The fullness of Christ prophesied

The Christian’s aim and ambition is to know his Lord all the more.

Such was the great desire of the saints who look forward for His appearing. “O God, thou are my God; early will I seek thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen the in the sanctuary” (Psalms 63:1,2).

A similar attitude to David’s is expressed by the apostle Paul as a spokesman for New Testament believers: “That I may know him (Christ), and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

Here are some meditations from Isaiah upon Christ the glorious theme, the all-sufficient One for every child of God:

a. Christ as God's Elect (Isaiah 42:1).

"Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights." The servant imagery is fulfilled in Jesus (Matthew 12:15-21), and since this is so, the same Person thus denominated is also the Elect One.

In God's covenant of redemption, the Father promises to uphold and assist His Chosen One for the mission upon which He is sent. He enjoys God's full approval; the Father finds infinite delight in Him. Being thus excellent, the Messiah is here described as the Elect, for He was to bring God's plan of salvation to fulfilment, in human history, being He himself a member of the human race.

Peter alludes to Isaiah's denominating Christ as God's Elect, saying, "He was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Peter 1:20). Thus God's salvation was not an afterthought: the Saviour Himself was chosen as Redeemer of the elect in eternity past (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4).

b. Christ as His people's Shepherd (Isaiah 40:11).

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Not only is Christ's power highlighted in Isaiah but also His tenderness, His loving care and interest shown by a divine King.

This metaphorical thread is extended throughout Scripture, the Saviour being presented as exercising a genuine and heartfelt interest for His own (cf. Psalm 23:1-4; 78:52; 80:1; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:11-16; Micah 2:12), culminating in the long discourse where Jesus presents Himself as the promised good shepherd (John 10, esp. v.11): "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."

But not only so, after regaining His life from the grave, Isaiah pictures Him as tending His people, guiding and leading them, and relating to them according to their particular needs.

c. Christ as the Substance of the Covenant (Isaiah 49:8).

"I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages."

When we consider how the Father addresses the Son, it should fill our hearts with bliss, for it is evident that all our contentment and blessedness results from the Son's interest in the Father. In Him we are accepted of God, reconciled and recommended to Him; His intercession on our behalf is efficacious. God hears the Redeemer for us (Hebrews 7:25).

All in all, Christ is granted to the children of men as a covenant, as a pledge and guarantee of all heavenly blessings. As Matthew Henry puts it: "All the duty of the covenant is summed up in our being his; and all the privileges and happiness of the covenant are summed up in his being ours. He is given as the Surety of the new covenant, to repenting sinners all over the earth."

If Christ is ours and we are His, our relationship with God is secure, vital, and abiding, for God's covenant is unconditional.

d. Christ as the Stone (Isaiah 28:16).

"Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste."

Messiah is a foundation stone in His atonement, a tested stone in His temptations, and a precious corner stone in His relationship to His people (see Isaiah 8:14; Psalm 118:22; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6). He is thus our solid hope to such an extent that those who put their confidence in Him will not be alarmed by future contingencies; he will certainly not be disappointed. He is the sure foundation, laid out by God Himself, the only resting-place for us (Romans 10:11; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20).

e. Christ as the Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20).

"And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord."

This promise is specifically said by Paul to be fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth (Romans 11:26,27). The ransomed or the redeemed one are identified by their Owner; He knows them and shall come to them in mercy and forgiveness. The Lord is the "Redeemer" (Isaiah 41:14; 49:26) who has cancelled Israel's sins (44:22; Psalm 103:3,4).

He frees believers from the consequences of sin, from its dominion and slavery, from the eternal misery that it entails. From bondage He brings us to complete liberty: thus He presented Himself (Luke 4:16-21), and thus He proved to be.

Jeremiah too has a number of Christological references:

a. Christ as the Fountain of Living Waters (2:13).

It is not only here that Christ is described as the source of our life and blessedness: see also Psalm 36:9; Jeremiah 17:13,14; and John 4:14). It is also said of Christ in the Song (4:15). Christ's grace is compared to water, for water is vital and essential to life: it cools and refreshes also, it cleanses and makes fruitful. But not only so: He offers salvation and the Spirit applies Christ to us as the living water, for He quickens dead sinners, revives wearied saints, and supports all spiritual life, with the final climax of eternal life. A fountain speaks of an ever-flowing source, having its origin in the eternal Son. He has life in Himself, and has it in abundance for all who approach God through Him.

Apostasy consists in this, forsaking the Alpha and Omega of all our blessedness. When we grow cold in our affections to Christ, and neglect His Word and Ordinances, then it's high time for us to cry out for mercy. "Turn us, O Lord, and we shall be turned."

b. Christ as the Good Shepherd (31:10).

The church in all ages may and indeed has gone through grievous times, having tasted the bread of affliction. But "He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock." Such circumstances do not happen accidentally: God was He who pass His people through the fire and He was the same One who brought them through. And when it's all over, He will keep them securely as a shepherd, the picture of the shepherd being proverbial for the care he exercises toward his sheep.

God is the Shepherd of His people (Genesis 48:15; 49:24; Psalms 28:9; 78:52; Isaiah 40:11) but more specifically, God the Son (Zechariah 13:7, applied by Jesus to Himself, Matthew 26:31). Jesus presented His ministry as the work of a shepherd, gathering the lost sheep of Israel. He is elsewhere referred to as the "great shepherd" (Hebrews 13:20) and the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4); and Revelation 7:17, with a curious but significant mixture of metaphor, says that "the Lamb...will shepherd them."

c. Christ as David the King (30:9).

God's deliverance here promised is from bondage to sin so that we may serve Him. Salvation is not neutral; it has a positive aim, to serve God (Luke 1:74,75).

His people will specifically look to the Messiah and be made willing to be ruled and governed by Him, as the Greater Son of David. They shall obey and hearken to the summons of the King and His Law. Christ is called "David the King" because, according to the flesh, He was his descendant (Romans 1:1-3; Matthew 22:42), and therefore answered to that name (Matthew 20:31,32). So appropriately Jesus is called "David" because the latter is an illustrious type of Him, both in his humiliation and exaltation.

Besides, the royal pact or covenant made with David finds its proper fulfilment in Christ. The promises God made to the son of Jesse find their yea and amen in Jesus Christ. Here, the conversion of God's elect to Christ is foretold. From Abel onwards, their hearts were turned to Him, to whom also they submitted in thankfulness and joyfulness.

d. Christ as the Righteous Branch (23:5).

"In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

In those eventful days when the Jews, as God's people, seems to be ruined, a promise is issued which secures the covenant made with David. Christ is a righteous Branch, he is righteous Himself, and through Him all his are declared righteous judicially and henceforth inevitably made righteous experimentally.

The branch of righteousness is a messianic term; see Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; and Zechariah 6:12, where Zerubbabel is a type of Christ. When all seems desolate and forlorn, the Branch will sprout forth and bring hope. As Lord, He is God, Jehovah, denoting His eternity and self-existence. As Mediator, He is our Righteousness.

Writes Matthew Henry: "By making satisfaction to the justice of God for the sin of man, he has brought in an everlasting righteousness, and made it over to us in the covenant of grace. He being Jehovah our Righteousness, implies that he is so our Righteousness as no creature could be."

Our whole standing before God and our entitlement to heaven is on His account. By His righteousness, imputed and transferred over to our account, the church is later on also called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 33:16).