In our last post we had seen that the prophet Daniel had predicted that the Masih would be ‘cut off’. This seemed to contradict other prophets who wrote that the Masih would rule. But the contradiction is resolved when we realize that the prophets were looking at two different comings of the Masih. One coming to be ‘cut off’ and the other to ‘rule’. The Jewish nation, by and large, missed this because they did not know all the scriptures. This should be taken as a warning for us that we do not do the same.
We come to the close of our journey through the Zabur. But we have a little more to learn. The Prophet Isaiah (see him in the timeline below) had prophesied
about the coming Masih using the image of a Branch. But he also wrote about a coming person whom he called the Servant. He wrote a long passage about this coming Servant. Who was this ‘Servant’? What was he going to do? We look at the passage in detail. I reproduce it exactly and in full here below, insert some comments to explain.
The Coming Servant predicted by the Prophet Isaiah. The complete passage from Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
We know that this Servant will be a human man because Isaiah refers as a ‘he’, ‘him’, ‘his’. When Harun (PBUH) would give his sacrifice for the Israelites he would sprinkle the people with the blood – and then their sins were covered and would not be held against them. When it says that the Servant will ‘sprinkle’ the prophet Isaiah means that in a similar way this Servant will sprinkle people of their sins like Harun (PBUH) did for the Israelites when he made the sacrifices.
But the Servant will sprinkle ‘many nations’. So the Servant is not coming for the Jews only. This reminds us of the promises to Ibrahim (PBUH) when Allah said (Sign 1 and Sign 3) that ‘all nations’ would be blessed through his offspring. But in doing this sprinkling the ‘appearance’ and ‘form’ of the Servant will be ‘disfigured’ and ‘marred’. Though it is not clear what the Servant will do to be disfigured like this, one day the nations ‘will understand’
53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He [The Servant] grew up before him [The LORD] like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
For some reason, though the Servant would sprinkle many nations, he would also be ‘despised’ and ‘rejected’, full of ‘suffering’ and ‘familiar with pain’.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
The Servant will take ‘our’ pain. This Servant will also be ‘pierced’ and ‘crushed’ in ‘punishment’. This punishment will bring us (those in the many nations) ‘peace’ and make us ‘healed’.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
We saw in the Sign of our Thirst, how easily we go to our own ‘broken wells’ to satisfy our thirst instead of turning to Allah. We have ‘gone astray’ each of us ‘turned to our own way’. This is sin (= iniquity).
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth
With the prophets Abel, Noah, Ibrahim, Musa and Harun (PBUT) they brought lambs to be given in sacrifice. But The Servant himself will be like a lamb going to the ‘slaughter’. But he will not protest or even ‘open his mouth’.
.8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
This Servant was ‘cut off’ from the ‘land of the living’. Is this what the prophet Daniel meant when he said that the Masih would be ‘cut off’? The exact same words are used! What does it mean to be ‘cut off from the land of the living’ except that one will die?
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
If he was assigned ‘a grave’ this Servant must have died. He died condemned as a ‘wicked’ man even though ‘he had done no violence’ and no ‘deceit was in his mouth’
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand
This whole cruel death was not some terrible accident or misfortune. It was explicitly ‘the LORD’s will’ to ‘crush him’. But why? Just like Harun’s sacrifice was an ‘offering for sin’ so that the person giving the sacrifice could be held blameless, here the ‘life’ of this Servant is also an ‘offering for sin’. For whose sin? Well considering that ‘many nations’ would be ‘sprinkled’ (from above) it must be the sin of the peoples in the ‘many nations’.
.11 After he has suffered, 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.
Though the prophecy of the Servant is gruesome here it changes tone and become very optimistic and even triumphant. After this terrible ‘suffering’ (of being ‘cut off from the land of the living’ and assigned ‘a grave’), this Servant will see ‘the light of life’. He will come back to life?! And in so doing this Servant will ‘justify’ many.
To ‘justify’ is the same as giving ‘righteousness’. Remember that to get ‘Righteousness’ from the Law of Musa one had to keep ALL the commands ALL the time. But the prophet Ibrahim (Sign 2) was ‘credited’ or given ‘righteousness’. It was given to him simply because of his trust. In a similar way this Servant will justify, or credit righteousness to ‘many’. Is righteousness not something that we both want and need?
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
This Servant will be among ‘the great’ because he volunteered (‘poured’) out his life ‘unto death’. And he died as one who was numbered as a ‘transgressor’, that is as a ‘sinner’. Because the Servant did this he can make ‘intercession’ on behalf of the ‘transgressors’. An intercessor is an intermediary between two parties, The two parties here must be the ‘many people’ and ‘the LORD’. This “servant’ is sufficiently worthy to interceded or plead on our behalf to Allah himself!
Who is this Servant? How would all these things happen? Can and will he ‘intercede’ on behalf of ‘many’ from different ‘nations’ to Allah himself? We conclude the Zabur by looking at the last prophecy and then we go to the Injil itself.