The Transforming of the Messianic “Servant”
1. How will the kings of the present generation react to the demonstration of power by Jehovah’s Messianic “Servant”?
THE kings of this present generation of mankind will ‘stare in amazement’ at the coming display that will be presented by the Messianic “Servant” of his changed position in God’s organization. They will shut their mouth in silence as they turn their consideration to the fear-inspiring demonstration that verifies the transformation of Jehovah’s “Servant,” the Messiah.—Isaiah 52:13-15.
2. Why is the transformation of the Messianic “Servant” not good news either to the “kings” of the nations or to the majority of the others of earth’s inhabitants?
2 The transformation of the Messianic “Servant” is of the highest importance; otherwise Jehovah would not have called special attention to it by his prophet Isaiah in the eighth century before our Common Era. It really should be good news for everybody on earth. But it does not prove to be so for the “kings” of the nations. To these political rulers it is a case of either holding on to their political power or of being displaced by the heavenly kingdom of Jehovah’s exalted “Servant,” Jesus the Messiah. They do not relish the thought of being displaced by a better government for all the people. Not strange, then, that the transformation of Jehovah’s once self-sacrificing “Servant” into His highest-ranking officer in the universe is no good news to them! For that matter, to whom out of earth’s four thousand million inhabitants today is this something to believe as good news? Who out of all these millions puts faith in this startling news that is today being proclaimed world wide by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses?
3. In fact, away back when Isaiah’s prophecy was recorded, what question was raised?
3 The question of putting faith in this surprising report was raised even in the eighth century B.C.E., when Jehovah inspired Isaiah to foretell the marvelous change in the condition of the “Servant.” That is why, right after telling about the miraculous transformation in the status of the “Servant,” the prophet Isaiah goes on to raise the question: “Who has put faith in the thing heard by us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?”—Isaiah 53:1.
4, 5. In the first century C.E., what question arose as to Isaiah’s prophecy, and why?
4 Back there in the eighth century before our Common Era, the question was, Is the information given to Isaiah and reported on by him to the nation of Israel true? Would the vast transformation as regards Jehovah’s “Servant” come true? Would the “arm of Jehovah,” his mighty power for accomplishing things, reveal itself and make the publicized information prove true? More than seven hundred and sixty years later, the question raised was, Had the information reported on by Isaiah proved true? Could its fulfillment be reported to everybody as a fact accomplished by the invincible “arm of Jehovah”? Has His “arm” revealed itself to all persons with eyes to see?
5 The question on all of this was thus raised in the first century C.E., because the controversy raged about Jesus Christ the Descendant of Abraham and of David. That is why the apostle Paul wrote about the matter and showed that the information heard by Isaiah had come true in Jesus Christ as the “Servant” mentioned in Isaiah 52:13 and Isa 53:11. The glorification of Jesus Christ in heaven after his extraordinary sufferings as a man on earth was good news, Gospel, Evangel. “Nevertheless,” writes the apostle Paul with special reference to his own people, “they did not all obey the good news. For Isaiah says: ‘Jehovah, who put faith in the thing heard [from] us?’ So faith follows the thing heard. In turn the thing heard is through the word about Christ.”—Romans 10:16, 17.
6. Despite what facts is it true even today that “they did not all obey the good news”?
6 A similar thing can be said today. “They did not all obey the good news.” This, even after the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have spent more than sixty years in proclaiming that the “times of the Gentiles” ended in the autumn of 1914 C.E. amid the first world war and that then Jehovah’s “Servant” received a new elevation by being exalted to the throne of the Messianic kingdom. (Hebrews 10:12, 13; Psalm 110:1, 2; Luke 21:24; Revelation 12:5-10) The overwhelming evidence that has accumulated since 1914 C.E. in proof of this glorious fact has been pointed out by these witnesses of Jehovah. The good news about the Messianic kingdom of Jehovah’s “Servant” is better news today than it was nineteen hundred years ago, in apostolic times. In the face of the relatively small proportion of the world’s population that has put faith in the “thing heard [from] us” or proclaimed by us, it can truthfully be said: “They did not all obey the good news.” This explains the saddening state of the world of mankind today.
