A Portrait of the Messiah in the Age to Come [Isaiah 11]

by Sean Finnegan on December 10, 2006
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An Exposition of Isaiah 11.1-10

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

The state of Israel is given by the stem or stump of Jesse. Not even the tree, much less the forest of Jesse, not to mention the kingdom of David, but a meager stump. God's wrath had already been poured out on the apostate nation {Is 2.12-17; 6.8-13} through His instrument: the unrighteous, pompous Assyrian. {texts prophesying destruction of Israel before chapter 11 include 3.1-2, 8-9, 16-26; 5.5-7, 14-16; 9.19; 10.5-6; 10.22-23}.

Then just when the Assyrian had decimated all the land and was shaking his fist at Jerusalem from nearby Nob, God turned His ire to the Assyrian nation and poured out his indignation full force. The nation once to be compared to the cedars of Lebanon has had its branches lopped off and then its trunks felled until in a moment nothing remains though it took many years to grow {Is 10.32-34}.

Then, from the stump of Jesse a tender shoot springs forth. Yet, this humble beginning is no indication of the future. This "shoot" is of royal blood {Rev 5.5; 22.16} and is destined to become a branch bearing incredible fruit. In fact, this little shoot will one day be the idyllic David for whom Israel has longed.

The spirit of Yahweh will rest on him,

The spirit of Yahweh is the supernatural enabling of Yahweh, which in turn manifests itself in six ways. Unlike the Assyrian king of Babylon who boasts in his own abilities and genius {Is 10.8-14; 14.12-14}, this king is completely empowered and enlightened through the influence and presence of Yahweh working through him and in him. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts is accomplishing its work in this anointed one {Is 9.7}. This was fulfilled when John the Baptist had the privilege of seeing the spirit descend upon him like a dove and rest on him {Mat 3.16-17}.

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

These two manifestations of the spirit of Yahweh refer to increased intellectual capacity and application. Unlike those who are "wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight" {Is 5.21} this one will be endued with God's wisdom. Solomon had demonstrated supernatural wisdom in the affair of the two prostitutes, one of which had smothered her baby in the night. He called for a sword and ordered the living infant cut in two and half given to each of the women. The true mother shrieked in terror and requested that the other woman have the child rather than killing it. Then Solomon gave the child to his mother and this story of his wisdom traveled everywhere. This branch of Jesse will likewise be endued with heavenly wisdom and understanding.

The spirit of counsel and strength,

He will not only know what to do (counsel) but he will have the ability to carry it out (strength). A brilliant king who is powerless becomes a cynic and a foolish king with limitless power becomes a tyrant. This one will have the right balance having as his title "Wonderful Counselor" {Is 9.6}.

The spirit of knowledge and the fear of Yahweh

Most importantly, this one will have knowledge and fear of Yahweh. He is not merely one with great abilities to govern, but his perspective is correct concerning his God. Unlike the Assyrian King (a type of the antichrist) who is arrogant in his acts and has a proud look in his eyes and thinks by his own strength and cleverness he had prevailed, this one will not be lifted up with conceit. He understands that the fear of Yahweh is the foundation and beginning of knowledge {Job 28.28; Ps 111.10; Prov 1.7}. He will not fear the hordes of enemies that will oppose him, but only Yahweh of Hosts {Is 8.13}.

And he will delight in the fear of Yahweh

Literally, "and fear of Yahweh is a fragrance to him." The fear of God is that which he smells with satisfaction..the second David scents the fear of God, and only the fear of God, as a pleasant fragrance; for the fear of God is a sacrifice of adoration continually ascending to God. (K&D v.7 p.183). Only when one begins to comprehend the holiness & power of God, can he begin to fear God. And all servants of Yahweh delight in the clean, holy fear of Yahweh as the chief portal to worship.

And he will not judge by what his eyes see,
Nor make decisions by what his ears hear;

Unlike his predecessors who God calls "rulers of Sodom" {Is 1.10} who mislead the people and confuse them {Is 3.12}, this one will not be overwhelmed by the lusts of his senses and so will make straight decisions. Instead, he will be given miraculous insight so that his decisions will not be based on human powers. The problem with our eyes and ears is that they are often mistaken. Furthermore, justice is often perverted because the judge is unable to discern hypocrisy from truth. Do you remember the Gibeonites? They were a tribe living in the land of Canaan who heard of the wonders that Yahweh had performed in Egypt. Instead of fighting against Joshua's army like all the other nations, the Gibeonites devised a plan whereby they could seek peace. Old bread, tattered clothes, and mangy beasts perfected a mirage of having traveled from a great distance to meet Joshua. Israel was fooled by their charade and made of covenant of peace with them only to find out that the Gibeonites lived in the Promised Land. "So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of Yahweh" {Josh 9.14}. In contrast, this son of Jesse will be consistently endued with the spirit of Yahweh's counsel.

