Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 8 2019 - Isaiah 11:1-12 – A branch from Jesse

Isaiah 11 builds on the prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah that we read yesterday in Isaiah 9. The Messiah will spring from "the stump of Jesse" (11:1). The kingly line of David will be cut down as God brings rebellious kings and people to judgment. But from this apparently lifeless stump, God will raise up a descendant of David to rule over his people. He will be equipped with the Spirit of the Lord, filling him with wisdom, understanding and power. He will delight in the fear of the Lord and will judge the people of God with wisdom surpassing that of Solomon (11:2-3).

God had told his people that their king was not to be like the kings of the nations around them; he was not to accumulate riches and power for himself while neglecting the poor and needy. But Judah's kings, like those of Israel, had adopted patterns of kingship common to the nations around them. God's Messiah, however, will judge the needy with righteousness and give decisions for the poor of the earth with justice (11:4). God's people must have longed for such a king.

Under the Messiah's rule, God's people will be brought back from the nations where they have been scattered in judgment, such as Assyria, Egypt and Babylonia (11:10-12). They will be restored as one people under the rule of one king. More than that, all of creation will live harmoniously under his reign of peace. The beautiful picture of a world transformed (11:6-8) concludes with the promise:

the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
    as the waters cover the sea. (11:9)

This is the world as God had intended it to be – all creation filled with the glory of God's presence and blessing. Creation itself groans in pain and with longing as it looks forward to that great day.

This prophecy finds its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus who is the Christ, the promised Messiah. We see something of this in Jesus' earthly ministry with his compassion for the poor and his healing of the diseases that destroy God's creation. We see something of his character as a man filled with the Spirit of God and marked by a life of righteousness and faithfulness. But his earthly life was brought to a cruel end when he was nailed to the cross – a day when Jew and Gentile conspired together to reject God's Messiah.

But the resurrection of the Lord Jesus marks a new era in the fulfilment of these promises of Scripture. God has raised Jesus his Messiah to the highest place in all creation. By his outpoured Spirit he is now gathering to himself a people from every nation under heaven – one people living under the gracious reign of one Lord. We cannot yet say that the earth is filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea, but that day is drawing closer.

And that day shall come with the return of Jesus, when every knee shall bow to him and all of creation shall be transformed at his coming. Imagine then what it will be like when:

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. (11:6-7)

In truth, it defies our imagination.

Father God, we praise you for these beautiful and glorious pictures of all that you purpose to do through the Lord Jesus, your Messiah. We thank you that the definitive battle against sin and death, and all that spoils your creation, has already been won through Jesus' death and resurrection. We look with longing to the day of his coming when all things shall be made new and all promises fulfilled. Help us by your Spirit to tell the world of your Salvation, and to point them to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Peter Misselbrook