A START WITH NO PROMISING PROSPECTS
7, 8. (a) To fulfill Isaiah’s inspired prophecy, where did Jehovah send his Son? (b) How does Isaiah 53:2 describe the kind of start that God’s Son would be given as a human?
7 What the prophet Isaiah now proceeds to tell us in chapter fifty-three, after asking the opening questions, required that Jehovah’s “Servant” should be down here on earth for a while. Jehovah knew that, and at his due time he sent his most trustworthy Son from heaven to be born into our race and become a human creature, a man, the son of a woman. More than that, Jehovah gave this transferred Son such a low, poorly appearing start that it seemed unlikely that he would ever amount to much, that the glowing prophecy about Jehovah’s “Servant” would be fulfilled in him. So Isaiah explains the reason for his opening questions by next saying:
8 “And he will come up like a twig before one [an observer], and like a root out of waterless land. No stately form does he have, nor any splendor; and when we shall see him, there is not the appearance so that we should desire him.”—Isaiah 53:2.
9. How was it true that the start that Jesus was given as a human was a lowly one?
9 Like a “twig,” a slip, a sapling, he comes up, yes, like a water-dependent “root” out of dry, arid, parched ground. Think of it! Would it not be a great humiliation for Jehovah’s “Servant” to be given such a poor start on earth as a man? And yet that was the way it was with the earthly start of Jesus Christ. Regardless of whether there were prominent, highly esteemed families back there in the year 2 B.C.E. that had a royal connection with King David, Jesus was born by a virgin Jewess who came to be married to a lowly carpenter in the obscure Galilean town of Nazareth. When Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, Jesus, she was in a stable in Bethlehem and she laid the newborn infant in a manger. As visitors to Bethlehem, they found the town so crowded with others who were registering according to Caesar’s decree, that there was not even room for them in an inn.
10. How did it come about that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, and what effect did this have on the attitude of people toward him?
10 After Mary and her carpenter husband Joseph did get established in a house in Bethlehem, they had to flee to preserve Jesus’ life against the orders of King Herod the Great to have all boy babies two years old and younger in Bethlehem killed by soldiers. After returning from the refugee land of Egypt, they did not return to their native city of Bethlehem, but settled in the little-esteemed Galilean town of Nazareth. There Jesus grew up and became a carpenter like his foster-father Joseph. So, naturally, when it was later reported that Jesus was from that town, a seeker for the Messiah asked: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Also, in a dispute the question was asked: “The Christ is not actually coming out of Galilee, is he?” And the challenge was made: “Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up out of Galilee.”—John 1:46; 7:41, 52.
11. In what way did it prove true that Jehovah’s “Servant,” Jesus Christ, had no “stately form” or “splendor”?
11 So Jesus did not seem to have his earthly roots in the right ground as far as locality was concerned. Though he was born as a perfect man by the miraculous operation of God’s spirit, the lowliness of his connection with the royal family of David did not impart to him any “stately form” in the eyes of those who were looking for a majestic Messiah having a very impressive background according to worldly standards. Neither was there any outward “splendor” about Jesus in putting on great style so as to magnify his royal connections and his legitimate claim to David’s throne in Jerusalem. Jesus knew that he was Jehovah’s “Servant” sent from heaven and made “a little less than godlike ones,” “a little lower than angels,” temporarily, and that, after his return to heaven, it would be the time for God to fulfill Psalm 8:5 and crown him “with glory and honor” and to subject to him “the inhabited earth to come.”—Hebrews 2:5-9.
12. (a) What indicates that it was not Jesus’ physical appearance that made him unusual? (b) Then what was there about his “appearance” that made the Jewish religious leaders not desire him?
12 The Holy Scriptures give us no inspired description of Jesus’ perfect physical appearance, but evidently, by himself, he could pass for an ordinary man. Thus he could go up to Jerusalem incognito, without being identified in the crowd. (John 7:9-13) Most handsome though Jesus Christ was, yet it was what he represented and what he preached and taught that gave him a different appearance in the eyes of the people. Public opinion about him was divided: “There was a lot of subdued talk about him among the crowds. Some would say: ‘He is a good man.’ Others would say: ‘He is not, but he misleads the crowd.’ No one, of course, would speak about him publicly because of the fear of the Jews.” And why such “fear of the Jews”? Because the crowd knew that Jesus was a wanted man: “The Jews were seeking to kill him.” (John 7:1, 12, 13) Ah, yes, to the Jewish religious leaders in ancient Jerusalem there was “not the appearance so that we should desire him,” that is, desire Jesus the Messiah.