But with righteousness he will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

Judgment often has an ominous negative ring to it, because we are often guilty when thinking about it, but to the poor, the downtrodden, and the afflicted judgment sounds like salvation, rescuing from their oppressors. The previous regime in Israel had robbed the poor, crushed the people, ground the faces of the poor {Is 3.14-15}, were bribed by the wealthy and deprived the innocent of justice {Is 1.23; 5.23}. They would write oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial so that they could plunder the widows and orphans {Is 10.1-2}. This behavior infuriated Yahweh.

God has a special place in His heart for the less fortunate {Is 1.17; 61.1; Mic 4.6-7; Ps 72.2-4, 12-14; Pr 22.22-23; Luke 6.20-26; James 2.5}. So often, it is the poor who are abused by the crafty. It is the poor who squander billions in the lotteries because of their inability to calculate odds, control their greed, or see through the scam. It is the elderly poor who the Internet connivers and telemarketers pick clean. The poor are wronged but no one is there to take up their cause. The wealthy and corporations hire the premier lawyers to make sure their interests are safeguarded but the poor are regularly done injustice through ill reputed public defenders. The rich influence the politicians to make decisions in their favor through the use of lobbying (bribing). The employed poor are the support of the economic infrastructure, working many hours and getting paid only enough to barely survive, while supplying gas, groceries, transport, retail, maintenance, etc. yet they are the least appreciated and often not given health insurance or retirement options. The poor man waits a day in the emergency room with internal bleeding while the wealthy has a primary care physician to attend to his pink eye at a moments notice. The poor have no option but to use the public education system in the poor areas they live, which merely serves to perpetuate their condition. In countries where the police are sparse or non-existent the poor cannot afford security workers and are robbed, murdered, and raped without mercy and without recourse. Why does God care so much for the poor? He cares because no one else does, because He has to endure their cries for help, none of their afflictions are hidden from His eyes. When God's creatures suffer, He takes it personally and another drop of wrath drops into His cup of righteous indignation ready to be poured out on the last day. Besides, in a world that is cold, cynical, and uncompassionate whom else does one have but God? This is why Jesus specifically pointed out that Christians will be judged based on how they treated the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned {Mat 25.34-46}.

This judge is just, he is not impressed with pomp, nor is he inclined to pervert justice for a bribe. He will hear the cause of the poor and afflicted but will not falsely punish their adversaries because of a vendetta the poor may have against them. All decisions will be correct and final.

And he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

The people of the earth who have oppressed the poor will be punished by this coming one. He need only say the word and it is done. Indeed having been endued fully with the spirit of Yahweh, his words are given incredible power {John 12.48}. As the word leaves this king's mouth, the action is carried out. In him, intention and implementation are one. The large mass of nations [Babylon] that will not submit will be subjugated by force by the sword, which proceeds from his mouth {Rev 19.13-15}. The people who have said all their lives "no one will rule over us" will submit to the vice-regent of Almighty God. The scales will be tipped, the last shall be first, the humble exalted, the prideful cut down. The contrite will be given administrative positions in God's new world order. The current political and military rulers will be severely punished for siding with a kingdom (or kingdoms) of this world over and against the kingdom of God (which cannot be mixed together). The politicians who have made a mockery of justice will be punished. The wealthy that have used their means for their own selfish interests will have their fortunes divided up among the poor. The first stage of the restoration program of the Messiah is the conquering of the unrepentant.

And with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked

"The wicked" more likely refers to the end times figure, the anti-messiah, who will be destroyed by the genuine, anointed one. Just before the appearance of the shoot of Jesse, the wicked one will have wrested much of the power of the world governments into his own control. His capital city Babylon will be a mega city of wealth, commerce, and fashion. He will oppress the true people of God mercilessly, killing many of them. He will wield enough economic influence to make only those who have his mark in their forehead or right hand capable of buying food. This evil, lawless one will come "in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness" to deceive all who do not love truth {2 Thes 2.9-10}. He will "be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of his coming" {2 Thes 2.8}. "Consequently with him there commences a new epoch, in which the Son of David and his righteousness acquire a world-subduing force, and find their home in a humanity that has sprung, like himself, out of deep humiliation" (K&D v. 7 p. 184).

