In the book of Isaiah, the word “servant” occurs 23 times. It can refer to (a) an individual (e.g., Isaiah, Cyrus, or the Messiah), and (b) a collective group (e.g., national Israel, spiritual or ideal Israel, or the prophets).
However, in the four descriptions of the Suffering Servant: Is 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-6; and 52:13-53:12, ‘servant” refers to an individual, the Messiah. The Servant is the perfect Israelite, chosen by God, and in the midst of suffering, takes away the sins of many. This Servant is not just the collective leadership of Israel, but a person whose holiness surpasses any individual of the past. This messianic interpretation was known in pre-Christian Judaism. This Servant of Yahweh was Jesus of Nazareth.
Let us mull over the first lines of four servant songs* in the book of Isaiah. For greater blessings, meditate on all the verses of the Suffering Servant.
- “Behold, My Servant whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1-4)*
Isaiah prophesied about 500 years before Jesus came as the Servant of Yahweh.
- “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name” (Isaiah 49:1-6)*
Paul testified of this Servant Jesus some 20 years after His ascension. This servant was born in the likeness of men. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8).
The Servant’s two-fold mission was to glory God the Father
- by gathering Israel back to their God
- by being a light to the Gentiles
so that God’s salvation will reach the ends of the earth by the time He returns.
The Apostle Peter testified that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Listen to Him! Listen to Him! (Mt 3:16-17; Mt 17:5 Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35).
We will do well to listen to the Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ.
- “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isaiah 50:4-6)*
The Servant of Yahweh was an ideal learner of the Lord GOD. The Hebraic expression “those who are taught” (limudim) means disciples. In the New Testament, the word “disciples” (mathetai) means “learners.” Jesus told His disciples, “Learn (mathete) from me” (Matthew 11:29).
- “Behold, my servant shall deal wisely…” (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)*
Jesus acted wisely in all His ways. As His followers, we are to act wisely in all our ways. We are sent out by our risen Lord Jesus in to the world “as sheep in the midst of wolves,” so we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16). We also need God’s wisdom to spend our time, our resources and our money wisely (Ephesians 5:17; James 1:5).
This Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ, came to serve mankind, to suffer for the sins of mankind and to save mankind.
Be servants of Jesus – the Coming King
>Listen to Him
>Be teachable as a disciple (a learner)
Elder Yoong Yuen Soo