6.41 Isaiah -- The Uniqueness of Israel C

         c. The chosen nation

         But, after all the blood and fire... God has still chosen Israel. 

         But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have
               chosen,
               you descendants of Abraham my friend,
         I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest
               corners I called you.
         I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have
               not rejected you (Isa 41:8-9).

         For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your
               Savior;
         I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your
               stead.
         Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and
               because I love you,
         I will give men in exchange for you, and people in
               exchange for your life (Isa 43:3-4).

         But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting
              salvation;
         you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages
              everlasting (Isa 45:17).

         He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I
              will display my splendor" (Isa 49:3).

         The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with
              compassion on all her ruins;
         he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like
              the garden of the Lord.
         Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and
              the sound of singing (Isa 51:3).

         As we read the "restoration" passages of Isaiah, found most often in chapters 40-66, we are reminded of Balaam's extravagant prophecies 700 years previously (Num 22-24). 

         "No misfortune is seen in Jacob,
                no misery observed in Israel.
         The Lord their God is with them;
                the shout of the King is among them" (Num 23:21).

         "How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob,
                your dwelling places, O Israel!" (Num 24:5)

          "A ruler will come out of Jacob
                and destroy the survivors of the city"(Num 24:19).

          These two prophets form bookends to the free nation of Israel.  Balaam was there at its beginning, Isaiah near the end.  Between them, a monotheistic religion was established, a civilization was created, two kingdoms rose up...and declined.  But the common element in their oracles is that God has chosen Jacob, and that Israel will be vindicated among the nations.  This theme is central to the racial teaching of the Old Testament, it is deeper than any modern conflicts between black, white and yellow races, or  between First and Third World countries.  This theme of God's choosing Israel is foundational to the understanding of history itself, at least from a Biblical perspective.