The Suffering Servant - Isaiah 49 to 53

The Suffering Servant - Isaiah 49 to 53

In this last section of Isaiah, we encounter 'the Servant'. It can be confusing as you read because the identity of this servant is not always the same. Smith commented: "In the last twenty-seven chapters of the book Isaiah introduced two servants of God. One was obedient, the other disobedient. The first was an individual; the second represented the entire nation."*

The obedient servant is the Messiah, the disobedient was national Israel.

We saw the obedient servant in 42:1-17, and then it transitioned to the disobedient servant in 42:18-43:13.

Now we again read of the obedient servant in chapter 49. He anticipated rejection, but would triumph in the end. Notice that Paul quotes 49:8 in 2 Cor. 6:2 and applies it to the gospel age.

In spite of Israel's disobedience, the obedient servant would come and would accomplish the purposes of God (ch. 50). Smith comments: "The thirty-seven verses beginning with 50:10 are some of the most optimistic in the entire book. Through exhortations, spiritual wake-up calls and forthright proclamation of good news God offered encouragement to his people."*

This leads us to one of the most thrilling sections - the description of the rejection of the Messiah AND His ensuing victory, especially in chapter 53. Almost everyone upon reading this can see that it describes the life of Jesus.

In Acts 8, the Eunuch was reading this very chapter and asked Philip if Isaiah spoke of himself or someone else. Philip began at this scripture and preached unto him Jesus! The picture was so clear, that the Eunuch asked to be baptized - right then. They stopped the chariot, they both went down into the water, Philip baptized him, and he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:26-40).

Although the idols (and false gods that they represented) could not foretell the future in this way, God proved Himself to be the true God by foretelling the life, death, and victory of Jesus.

After reading this, are YOU convinced that Jesus is the prophesied suffering servant? Have you been baptized in response to such faith?

Hugh DeLong

*James Smith, Old Testament Survey Series: The Major Prophets, Logos edition