13. (a) How did the Jewish religious leaders in the first century make Jesus very unattractive to both Jews and Gentiles? (b) What was their objective?
13 In the first century C.E. the Jewish religious leaders, who practiced the Judaism of the day, were the ones that controlled the religious thinking of the mass of the people. They caused the people to look at things in the way in which they themselves looked at them. It was these religious leaders that called Jesus a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34; 19:1-7) It was these religious leaders that charged Jesus before Governor Pontius Pilate with being a blasphemer, a false Christ and a seditionist against the Roman Empire, and also, later, an “impostor.” (Matthew 27:11-26, 62-64) In this way Jesus was made just as unattractive as possible in the eyes of the general public, Jewish and Gentile. There was no beauty imparted to him by those who dominated public opinion. The purpose of this was to kill all public desire for him as the true Messiah, the Descendant of Abraham and of King David. Only a small Jewish remnant saw the beauty of the true Messiah in Jesus.
GIVEN A REPULSIVE APPEARANCE
14. What further description did Isaiah 53:3 give as to how Jehovah’s “Servant” would be treated?
14 The extent to which Jesus Christ was defamed among his own people according to the flesh is further described in Isaiah’s prophecy about the “Servant” of Jehovah: “He was despised and was avoided by men, a man meant for pains and for having acquaintance with sickness. And there was as if the concealing of one’s face from us. He was despised, and we held him as of no account.”—Isaiah 53:3.
15, 16. Who was it that “despised” and “avoided” Jesus, and why?
15 To match this prophecy concerning Jehovah’s “Servant,” by whom was it that Jesus was despised and avoided? The record is that, even down to the last week of his earthly life, the common people were hearing Jesus gladly: “And the great crowd was listening to him with pleasure.” (Mark 12:37) But among a gathering of the Pharisees and the chief priests, it was said: “Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people.” (John 7:48, 49) The self-righteous religious leaders and their adherents were the ones that despised Jesus and avoided him, except to come and attack him verbally or to try to catch him in his words and thus have something with which to level accusations against him to further their own designs.—Matthew 12:22-30; Mark 12:13; Luke 11:53, 54; 20:20-26.
16 Under such religious influence as this, it was no wonder that the majority of Jesus’ own people were induced to despise him and avoid him and his followers as if he were a false prophet, a false Messiah, a pseudo-Christ. As a result, the statement of John 1:10, 11 turned out to be the case: “He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him. He came to his own home, but his own people did not take him in.” It was just as Jesus said to his own townspeople there in the synagogue of Nazareth, Galilee: “Truly I tell you that no prophet is accepted in his home territory.” (Luke 4:24) Also, “A prophet is not unhonored except in his home territory and in his own house.” (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; John 4:43, 44) But just think what people missed by despising and avoiding God’s “Servant”!
17. Since Jesus himself never got sick, how did he prove to be “a man meant for pains and for having acquaintance with sickness”?
17 As a perfect human creature, born without inherited sin and infirmity, Jesus never had a sick day in his earthly life. And yet Isaiah 53:3 had said: “He was . . . a man meant for pains and for having acquaintance with sickness.” But such pains were not his own, and such sickness was not his own. He came from a healthy heaven but into a sick world, racked with pains and familiar with sickness of all kinds, to the death. He came like a loving physician. Many did he cure of their physical sickness and relieve of their bodily pains. But he came especially to relieve the sin-laden people of their spiritual maladies and to relieve them of their pains of a condemning conscience. He did not shun either the physically ailing or the spiritually ailing. When lodging with tax collector Zacchaeus of Jericho and helping him back to spiritual health, Jesus said: “The Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10) When criticized by the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for eating with tax collectors and sinners who were seeking spiritual cure, Jesus said: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are ailing do. I have come to call, not righteous persons, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32) However, the Jewish chief priests and scribes and Pharisees viewed Jesus as being the sick and ailing one, who needed their religious ministrations.
