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Yahweh as the Sent One from Yahweh

Examining the Trinitarian Implications of Isaiah 48:16 Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We resume our discussion of Isaiah 48:16. In this second part we will discuss another valid interpretation of the verse, one which still affirms the Trinitarian position.

Yahweh’s Servant Has Spoken

Some commentators believe that it is actually the Servant of Yahweh who is speaking in the second part of Isaiah 48:16:

b. Come near to Me, hear this . . . now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me: This is the Servant of the LORD, the Messiah Himself speaking. Only He was from the beginning. The Messiah is pleading with His people!

i. "Finally (v. 16) another speaker mysteriously enters the prophecy. This verse has a number of features that have mystified commentators, who have been puzzled particularly by its final couplet. Young, Kidner, and other conservative commentators have argued that the new speaker introduced here (or in the whole verse) is in fact God's Servant, the Servant of the songs . . . Perhaps he is introduced here because Cyrus' work is in fact simply a harbinger of the much greater deliverance he would bring to God's people." (Grogan) (David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible; underline emphasis ours)


16. Once more the word of God is the initial and initiating factor, now seen in the sending of an unnamed speaker. We are told, however, that he is sent by the Sovereign LORD (‘adonay yahweh) and (endowed) with his Spirit. The only Spirit-endowed person in these chapters is the Servant (42:1), and in the immediate context the divine designation ‘Lord Yahweh’ occurs in the third Servant Song as endowing (50:4), directing (50:5) and helping (50:7). In addition when the Servant reappears in chapters 56–66 as the Conqueror, 61:1 opens with the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me. We can hardly question, then, that the present verse is an interjection by the Servant of the Lord as the Agent of the ‘new things’ announced in the matching verses of 3–6b. The balance of the passages is a striking illustration of the way the structure aids interpretation: former things (3-6b), new things (6c-7); Cyrus (14-15), the Servant (16). While the interjection does, of course, take us by surprise, it is far from inappropriate that the Servant should step from the shadows like this. First, it suits what has immediately preceded. The Lord is the sovereign ruler of creation (13); his rule of the flow of history is signally seen in Cyrus (14-15); but the Servant, as revealed by Isaiah, is the climax to which all history is leading. Secondly, it is appropriate to what follows: with 48:20-21 the significance of Cyrus has ended. But, for the problem raised by verse 22, the Servant is the appointed answer. As the one actor leaves the stage, the other quietly reveals his presence. (Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary), by J. A. Motyer (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Il., April 17, 2009), pp. 304-305; underline emphasis ours)

This is also a plausible interpretation since the prophet Isaiah has the Servant speaking of his mission in the very next chapter:

“Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, ‘You are my Servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ But I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.’ And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his Servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength -- he says: ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’ Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the Servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘In a time of favor I have answered you, in a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, “Come forth,” to those who are in darkness, “Appear.” They shall feed along the ways, on all bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.’” Isaiah 49:1-10

And like the Speaker of Isaiah 48:16 Yahweh sends his Spirit upon his Servant, obviously for the specific purpose of empowering him to successfully carry out his Divine mission:

“Here is my Servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope. This is what God Yahweh says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: ‘I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.’” Isaiah 42:1-7

However, this doesn’t mean that the passage is not supportive of the doctrine of the Trinity since the Servant of Yahweh isn’t a mere human agent that God uses. According to the testimony of Isaiah this Servant is the Arm of Yahweh who will highly be raised and lifted up after he has offered his life as a sacrifice for the sins of Isaiah’s people:

“See, my Servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness — so will he 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.” Isaiah 52:13-15

This is the language of enthronement since Isaiah uses this very same exact language to describe Yahweh and his heavenly throne:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts.’” Isaiah 6:1-5

“The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and Yahweh ALONE will be exalted in that day. For Yahweh of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high… And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and Yahweh ALONE will be exalted in that day.” Isaiah 2:11-12, 17

Yahweh is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.” Isaiah 33:5

“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.’” Isaiah 57:15

This means that the Servant will sit on Yahweh’s own throne! And:

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the Arm of Yahweh been revealed? For HE grew up before him like a young plant, and like a ROOT out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of Yahweh to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the Righteous One, my Servant (my righteous Servant), justify the many/make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:1-12

According to the above passage the Servant is Yahweh’s Arm sent to redeem Yahweh’s elect from their sins by dying in their place. The phrase, “Arm of Yahweh,” is used in reference to Yahweh himself coming in power to accomplish his purpose of saving and/or judging:

