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Here, key instances where the words ‘Israel’ and/or ‘servant’ occur in the book of Isaiah, are explained to assist a person understand whether each verse or passage is speaking of the Messiah (Christ), or the nation of Israel.
Here is the brief, linked summary of the subject verses which are covered here in this article;
- Isaiah 41:8-9 – Nation (plural)
- Isaiah 43:10 – Nation (plural)
- Isaiah 44:1-2 – Nation (plural)
- Isaiah 44:21 – Nation (plural)
- Isaiah 45:4 – Nation (plural)
- Isaiah 48:20 – Nation (plural)
- Isaiah 49:3 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
- Isaiah 49:5 – interpretation included in Isaiah 49:3 explanation.
- Isaiah 49:8 & 42:6 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
- Isaiah 50:10 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
- Isaiah 52:13 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
- Isaiah 53:10 & 53:11 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
- Christ’s/Messiah’s resurrection in Isaiah 53
Did you know that the Holy G-d has had more than one servant in the past walking on the earth?
Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Elijah, and the prophet Isaiah have all served G-d as servants amongst other faithful, righteous people.
With this, in the holy book of Isaiah every time the Scriptures mention the word ‘servant’ or ‘Israel’ they are not necessarily speaking of the same ‘servant’ in each chapter, or instance.
For example, when the Scriptures say that ‘Israel’ is God’s ‘servant’, the use of the word ‘Israel’ is not always meant to be taken in a plural sense as referring to the ‘nation of Israel’ – but rather, it can also be referring to one individual namely the Lord Jesus (Yehoshua) Christ.
We will now review some key instances from the book of Isaiah, where both ‘Israel’ and ‘servant’ will refer to either a nation (plural), or one man being the Messiah (Christ) (singular) instead.
Isaiah 41:8-9 – Nation (plural).
8 “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend,
9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.
Isaiah 41:8-9 NASB
These instances of ‘servant’, ‘Israel’, and ‘Jacob’ – by interpretation, refer to the literal nation of Israel (plural).
Why? In verse 14, it states plurality when it says ‘men’;
‘…you worm Jacob… you men of Israel…’.
(Isaiah 41:14 NASB)
Isaiah 43:10 – Nation (plural).
“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.
Isaiah 43:10 NASB
The next verse (v.12) confirms that this passage is using ‘servant’ (v.10) in the plural sense, when it says;
‘…you are My witnesses…’
(Isaiah 43:12 NASB)
Isaiah 44:1-2 – Nation (plural)
There are a number of interpretations in this instance, and here two are submitted transparently.
First, let us read the subject passage; “But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! 2 Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
Isaiah 44:1-2 ESV
In Isaiah chapter 44, the nation (plural) interpretation is consistent with the chapter’s use of ‘servant’ and ‘Israel’.
In verse 8, it says;
‘…And you are my witnesses!…’
(Isaiah 44:8 ESV)
The word ‘witnesses‘ in verse 8, demonstrates the plurality for verses 1-2’s use of the words ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’.
Holding to this plural interpretation in this instance, we will then later see that verse 21 is also interpreted in a nation (plural) way – when ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’ appear in the text.
Isaiah 44:21 – Nation (plural).
“Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
Isaiah 44:21 NASB
Why is it plural in this instance? Because in verse 22 it then speaks of this ‘servant’s’ ‘transgressions’ and ‘sins’;
‘“I have wiped out your transgressions… And your sins…’
(Isaiah 44:22 NASB)
In context, and for our reference – Ecclesiastes 7:20 states that all men born of fallen man’s seed sadly sin here;
For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV
This here is also further Scriptural support confirming that the ‘servant’ mentioned later in Isaiah 53, differs to the servant mentioned in Isaiah 44:21 – as, the righteous servant of Isaiah 53 has never sinned, it says;
’…he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’
(Isaiah 53:9 KJV).
‘…he practised no iniquity…’
(Isaiah 53:9 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:18 NIV
amongst other Scriptures on the matter.
Isaiah 45:4 – Nation (plural).
For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.
Isaiah 45:4 ESV
Here, ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’ are referring to the nation of Israel (plural), and not one man, being the Messiah (Christ) in this instance.
Why, and how so? In verse 5 it then says;
‘…you do not know me.’.