18. (a) As referred to in Isaiah 53:3, whose face is ‘concealed’? (b) A comparison of Bible translations indicates that who, evidently, does the “concealing”?
18 Respecting Jehovah’s “Servant” in this regard, the prophecy of Isaiah 53:3 says: “There was as if the concealing of one’s face from us.” The “Servant’s” face is what is concealed. But the question is, Who does the concealing? Is it the “Servant” that conceals his own face, like a leper whom the Mosaic law commanded to conceal the face and to call out, “Unclean!”? That is the way Young’s literal Bible translation renders the passage, saying: “And as one hiding the face from us.” But Rotherham’s Emphasised Bible reads: “Yea, like one from whom the face is hidden.” So, whose is the face hidden? Does the unsightly one hide his own face? Or do we hide the face from that one? Then the unsightly one would know that we are refusing to look at him because of horror or because of disdain, contempt. As The New English Bible words it: “A thing from which men turn away their eyes.” Or, according to The Jerusalem Bible: “A man to make people screen their faces.” Of course, we ourselves can conceal the unsightly one’s face from us by just turning our heads or covering our eyes.
19, 20. (a) Did Jesus have anything for which to hide his face in embarrassment? (b) Who was it that “despised” him and “held him as of no account,” and in what ways did they show this?
19 Jesus Christ, however, had nothing of which to be ashamed and for which to hide his face from us in embarrassment. He looked people in the face. (Mark 3:5; 10:21) It was his opposers and enemies who refused to look upon him with favor and to recognize him as the foretold “Servant,” the Messiah of God. As Isaiah 53:3 continues on to say: “He was despised, and we held him as of no account.” He was not esteemed as the Messiah; he was not considered to have the precious value of the Messiah. He was rated as worth no more than a mere salable slave. (Exodus 21:32) Thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave in Israel, was the payment that the chief priests of Jerusalem stipulated to Judas Iscariot for betraying his Master Jesus Christ to them. (Matthew 26:14-16; 27:3-10) In the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12, 13, thirty pieces of silver are called, in sarcasm, a “majestic value” with which to value a spiritual shepherd such as Jesus Christ was.
20 Moreover, when it came to making a choice before the provincial judge, Pontius Pilate, the religious leaders held Jesus Christ as of less account than the criminal robber Barabbas. This murderer they clamored for Governor Pontius Pilate to release to them on that Passover Day instead of Jehovah’s “Servant,” Jesus Christ. (Matthew 27:15-26) To what greater extreme could matters go to show how much Jesus Christ was despised by those desiring to get him out of their way? Thus, in Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s “Servant” was valued as being “of no account.”
THE ONES WHO CONFESS TO THEIR ACCOUNTABILITY
21, 22. (a) The people of what nation are implicated by Isaiah as having the wrong attitude toward Jehovah’s “Servant”? (b) What did the apostle Peter say that “men of Israel” had done to Jehovah’s “Servant”?
21 Have we noticed whom the inspired prophet Isaiah implicates in all of this? He does not say, ‘He was despised, and the Gentiles held him as of no account.’ He does not say that there was a concealing of the face from the Gentiles, the non-Jewish nations. Under inspiration Isaiah says that the concealing of the face was “from us,” and that “we held him as of no account.” (Isaiah 53:3) It is Isaiah’s own people whom he implicates in this wrong attitude and procedure toward Jehovah’s “Servant.” Isaiah here, as it were, makes confession for his own people, the nation of Israel. That is why the apostle Peter, some days after the festival of Pentecost of 33 C.E., said to a crowd of worshipers in Solomon’s colonnade of the temple in Jerusalem:
22 “Men of Israel, why are you wondering over this [the miraculous cure just performed by Peter and John], or why are you gazing at us as though by personal power or godly devotion we have made him [the healed man] walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his Servant, Jesus, whom you, for your part, delivered up and disowned before Pilate’s face, when he had decided to release him. Yes, you disowned that holy and righteous one, and you asked for a man, a murderer, to be freely granted to you, whereas you killed the Chief Agent of life. But God raised him up from the dead, of which fact we are witnesses. Consequently his name, by our faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you behold and know, and the faith that is through him has given the man this complete soundness in the sight of all of you. And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did. But in this way God has fulfilled the things he announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. To you first God, after raising up his Servant, sent him forth to bless you by turning each one away from your wicked deeds.”—Acts 3:12-18, 26; Luke 23:18-25.
