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Sharing how to explain the riddle of Isaiah 49:3 and 49:5, and how this is a key to confirming the suffering ‘righteous servant’ of Isaiah 53 is one man, the created, risen, Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua the Messiah), and not a nation.
Isaiah 49 acts as a key to a puzzle and assists a reader in knowing that the righteous suffering servant being spoken of in Isaiah 53, is not a nation – though is rather one man (Christ/Messiah).
The two subject verses of Isaiah 49 read as follows;
‘3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”…
5 And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength—’
(Isaiah 49:3, 49:5 ESV)
What a person will notice is that ‘Israel’ is mentioned twice – once in verse 3, and then again in verse 5.
In verse 3, ‘Israel‘ is referring to one man being the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach), the ‘servant’.
Then in verse 5, the name ‘Israel‘ is no longer referring to a man, but is rather being used alongside the name ‘Jacob‘ – and both of these are referring to a fallen nation who are being ‘brought back’ and ‘gathered’ by the servant who is mentioned in verse 3, to G-d.
The verse has been colour coded above to assist in understanding context;
- blue indicates ‘Israel’ being a single man as the righteous servant
- red indicates ‘Israel’ and ‘Jacob’ being a fallen nation
How Do We Know?
Verse 6 states that it is a light thing (an easy thing) for the Messiah to bring Israel the nation back to Him;
‘…“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel…’
(Isaiah 49:6 ESV)
However, despite this salvation of Israel being easy for the Messiah to bring about, Scripture also says that the Messiah felt like he had laboured in vain – meaning, he felt like his efforts were not fruitful enough;
‘But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity…’
(Isaiah 49:4 ESV)
How do we then interpret this? At the time of Messiah’s death, he of course loves his people and desired more to believe at the time – remember he did weep on his walk (John 11:35).
Despite this yearning, it is a very light thing for Messiah to bring Israel back to Hashem and this is because all the Messiah has to do is make intercession (pray) for those who are to believe and be accounted righteous by their faith, with their repentance, tevillah, and Torah observance;
The Messiah does this as Isaiah describes. After his walk on earth, he was raised from the dead (‘…prolong his days…’; Isaiah 53:10) – this is why it says his reward is with G-d;
‘…yet surely my right is with the LORD , and my recompense with my God.”’
(Isaiah 49:4 ESV)
What was the Messiah’s reward? He was declared High Priest by Hashem’s (the LORD’s) decree;
The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalms 110:4 NASB2020
What prophecy did Messiah fulfil to and declared High Priest? Among the rest, it tells us that he loved righteousness and hated wickedness – meaning, he did not ever sin (‘…he did no violence…’; Isaiah 53:9);
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore god, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Psalm 45:7 KJV [amended]
He knows the commandments and statutes of G-d from the Law of Moses and this is why he did not sin, in conjunction with being highly annointed (Psalm 45:7, Isaiah 49:16);
‘…by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many…’
(Isaiah 53:11 NIV).
And how does Messiah bring Israel back to G-d now that he is High Priest? He prays for those who believe in G-d and in him as the Messiah (ref. John 14:1);
‘…he… makes intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV)
Just for reference, verses which read along the lines of ‘…he will bear their iniquities.’ (Isaiah 53:11 NIV) – are metaphorical in nature, as human sacrifices are forbidden by Torah Law. Rather, such Scriptures relate to how the Messiah was declared High Priest, and makes intercession (prayer) for them.
This interpretation assists in showing that the suffering ‘righteous servant’ of Isaiah 53 is indeed one man (the risen Christ/Messiah), and not a nation of many people – by interpreting the riddle that Isaiah 49:3 and 49:5 presents.
There are certainly more chapters and verses to share from the Holy Book of the LORD with regard to the topic of the suffering ‘righteous servant’ – however for the sake of brevity, perhaps these will be addressed at a later time, G-d willing.
May the Holy G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; bless you beyond maximum, believing in His risen Son Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach (the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah). Amen.
■ Isaiah 53:10 explained; God raised Christ/Messiah from the dead.
■ Messiah As Priest, No World Peace Here, Messiah Rules From Above, Levite Priests?
■ Israel The Servant; Man (singular) or Nation (plural)? – Key verses by verse, from Isaiah.
■ ‘Propitiation’: Intercession, Not Human Sacrifice (1 John 2:2, Isaiah 53:12);
Biblical Copyright Translation Disclaimer
“Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
“Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org ”
“Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Standard Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™”
“Scripture quotations marked (OJB) are from the Orthodox Jewish Bible Copyright Artists for Israel Intl. Used by permission © The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”