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 Israel ’s King Messiah.  From the position of the New Testament, this chapter is obviously about God’s 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 God’s servant, but also who is God’s Righteous Servant!

Starting in Isaiah 41 and continuing through to Isaiah 48, the prophet, in nine verses, identifies the nation of Israel as His servant.  There is no doubt, when reading this section, that the prophet identifies Israel as God’s servant.  A few of the verses from Isaiah that identify Israel as God’s servant follow:


Isaiah 41:8 “But thou, Israel , 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 Israel , whom I have chosen”

Isaiah 48:20 “...The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.”


However, Isaiah reveals a second Servant who is not Israel .  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 Israel while the second is King Messiah.  The following verse reveals King Messiah as God’s 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.  God’s Righteous Servant is going to reconcile sinful man with the holy God of Israel!  Reconcile then means for God’s 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 person’s iniquities.  Because of this, the true identity of the Righteous Servant must be established.  Is the Righteous Servant King Messiah or the nation of Israel ?  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 God’s Righteous Servant earlier in his writings.  In chapter 11, he identifies King Messiah by using the terminology, a Branch from Jesse.  King David’s 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 God’s 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.”

Zechariah 3:8 “… 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 God’s Righteous Servant.  The Branch of David and God’s 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 God’s 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 Branch
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 God’s Spirit.  He acts under the power of the Holy Spirit.  He moves in the might of God’s Spirit.  King Messiah then lives and acts, not merely on His own, but in God’s 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 God’s word.  He judges with righteousness, and when He executes God’s 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 God’s Righteous Servant and the Gentiles, who are non-Jewish people.  King Messiah is not limited to Israel , as God’s 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 God’s 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 Israel :


“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel , and gather together the dispersed of Judah 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 Israel , but also over the entire earth.  Jeremiah, just as Isaiah, shows God’s Righteous King is not only for Israel , 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 God’s Righteous Servant.  The verses in Jeremiah follow:


“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel 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 God’s Servant.  Because Isaiah and Jeremiah emphasize so powerfully that the Branch is righteous, He then becomes God’s Righteous Servant.  The revelation of all three prophets shows that only the Branch can be called God’s 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 God’s Servant to remove the people’s iniquity ties directly into Isaiah 53.  God’s 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 Israel was not righteous before the holy God of Israel; therefore, Israel could not be God’s righteous Servant.  Time and time again, God sent prophets to turn Israel from iniquity to righteousness, but the nation rejected the message of the prophets.  Because Israel refused to obey, God was forced to judge the nation and send it to Babylon 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 Israel claimed to follow the Lord; however, their words were just lip service as the nation did not follow God in righteousness.  Israel loved sin more than the righteousness of God.  Although Israel is identified as God’s servant, presently, it cannot be called God’s righteous Servant.  Scripture after Scripture reveals that Israel was unrighteous before the holy God of Israel.  The nation of Israel cannot be God’s 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 God’s Righteous Servant.  The Fourth Servant Song ends with the clear ministry of God’s Righteous Servant.  Let us now examine Isaiah’s Four Servant Songs.


By John McTernan: Defend and Proclaim the Faith
Blog: John McTernan's Insights at www.johnmcternan.name

Meet author John McTernan
During numerous appearances on television, radio and in seminars, he has publicly defended Israel in light of Biblical prophecy. His current best selling book is As America Has Done To Israel.
He is author of the acclaimed book God's Final Warning to America, and co-author of the bestseller Israel: The Blessing or the Curse. From his experience debating, John wrote the Only Jesus of Nazareth series. This series includes: Only Jesus of Nazareth Can Sit on the Throne of David and Only Jesus of Nazareth Can Be Israel's King Messiah. Additionally, he has written several tracts, including Muhammad or Jesus: The Prophet Like Unto Moses, and The Koran vs the Bible.

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