Also righteousness will be the belt about his loins,
And faithfulness the belt about his waist

This ruler will always make right decisions. Moral impurity, deception, and crookedness will not be found in him. As a belt clings tight to one's body and serves to hold the robe together, so the shoot of Jesse will be constrained by righteousness. He will be faithful, unwavering, true to his God and true to consistently perform his responsibilities. He will not call evil good nor good evil {Is 5.20}, nor will he be prone to moodiness or "having a bad day." His uprightness of character will qualify him for his work of judgment. He will not be corrupted by power; he has proved his ability to depend on Yahweh already and will not give into temptation { John 5.19, 30; 8.28; 12.49-50; 14.10, 31; Phil 2.6-11}. He will reign on David's throne with justice and righteousness forever {Is 9.7}. After this restoration of justice to the throne, Jerusalem will be called "the Righteous City, a Faithful City" {Is 1.26}.

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

This is no mere dream or figurative way of speaking; the peace of the kingdom will penetrate even into the animal kingdom. Where once there was savagery, survival of the fittest, there will be harmony; the animalistic instinct of slaughter will be ended. Indeed even the animal kingdom comes under this ruler. The animal kingdom will be miraculously restored to its pre-fallen state. Paul looked forward to this when he said, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." {Romans 8.19-23}. When mankind is redeemed, so is the rest of creation--even the animals.

And a little boy will lead them

Children have fantasized about this age for millennia, wishing to have a pet lion, or leopard. The animals will not just be well tamed, for if this were the case, parents wouldn't allow their children near these powerful beasts, but since the very instinct to harm will be completely removed even little boys will be permitted to interact with these wonders of creation. Now at long last, after more than six millennia, the animal kingdom is subjected to the human kingdom and the human kingdom subjected to God {Gen 1.26-28}

Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.

All animals will be come herbivores, even the bear, and the lion. The blood tooth now extracted, their teeth find use in chewing vegetation, which may indicate a change in their DNA or merely a change in use.

The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.

All the way down to the reptilian genus will the prince's peace prevail. The most deceptive, and first cursed of all beasts {Gen 3.1, 14} will be so harmless that a nursing child will be safe with a cobra. The weaned child will derive great joy from placing his hand on the viper's den. The peace of God dispensed through the Davidic King will know no bounds and all of the evil of Satan throughout all time will end, completely--there is a new sheriff in town.

They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,

None will hurt or destroy on this mountain because it is holy. The mountain refers to Israel, represented by its capital, a microcosm of what the whole world will become as well {Is 9.7} All violence will end under his reign and the nations will melt their swords into plows and their spears into pruning hooks. There will be no dispute between the nations that he will not settle with ease {Is 2.4}. For now, finally peace is restored to Zion since the Prince of Peace rules {Is 9.6}.

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of Yahweh
As waters cover the sea.

This is no mere local restoration limited to the region of Palestine or Mount Zion, the whole earth, every hidden crevice and unexplored territory will be fully exposed to the knowledge of Yahweh--the Creator. To the degree that waters fill the sea the earth will be covered with the precious knowledge of the great God of the entire universe. The ignorance of man will be ended. All will know Him {John 17.3; 1 Cor 13.12}. No longer will there be misrepresentations of the Creator, like the Egyptian gods, the Greek pantheon, the Canaanite deities, or the Pantheism of Asia. At long last the debate will be settled, the competition finished, and the winner left standing--Yahweh in battle array. He will conquer through His commander and chief--the Davidic Messiah. Then all will know that the Father is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and awesome One before whom everyone bows, in heaven, in the earth, and under the earth. No longer will people forget God. No longer will divine thoughts be stolen through tragedy, misery, and cunning deception of immoral entertainment. At long last, the relationship, the "knowing of God" will be restored to what it was in the Garden of Eden. No more shame, no more guilt, and no more separation, instead experiential knowledge of Yahweh mediated through His Son.

Then in that day
The nations will resort to the root of Jesse
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;

In that day, in the day of Yahweh, the day of Christ, the day of the Lord, all nations, not just Israel, will resort to this descendant of Jesse. As the name Abraham had foreshadowed his descendants coming from many nations, in this Son of David, even the heathen have become partakers of the wonderful reign of the righteous one. Indeed the shoot of Jesse will bear the government on his shoulders of a vast eternal dominion {Is 9.6-7}. He will stand as a signal, a signpost, indicating the reign of God on earth. All nations will stream to the highest mountain, the mountain of Yahweh cleansed of all filthiness {Is 4.3}. Many will say "Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths" {Is 2.2-3}.

And his resting place will be glorious.

The capital city, Jerusalem, will have the wealth of nations brought to her {Is 60.5-9, 17}. Zion will be glorious because of the presence of God's messiah and the lack of anything to diminish the glory. Indeed, the offenses having been removed, leave the land bathed in the holy, glory of Yahweh of Hosts.

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