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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. IDENTITY OF JEHOVAH’S SERVANT.—1. In Deut. 10:12 it is said: “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but that thou fear the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and love him, and serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?” And in verse 20 of the same chapter the law-giver again insists on the same obligation: “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him only; to him thou shalt adhere, and shalt swear by his name.” We cannot then be astonished if the Lord says, Lev. 25:55: “unto me the children of Israel are servants” (cf. Ps. 105:6, etc.). But single persons too are honored with the title “servant of the Lord” in the earlier books of the Old Testament: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Deut. 9:27, etc.; Moses in Jos. 1:1, and frequently throughout the course of the book; David in 3 Kings 8:66, etc. It is, however, noticeable that the name throughout is a name of honor and respect rather than of subjection and servitude.

2. Coming now to the writings of Isaias 41–53, the title “servant of the Lord” occurs nineteen times: In 41:8, 9; 44:1, 2, 21 (bis); 45:4 and 48:20 it appears to apply to either Jacob or Israel; in 42:19 (bis); 43:10; 44:26 the application of the title is doubtful; in 42:1; 49:3, 5, 6; 50:10; 52:13; 53:11 the term denotes a person who represents Israel, and who is at the same time distinct from Israel (cf. Kay, Is. p. 233).

3. The mission of Jehovah’s servant is represented as twofold: a. He must teach the world the true religion; b. he is to be Israel’s mediator, and to bring about the nation’s restoration. Since he completes these two offices in c. 53:11, “by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities,” he is no longer spoken of after c. 53; but instead of him we find “servants of the Lord” in chapters 54–66, an expression which does not occur in the earlier parts of the prophecies. Isaias introduces these “servants of the Lord” as often as ten times: 54:17; 56:6; 63:17; 65:9; 65:13 (bis); 65:14 (bis); 65:15; 66:14. These servants appear to be the fulfilment of the promise in 53:10: “If he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand.” The apostle (Rom. 5:15–19) seems to have alluded to this prophetic passage, where he tells us that many have been justified through the obedience of one.

4. Returning now to the passage in which we maintain that the Messias is identified with the “servant of the Lord,” we find that Is. 49:1–13 describes the person and the experiences of the servant, and also his double mission; vv. 14–26 contain an answer to the difficulties against the prophet’s position—difficulties which arise out of the unbelief of Israel; 50:1–3 states Israel’s rejection on account of its sins; 50:4–9 treats of the manner in which the servant will fulfil his mission, and speaks even of his passion; 50:10 f. exhorts the Jews to place their confidence in the servant; those who will not believe in him will surely perish.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE SERVANT OF THE LORD.—a. That the servant of the Lord is the Messias follows in the first place from his having the work of the Messias to do. For the Messianic predictions generally assign the twofold mission which Isaias imposes on the Lord’s servant to the Messias himself. b. The identity of the Messias with the “servant of the Lord” appears also from several passages of the New Testament. Matt. 1:21 and Luke 1:31, e.g., describe the child which is about to be born as having the offices which are attributed to the Lord’s servant in the chapters of the prophet Isaias. c. The patristic testimonies in favor of the servant’s identity with the Messias may be seen in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. Tailhan, i. p. 380. d. Finally, we have the Rabbinic tradition for the servant’s identity with the Messias. The Targum on xlii. 1 reads: “Behold my servant, the Messias, I will bring him near.” The same authority renders Is. 43:10: “And my servant, the Messias, in whom I am well pleased.” The same testimony favors the Messianic bearing of Is. 52:13: “Behold, my servant, the Messias, shall prosper; he shall be exalted.” And concerning the words “my servant shall deal prudently,” the same Targum adds: “This is the king Messias.” Besides these passages, we may refer to the Midrash on Ps. 2; Yalkut ii., p. 104 d.; p. 52 b.; Midrash on Prov. 19:21; and in general to all those testimonies in which the context of passages that refer to the servant is interpreted Messianically (cf. Corluy, Spicil. ii. 86).