23. How did the Gentiles join the Jews in showing that they viewed Jesus as of little account?
23 It is true, of course, that the Gentiles joined the Jews in showing of how little account they valued Jesus. In Matthew 27:27-31 we read: “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and gathered the whole body of troops together to him. And disrobing him, they draped him with a scarlet cloak, and they braided a crown out of thorns and put it on his head and a reed in his right hand. And, kneeling before him, they made fun of him, saying: ‘Good day, you King of the Jews!’ And they spit upon him and took the reed and began hitting him upon his head. Finally, when they had made fun of him, they took the cloak off and put his outer garments upon him and led him off for impaling.”
24, 25. (a) But whose lead in this were those Gentiles following? (b) How had Jesus already been treated before the Jewish Sanhedrin?
24 However, those Gentiles merely followed up on the lead that had been taken for them by the Jewish religious leaders. According to Matthew 26:63-68, after Jesus refused to answer to the charges made against him by many witnesses before the Jewish Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, with the high priest presiding, here is what happened:
25 “So the high priest said to him: ‘By the living God I put you under oath to tell us whether you are the Christ the Son of God!’ Jesus said to him: ‘You yourself said it. Yet I say to you men, From henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest ripped his outer garments, saying: ‘He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? See! Now you have heard the blasphemy. What is your opinion?’ They returned answer: ‘He is liable to death.’ Then they spit into his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him in the face, saying: ‘Prophesy to us, you Christ. Who is it that struck you?’”
26. Who initiated the action that brought Jesus to trial before the Roman governor?
26 After that night session of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, there was an early morning meeting of the chief priests and the elders of the people for consultation as to how to dispose of Jesus, whom the Sanhedrin had condemned to death as a blasphemer. Not because of any demand of the Gentile authority, Roman governor Pontius Pilate, but of their own accord they decided to hand Jesus over to Pilate and file political charges against him.—Matthew 27:1, 2.
27. So, according to the facts, at whose hands did the Messiah suffer all this mistreatment?
27 Nobody can correctly deny that Isaiah was a natural, circumcised Jew. In his inspired prophecy he does not exculpate his own people or predict that his own people would be free from guilt in connection with the mistreatment of Jehovah’s suffering “Servant.” As one of his own people, Isaiah uses the pronoun “we” in foretelling the indignities to be heaped upon that “Servant.” It was to Isaiah’s people that this remarkable “Servant” of Jehovah was to be sent, and the facts of history prove that it was to Isaiah’s people that this “Servant,” the Messiah, came in Jehovah’s due time. How these were to treat that Messianic “Servant” the prophet Isaiah foretold. And the historic facts show that the Gentiles also became involved. There was a vital reason for this, as Isaiah’s own prophecy reveals.
28. Why was it necessary for Jesus Christ to undergo all this suffering and disgrace?
28 Here the question seems almost forced upon us, Just why would Jehovah subject his outstanding “Servant” to all this suffering and disgrace? Doubtless a certain point had to be made. An issue had to be settled that called for Almighty God’s permission of all this suffering. For one thing, Jesus Christ, as sent in the capacity of the foretold “Servant,” proved that he could take all this suffering and indignity, even to a painful, ignominious death on an execution stake. He proved that he could be completely submissive to Jehovah God under all this suffering, without a whimper of complaint. Through it all he maintained his perfect innocence, in flawless loyalty and faithfulness to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah God. Well, now, this was the very point to be made. This was the dominant issue to be settled by means of this “Servant” of Jehovah.
29. (a) When was it that the issue regarding the submissiveness, loyalty and faithfulness of Jehovah’s servants had earlier been raised? (b) Why was the issue raised in connection with Job?
