As we continue n the run up to Christmas, here is a brief tour of another messianic prophecy from Isaiah, this time from chapter 11…
Chapter 11 is the beginning of the concluding portion of the first section within the Book of Isaiah which runs from chapter one through chapter twelve. Here, the prophet takes a victorious view of better days ahead to top off a section that is primarily discussing Judah’s sin and its devastating consequences. Here, the messianic figure found in chapter 9 is revealed more clearly as the key to the future, culminating with a hymn of praise found in chapter 12.
Isaiah used the image of a stump in chapter 10 in referring to what would become of the Assyrians (10:33-34) and again in chapter 6 in reference to Judah itself (6:13). The idea is that Judah and the House of David had become so utterly corrupt as to require tearing down (as you might chop down a sick tree) but that out of the stump would grow a shoot that will ultimately bear great fruit. In mentioning Jesse, rather than David, it could be that Isaiah intends to minimize David’s Dynasty because of the corrupt state it had fallen into. (Remember that Jesse is David’s father)
In verses 1-5, we see that there is coming a day when there will be a new ruler for God’s people, one that comes from the ruins (stump) of the old Davidic line of kings. This ruler will be noteworthy for several reasons. First, the Spirit of the Lord will be upon him, and he will have power and abilities lacking in current kings of that period. He will possess attributes that kings over Judah had not held for a very long time, such as wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will rule with justice, righteousness and he will even give fairness and justice for the needy; all of these attributes being in stark contrast with the status quo of that time. In short, this coming king would be nothing that the people have ever known.
There are several contrasts between predator and prey in vv. 6-9 with the statement that they will lie down together in peace. Recall that in the times of Eden, there were no carnivores (Gen. 1:29-30) and how this changed when sin entered the world. What is being depicted here is not a literal return to Eden, but rather the removal of the curse of sin. Notice also that Isaiah uses the image of an infant and a small child; pictures of innocence not being harmed by sin’s curse. God’s holy mountain is a reference to God’s dwelling place, and in that dwelling place, nothing will either harm or destroy those innocents. Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-32 that the root of man’s fallen position is the suppression of the obvious knowledge of God, and in this image the knowledge of God covers the world. In 1 Cor. 15:24-25, Paul refers to the church age as a time when Christ reigns over His kingdom until all of the remaining curse of sin is removed.
In the final part of this chapter we see the result of the triumph of the Messiah as He rallies not only the remnant of Israel, but the nations of the Gentiles to His cause. Clearly, this is an indication that both Jew and Gentile will respond to His massage of salvation (rest, i.e. peace) by the removal of sin through the atonement of the blood of Christ, which enables Man and God to once again live in fellowship. Verses 15-16 help us to see that this passage is not to be taken literally, as they are Apocalyptic, but rather that all barriers will be taken down. Both remnants of Judah and Ephraim (Israel) will come together from the nations to which they have scattered (13-14) to join in the new kingdom of the Messiah. This is a victorious picture of the redeemed in Christ living within His kingdom, the church now, and with Him in Heaven ultimately.
As I mentioned briefly above, Paul discusses the fulfillment of this prophecy in his letter to the Romans. At no extra charge to you, I’ll post a brief tour of that passage this afternoon in a Bonus Post. See you then!