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A Divine Messiah That Suffers and Reigns! Pt. 1

In this post I am going to highlight some of the OT texts, which speak of God’s Anointed suffering vicariously for the sins of the world while also affirming his divine identity and status. The passages that I will be looking at refer to the Messiah as a preexistent divine Being who becomes a physical descendant of David, and therefore an Israelite, in order to fulfill the promises God made to the nation and her greatest king, as well as to offer his life as an atoning sacrifice in order to reconcile mankind to God.

I start with the following remarkable prophecy:

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled (yarum wanissa), and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was CUT OFF out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 52:13-53:12

That this is a Messianic prophecy is a fact acknowledged by rabbinic Judaism:

“Behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper, He shall be exalted and extolled, and He shall be very strong.” (The Chaldee Paraphrase on the Prophet Isaiah By Jonathan b. Uzziel, translated by Rev. C. W. H. Pauli (presbyter) [Society’s House, London 1871], p. 181; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Astonishingly, not only does the Messianic Servant suffer for the transgressions of all people, he is also exalted to God’s own heavenly status, a position that God emphatically says he will not share with anyone!

Compare the language employed here to describe the Servant’s exaltation with what is said about Jehovah’s elevated position:

“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… And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD ALONE shall be exalted in that day.” Isaiah 2:11, 17

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up (ram wanissa), and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, 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 mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-5

“The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high (marom): he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness… Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted (eromam); now will I lift up myself (ennase).” Isaiah 33:5, 10

“For thus saith the high and lofty One (ram wanissa) that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high (marom) and holy place, with him also that 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

There’s more. Not only does Isaiah employ the same language of Jehovah’s exalted status over creation to describe the Messiah’s elevated status, the prophet also attributes to God’s righteous Servant the very unique functions of Jehovah, namely, justification and intercession:

“Surely, shall one say, IN THE LORD have I righteousness and strength:
even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. IN THE LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Isaiah 45:24-25

“And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” Isaiah 59:16

“And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.” Isaiah 63:5

Since Jehovah alone justifies and makes righteous, and since God cannot find any one worthy enough to intercede or work salvation, this means that the Messiah must be God in the flesh, which is precisely what the prophet says in this next prophecy:

“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined… For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God (El Gibbor), The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7

Once again, even rabbinic Judaism recognizes this as a prophecy of the coming Messiah:

The prophet said to the house of David, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and he has taken the law upon himself to keep it. His name is called from eternity wonderful, the mighty God who liveth to eternity, the Messiah whose peace shall be great upon us in his days. (Targum Jonathan; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The Messianic Child that will be born is identified as the Mighty God, which is one of the names given to Jehovah in the very next chapter!

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God (El Gibbor).” Isaiah 10:20-21

What this shows is that the Messiah is none other than Jehovah God Almighty in the flesh who, at the same time, is a figure that is personally distinct from Jehovah since he is identified as Jehovah’s Servant.

We, thus, have Isaiah laying the foundation for what will eventually become the doctrine of the blessed and glorious Trinity, as well as the Hypostatic Union, i.e., that the Messiah is God and Man at the same time!

There’s still more OT texts for me to examine in the next part of my discussion

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