My Servant Shall Prosper

Men and women in every walk of life set out to prosper, to succeed, to make good. Prosperity is the outcome of ambition realized. The Tenach (Old Testament) gives clear guidance to all who would prosper, and examples of those who have prospered when they have followed the guidance of God's Law.

Joseph for example was blessed by God for his integrity and faithfulness to God. "The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man . . . And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand" (Genesis 39:2, 3).

Daniel determined to be a witness to the God of Israel even in a foreign land where he was a captive. "Now God had brought Daniel into the favour and good will of the chief of the eunuchs . . . Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon" (Daniel 1:9; 2:48).

God also sent this message through Gabriel: "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand . . . for you are greatly beloved" (Daniel 22, 23).

Job and Noah were honoured by God for their integrity, Job a "man that was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil" (Job 1:1), and Noah "a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Genesis 7:9).

The latter prospered, for the Lord said, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation" (Genesis 7:1), and Job: "For the LORD had accepted Job. And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed, the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:9, 10).

In the prophecy of Isaiah we are introduced to one who is destined to prosper: "Behold, my Servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were appalled at you, so his visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.

"So shall he startle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at him; for what had been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider" (52:13-15).

In this instance we are introduced to someone who is the subject of the prophecy that follows, and we have been told to "Behold!" to look or consider. Who is this person? Who is "my Servant" ? Who is set apart as the One devoted to the service of the Lord and recognized by the Lord for his service?

The prophet states that he "shall deal prudently" meaning prosper, thus indicating that his service will successfully and completely accomplish the purpose of the Lord. We see the same phrase recorded in Isaiah 42:1: "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom my soul delights! I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles."

This Servant is described by the Lord as we have seen: "He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high" to the point where "he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles." Does this mean that he will be exalted above the great fathers of Israel – Abraham, Moses for example? Who can it be?

The New Covenant clearly speaks in the same way as in the Old Testament, for in the gospel of Matthew (12:18) this phrase is directly applied to Yeshua: "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will declare justice to the Gentiles."

To further help identify this One whom the Lord calls "My Servant" is what Yeshua says of Himself: "I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you have given me to do" (John 17:4). So we see:

1) the accomplishment of His work;

2) the desire of the Lord;

3) His ambition fulfilled;

4) my Servant has prospered;

5) the heart of the Lord well pleased.

And then after the declaration of the accomplishments of the Servant, Isaiah goes on to say something unexpected about Him: "Just as many were appalled at you, so his visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men." The picture given is of one who endures terrible physical suffering, and all who witness this are appalled.

The New Testament speaks of the suffering of the Messiah which fits this description exactly. Beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane His sweat "became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44).

Then in the house of the high priest the servants who held Him "spat in his face and beat him; and others struck him with the palms of their hands" (Matthew 26:67).

The account depicts the One of Whom Isaiah foretold. The identity of "my Servant" is now quite clear. It is Yeshua.

But Isaiah continues (52:15): "So he shall sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider."

The nations, even their leaders, will be struck dumb by the exaltation of the Messiah, and the great salvation with which He will bless them. We read in the Letter to the Romans 15:21: " . . . as it is written: To whom he was not announced, they shall see; and those who have not heard shall understand."

And the Psalmist joins the paeon of praise to the Messiah, who has prospered, and conquered, and is at last vindicated in His claims to be the Servant of the Lord: "So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth your glory." (Psalm 102:15).