Come near to me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret. From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord Yahweh has sent me, and His Spirit.
The Trinitarian Claim
Some Trinitarians imagine this verse refers to Yahweh the Father sending Yahweh the Son.
The Claim vs. The Facts
The Scriptural facts show that there is one speaker at Isaiah 48:16a, another speaker at Isaiah 48:16b and that second speaker is Yahweh's servant Israel.
The Problem with the Claim
1. The Dishonest attempting to Prey upon the Ignorant
Trinitarians in general don't have a clue what this verse is about. But they do think they get to imagine their three-person-God into the text unless you find a reason why they cannot (even though you don't need one). Many folks don't know what to do with this verse. Trinitarians make this claim hoping that nobody will be able to provide them with a response. So they disingenuously suppose this gives them a right to make up whatever they like for the sake of their doctrine. They don't have any evidence for their claim but they really don't care. They are just trying to get other people to believe that they get to interpret this verse however they like if others don't provide them with a response which prevents them from doing as they please. these particular Trinitarians don't know what this verse is about and they hope you don't either. They somehow just get it in their own heads that they get to make up whatever they like to suit their Trinitarian traditions if you can't give them a reason they why they can't. But what kind of person supposes they get to practice eisegesis and make up whatever they like unless someone else prevents them from doing so?
2. Eisgetical Interpretation
It is typical for Trinitarians to resort to the disingenuous practice of eisegesis and read their doctrine into the text wherever they think possible. This is just one more example of their total disregard for the contextual facts and typical of their method of looking for excuses rather than facts.
3. Who is who?
Although they have no evidence for their interpretation, Trinitarians somehow think it is okay to imagine that Jesus is speaking here as Yahweh the Son and he is saying that Yahweh the Father sent him and His Spirit. But the real question isn't who we should imagine into the text but who Isaiah is talking about in this verse.
Knowing that Yahweh was speaking at the beginning of the verse, it should be rather obvious to anyone that the words which follow, "And now Lord Yahweh has sent me," are spoken by someone else. It also isn't going to make any sense to suggest Yahweh is sent and is referring to Yahweh as Lord Yahweh which would imply Yahweh's Lord is Yahweh.
4. Interpretations of Trinitarian Scholars
This Trinitarian claim illustrates the disregard which some Trinitarians have for any interpretation that does not suit their needs. A simple survey of the opinions of Trinitarian scholars shows that their own scholars do not resort to making such disingenuous claims. Some suppose the one sent is Isaiah, others Cyrus, others God's servant Israel, etc. But since these interpretations do not suit the desires of some Trinitarians, they simply disregard them just as they do another other facts which do not suit them.
5. The Spirit sends or is sent?
There is also a different of opinion among scholars about the Spirit. Some argue the verse means Yahweh sends (1) me, and (2) the Spirit. Others argue that (1) Yahweh and (2) His Spirit sends "me." In the former case, the Spirit is the second object; in the latter case the Spirit is the second subject. This problem is also disregarded by Trinitarians who make this claim.
6. Punctuation: Where do the Quotation Marks Start and End?
The original Hebrew text did not contain punctuation; there were no quotation marks. So where does Yahweh start speaking and where does He stop speaking? It also appears that people assume there is one speaker due to the fact that Isaiah 48:16 is one single verse. However, these verse divisions were not in the original text either.
Analysis of the Facts
1. The Preceding Context
Note the preceding context where God speaks in the same vein, beginning at verse 2:
The LORD of hosts is His name. "I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them.... I declared them to you long ago, before they took place I proclaimed them to you.... I proclaim to you new things from this time, even hidden things which you have not known... They are created now and not long ago; And before today you have not heard them. So that you will not say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’ “You have not heard, you have not known. Even from long ago your ear has not been open, because I knew that you would deal very treacherously.... So that you will not say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’.... Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there.
2. I have not spoken in Secret
There is no doubt that Yahweh said the words, "I have not spoken in secret." Note what Yahweh says at Isaiah 45:18-19.
I am the LORD, and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land. I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, "Seek Me in a waste place"; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, declaring things that are upright.
God said the same thing in Isaiah 45. So we can be reasonably certain that God spoke the words "I have not spoken in secret" at Isaiah 48:16.
3. The Contextual Facts Provide the Obvious Answer
The solution to this question is really quite easy. In fact, it's right here in the context. Carefully regard the following:
Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;
I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.
“Surely My hand founded the earth,
And My right hand spread out the heavens;
When I call to them, they stand together.
Assemble, all of you, and listen!
Who among them has declared these things?
Yahweh loves him; he will carry out his good pleasure on Babylon,
And His arm will be against the Chaldeans.
I, even I, have spoken; indeed I have called him,
I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.
Come near to Me, listen to this:
From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there.
And now Lord Yahweh has sent ME, and His Spirit."
Carefully observe how Yahweh sends "him" and then he says Lord Yahweh has sent "me."
I have called HIM.... Lord Yahweh has sent ME...
Secondly, if we just read the context, it becomes completely clear how we should identify "ME" in the expression, "Yahweh has sent ME. Please remember that chapter and verse divisions did not exist in the original writings of the Bible. All we need to do is read carefully and observe how "ME" is often speaking in this context:
And now MY Lord Yahweh has sent ME and His Spirit. 48:16
Listen to me, O islands,
And pay attention, you peoples from afar.
Yahweh called ME from the womb;
From the body of MY mother He named ME.
He has made MY mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of His hand He has concealed ME;
And He has also made ME a select arrow,
He has hidden ME in His quiver.
He said to ME, “You are my servant, Israel,
in whom I will show My glory.”
But I said, “I have toiled in vain,
I have spent MY strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice due to ME is with Yahweh,
And MY reward with MY God.
And now says the Lord, who formed ME from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him
(For I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
And My God is MY strength).
In Isaiah, Israel is Yahweh's servant and routinely depicted as a single man, "Jacob." It is quite clear that "ME" at Isaiah 48:16 is Yahweh's chosen servant Israel aka Jacob.
Also carefully note the following:
And Lord Yahweh has sent me and His Spirit.... The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob.
Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon him.
The contextual facts make it quite clear there are two speakers at Isaiah 48:16. The first speaker is Yahweh and the second speaker is Yahweh's servant Israel who Yahweh sent by His Spirit. This is made abundantly plain in the following context at Isaiah 49:1-5.
Created: March 8, 2015
Last Revision/Update: March 8, 2016