envisioned an Israel freed from captivity which would be more moral, regenerate,
more faithful, but which would be essentially the same kind of nation which
had been overcome by Assyria and Babylonia. The unknown prophet of the
exile who lived in Babylon about 545 bce (whose pronouncements are attached
to the book of Isaiah, and who is therefore called Deutero-Isaiah or the
Second Isaiah), was not content, however, with a replaying of history.
He perceived a new, unique role for Israel.
The redeemed Israel must be utterly purged of idolatry. The concepts of false religion (symbolized at the base of the window by images, pillars, the head of a sacrificed human being) must be thrust away. Israel must know that there is only one true God. No prophet denounces idolatry with greater sarcasm and skill than the Second Isaiah.
The sole true God has appointed Israel to be His servant. "You are My servant, O Israel." [Isaiah 49:3] the Lord says to His people. The servant is the major figure in the window. But the body is headless; the arm is incomplete. The servant has been hurt, mutilated and tortured. "So marred was his appearance, unlike that of a man, his form, beyond human semblance." [52:14] But this anguish, this suffering of Israel has not been without purpose. The servant has become the suffering servant.
Israel is appointed as a divine witness, not for its own sake, not merely to achieve national restoration, but (Hebrew: ) "I will make you a light unto the nations." [49 :6] The servant's task is to become God's prophet to all the peoples of humanity, to bring light and hope to the nations. Even though it is mutilated, the arm of the servant lifts up a composite symbol of sun and flowers for all to behold.
redemption which the servant will bring to the nations is freedom from
the bondage of idolatry, light to eyes that are blinded by fanaticism and
ignorance. The two heads, one male and one female, which represent humanity,
have closed eyes. The suffering servant's responsibility is . . . "To open
the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that
sit in darkness out of the prisonhouse." [42:7] Israel is not what it appears
to be-the rejected, vanquished and exiled victim, but God's own people,
the messenger who will bring the tidings of God's righteousness to the
entire human race.