The Servant of the Lord in Isaiah Part II -- By: Allan A. MacRae

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:483 (Jul 1964)
Article: The Servant of the Lord in Isaiah Part II
Author: Allan A. MacRae

The Servant of the Lord in Isaiah
Part II

Allan A. Macrae

In the previous article we noticed that the wonderful prophecy of the sufferings of Christ in Isaiah 53 comes at the end of a long series of references to the servant of the Lord in which this servant is explicitly declared to be Israel. Facing the question, how can the servant be the nation of Israel in some passages, but be the Lord Jesus Christ in others, we saw that the apparent contradiction can be explained by observing that the responsibility for the work of the servant of the Lord rests upon the entire nation of Israel, while the actual doing of the task could hardly be performed by an entire nation. Since the nation includes wicked people as well as good people, the task must be performed by a portion of the nation, perhaps even by a single individual, who would be the true “Servant of the Lord.”

This naturally leads to consideration of the matter of progressive revelation. One can hardly find a better illustration of this principle than in the part of Isaiah that includes chapters 41 through 55. Starting with consideration of the condition of the Israelites, as Isaiah looks forward to their sufferings in the exile and gives them comfort and assurance that God will bring them back to their homeland, he leads on from that situation to the remarkable pictures of the divine plans of salvation that are so clearly presented in chapters 53 through 55 .

In order to understand how the prophet’s thought moves forward, bringing to the reader ideas that are very different from those with which the discussion begins, it is important that we have a clear idea of the exact nature of progressive revelation.

The Bible is not like a textbook of grammar or of science. It does not take up logical divisions under which it gives

precise definitions of the truths that God wishes His people to know. It is not a set of maxims nor a collection of independent verses, each of which is a separate presentation of the truth in relation to some particular subject. The Bible is a record of the way in which God revealed Himself to His people through a period of many centuries. Various parts of the Bible were given at different times and deal with different immediate situations. There is a progress in revelation as we see the great truths that God revealed through the Scripture.

Progressive revelation is necessary because the human mind cannot immediately grasp all of the tru...

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