Israel’s Mission to the Nations in Isaiah 40-55: An Update

Michael Grisanti | August 25, 2009

In describing Israel’s relationship to the nations, Isaiah 40–55 represents three loci of tension: either divine blessings for Israel alone or for the entire world also, Israel as either an active witness or a passive one, and either the nations as subject to Israel or as coequal with Israel in their standing before God. Israel’s mission to the world is either centripetal (inward moving) or centrifugal (outward moving). Biblical scholars have debated which it is. Attempts to explain fluctuation in the prophet’s message between the two possibilities have included elimination of certain passages, consideration of redactional layers, redefinition of terms, and pointing out external circumstances in the prophet’s time. A correct understanding does not consist in explaining away one side of the tension, but in recognizing God’s future restoration of the nation as a means of extending redemptive benefits to the nations, His blessing of the nations after their judgment, and His use of Israel to rule the nations at the same time that His chosen people are a vehicle to bless the nations.

Vol. 9, no. 1 (Spring 1998)

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Grisanti, Michael. "Israel’s Mission to the Nations in Isaiah 40-55: An Update." The Master's Seminary Journal 9, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 39-61.