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500 A Resurrected Servant

2 The servant is sometimes an individual, but there is a shift in Isa 49:1–3. Note the first person language for the servant: Listen to me coastlands, pay attention peoples from afar. Yahweh called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me and he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he concealed me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my judgment is with Yahweh, and my wage with my God.”

At first glance, the line “You are my servant, Israel” seems to confirm that Israel is Yahweh’s servant. But, one line later in Isa 49:5, there is a distinction between Israel and the servant: And now Yahweh says, who formed me in 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 sight of Yahweh, and my God has become my refuge.”

Here the servant that Yahweh formed from the womb is bringing “Jacob back to him” and gathering “Israel.” Isaiah 49:6 continues this direction: He [Yahweh] says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Pre-Order John D. Barry’s The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah. For the print version go to ResurrectedServant For the Logos Bible Software version visit ResurrectedServant

Isaiah 49:5–6 tells us that Jacob and Israel will be gathered, raised up, and restored by the servant. The juxtaposition of Israel against the servant suggests that we should understand Isa 49:3’s line, “You are Israel my servant,” as an annunciation of a new servant who will fulfill all or part of Israel’s role (compare Luke 3:22). While Israel is the servant in Isa 40–48, Isa 49 identifies an individual servant.

Character(s) Referred to as “my servant(s)” Isaiah Isa 20:3 Eliakim, son of Hilkiah Isa 22:20 Israel Isa 41:8–9; 42:1, 19; 43:10; 44:1–2, 21; 45:4; (compare Jer 30:10; 46:27–28; Ezek 28:25; 37:25) An Individual Servant3 Isa 49:3; Isa 52:13; 53:12 Israel (Plural—“my servants”) Isa 65:8–9, 13–14

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Before Jesus

Part of the failure in their interpretation of Isa 53:10–12 is that their focus was only on the servant; not the other characters. The individual in Isa 52:13–53:12 has taken up Israel’s role as God’s chosen and called servant. It is his duty to reconcile the relationship between God and His people. But how will the servant do this? And how do the results of our interpretation align with biblical scholarship?

Where Our Logic Got Fouled Up For the last 30 years, biblical scholarship has generally followed the leads of Harry M. Orlinsky and R. N. Whybray when interpreting Isa 53:10–12.4 Although these two scholars had a lot right, they failed to detect the individual servant and his resurrection. Part of the failure in their interpretation of Isa 53:10–12 is that their focus was only on the servant; not the other characters. They didn’t ask the basic questions: “Who causes the servant’s suffering? Who kills him?” Here’s how we find those answers. When we identify who the pronouns (e.g., she, he, you) refer to, the major players emerge: “the prophet” speaking, “Zion or Jerusalem” acting (Isa 51:3–23; 52:7), the servant, and Yahweh.5 The result is that Isa 53:10–12 reads: [The prophet says,] “Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush [the servant]; he afflicted [the servant] (with sickness). If [Zion/Jerusalem] places [the servant’s] life a guilt offering, [the servant] will see offspring, [the servant] will prolong days. And the will of Yahweh is in [the servant’s] hand, it will succeed. Out of trouble of his life [the servant] will see light; [the servant] will be satisfied by his knowledge.” [Yahweh says,] “My righteous servant will bring justice to many and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I [Yahweh] will divide to [the servant] a portion among the many, and with [the] strong ones [the servant] shall divide bounty, because he exposed his life to death and was counted with transgressors, and he carried the sin of the many and will intercede for transgressors.

Bible Study Magazine  

Bible Study Magazine ( delivers tools and methods for Bible study, as well as insights from respected Bible teach...

Bible Study Magazine  

Bible Study Magazine ( delivers tools and methods for Bible study, as well as insights from respected Bible teach...