The Three Servants of Isaiah


Isaiah 49:6a Indeed 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 give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

The question we should ask in this prophecy is: “Who is this servant?” At times, in the Book of Isaiah, it is difficult but not completely impossible to tell which servant Isaiah is speaking of.

There are three servants who are mentioned in the Book of Isaiah:

1. David-Isaiah 37:35
2. Israel-Isaiah 41:8-16, 42:18-20, 43:1, 44:1-8, 44:21-23, 45:4, 48:20
3. Messiah-Isaiah 42:1-12, chapter 49

There is also a section in Isaiah where the Messiah as the Servant restores Israel, the servant: 50:4-6, 52:13-15, 53:1-12

This particular prophecy is easier than many to identify who the servant is, because of the language Isaiah 42:5-7 uses. Here in verse 6, the Servant Messiah is to restore Israel, the servant of God.

You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel

The Messiah of Isaiah Chapter 49 will also be a light to the Gentiles (Prophecy 205), in that God will use the gospel of the Messiah to save people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people. We see this completed work of the Messiah in the Book of Revelation, where the redeemed are all together before the throne of God, worshipping Him.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…”

It was always the purpose of God to offer salvation to every person. First, this great work of redemption was offered to Israel who so often ignored, rejected and disobeyed God’s command. When Peter first brought the message of Jesus’ cross, he went to Israel. Upon their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, God expanded His grace to all the nations and people of the earth.

Isaiah contains what has been called “The Servant Songs,” so named by Berhard Duhm in 1892.[1]

1. Isaiah 42, Prophecies 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208
2. Isaiah 49:1-13, Prophecies 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219
3. Isaiah 50:4-9, Prophecies 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227
4. Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Prophecies 228270

There is no evidence that these Servant Songs were ever sung by Israel or the church. The lyrics to these song are a poetic description of the life and ministry of the coming Messiah. All of the text in these Servant Songs could rightly be applied to Jesus as the Messiah. In fact, there is no other person to whom we could rightly apply these words, other than Jesus.

Most of the books of the Old Testament present the Messiah in light of the fulfillment of their prophecies that we now know, are found in the New Testament. The two books which present the greatest amount of prophecy about the Messiah are the Psalms with 96 prophecies, and Isaiah with 131 prophecies. Together, these two books contain 221 of the 365 Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah which are the subject of this book. Of course there are many additional prophecies in the Psalms and Isaiah which could be included in the total list of Old Testament prophecies, as well as in other books that identify the work and ministry of the Messiah. I have included the most prominent of the total list, estimated at close to 500.

What continues to be extraordinary in regards to this study of Old Testament prophecy is that Jesus fits the requirements for every prediction. Even the greatest of skeptics, once they have arrived at this 216th prophecy, would have to admit that it is beyond chance that all these predictions are so perfectly fulfilled by every aspect of Jesus’ life. We are left with only one reasonable conclusion: The person who is described by all of these predictions is the One revealed in the New Testament as Jesus of Nazareth.

[1] Bernhard Lauardus Duhm was a German Lutheran theologian born in Bingum, today part of Leer, East Frisia. Born: October 10, 1847, Died: November 1, 1928

Categories: Exegesis and Hermeneutics, Jesus is the Messiah, Principles of Biblical Interpretation

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