“Listen to me, you islands, hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name, He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.’ And now the Lord says – he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength – he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49. 1-3, 5-6
Israel was born to be a nation of missionaries. As seen God’s promise to patriarch, “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him” (Gen 18.18), God chose this people to be his shining light to the world. A people set apart by God to emulate his character, to reveal his blessings, to proclaim his truth and love the world. But they failed. Rather than emulating his heart, they took the Law and followed the letter while missing the point. They became so consumed in their own sin and rebellion that they ended up looking just like the world.
Enter Jesus. The Creator God become incarnate flesh, Yeshua was set apart before conception to be God’s holy servant, perfect in obedience and love. He is the Light of the World, shining God’s truth and character to Jew and Gentile.
Ultimately, the nation of Israel shows us one thing: we all need Jesus. We are all equally/completely broken; it is so easy for me to take God’s calling made clear in the scriptures and turn it into some pious act of discipline to become proud, “following” the letter and missing the point. Jesus came as the Great Missionary, gathering for himself a people from every part of the world to call to his heart. From Nazareth all the way to Kenai, Alaska. And even farther…