has pledged his or her heart to an entity other than God. There is a difference between a nation that sins as humans are wont to do and a nation that perpetrated a holocaust. And with the exaltation of God’s servant, this difference will become obvious to all.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal