VI. Realization of the Ideal of Service. The portrait is so concrete that the question naturally arises, Who was the servant of whom the prophet was speaking? Undoubtedly the tragic experiences of such prophets as Jeremiah suggested many elements in the picture. For half a century that faithful servant of Jehovah suffered, often shrinkingly, yet voluntarily, a constant martyrdom. Upon him fell the persecutions of his countrymen. Yet in the life of later Judaism those principles for which he lived and died gained acceptance and application. Of him it may be truly said:
He was numbered with trangressors,
And himself bore the sins of many,
And interposed for transgressors.
The unknown author of these immortal poems spoke out of the depth of his own painful experience and doubtless in a large degree realized the ideals of service which he thus effectively set forth. Those of his contemporaries who, amidst persecution and insults, in their lives embodied the ideals of the earlier prophets were crushed like Jeremiah because of the iniquities of others; but by thus pouring out their life-blood they brought healing to their race. Nehemiah, in responding to the call of service and in turning his back upon the allurements of the Persian court in order to rebuild the city of his fathers, proved himself a faithful servant of Jehovah. With true insight the Christian Church has always recognized that in the character and life of Jesus is found the only complete realization of this ancient ideal of service. With the immortal chapters of the ii Isaiah he was clearly familiar, and from them he doubtless received many suggestions regarding his divine mission and the methods by which it was to be accomplished. Their author was clearly speaking to his contemporaries; but in portraying the way in which Jehovah’s purpose in human history could alone be realized he presented an ideal which has a permanent significance in the thought of the human race, Paul rightly recognized that the same responsibility to make this ideal a reality rested upon him, and all who would serve God, when he quoted the words of 49:6 (cf. Acts 13:47):
“I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles That thou shouldst be for salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.”