29 In clear, stated terms the question of the submissiveness, loyal devotion and faithfulness of Jehovah’s servants and worshipers had been raised in connection with the man Job, not long before the birth of the prophet Moses in the sixteenth century B.C.E. What made this question so serious, with universal application, was that a heavenly spirit person, Jehovah’s chief adversary, Satan the Devil, had raised it. Job was not a Hebrew, Israelite or Jew, but he was a devout worshiper of Jehovah as the one living and true God. Satan the Devil had his own following in heaven, the demon angels, and he did not like to see Jehovah point to this Job of the land of Uz as an exemplary case of sincere, purehearted, worshipful devotion to Jehovah. Satan had no confidence in the honesty and unselfishness of Job’s worship of Jehovah nor in that of any other intelligent creature in existence, either in heaven or on earth. Satan wanted to work on an outstanding case. By it he wanted to prove that he was right in having no confidence in any creature’s sticking to Jehovah as God and Universal Sovereign without self-interest.
30. What was Satan trying to prove in regard to all of Jehovah’s servants in heaven and on earth?
30 So Satan set out to prove the wrongness of Jehovah’s confidence in Job and, by this as a test case, the wrongness of Jehovah’s confidence in all other servants and worshipers of him in heaven and on earth. Had not Satan the Devil himself rebelled against Jehovah’s universal sovereignty? Did he not also have fellow rebels, the demon angels? Why, then, he reasoned, should any other creature be different from him and his demon angels? All of those who were still keeping submissive to Jehovah’s universal sovereignty had been bought off by Him, so Satan felt and argued. Just give him the permission and opportunity and he could prove this in the case of this man Job, who rated as faultless in devotion to Jehovah.
31. (a) Where did Satan bring up the challenge regarding Job? (b) How did Jehovah show his confidence in the man Job?
31 In the presence of the assembled heavenly sons of God, Satan said right to the face of God concerning the then prospering Job: “But, for a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch everything he has and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” So strong was Jehovah’s confidence in the man Job, that He was not afraid to let Job be tested in this way so as to hurl back Satan’s challenge. Jehovah himself did not touch Job’s vast possessions. He let the malicious Satan do the touching and thus reduce Job from being “the greatest of all the Orientals” to the poorest of them all, even bereaved of his seven sons and three daughters. Under the pressure of this extreme adversity, did Job rebel against the universal sovereignty of Jehovah?
32. How do the facts show whether Job proved to be a rebel under such pressure?
32 There is no tinge of rebellion in Job’s words: “Naked I came out of my mother’s belly, and naked shall I return there [to the ground]. Jehovah himself has given, and Jehovah himself has taken away. Let the name of Jehovah continue to be blessed.” And the historian adds the comment: “In all this Job did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God.”—Job 1:1-22.
33. How was Job further afflicted as to his health and in his home, and what was his reaction?
33 Unconvinced about Job, Satan challenged Jehovah to another test of him. Again in the presence of the assembled heavenly sons of God, Satan said to God: “Skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” Jehovah did not back down before this challenge, but let Satan smite Job with a terrible, loathsome disease, from head to foot. His flesh corrupted. Losing all hope of her husband’s recovery, Job’s wife said to him: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” Under prompting by his wife who had lost her ten children at one stroke, did Job now break his exemplary integrity and curse the Universal Sovereign? No, for the historian records: “But he said to her: ‘As one of the senseless women speaks, you speak also. Shall we accept merely what is good from the true God and not accept also what is bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”—Job 2:1-10.
34. What effect did the arguments of three would-be comforters have on Job?
34 In course of time three would-be comforters called as friends on the deathly sick Job. Miserable comforters they turned out to be. One after the other, all three argued with Job to convince him that he was a religious hypocrite just as Satan had argued before God. They pressed their argument that Job had all along been a sinner and therefore God was punishing him. Job rightly denied this. He refused to give up his claim on his past integrity and said to these accusers: “It is unthinkable on my part that I should declare you men righteous! Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) In spite of Job’s claim to having been a man of integrity all along till this time of his illness, Job did not feel that Jehovah was exercising His universal sovereignty in a wrong, oppressive way. Job did not rebel against God for letting him suffer loss, sickness and false accusations in this way, in spite of the fact that he had faithfully served and worshiped the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah.
