|King Messiah God's Righteous Servant
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:11
Righteous: Conforming to the standard of the divine or the moral law: free from guilt or sin.
Isaiah 53 is one of the most powerful chapters in the Hebrew Scriptures for proving that Jesus of Nazareth is
s King Messiah. From the position of the New Testament, this chapter is obviously about Gods Righteous Servant, King Messiah. But, from the position of the Old Testament that determination is not that easy. It is critical, when studying the Old Testament, to identify who is not only Gods servant, but also who is Gods Righteous Servant!
Starting in Isaiah 41 and continuing through to Isaiah 48, the prophet, in nine verses, identifies the nation of
as His servant. There is no doubt, when reading this section, that the prophet identifies
as Gods servant. A few of the verses from Isaiah that identify
as Gods servant follow:
Isaiah 41:8 But thou,
, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
Isaiah 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and
, whom I have chosen
Isaiah 48:20 ...The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
However, Isaiah reveals a second Servant who is not
. This Servant is King Messiah, the Savior of mankind. Running through the book of Isaiah then are threads of two servants: one is the nation of
while the second is King Messiah. The following verse reveals King Messiah as Gods Servant:
Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Thus, the identification of the righteous Servant in Isaiah 53 is of enormous consequences because the Bible says this righteous Servant is going to justify many for he shall bear their iniquity. To be justified with God is an awesome concept. Justification is a legal principle, meaning to cause or be made right. The concept then is that someone, who is guilty, is then made right before a court of law. All guilt and shame associated with being unrighteous before God are removed. Without justification, a person is separated and condemned with God. Let us look at Isaiah 53:11 once more:
Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
The word justify in Hebrew is tsadaq, and throughout the Bible this word is also translated righteous and cleanse. Gods Righteous Servant is going to reconcile sinful man with the holy God of Israel! Reconcile then means for Gods Servant to make sinful man righteous before the holy God of Israel. What an awesome concept!
In the New Testament, a person, through prayer, can come with confidence before the very throne of God. There is no restriction between the holy God of Israel and a believer in the Lord Jesus. God allows this approach because the person was justified by His Righteous Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Isaiah 53:11 even mentions the method the righteous Servant used to justify a person: it is by bearing the unrighteous persons iniquities. Because of this, the true identity of the Righteous Servant must be established. Is the Righteous Servant King Messiah or the nation of
? To miss the true identity is to miss being justified before the holy God of Israel.
Isaiah sets the foundation for proving the identity of Gods Righteous Servant earlier in his writings. In chapter 11, he identifies King Messiah by using the terminology, a Branch from Jesse. King Davids father was Jesse; thus, the Branch is from the line of David. Isaiah was the first prophet to reveal the Branch as a title for King Messiah. In addition, the Prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah also use the term, Branch, and provide more details about this person. Jeremiah refers to King Messiah as the Branch of David while Zechariah shows the Branch is Gods Servant.
Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
These prophets reveal the Branch as the King and the Servant of God. Of tremendous importance is that the prophets reveal the Branch as righteous. He then is the Righteous Servant of the holy God of Israel. The Scriptures leave no doubt that the Branch of David is Gods Righteous Servant. The Branch of David and Gods Righteous Servant are one and the same.
To understand fully who the Branch is, all three prophets need to be examined. No one prophet has the complete revelation of the Branch, but all three combined give the complete picture of Gods Righteous Servant. Isaiah sets the foundation of the Branch in Chapter 11. Let us look at Isaiah 11 and then at the Prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah.
The Root of Jesse
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: (2) And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD
(4) But with righteousness shall he judge the poor
(5) And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins
Isaiah 11:1, 2, 4, 5
This chapter is one of the most important in the Old Testament about King Messiah. It is a foundational chapter and shows His overall ministry. In verse one, the prophet writes, a rod comes from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. This means King Messiah is a direct descendant of Jesse who was the father of King David. Thus, a title for King Messiah is the Branch of David.
Everything the Messiah accomplishes is by the Spirit of God: The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him. He does not simply have knowledge, but His knowledge comes from Gods Spirit. He acts under the power of the Holy Spirit. He moves in the might of Gods Spirit. King Messiah then lives and acts, not merely on His own, but in Gods power.
According to the prophet, righteousness and faithfulness are girdles, or bands around King Messiah. A band wraps tightly around the body. Because righteousness along with faithfulness wraps Him, He remains righteous at all times before the holy God of Israel.
