Thank you to Mark Jones for penning this thought.
The Bible, as a collection of ancient texts, is amazing to say the least. Across 66 books, written over a course of around 1,500 years, the Bible covers approximately 4,000 years of history. What makes the Bible truly amazing, outside of it being the living and active word of God, is that it tells one unified story. That unified story focuses on one main character, Jesus, who is God incarnate. I make this point to illustrate the idea that we should be aware of this whenever we read the Bible.
Like many great narratives of the past, the Bible includes plots, subplots and a whole host of other elements that give us some insights into the unfolding plan of God which was laid out before the formation of the earth. These insights often manifest themselves in the form of prophecy. Prophecy occurs when God speaks through someone to tell people something that will happen at some point in time. Today’s devotion focuses on one such prophecy found in Isaiah chapter 11.
You may have heard the phrase the root of Jesse. This phrase stems from this chapter in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet during the period of the divided kingdom, prophesying for Judah around 100 years before Judah was taken into captivity by Babylon. Much of the context of the book of Isaiah revolves around the prophet warning the people of Judah about the trouble that is to come. However, in chapter 11 we find that Isaiah offers the people a bit of hope to hold on to.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 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—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3a)
The verse above shows how Isaiah begins this prophecy. Telling us that a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse. This kind of language may be slightly foreign to us, but what the prophet is telling us here is that a descendant will come from the line of David, David being the son of Jesse. This descendant won’t be a normal man though, he will be full of the spirit of the Lord and he will delight in the fear (the respect) of the Lord. Throughout the rest of the chapter we learn that this descendant will be pretty amazing. He’ll judge with righteousness and he will strike down the wicked. Does this description remind you of anyone? Hopefully it does.
The prophecy continues in verses 10-16 with verse 10 telling us that this descendant will be a banner for the people with the nations seeking after him. Interestingly in verse 12 we are told that this descendant will gather the exiles of Israel bringing them together with scattered Judean’s from the four quarters of the earth. The question before us today in this reading is who is this descendant?
Personally, I think it’s pretty clear that the descendant Isaiah is referring to is Jesus Christ. While we don’t get the descendant named in the text, the description clearly indicates a person who would bring about the salvation of his people, one who would reunite the people of Israel. This is something that Jesus indicated was part of His mission during the gospels. We see in the gospels that Jesus is someone who stands out, a holy and righteous judge just as Isaiah describes. We see the spirit of God coming down and resting upon Him when He is baptised by John prior to starting His ministry. The similarities are clear as day.
So what can we take from this passage today? I think it’s a case of being reminded that Jesus Christ is that holy and righteous judge, prophesied to us long ago. He came to the earth to bring salvation not just for Israel, but for the whole world, an offer available to us all today. To me it is simply amazing to know that this was in the works since literally the dawn of time. Knowing that God has been for us since day one is incredibly humbling and is something we should be in awe of.
Hopefully you get that flavour from this passage today … it truly is amazing.