A Shoot Will Come Up from the Stump of Jesse

11: 1-5

    DIG: Whereas the mighty tree of Assyria was destroyed in 10:33-34, what will happen to the stump of Jesse? How is this Branch different from that mentioned in 4:2? What does it mean that the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him (see Second Kings 2:15)? What knowledge, ability, or motivation do you see here? What will this reign be like (compare with 9:6-7; contrast with 1:17-23 and 5:12-23)?

    REFLECT: The New Covenant interprets the Branch as Yeshua Messiah (Romans 15:12 and Revelation 5:5). What stories, teaching, or sayings about Jesus come to mind as you consider the qualities described in this section? Which aspect of the Holy Spirit has particularly made a difference in your life? How would you like to grow under the Lordship of Christ?

    The messianic hope that began to be expressed in 7:14, and was intensified in 8:23 to 9:6, is now clearly seen. Messiah is not only promised, but is seen as ruling. Instead of the cowardly house of David, or the arrogant and oppressive Assyrian empire, we see a King who will protect the weak and lowly. This segment brings to a close the judgment of Assyria that began in 10:5. This entire section makes the point that although Israel would be totally subdued, and Judah nearly so because of their lack of trust in ADONAI, destruction was not God’s final word. Assyria would also be judged, and out of that judgment a remnant of the twelve tribes of Jacob would return to the Land. However, as 9:1-6 suggested and 11:1-9 will confirm, that such a return could only come under the protection of a descendant of King David.

    The contrast between 11:1 and 10:34 is that while the Assyrian forest is cut down forever, a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Assyrian slaughter would leave nothing but a field of stumps. The same would be true of God’s people (6:11-13). Both Assyria and Jacob were under the judgment of the LORD. But there was a difference. When Assyria was finally cut down in 609 BC by the combined forces of Babylon, Media and Persia, nothing ever came from those stumps again. But that was not true of Jacob. From one helpless shoot (53:1-2) would come the restoration of the nation, the end of war (9:5), and the establishment of that which the world has always desired but never attained, namely, genuine security.

    Why would Isaiah use Jesse rather than David? When you think of David, you think of a king. When you think of Jesse, you think of the common man. He was a shepherd in a small village in Bethlehem. Through Isaiah, ADONAI makes the point that only when the once glorious house of David is reduced to what it was in Jesse’s day, nothing but a cut down stump, would the Messiah appear.

    Isaiah had prophesied: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from His roots, Tzemach Tzadik, a righteous Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1). As Arnold Fruchtebaum points out, Isaiah prophesied that a shoot, or the Messiah, would appear only when the house of David had been reduced down to where it was, not in David’s day, but in his father Jesse’s day. That is why Isaiah mentions Jesse rather than David. He pictures the great house of David as a mighty tree that had been reduced to a mere stump (6:13). But while it appeared to be nothing but a dead stump, there was a secret vitality within it. Suddenly a shoot will begin to grow and produce life. The point that the Holy Spirit made through Isaiah was that when the house of David had been reduced to poverty again, to what it was in Jesse’s day, then the Messiah would appear. From Joseph and Mary’s economic status it was clear that Jesus came when the house of David had been reduced once again to poverty.

    Olive trees go through a season when they appear dead. But even after several years of seeming lifelessness, a branch will sprout because the roots are still alive. According to God’s perfect plan, at His plan, at His appointed time, Messiah, the Righteous Branch appeared, bringing new life.

    At that point, the Levitic dynasty had lost its power and glory. A similar picture is given in Amos. In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be (Amos 9:11). This Branch will not stop budding from its lowly beginning, but will continue to grow. From humble beginnings a power will begin to develop into great heights, and a shoot ultimately becomes a tree. A state of humiliation will be followed by a state of exaltation, glorification, and perfection. In 53:2 he brings out the same point. The Messiah will have lowly beginnings. He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. This is the same picture as in Amos 9:11; the Messiah comes on the scene when the once mighty house of David is reduced to a stump.

    But his lowly beginnings give way to glory, and the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him (11:2). There is a close association of the Holy Spirit with the messianic promise. The seven attributes of the Holy Spirit are given. This is what it means elsewhere that He receives the fullness of the Spirit. This is a picture of a menorah with its seven branches (Revelation 4:5). The middle stem is what he calls the Spirit of the LORD. Then Isaiah will use the word Spirit three more times after that, and each time two attributes are given: first, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, second, the Spirit of counsel and of power, and thirdly, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. In Revelation 3:1 and 5:6 we are told that the Messianic Person has the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In John 3:34-35 it says that this Person receives the Spirit without limit. This is because Christ alone will have the fullness of the Spirit. Everyone else receives the Spirit with limits; some greater than others, which is why people have different gifts and different numbers of spiritual gifts (every believer has at least one spiritual gift). But in the case of Christ, He is given the Spirit without limit.

    The qualities of His messianic reign are then revealed (11:3-4). He is characterized by the fear of the LORD and He has delight (literally His smelling of satisfaction) in it (11:3), just as we should have. To fear God is to respond to Him in awe, trust, obedience, and worship. The Messiah would seek to do what God the Father wanted Him to do. This contrasted with the religious leaders in Isaiah’s day that sought only to please themselves. As world ruler, the Messiah will judge the world from the Temple in Jerusalem (see Db - The Nine Missing Articles in Messiah's Coming Temple). But He will not be like an ordinary judge who judges by what he sees or hears. He will judge on the basis of righteousness. With the rod of His mouth, with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked (Second Thessalonians 2:8).

    Lastly, His character is displayed (11:5). Righteousness will be His belt and faithfulness the sash around His waist. Paul would later take this verse and use it when describing the armor of God. He said we should stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist (Ephesians 6:14). Paul was not describing a Roman soldier, because there were no Roman soldiers when Isaiah wrote these words. All the armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 is either a direct quote or a paraphrase from the TaNaKh. His point is that we should resist Satan with Scripture as Christ did in the wilderness (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Bj - Jesus is Tempted in the Wilderness).


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