Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Servant of the Lord

In the book of Isaiah, there are five servants mentioned. One is Isaiah the prophet, who was a type of Christ (Isa 20:3). The second is God’s people Israel, also known as Jacob (Isa 41:8-14; 42:19-20; 44:21-28; 45:4), which was also a type of Christ. The third one is King David, who is also a type of Christ (Isa 37:35). The fourth one is Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was over King Hezekiah's household (Isa 22:20-24), and was yet another type of Christ. The fifth is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is the One I would like to focus on here. Let’s look at some of the verses that refer to Him, keeping in mind that sometimes there is a double reference to Israel and the Messiah in the same passage.

We begin with the prophecy about Eliakim son of Hilkiah that clearly has a double reference, one of which is about Christ.

"Then it will come about in that day, That I will summon My Servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, And I will clothe Him with your tunic And tie your sash securely about Him. I will entrust Him with your authority, And He will become a Father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Then I will set the key of the house of David on His shoulder, When He opens no one will shut, When He shuts no one will open. I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, And He will become a throne of glory to His Father's house. So they will hang on Him all the glory of his Father's house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars.” (Isa 22:20-24).

This is clearly referring to Christ, since the Lord explicitly said so in His Revelation to the apostle John: "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 'I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name…” (Rev 3:7-8)

Likewise, when the Lord says, "I will drive Him like a peg in a firm place" (Is 22:23), the word "nail" here (yatēd) means properly a peg, nail, stake, or spike. It is often used to refer to the large spikes that were used to fasten tent cords. It is also used of nails and spikes that were driven into walls. The phrase literally means, "I will fasten Him like a nail in a secure place". This is an obvious reference to the crucifixion of Christ, in which large nails or spikes were driven through His hands and feet to fasten Him securely to the cross (John 20.25; Acts 2.23; Col 2.14).

After His death, His body was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea, who received permission from governor Pilate to do so (Joh 19:38-40; Mk 15:43-46). Accompanied by Nicodemus, Joseph had to remove the nails, in order to take down the Lord's body. When they did so, the prophecy was fulfilled that said, "On that day the peg which I firmly fastened in place will be removed." (Is 22:25a, GW). The Hebrew word in this verse for removed is (mush), meaning remove, take away, or withdraw.

The prophecy was that when the nail would be removed on that day, the burden that was on it would be cut off and fall (Is 22:25b). Since the Lord Jesus was the one driven in a firm place (Is 22:23), and He was the burden hanging on it, then His body is what fell when the nails were removed. Joseph and Nicodemus probably climbed upon a ladder and used either ropes or a long piece of linen cloth draped over the top of the cross as a pulley system, in order to gently lower the body from the cross down to the ground. Since the Romans sometimes used ropes in conjunction with nails to secure a victim to the cross, Joseph would have cut off those ropes. This would explain why the prophecy says the burden would be "cut off." Since the Lord was also carrying the burden of our sin in his body, this prophecy may also have a secondary reference to the burden of our sin that was cut off or destroyed at that time.

Now let us continue on to what is known as the "Servant Songs" of Isaiah, which are found in chapters 42 - 53.

"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. "A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. "He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law." Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it, "I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.  (Isa 42:1-7) 

"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. I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me. "It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And I am God. "Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?"  (Isa 43:10-13)

"But now listen, O Jacob, My Servant, And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, 'Do not fear, O Jacob My Servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. 'For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants; And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.' "This one will say, 'I am the LORD'S'; And that one will call on the name of Jacob; And another will write on his hand, 'Belonging to the LORD,' And will name Israel's name with honor. "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last, And there is no God besides Me. 'Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. 'Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'" (Isa 44:1-8)

In this passage He is referred to as the First and the Last, which we know is Christ. The apostle John said, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.’” (Rev 1:17-18). The Lord also said, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev 22:12-13)

In this passage in Isaiah 44, He is referred to as the Rock, which is Christ. Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. "And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."  (Mat 21:42-44)

The apostle Peter further elaborates on this saying, "’A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” (1Pe 2:8)

Another passage in Isaiah about the Lord’s Servant is this:

Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me. He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver. He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show My glory." But I said, "I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD, And My reward with My God." And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), 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." 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 will see and arise, Princes will also bow down, Because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You." 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 49:1-8)

The next passage speaks of the suffering of the Lord’s Servant, the Messiah:

“See, My Servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him— His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness— so He will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of Him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand..” (Isa 52:13-15, NIV)

When it says that He will be lifted up, this refers to His being lifted up on a cross and crucified. Jesus confirmed this when He said, "’And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.” (Joh 12:32-33). Jesus Christ was truly the suffering Servant.

When it says, "There were many who were appalled at him— His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness," this refers to the gross disfigurement He suffered from the beating, flogging, and crucifixion that He endured for us. It was appalling, even worse than anything we have seen in any painting or movie. He was swollen, bleeding, and marred to the point that He did not really look human anymore. The expression, "He will sprinkle many nations," refers to His precious blood sprinkling many nations.

When it says in Isaiah 52 that He will be raised and greatly exalted, it is referring to His resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God. In Mark’s gospel it says, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mar 16:19).  Peter also said, "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to My Lord, "sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."'  (Act 2:33-35). The apostle Paul wrote, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Heb 1:3). And again he wrote: “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Heb 10:12)

The end of Isaiah 52 is a preface to what is written in Isaiah 53, which is a detailed description of the crucifixion of Christ. And in that chapter it says, “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.” (Isa 53:11). God the Father saw the anguish of His Servant’s soul and He was satisfied. We are justified by personally knowing Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, His Servant.

Jesus even declared Himself to be a Servant when He said, "Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mat 20:26b-28)

And Peter said, "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, the One whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him…For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."  (Act 3:13,26)

So there are an abundance of passages that refer to our Lord, the Messiah, as God’s Servant. He served His disciples by washing their feet during the last supper, on the night He was betrayed (Jn 13). He served us by giving His life for us on the cross. And He still serves today by interceding for us (Heb 7:25). Even when He returns, He will serve His people at the table in the kingdom of heaven. He said, "Blessed are those slaves whom the Master will find on the alert when He comes; truly I say to you, that He will gird Himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.” (Luk 12:37)

Therefore, since our Lord and Savior is the Lord’s Anointed Servant, He has set us an example that we should follow. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1Pe 2:21) And “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1Jn 2:6). Every disciple of Christ, every elder, apostle, pastor, teacher, prophet, and evangelist must be a servant of the Lord and others.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, and others are from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. "Because I Love You" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: I also recommend reading Having a Servant's Heart, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Shepherding Role of Elders, Crucified with Christ, What Jesus Did Not Do on the CrossHoly Washings - Part II, Persecuted or Popular?, and Success in God's Eyes. You may also access other articles about the Good Shepherd on the Home page for this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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