By Amy Oden
As always, it’s important here to state the big story at work in Isaiah in order to grasp the power of Isaiah’s proclamation in chapter 49.
God’s people have been defeated, their temple destroyed. They are taken in chains to Babylon, alienated from their land and their God. This exile is a crisis of identity and faith. Are they still God’s people? How can they worship in this foreign land?
Into this crisis, Isaiah speaks a word of hope in these chapters. God will send a servant who will do justice. Indeed, it appears that much of second Isaiah (chapters 40-55) addresses the return of the Israelites to their homeland and the promise of a restored temple and nation. The disorientation of exile is replaced by a new orientation that is more than just returning to the way things were before exile. God has something much more…
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