(Isaiah 45:5 ESV).
It is confirmed in Holy Scripture, that the majority (plural), do not truly know G-d;
‘…”You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied.’
(John 8:19 NIV)
‘…no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
(Matthew 11:27 NIV)
The risen King Messiah (Christ) is in G-d’s presence, at His right hand, and thus certainly knows Him, blessed be He;
‘The LORD [G-d] said unto my Lord [Christ], Sit thou at my right hand…’
(Psalm 110:1 KJV [with explanation in brackets, in blue])
6 Thy throne, O god [Christ], is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore god [Christ], thy God [the Father], hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Psalm 45:6-7 KJV
[(amended, little ‘g’ denotes a created being, see article ‘John 1:1 explained…’ – with explanation in brackets, in blue])
Isaiah 48:20 – Nation (plural).
Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!”
Isaiah 48:20 ESV
This prophetic verse is using the words ‘servant’, and ‘Jacob’, in a plural sense.
Why? As, in the next verse (v.21) it refers to the nation of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, whilst referring to the ‘servant Jacob’ of v.20;
They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.
Isaiah 48:21 ESV.
Isaiah 49:3 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).
‘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 color 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
This chapter nears the iconic Messianic chapter of Isaiah 53, and essentially reads the lines of;
‘The perfect man (Christ) (singular) has brought back a fallen nation (plural) to the Holy G-d.’
Further, to incorrectly say that such a task was to be done by a fallen nation, such would break Scripture when later in verse 6 it says it was a ‘light thing’ for the servant to accomplish;
‘…It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob…’
(Isaiah 49:6 KJV)
Christ accomplished this enacting of the New Covenant by fulfilling (observing) all of Torah Law perfectly, having never sinned even in a body of flesh, not even once – he;
‘…humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross….’
(Philippians 2:8 ESV)
‘…he was cut off out of the land of the living…’
(Isaiah 53:8 KJV).
The righteous servant (singular), in turn makes;
‘…many to be accounted righteous…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV)
‘…by his knowledge…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV),
‘…makes intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV).
[A separate article for Isaiah 49:3 & 49:5 is also available here].
Isaiah 49:5 –
Kindly see the combined explanation for Isaiah 49:3 and 49:5 (above).
Isaiah 49:8 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).
Isaiah chapter 49 continues with a singular ‘servant’ in verse 8, confirming that verse 3 is indeed speaking of one man – where it was cryptically referring to the Messiah as ‘Israel’ and the ‘servant’, both times in a singular sense.
In verse 8, it says that G-d will ‘give’ the servant (singular) as a covenant to the ‘people’ (plural);
‘…I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people…’
(Isaiah 49:8 ESV)
Further, in the next verse (v.9), it then then says the servant speaks to the;
(Isaiah 49:9 ESV/KJV)
and such is consistent with other Scriptures which confirm the risen Christ (Messiah) as having done such;
“I am the LORD ; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Isaiah 42:6-7 ESV
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
1 Peter 3:18-20 ESV
Isaiah 50:10 – Messiah (Christ) Singular
Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.
Isaiah 50:10 NIV
Here we see a verse that John 14:1 draws from; believing in G-d and also obeying, and inturn believing in His servant.
Believing in G-d, and believing that Messiah is Christ.
How do we know this is speaking of one man and not a nation?
We know that verse 10 speaks of those who believe in G-d and obey (and believe) in His servant Mesaiah (Christ). Such people are inturn comforted in the darkness by the light of G-d;
‘…Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.’
(Isaiah 50:10 NASB2020)
Verse 11 however then speaks of all who do not believe in the Messiah (Christ), and instead ‘walk in their own light’ – meaning rely on their own deeds and remain set in their ways;
Behold, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with flaming arrows, Walk in the light of your fire And among the flaming arrows you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: You will lie down in torment.
Isaiah 50:11 NASB2020
As they don’t believe in Christ, sadly these do not live forever as they are deemed ‘scoffing’ (Isaiah 28:16, 28:18, 28:20, 28:22, Ephesians 2:20, John 3:16).
Verse 9 speaks of how when Christ was raised from the dead he would then live forever without end.
It also tells us that all who sadly do not believe, eventually wear out like a garment (perish);
It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.
