Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Isaiah 11: 1-5

Righteous Reign of the Branch
 1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And He will delight in the fear of the Lord,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

"It is a very good transition in prophecy (whether it be so in rhetoric or no), and a very common one, to pass from the prediction of the temporal deliverances of the church to that of the great salvation, which in the fulness of time should be wrought out by Jesus Christ...."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

With a new chapter in Isaiah comes a point of transition, and Matthew Henry describes this perfectly. Again, we enter another Chapter 11 far from bankruptcy in terms of its spiritual depth. This is a chapter of hope and peace and restoration!

For Judah, knowing that the Assyrian king Sennacherib would not take Jerusalem must have brought great relief, even as he would conquer quite a bit of territory. But, not only this, God's plan for a peace in this time included the leadership of the nation under King Hezekiah, who understood who was in charge: "'Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his [Sennacherib's] hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.'" (II Kings 19:19) Though this time of peace would be temporary, Isaiah writes of a time in which the Prince of Peace will come.

"...a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse...."
--vs 1

Isaiah has spoken of Christ's coming before this. 4:2 "...the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious...," he writes in 4:2, and, in 7:14, "a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Now we read more about His beginnings. He will come from Jesse's family line, referring to the father of King David.
"After He had removed him [Saul], He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’ From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel."
--Acts 13:22-24

How incredible it is that we can look at Jesse and know that Christ is to come. With the Northern and Southern Kingdoms divided after Solomon's reign, this line to the Messiah could have been lost. But God intended the promise to be carried out through the kings of Judah, though this nation, too, would be lost for a time to exile. Yet, "the stem of Jesse" continued to carry forth life in the Messianic line, and "a branch from his roots will bear fruit." (vs. 1) A remnant will be saved and the line to a Savior will remain.

"'I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.'"
--Revelation 22:16

As Samuel anointed David with oil at the time of God's choosing him as Israel's king, "...the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward." (I Samuel 16: 13) Likewise, the Holy Spirit--"of wisdom and understanding...of counsel and strength...of knowledge and the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2)--fell upon Christ at the time of His baptism.

"After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'"
--Matthew 3: 16 and 17
The Holy Spirit did not formally come as a counselor and helper until after Jesus' ascension. Those who received "the Spirit of the Lord" were specially marked. For one to come after David and receive this same Spirit, that was significant!
Verse 3 says, "...He will delight in the fear of the Lord." Awe and reverence for God and His Word will predominate over his judgment. Judah had quite a string of kings who did not find favor with God, nor did they seek God in their ruling or in their life. Hezekiah's reign brought a time of renewal and re-commitment of the nation to their Lord and to carrying out justice per His means. Christ's righteous reign will be like nothing the world has seen. Righteousness and faithfulness will be worn as belts (vs. 5), not unlike our calling to "put on the full armor of God." (Ephesians 6:10) Justice will be carried out under the Spirit's direction beyond any sense of human fairness, with extreme compassion and with Christ's intimate knowledge of people.
"Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man."
--John 2: 23-25 

Lest we think this picture of the righteous one to come lacks power, do not miss the end of verse 4. He will have the power to "strike the earth" and "slay the wicked" with his "breath." As threatening as the kings of Assyria appeared to Judah, those kings had nothing on the coming Christ. When I first read this, I thought of a passage in Revelation depicting Christ's mouth with a sword coming out. (Revelation 19:15) Matthew Henry brought up an example from Christ's earthly ministry. John 18 tells the story of Jesus' arrest, when Judas and the throng of those seeking to kill Him came upon Him. Jesus asks, "Whom do you seek?" They say, "Jesus the Nazarene." And Jesus speaks right to them, "I am He."

"...They drew back and fell to the ground."
--John 18:6

That's one powerful shoot!

A picture of perfect peace.... 'Til next Wednesday!

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Next week: Isaiah 11: 6-10

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).