“But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, and came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’ ” Matt. 2:22-23 (Part Seven)
As we’ve worked our way (some might say meandered) through this study on the prophets calling Jesus a Nazarene, it’s afforded us a chance to consider Old Testament passages where the forms of this Hebrew word show up in prophetic context concerning the people (nation) of this Nazarene.
We’re on our third look at Old Testament utterances that speak of the Nazarene’s people. Our focus this week is once again upon divinely inspired comments of Isaiah in chapter forty-nine. ‘5 And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength), 6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” 7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and its Holy One, to the despised One, to the One abhorred by the nation, to the Servant of rulers, “Kings shall see and arise, princes shall also bow down; because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.” 8 Thus says the LORD, “In a favorable time I have answered You, and in a day of salvation I have helped You; and I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, to restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;’ (Isa. 49:5-8 NAS) Brethren, these verses are an awesome prophecy of both the Nazarene and His descendents. It’s obvious in verse five the prophet is speaking of the Messiah to come, Jesus Christ the Nazarene and the LORD’s purpose in bringing Israel (also called Jacob) back to Him. Through Jesus, the favorable time concerning the day of salvation comes. Take a look at verse six concerning the “preserved ones” of Israel, also called the tribes of Jacob. This is a form of the Hebrew word nazer (natsiyr) once again. These are the ‘natsers’ or ‘nazers’ of Israel. Who are these preserved ones? We know that the preserved ones of Jacob (Israel) are those saved through the LORD’s Servant who “raised up the tribes of Jacob” restored back to God. Who does that sound like to you according to New Testament teaching? Only those who have been buried with Christ in immersion then raised to walk in newness of life would qualify, right? Didn’t Paul through inspiration say that the Gentiles, as branches, would be grafted in and when the message of salvation had reached its end and the fullness of the Gentiles had come in “all Israel would be saved”? (Rom. 11:16-27) Yes! Let’s ponder a more literal transliteration of the word (as Matthew did under inspiration of the Holy Spirit calling Jesus a Nazarene) It could go something like this: “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the Nazarenes of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Now lets contemplate the statement recorded in Acts 24:5 articulated by the mouth of Tertullus, a lawyer representing the unbelieving Jewish hierarchy before Felix the governor, regarding the apostle Paul: “For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” (NAS) Pretty amazing, huh? From the mouths of the unbelieving comes the fulfillment of a prophetic statement concerning the preserved ones, aka Nazarenes of Israel. One other thing brethren. How is the Servant (Jesus) going to be a light to the nations (Gentiles) so that God’s salvation may reach the ends of the earth and accomplish its purpose? Through the church, the sect of the Nazarenes! Verse eight in our text above not only applies to Jesus but us as well. We are those the LORD has made a covenant with through Christ Jesus. Now, through that covenant and as His people and servants, we help to restore desolate heritages with the promise that He will keep or preserve, (Heb. Natsiyr) or more literally as a consistent transliteration, make us Nazarene while we do so. Amen!