35. What was the outcome of the test case involving Job, and how did it result in vindication?
35 Consequently, Satan did not see and hear Job curse God to his face. He lost out in this crucial test case. In the case of even this imperfect man, Satan’s challenge to God proved to be without basis. Satan’s hand was forced back from touching Job’s bones and skin, and Almighty God cured Job. His flesh became fresher than that of a youth. (Job 33:25) He became so rejuvenated that he became father to ten more children, seven sons and three daughters. He also became twice as wealthy as before. He had a hundred and forty years added to his life, and saw his great-grandsons. (Job 42:10-17) This was, of course, a vindication of Job as a man of unbreakable integrity toward the Universal Sovereign Jehovah God. Yes, but it was particularly a vindication of Jehovah himself as the Universal Sovereign. He is rightly in this position. He exercises his sovereignty in such a way that even human creatures on earth can see the rightness of it and will stick to it inseparably despite suffering.
36. (a) When and how was the issue of universal sovereignty first raised? (b) How far reaching was the question involving the integrity of God’s creatures?
36 However, the issue was not settled with Job. Neither was the issue a new one that arose first in the days of Job. By then it was more than 2,400 years old. How so? Because the issue had been raised in the Garden of Eden, shortly after the creation of the perfect Adam and Eve. At that time the spirit son of God who is now Satan the Devil saw what he thought was an opportunity to establish a sovereignty of his own, over mankind at least, if not also over angels. He rebelled against his heavenly Father Jehovah and broke away from that One’s sovereignty. Then, by means of Eve as a temptress, Satan put the pressure upon the perfect man Adam to join him in rebellion against the Universal Sovereign Jehovah. In this way the issue of universal sovereignty was raised for the first time. The question now was, not just, Who among mankind will adhere to Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, but, more critically, Who in heaven will keep integrity toward the Most High God and remain loyal and faithful to His universal sovereignty as the right thing for all creation?
37. Why was it particularly appropriate that Jehovah’s foremost heavenly Son be tested—and as a man on earth—in regard to the issue of unselfish devotion to Jehovah’s universal sovereignty?
37 For this reason, the paramount issue reached as high up as to the foremost heavenly son of God, Jehovah’s chief official, “the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) His official position in heaven was that of Logos, or Word, Spokesman. (John 1:1-3) Above all other creations of Jehovah God, this highest official of God needed to be tested and proved on this issue of unselfish devotion to Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. Till Job’s time and for more than fifteen centuries afterward he had kept his integrity to his heavenly Father Jehovah. He had conducted himself faultlessly as his Father’s principal official, The Word. Ah, yes, but that was without suffering bodily pain, that was without undergoing the deepest humiliation and undeserved dishonor. That was not down here on this earth as a man like the perfect Adam in the Garden of Eden. But now, let this highly honored and respected official of God experience such adverse things here on earth—at the hands of Satan the Devil—and then let us see whether he will keep his integrity to God and remain submissive to His universal sovereignty! Logically, that was Satan’s line of reasoning.
38, 39. Right after the rebellion in Eden, how did Jehovah indicate that it was his purpose that such a test take place?
38 To meet Satan’s challenge on this score, it would require the Almighty God to bring down his only-begotten Son, the Logos, to the earth by birth as a human creature. With complete confidence in this beloved Son and his unbreakable devotion to his heavenly Father, Jehovah purposed to do this. This became his purpose right after Satan the Devil had succeeded in breaking the integrity of the perfect man Adam. This purpose is contained in God’s words addressed to the symbolic Serpent in the Garden of Eden:
39 “And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”—Genesis 3:15.
40. The intense suffering that would be involved for God’s Son in undergoing this test is portrayed in what prophecy?
40 The bruising of the heel of the woman’s “seed” meant intense suffering for Jehovah’s chief heavenly official at the earth, and that at the hands of the very one who had brought all the unjust suffering upon faithful Job. But Satan the Devil would be satisfied with nothing less than this. He would never feel that a satisfactory test had been made that would allow him to prove his point. His challenge to Jehovah’s universal sovereignty would never be fully met without allowance for such a thing. Jehovah realized this. He was determined to settle the issue by means of his dearest heavenly treasure, his only-begotten Son, his chief executive officer. His determination to do so is expressed in this remarkable prophecy concerning “my servant,” as set out in Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12.