He is in perfect harmony with God; therefore, at all times He can stand directly in the presence of the holy God of Israel. There is nothing morally or legally hindering Him with God. There is no barrier between Him and God. He walks in complete unity with God. The Holy Spirit rests on Him and anoints Him with knowledge, wisdom and understanding:
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Isaiah 11:5
Because this Righteous Servant is in perfect unity with God, everything He accomplishes is righteous. He does everything in accordance to Gods word. He judges with righteousness, and when He executes Gods judgments on evil, He does so according to righteousness. His motives and actions are in perfect accord with the word of God:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. Isaiah 11:4
An additional fact about the Branch is very important to grasp. There is a direct link between Gods Righteous Servant and the Gentiles, who are non-Jewish people. King Messiah is not limited to
, as Gods Righteous Servant, but He stands like an ensign, or banner, and the Gentiles will recognize Him and rest in Him.
In chapter 11, the Prophet Isaiah does not give details exactly how the Branch of David is a banner. It simple states He will be a banner and the Gentiles will seek Him. Later, in the Fourth Servant Song, Isaiah explains what the banner is:
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10
Resting in Gods Righteous Servant is described as glorious! It is very important to remember, there is a direct connection between the Branch and the Gentiles. Isaiah reinforces this link in several Scriptures, which are examined in the next chapter.
The last critical factor about the Branch of David is He gathers the dispersed Jewish people from all over the world and brings them back to
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of
, and gather together the dispersed of
from the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12
The Prophet Jeremiah also gives key information about this Servant. He reinforces what Isaiah wrote and adds a critical factor about the righteousness of the Branch of David. Like Isaiah, the Prophet Jeremiah links King Messiah with David: however, Jeremiah actually identifies Him as the Righteous Branch. The Righteous Branch as King is going to execute justice, not only over
, but also over the entire earth. Jeremiah, just as Isaiah, shows Gods Righteous King is not only for
, but He also rules over all the nations:
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. Jeremiah 23:5.
Through Jeremiah we learn that righteousness is so important to God that the Branch even is referred to as the Lord our Righteousness. It is very apparent that righteousness is of the utmost importance to the holy God of Israel. So much so, that God says, I will raise unto David a righteous Branch. The very core of the Branch of David is righteousness. Can God make it any clearer the importance of the Branch being righteous? He is Gods Righteous Servant. The verses in Jeremiah follow:
In his days
shall be saved, and
shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:6
In chapter 33, Jeremiah reemphasizes the connection between the Branch and righteousness. As in Chapter 23, Jeremiah stresses that the Branch is righteous. Jeremiah again identifies the Branch as being from the line of David. This time the prophet refers to the Messiah as the Branch of righteousness. This verse follows:
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. Jeremiah 33:15
Jeremiah in chapter 23 refers to King Messiah as a righteous Branch. In chapter 33, the prophet refers to Him as the Branch of righteousness. Most importantly, the Branch of David is known by the title, the Lord our Righteousness. Everything about Him is righteous. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah show that righteousness is at the very heart of King Messiah.
The Prophet Zechariah makes a direct connection between the Branch of David as Gods Servant. Because Isaiah and Jeremiah emphasize so powerfully that the Branch is righteous, He then becomes Gods Righteous Servant. The revelation of all three prophets shows that only the Branch can be called Gods Righteous Servant:
for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. (9) For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Zechariah 3:8, 9.
Zechariah also links the Branch to a stone that is engraved or deeply gouged. The deep cutting of this stone leads to God removing the iniquity of the people in one day. This concept of the deep gouging of Gods Servant to remove the peoples iniquity ties directly into Isaiah 53. Gods righteous Servant and the gouging of the Branch of David all merge in Isaiah 53. This concept is covered in depth later in the book in the section regarding the Fourth Servant Song.
A study of the Bible shows that
was not righteous before the holy God of Israel; therefore,
could not be Gods righteous Servant. Time and time again, God sent prophets to turn
from iniquity to righteousness, but the nation rejected the message of the prophets. Because
refused to obey, God was forced to judge the nation and send it to
for an exile of 70 years:
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. (12) Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 7:11, 12
Isaiah wrote that
claimed to follow the Lord; however, their words were just lip service as the nation did not follow God in righteousness.
loved sin more than the righteousness of God. Although
is identified as Gods servant, presently, it cannot be called Gods righteous Servant. Scripture after Scripture reveals that
was unrighteous before the holy God of Israel. The nation of
cannot be Gods righteous Servant. His righteous Servant is King Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth:
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. Isaiah 48:1
Before examining Isaiah 53, a study of the chapters leading to it, is most important. Isaiah writes what is known as The Four Servant Songs. These Servant Songs include parts of chapters 42, 49, 50, 52 and all of 53. Each of the Servant Songs flows into the next and they all link beautifully together. Together, these Songs all paint a wonderful picture of Gods Righteous Servant. The Fourth Servant Song ends with the clear ministry of Gods Righteous Servant. Let us now examine Isaiahs Four Servant Songs.
By John McTernan:
Proclaim the Faith
Blog: John McTernan's Insights at www.johnmcternan.name