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Monday, May 30, 2011

Isaiah 11: The branch from Jesse

     Assyria, just like a tree felled at the height of its power, would never rise again, whilst Judah (the royal line of David) would be like a tree chopped down to a stump. From this stump a new shoot would grow, and that new shoot would be the Messiah. He would be far greater than the original tree, and He would bear much fruit.
     The Messiah is the fulfilment of God's covenant promise that a descendant of David would rule forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
     When God judges, it will be with righteousness and justice. We may often complain that others treat us unfairly, but what about the manner in which we treat others? We say things like, "Don't judge a book by its cover", implying that people should never judge by appearance or by idle gossip, but do we stick to that ourselves or do we often judge by what we see and her rather than what we investigate for ourselves? God has appointed His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our judge because He is the only perfectly fair judge. It's only when Christ is the ruler of our hearts that we can learn to judge people and situations fairly and without bias.
     Judah, surrounded as it was by hostile powers, was desperately in need of revival of righteousness, faithfulness and justice. The righteousness that is valued by God means not only rejecting sin but also actively assisting those in need, whatever that need may be.
     Isaiah prophesies that a golden age will come, signified by his phrase that 'the lion will lie down with the lamb', and that this golden age will be a time of peace when children would be able to play with animals that were previously dangerous. Much of this would come about with the coming of Jesus, but far more would come with His Second Coming. When Christ rules the earth then there will be a peace and harmony that exceeds anything ever known previously. He speaks of a second exodus when God will bring His scattered people back to Judah, and the Messiah will come to rule the world. God will provide the way of redemption for His people.

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
   from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 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—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

   He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
   or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 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.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
   and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6 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.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
   their young will lie down together,
   and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
   the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 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.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
11 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.
12 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.
13 Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish,
   and Judah’s enemies will be destroyed;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
   nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.
14 They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west;
   together they will plunder the people to the east.
They will subdue Edom and Moab,
   and the Ammonites will be subject to them.
15 The LORD will dry up
   the gulf of the Egyptian sea;
with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand
   over the Euphrates River.
He will break it up into seven streams
   so that anyone can cross over in sandals.
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people
   that is left from Assyria,
as there was for Israel
   when they came up from Egypt.

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