Isa. 11.1: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Out of the mess of ancient Israel, and all their sins, destruction, judgment, and exile, life will spring forth. This is exactly what God does: he does stop bad stuff from happening, but he will redeem it. Out of the bad things that happen to us he will make a shoot of life spring forth. Out of our suffering, a shoot of life will spring forth. Out of our pain, a shoot of life will spring forth. When bad stuff happens, people say, “God did it for a purpose. God is in control.” I don’t believe that. I believe that those events are effects from other causes. But out of them God causes a shoot of life to spring forth. In what seems to be dead there is still life. No matter what the darkness, God can bring life. Gn. 1.3: out of the darkness God brought light and life. Mt. 1: Mary’s womb: out of the darkness God brought light and life. Our sinful souls: out of the darkness God brought light and life. In this case, the future leader of promise: The Messiah. There’s irony in the text in that God has likened Assyria before to be a formidable forest, that God will cut down. But here the similarities stop. Assyria is felled, never to grow again. Judah is felled only to have new life emerge from its stump. And not just a little life, but a branch that will bear fruit!
verse 2: We find out it’s a person. God’s presence will be with him in spectacular ways.
Wisdom: Prov. 1-9
Power: Gn. 1.2
Fear of the Lord: Prov. 1 et al., Dt. 6
This man has everything you would want: God’s presence, power, wisdom, and knowledge. If you have those things, you also get with them the other things you want out of life: peace, insight, discernment, and perspective.
I want this; I want to be like this. How? The short answer is to bury myself in the Bible, ingest it and digest it, and do everything it says.
“And he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Ps. 1.2; Heb. 10.7, 9; Jn. 4.34; 5.19, 30. The fear of the Lord will not be a burden or obligation, but a delight—not just a commitment, but a joy. It’s the answer to the questions, “What are you passionate about? What makes your day?”
And what is the fear of the Lord? Deuteronomy 6 teaches us:
- Keep his decrees and commands as long as you live
- Pass God’s decrees and commands on to your children, because you love God
- Serve God only
- Prov. 8.13 says it is to hate evil: pride and arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse speech.
We gain all kinds of knowledge through scientific inquiry, the study of history, math, etc. But scientific inquiry can only tell us the what. The fear of the Lord (knowing his decrees and commands and passing them on) tells us the why.
“He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears.” His wisdom is real and based on objective truth. There is nothing subjective, manipulatable, or deceivable in his knowledge or judgments. There is no bias or distortion.
“…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.” He turns things upside down. The juxtaposition of “righteous” and “poor” is contrary to human judgment, which favors the right and powerful. The only things that matter in our society are money and power. The idea of giving consideration to the poor is symbolic of fairness to all.
“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.” All things will be upended. Even nature will be changed. The peace will be so complete that even natural enemies will be at perfect peace. If it can happen to the animals, so also with people. And it will be for ALL people: Jews and Gentiles alike, slave and free, male and female, smart and stupid. The gospel of God is inclusive.
“The Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people.” They may have suffered and been displaced and persecuted, but they were not forgotten. It may have looked that way, and they may have felt that way, but it was not so. So with our lives, SOOOO many times. We need to read these Scriptures and make them a part of us.
v. 13: “Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish, and Judah’s enemies will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.” Just like the animals of vv. 6-8, the people of God will actually get along with each other and live in peace. Won’t that be nice?
v. 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 men can cross over in sandals.” The point is that no obstacle will stand in God’s way as he accomplishes his purposes. Great rivers, which are symbolically insurmountable to us, are toys in God’s hands and don’t present a problem at all. Rivers required massive engineering strategies and work forces to cross. In God’s eyes he merely sweeps his hand over the challenge and it moves. We see the same effortless “boredom” in all of God’s and Jesus’ miracles. All these things that seem so impossible to us are a piece of cake to him.
v. 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.” Not only in a negative sense will the obstacles be removed, but in a positive sense a way will be paved for their smooth and effortless advancement. See Isa. 40.3-4 for the exact same sense and description.