The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology

By Charles H.H. Scobie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
The Messiah

Old Testament: Proclamation
6–1. THE LORD’S MESSIAH

Though God is wholly other than the created world and the world of human history, nevertheless he is active and works out his purpose in the world. He does this primarily through those he chooses to be his “servants.” The word “servant” (ebhedh) occurs frequently in the OT, where it can mean a slave or servant, a subject of a king, or a worshiper of a god (see C. R. North 1962: 292; Michel 1978: 608–10). The LXX translates ‘ebhedh either by pais (which can also mean boy, youth, or son) or by doulos (slave).

In the first instance it is the people of Israel who are called to be “the servant of the LORD”:

Remember these things, O Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant. (Isa 44:21)

On Israel as God’s servant, see more fully 11–1.2.

From within the people of Israel, however, God chooses a series of individuals, men and occasionally women, to be his servants. Moses is the servant of the LORD par excellence; the title is ascribed to him some forty times (see esp. Num 12:7). But kings, especially David, can also be called God’s servant (2 Sam 3:18), as can priests (Ps 134:1), prophets (Amos 3:7), and the hero of a Wisdom Book, Job (Job 1:8). These servants play a role in God’s purposes in the OT, but they have their limitations, and in time they become the basis for expectations of a future Servant of the LORD. The NT proclaims that Jesus both fulfills and transcends these expectations.

In the OT a person chosen to serve God in a special way can be called an “anointed one.” The Hebrew term for “anointed one” is māshîach, from mäshach = “anoint” (see D. S. Russell 1964: 304–7; Roberts 1992: 39–41; Kaiser

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