A SURVEY OF THE MAJOR PROPHETS, 2

Glory of the Kingdom, Isaiah 11:1—16

If we look at the book of Isaiah as a whole, this section, 11:1—11, is the third Messianic picture, the “Stump of Jesse.”.  The first such picture was the prophecy of “Immanuel” in chapter 7, and the second in chapter 9, where the Messiah is referred to the “Wonderful Counselor.”  In these remarkable verses, the Messiah stands as God’s Rod of Righteousness and Peace, in contrast to Assyria as the Lord’s rod of chastisement and anger.  These three Messianic prophecies were all given by Isaiah during the reign of King Ahaz.

1.  The failure of Ahaz

The word “failure” is the kindest word to describe the 16 years of misery this wretched king inflicted upon his people.  His disastrous career is chronicled in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28.

When Ahaz ascended to the throne, Judah was enjoying unparalleled peace and prosperity, which began during the time King Uzziah and continued through the reign of his son, Jotham.  So good were the times, that Isaiah wrote that the “treasure” would never end, the land was rich and productive, the army was strong and unbeatable and business was booming.  How quickly things changed; how quickly did Judah’s fortunes reverse.  Within 16 years, thanks to the hapless King Ahaz, the land became desolate, the people and economy became depressed, and the King had been reduced to a mere figurehead as the nation of Judah fell to the mighty Assyrians.   All this was due to Ahaz’s mishandling of the nation’s wealth, which had been handed to him by his predecessor.

Ahaz’s life shows how one sin gets heaped up onto another.  Ahaz, evil and vile as he descended into idolatry practiced the kind of worship seen in the pagan nations around them; it was he who introduced Molech to the Judeans.  He introduced a perverted kind of worship into the mainstream of Judaism which corrupted the entire religion.

This man was such a failure, such a perverse loser, that he was a failure even in death.  The people were so relieved to be rid of him, that the refused Ahaz burial in a royal tomb.

This was the national atmosphere in which Isaiah gave the kind of Messianic prophecies he is known for today.

1.  Personality of the Messiah, 11:1—3a

His origin, verse 1

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

At the conclusion of chapter 10, God’s mighty ax had decimated the mighty forest-like Assyrian nation as the nation of Judah had been mowed by the Assyrian army.   At the beginning of chapter 11, the purpose of God’s grace is seen in the growth of a shoot from the stump of Jesse.

The mighty dynasty that David left behind had been reduced to mere stump by this time in Isaiah’s life, but it was in even worse condition by the time of Christ.  The House of David was still in existence, but Israel had been without a king for over 600 years!

Isaiah sees the Messiah as a shoot (small, new growth) coming from the stump (remnant) of Jesse’s family.  He arises as a young sapling, healthy and full of strength and vigor, life from death.  Jesse, of course was never king, but his son David was.  Perhaps not mentioning David’s name was Isaiah’s way of showing how little dignity there would be left in the House of David when the Messiah finally came.  Life, yes, but when Jesus came, there was not an ounce of dignity left in David’s line.

Jesus Christ, Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, was born not only from the Davidic dynasty, but from a ruined and sinful humanity.  Jesus Christ, from the stump of Jesse, would become as a Tree of Life for untold millions who reach out to Him in faith.  Incidentally, the word “branch” comes from the same Hebrew word as “Nazarene.”

His power, verses 2, 3a

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

In chapter 10, the Assyrian king bragged about his own power and wisdom (10:8—14), but the coming Messiah would be equipped for His work by the Spirit of the Lord Himself!  The prophet sees the coming Messiah with a supernatural character, anointed by the seven-fold Spirit of the Lord (see Revelation 3:1).   This fullness of the Spirit manifested in Christ, incidentally, is seen in type in the seven-branched lampstand in the Tabernacle.

Of course, the fullness of the Spirit is available to all believers, since the same Holy Spirit indwells us as indwelt Him, however very few believers manifest any of what Jesus manifested.

The seven-fold anointing has to do with the quality of the Messiah’s life and character, and is as follows:

The Spirit of Wisdom.  This refers to the quality that enables a person to use right means to achieve a desired end, leading to success.  Paul wrote this—

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  (1 Corinthians 1:30)

The Spirit of Understanding.  This indicates not only knowledge and wisdom in general, but discrimination in particular.  Upon the Messiah rests the ability to distinguish that which is right and true from things that are false and dangerous.  It is unfortunate that so many believers lack discernment at a time when they need it most!

The Spirit of Counsel is the ability to impart knowledge to others and to offer sound guidance.

