We continue from where we previously left off https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/the-prophet-isaiah-islams-nightmare-pt-1/.
The Servant that Isaiah 53 said would suffer and offer his soul as a sacrifice for sins is the same One spoken of in the following passages:
“Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth justice to the nations. He shall not cry out, nor lift up his voice, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax he shall not quench; he shall bring forth justice faithfully. He shall not be disheartened nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for his law. Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes out of it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it: I the Lord have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand, and will keep You and appoint You for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Isaiah 42:1-7
“Listen to me, O coastlands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He named me. He has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has hidden me and made me a select arrow; in His quiver He has hidden me. He said to me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity, yet surely the justice due to me is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’ Now says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (yet I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is my strength), He says, ‘It is a light 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 make you a light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:1-6
Here we are expressly told that the Servant is Yahweh’s beloved upon whom Yahweh’s Spirit rests, and who is even named Israel. At the same time, this Servant who is called Israel is sent to save the nation of Israel and to be the Light for the nations so as to bring God’s own salvation to the ends of earth.
The reason that this is rather astonishing is that elsewhere we are told that it is God who saves the ends of the earth, and that he shall be the One to justify his people Israel, which is why the whole earth is to turn to him if they want to be saved and made righteous:
“Declare and set forth your case; let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient times? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no God besides Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no other besides Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other… Surely, one shall say, ‘ONLY in the Lord are righteousness and strength’. Men shall come to him, and all who are incensed at Him shall be ashamed. IN THE Lord SHALL all the seed of Israel BE JUSTIFIED and shall glory.” Isaiah 45:21-22, 24-25
We thus have the Servant doing what only Yahweh can and is supposed to do!
Now let us again see who the Suffering Servant happens to be:
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has THE ARM OF THE Lord been revealed? For HE grew up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground. HE has no form or majesty that we should look upon HIM nor appearance that we should desire HIM… He shall see of the anguish of his soul and be satisfied. By his knowledge MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT SHALL JUSTIFY THE MANY, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, thus he bore the sin of many and MADE INTERCESSION for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:1-2, 11-12
Here we have the Servant described as the very Arm of Yahweh who grew up before Yahweh. The significance of this can be seen from the following passages, all of which identify Yahweh’s Arm as his own strength or power that Yahweh employs whenever he chooses to personally accomplish a specific task:
“The Lord has bared HIS HOLY ARM in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10
“He saw that there was NO MAN and was astonished that there was NO INTERCESSOR; therefore, HIS OWN ARM brought salvation to Him, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS sustained” Isaiah 59:16
“I looked and there was NO ONE to help, and I was astonished, and there was NO ONE to uphold; therefore, MY OWN ARM brought salvation to Me; and My fury upheld Me.” Isaiah 63:5
Yahweh’s Arm clearly refers to God’s own power that he uses to bring about his purposes, whether for salvation or judgment, without enlisting the aid of any human agent or creature. As such, for the Servant to be described as the very Arm of Yahweh who brings about God’s salvation to the ends of the earth,
“He says, ‘It is a light 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 make you a light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:6
And who justifies sinners, he cannot be a mere human creature; he must necessarily be God Almighty in the flesh. There is simply no way around this fact.
This isn’t the only passage that connects Yahweh’s Arm with Yahweh’s Servant:
“The voice of him who cries out, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rough places a plain; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.’… O Zion, bearer of good news, get yourself up onto a high mountain; O Jerusalem, bearer of good news, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Lord God will come with a strong hand, and HIS ARM shall rule for Him; see, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11
Here we are told that Yahweh will come so as to have his own Arm rule for him as he shepherds his flock, and repays every person for what s/he has earned.(1)
Now compare this with what is said about the Servant:
“Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be HIGH AND LIFTED UP (yarum wa’nissa) and GREATLY exalted.” Isaiah 52:13 NASB
The prophet speaks of the Servant’s exaltation in the same exact way in which he describes Yahweh’s exalted status as the sovereign King of all creation:
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, HIGH AND LIFTED UP (ram wa’nissa), and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. One cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.’ The posts of the door moved at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.’” Isaiah 6:1-5
“For thus says the High and Lofty One (ram wa’nissa) who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high (marom) and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15 – cf. 33:5, 10
The words of exaltation that Isaiah employs in the foregoing texts basically indicate that the Servant shall be raised to fully share in Yahweh’s exclusive rule over all creation after first offering his life as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
What makes this all the more amazing is that Isaiah proclaims that Yahweh has set a day in which he will humble all those who in their arrogance and pride have lifted themselves up, since he alone shall be exalted above all:
“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon everything that is proud and lofty, and upon everything that is lifted up, and it shall be brought low; and it will be upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 15 and upon all the high towers, and upon every fenced wall, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant sloops. The loftiness of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the Lord ALONE will be exalted in that day;” Isaiah 2:11-17
This again confirms that the Servant must be God in the flesh, even while being personally distinct from Yahweh; otherwise he would not be permitted to participate in Yahweh’s reign over all creation.
This then brings me back to my initial point. The reason why Isaiah could say that both Yahweh’s Arm and the Servant will reign for Yahweh is because they are one and the same Figure, i.e., the Servant is the Arm of Yahweh that brings God’s salvation to the ends of the earth and who shall rule as the King of all creation.
Therefore, the one God whom Isaiah says saves for his own sake is not the sterile monad worshiped by this Muslim greenhorn. Rather, that God is the Triune God revealed in the God-breathed Scriptures, particular in the Incarnation of the blessed Son and the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural citations taken from the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Holy Bible.
(1) The NT applies the prophecy of Isaiah 40 to the advent of John the Baptist who was sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus:
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip was tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Traconitis, and Lysanias was the tetrarch of Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He came into the region surrounding the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’… As the people were in expectation, and everyone reflected in their hearts upon John, whether he might be the Christ or not, John answered them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water. But One mightier than I is coming, the strings of whose shoes I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor, and will gather the wheat into His granary. But He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.’” Luke 3:1-6, 15-17
“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ They asked him, ‘Who then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ They said to him then, ‘Who are you? Tell us so that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say concerning yourself?’ John said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” just as the prophet Isaiah said.’ Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why do you baptize then, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water, but One stands among you, whom you do not know. This is He who comes after me, who is preferred before me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” I did not know Him, but for this reason I came baptizing with water: so that He might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “The One on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and have borne witness that He is the Son of God.’ Again, the next day John was standing with two of his disciples. Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:19-36 – cf. Mark 1:1-8; Matthew 3:11-17; Acts 19:4
This means that Jesus Christ is the Lord God Almighty who comes to shepherd his flock and repay each person for what they have earned:
“For the Son of Man shall come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27
“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But he who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and runs away. So the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and am known by My own. Even as the Father knows Me, so I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also bring them, and they will hear My voice. There will be one flock and one shepherd.’” John 10:7-16
This explains why Christ is even identified as the Arm of Yahweh spoken of in Isaiah 53:1:
“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” John 12:37-41 New International Version (NIV)
Lord willing, we will have more to say concerning this issue in an upcoming post.