There is some disagreement over who the “Servant of the Lord” is in the prophecies of Isaiah, especially in chapter 53. Orthodox Jews say this term refers to the “people of Israel.” Christians say this is the “Savior Messiah.”
Let’s look at this. First, we need to recognize that a single word or term in the Bible can have more than one meaning. (For example, in various prophetic verses, the word “lion” can refer to Israel, to the tribe of Judah or even to the devil (Numbers 23:24, Genesis 49:9, 1 Peter 5:8).
The term “Servant of the Lord” appears several times in Isaiah.
“And you, Israel, Jacob My servant whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham My friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are My servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you’” (Isaiah 41:8-9, emphasis added). This verse clearly refers to the people of Israel. Paul, in Romans 11, interpreted this verse as confirming the election and the promises to the ancestors and Israel.
Isaiah says that even a pagan emperor (Cyrus) can perform God’s will (Isaiah 44-45). God put it in the heart of this leader to rebuild the Temple in which Messiah Yeshua would later stand. The logical conclusion is that God can make for Himself a servant of whomever He wants … but especially of those who AGREE TO COOPERATE with HIM!
When we read Isaiah 53, we see the One who cooperated to the ultimate degree in carrying out God’s will:
“… for the transgression of My people He was stricken… and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand. After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:8-11, emphasis added).
In this scripture, the text clearly does not speak of the people of Israel, but speaks of the promised Savior, the One who agreed to give up His soul to torment in order to reveal eternal atonement to both Israel and the world. By the way, the ancient Jewish Targum commentaries, like the believers in Yeshua, also interpreted this scripture as referring to the Messiah, Savior of the World!
I will conclude with the words of Peter concerning this Messiah: “Behold, I lay in Zion a cornerstone, chosen, precious; and he who believes in Him will not be ashamed” (1 Peter 2:6).
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Once again, I want to ask you to pray and support the Return to Zion ministry to new immigrants, the school of music serving children from economically challenged families, and the development of the Return to Zion Congregation.