The Spirit of Might.  This would indicate not only resolute strength of purpose, but the ability to achieve that purpose.  The Greek indicates physical strength, but also mental and spiritual power.  Surely Jesus manifested this in His dealings with demons, disease, nature and even death.

The Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord.  This is one quality with two aspects, for one leads to the other.  By means of the supernatural spirit of knowledge, one has an understanding of spiritual things and his knowledge of God becomes intensely real.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we can have fellowship with both God the Father and the Son and it is this same Spirit who redeems us who gives us intimate knowledge of both.  The fear of the Lord that comes from the Lord really has more to do with a holy reverence for God’s Word, His Will and His Person.  The fear of the Lord involves lives marked by true piety, devoutness, and esteem for God’s authority and will.

The Spirit of delight in the fear of the Lord.  This is the final quality of the Messiah’s supernatural power.  In the Hebrew, it is a curious phrase; it indicates a “keen ability to smell.”  Some scholars have translated this awkward phrase like this—

He shall draw His breath in the fear of the Lord.

And the fear of Jehovah is a fragrance to Him.

To the Messiah, Yahweh is everything.

2.  Purpose of the Messiah’s reign, verses 3b—5

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.  Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Unlike human leaders, the Messiah will not judge by mere appearance, or render judgments on the basis of mere hearsay!  The coming Messiah will be the Perfect Judge, perfectly suited to the job.  His complete and incorruptible authority will be based on God’s sense of justice, rooted and grounded in His holiness.   His decisions will with made with a keen sense of justice and quality, even for the poor and the meek.

The Messiah’s word will be as powerful as rod.  The Word of God is active and powerful and the Messiah’s Word of judgment will be completely effective and right.  He will judge AS the Word of God—

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  (Revelation 19:13—15)

This testifies to the Messiah’s awesome power:  He alone can render a just verdict and He alone is able to execute the judgments He pronounces.  In Him alone word and action become virtually one.

3.  Peace in His Kingdom, verses 6—9

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Infants will play near the hole of the cobra; young children will put their hands into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

When the Messiah comes, everything will be different; everything will be made right once again, as it was in beginning.  The predatoriness of nature will be miraculously transformed into blessed peacefulness.  In the Kingdom to come, though, it will not be Adam who will be king, but rather the Second Adam, the Messianic King; in His reign nature will be at complete peace with itself and with human beings.   Whether resting, feeding, or playing, all animal life will live in harmony.

So perfect will conditions be in the Messianic kingdom, that even a little child would be able to gather all kinds of animals into one group without being harmed!  Not only that, knowledge of God will cover the earth.  This is a theologically packed statement.  It links man’s complete redemption and restoration to “knowledge of God.”  Man was alienated from God when he fell in the Garden of Eden.  Over the intervening centuries, mankind’s knowledge of God has been dwindling, but when the Messiah comes, we will know God as the Son knows the Father!

4.  Rally and restoration, verses 10—15

He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.  (verse 12)

In the Messiah’s kingdom, nations from around the globe will stream to Jerusalem to be instructed by the Messiah Himself.   This shows the amazing drawing power of the Word of God; this same Word draws sinners to God today, but today the Word is hindered by the influence and presence of Satan in the world.  When the Messiah comes, Satan will be bound for 1,000 and the Word will go forth completely unhindered and for the first time, men will see how truly perfect His Word is.  No wonder nations will pour into Jerusalem in the Millennial Kingdom!

When Christ returns as Messiah, Isaiah’s glorious Christmas prophecy “God with us” will be finally realized; His dwelling place shall be renowned the world over for its glory and it will be known as the place where God lives with His people.  Hymn writer John Newton captured this though so well:

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

The phrase “in that day” always refers to the eschatological future—our future—and refers most certainly to the Second Coming of Christ and the founding of His Millennial Kingdom.   When Christ comes back, He will restore the glories of Israel by establishing His throne there, but also by gathering His people from the four corners of the earth—

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.  (verse 11)

And so the Messiah will be truly King of the Jews.  The fallen genealogical tree of Jesse through David shall grow again, realized by His virgin-born descendant, Jesus Christ.  Not only will nations rally around King Jesus, but all the envy and strife so common among the Israelites will vanish in an instant in the presence of their long-awaited King.  Even though most often read at Christmas time, we see that this prophecy of Isaiah’s really contains two fulfillments; David’s descendant was born in obscurity as the Christmas story goes, but He will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords at His glorious Second Advent.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd
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