“My deliverance draws near speedily, my salvation has gone forth, and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my Arm they hope… Awake, awake, put on strength, O Arm of Yahweh; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you that did cut Rahab in pieces, that did pierce the dragon? Was it not you that did dry up the sea, the waters of the great deep; that did make the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?” Isaiah 51:5, 9-10

“Yahweh has bared his holy Arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10

“Who is this that comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? ‘It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save.’ Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his that treads in the wine press? ‘I have trodden the wine press ALONE, and from the peoples NO ONE was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. I looked, but there was NO ONE to help; I was appalled, but there was NO ONE to uphold; so MY OWN ARM brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.’” Isaiah 63:1-6 – cf. 30:30; 33:2; 59:15b-21; 62:8

Therefore, by describing the Servant as Yahweh’s own Arm the prophet is identifying him as a fully Divine Being, and not some creature whom Yahweh acts through.

Moreover, in likening the Servant to a root that comes out of dry ground the inspired prophet is apparently linking him with the Root of Jesse, the father of king David, the Branch who will have the Spirit of Yahweh resting upon him:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his ROOTS a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of Yahweh will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh — and he will delight in the fear of Yahweh. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist… In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1-4, 10

This Root of Jesse is the child whom Isaiah says will be born to rule on David’s throne forever as the Mighty God and Everlasting Father!

“But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb'ulun and the land of Naph'tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shinedFor to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7

Recall that in Isaiah 42 and 49 the Servant is said to be a light for the Gentiles who would set free those who are in darkness. This substantiates the fact that the Servant and the Divine child of Isaiah 9 who reigns forever are one and the same Person since the latter is identified as the great light that shines upon those living in darkness.

It is obvious from the foregoing data that Yahweh’s Servant is a fully Divine Person who shares in the glory and rule of Yahweh himself!

Hence, even if one were to accept that it is the Servant who is speaking in Isaiah 48:16 this still would end up supporting the Trinitarian explanation of the passage since Yahweh, his Servant and the Holy Spirit are all fully Divine Persons.

Jesus – Isaiah’s Suffering Servant

According to the Christian Greek Scriptures Jesus is the Servant of Yahweh spoken of throughout the inspired book of Isaiah:

“Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here is my Servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.’” Matthew 12:15-21

As such, Christ is the Light of revelation for the Gentiles mentioned in Isaiah 49, the One that brings God’s salvation to the ends of the earth:

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for mine eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’” Luke 2:25-32

Who comes to make a covenant with the people:

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

Whose mouth is likened to a sharp sword:

“Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” Revelation 2:16

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. … And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” Revelation 19:11-16, 21 – cf. 1:16; 2:12

And the Shepherd who leads his flock to springs of living water:

“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

The NT further identifies Christ as the Divine Child of Isaiah 9, the great Light who comes to reign over David’s throne forever:

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.’” Luke 1:30-35

“Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper'na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb'ulun and Naph'tali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zeb'ulun and the land of Naph'tali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles -- the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’ From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:12-17

This now brings us to our final section.

The New Testament Disclosure of the Triune God of Isaiah

The NT proclaims that God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus, in the full power of the Holy Spirit to carry out his Divine mission:

“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:21-22

“Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”’” John 1:32-33

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert… Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.” Luke 4:1, 14

“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.’” Acts 10:36-38

Moreover, let the readers recall that in the first part of our discussion we saw that Yahweh is the First and the Last, and the I Am who doesn’t share his glory with another:

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. ‘Hearken to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I AM he, I am the First, and I am the Last.’” Isaiah 48:11-12

What makes this rather amazing is that according to the NT Jesus was (and is now currently) dwelling in the same glory of his Father before the world was created!

“Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.” John 17:5

Jesus is also the great I AM who came down from heaven:

“But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I AM he, you will indeed die in your sins.’ …. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.’” John 8:23-24, 28

As the preexistent I AM Jesus was there even before Abraham was born:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM he!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.’” John 8:56-59

And just like Yahweh in Isaiah, Christ is the I AM who announces the future before it occurs:

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I AM he.” John 13:19

Moreover, being the all-powerful and sovereign I AM Christ is able to cause his enemies to fall back to the ground just by the words of his mouth!

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I AM he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, ‘I AM he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:4-6

Christ even goes so far as to identify himself as the First and the Last who died and came back to life!

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.” Revelation 2:8

“‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End… He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:12-13, 20

What the preceding Biblical data shows us is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Yahweh (the Son) who is sent by Yahweh (the Father) with the Spirit to accomplish the purpose and plan of God!

Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come! We confess that you are the eternal Yahweh who was sent by Yahweh your Father in the power of the Spirit to save and redeem us from the wrath to come. We love and worship you, O risen Lord of eternal glory! Amen.

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