3. ANTI-CHRISTIAN EXPLANATIONS.—a. The servant is Moses, or Ezechias, or David, or Ozias, or Jeremias, or Isaias, or Josias. But none of these persons satisfies all the conditions that are required by the words of the prophecy. They suffered for their own sins (David, Ozias), or they were not of humble birth (Ezechias, Josias, Isaias), or they did not offer their sufferings for the good of the people (Jeremias, Isaias, David, Ezechias), or they had not long-lived seed (Moses), or they were not condemned to an unjust death (Moses, David, etc.).

b. The servant is the entire people of Israel, or its better part, or the series of the prophets, or the priestly order. α. But it is false that the whole nation suffered unjustly, and that the just ones of the nation suffered for the ungodly, since during the Captivity many of the holy men were treated better than their fellow-citizens. β. Sacred Scripture contains no vestige of any vicarious suffering on the part of the people, or of its better part, or of any special class of the nation. γ. The whole context shows that the prophet’s words must be understood of an individual servant, so that no moral person can be thought of. δ. It is false that the servant always signifies the same person, or collection of persons, wherever the expression occurs. Hence the very foundation of the opponents’ theory is not solid.

Is. 49–50

Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye peoples from afar. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother he hath been mindful of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow; in his quiver he hath hidden me. And he said to me: Thou art my servant, Israel, for in thee will I glory. And I said: I have labored in vain; therefore my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, that I may bring back Jacob unto him, and Israel will not be gathered together; and I am glorified in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is my strength. And he said: Is it a small thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel? Behold, I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth. Thus saith the Lord the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to the soul that is despised, to the nation that is abhorred, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see and princes shall rise up, and adore for the Lord’s sake, because he is faithful, and for the Holy One of Israel who hath chosen thee. Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee; and I have preserved thee, and given thee to be a covenant of the people, that thou mightest raise up the earth, and possess the inheritances that were destroyed; that thou mightest say to them that are bound, Come forth, and to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in every plain. They shall not hunger, nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun strike them; for he that is merciful to them shall be their shepherd, and at the fountains of waters he shall give them drink. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my paths shall be exalted. Behold these shall come from afar, and behold these from the north and from the sea, and these from the south country. Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice O earth, ye mountains give praise with jubilation; because the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy on his poor ones.

Sion said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands; thy walls are always before my eyes. Thy builders are come; they that destroy thee and make thee waste shall go out of thee. Lift up thy eyes round about, and see, all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt be clothed with all these as with an ornament, and as a bride thou shalt put them about thee. For thy deserts and thy desolate places and the land of thy destruction shall now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be chased far away. The children of thy barrenness shall still say in thy ears: The place is too strait for me, make me room to dwell in. And thou shalt say in thy heart: Who hath begotten these? I was barren, and brought not forth, led away and captive; and who hath brought up these? I was destitute and alone, and these, where were they? Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, and will set up my standard to the peoples. And they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and carry thy daughters upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nurses; they shall worship thee with their face toward the earth, and they shall lick up the dust of thy feet. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be confounded that wait for him. Shall the prey be taken from the strong? or can that which was taken by the mighty be delivered? For thus saith the Lord: Yea verily, even the captivity shall be taken away from the strong; and that which was taken by the mighty shall be delivered. But I will judge those that have judged thee, and thy children I will save. And I will feed thy own enemies with their own flesh; and they shall be made drunk with their own blood, as with new wine, and all flesh shall know that I am the Lord that save thee, and thy redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob.

Thus saith the Lord: What is this bill of the divorce of your mother, with which I have put her away? or who is my creditor to whom I sold you? Behold, you are sold for your iniquities, and for your wicked deeds have I put your mother away. Because I came, and there was not a man; I called, and there was none that would hear; is my hand shortened and become little that I cannot redeem? or is there no strength in me to deliver? Behold at my rebuke I will make the sea a desert, I will turn the rivers into dry land; the fishes shall rot for want of water, and shall die for thirst. I will clothe the heavens with darkness, and will make sackcloth their covering.

The Lord hath given me a learned tongue, that I should know how to uphold by word him that is weary; he wakeneth in the morning, in the morning he wakeneth my ear, that I may hear him as a master. The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I do not resist; I have not gone back. I have given my body to the strikers and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded; therefore have I set my face as a most hard rock, and I know that I shall not be confounded. He is near that justifieth me, who will contend with me? let us stand together, who is my adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord is my helper; who is he that shall condemn me? Lo they shall all be destroyed as a garment, the moth shall eat them up.

Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, that heareth the voice of his servant? let him that hath walked in darkness, and hath no light, hope in the name of the Lord, and lean upon his God. Behold all you that kindle a fire, that are encompassed with flames, walk in the light of your fire, and in the flames which you have kindled; this is done to you by my hand, you shall sleep in sorrows.

It appears from all this that the Jews knew and recognized a suffering Messias. And since the latter attained to the greatest glory by means of his sufferings, his identity with the glorious Messias was obvious.

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