Isaiah 50:9 NIV
Verse 5 further shows us how Christ was obedient in sharing the way of the LORD – even to the point of death. He didn’t shrink back (ref. Hebrews 10:38), he didn’t sin (Isaiah 53:9, Hebrews 4:15);
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.
Isaiah 50:5 NIV
Verse 7 speaks of how although not all believed, and how best efforts might have subsequently looked in vain at the time in the eyes of disbelievers – Christfulfilled all prophecy (in context), and His reward is with G-d.
He would not be put to shame;
‘Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced….
I know I will not be put to shame.’
(Isaiah 50:7 NIV)
And this is what is spoken of in Isaiah 49:4.
Isaiah 52:13 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).
Behold, My Servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Isaiah 52:13 NASB2020
We know Isaiah 52:13 speaks of one man (Christ), from the following;
Christ certainly prospered. How so?
Psalm 45:7 tells us that because he loved righteousness and hated wickedness [during the time of he walked the earth], he was then annointed by G-d with the oil of gladness above all others, upon him being raised from the dead;
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 (ammended)
He was declared High Priest in the order of Melchizadek (Psalm 110:4).
As per Isaiah 52:13, Christ was indeed lifted up. This speaks of the crucifixion, and John 3:14-15 references such.
In Isaiah 52:14, it goes on to speak of how crist was beaten and executed;
As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
Isaiah 52:14 KJV
Verse 15, then speaks figuratively when it mentions the sprinkling of many nations – and this is speaking of his priestly duties, where he makes intercession for those who believe (Isaiah 53:12, Romans 8:34) etc.;
so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
Isaiah 52:15 KJV
Isaiah 53:10 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isaiah 53:10 KJV
How do we know that the ‘servant‘ of Isaiah 53, is speaking in a singular sense, and thus is referring to the risen King Messiah (Christ)?
The above explanations for Isaiah 49:3 and 49:5, 42:6 and 49:8 – have provided the singular context for the ‘servant’ who is spoken of throughout Isaiah chapter 53.
One will also find that throughout chapter 53, the constant theme of ‘one (Christ/Messiah) serving for the many (people)’ is consistent in verses such as;
‘…he was wounded for our transgressions…’
(Isaiah 53:5 KJV)
‘…he… makes intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV).
Again, another valid citing here is that all men born of fallen man’s seed here, sadly sin (ref. Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV) – however, in Isaiah 53:9 it confirms that the suffering, righteous servant in this chapter – who is Christ, has never sinned, when it says;
‘…he had done no violence…’
(Isaiah 53:9 KJV).
Further, Isaiah 53:10 confirms that the risen Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach) literally does not have a biological human father – as you may have already read in the famous virgin Mary birth account, which is found in the New Testament (Brit Chadasha).
Isaiah 53:10 does this in a literal way by stating that the servant (Messiah) is the literal Son (offspring/seed) of the Living G-d – right before it speaks of when G-d had raised His Son from the dead.
Here is part Isaiah 53:10 with the explanation in brackets;
‘…He [G-d] shall see His seed [His Son (Christ)], He [G-d] shall prolong his days [‘prolong his days’; ‘raise His Son from the dead’ – speaking of when the Holy G-d raised Christ from the dead)]…’
(Isaiah 53:10) [with explanation in brackets in blue].
Isaiah 53:11 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).
With Isaiah chapters 49 and 53 explained thus far, the context for verse 11, here, should now be clear;
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:11 ESV
The context of Isaiah 53:11, is with regard to one man (singular) making;
‘…many to be accounted righteous…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV),
‘…made intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53:11 NIV)
Christ’s/Messiah’s resurrection in Isaiah 53
With the above instances of ‘Israel’ and the ‘servant’ being shared, perhaps it is fitting to now share where Holy Scripture says that God raised His Son from the dead;
‘…He [G-d] shall see His seed [His Son (Christ)], He [G-d] shall prolong his days [‘prolong his days’; ‘raise His Son from the dead’ – speaking of when the Holy G-d raised Christ/Messiah from the dead)]…’
(Isaiah 53:10) [with explanation in brackets in blue]
May the Holy G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; bless you, with a beyond maximum increase; believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Amen.