Isaiah 11 – The Branch and Root of Jesse
A. The character of the King.
1. (1) A stem sprouts forth from the stump of Jesse.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
a. There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse: Isaiah 10:33-34 left with the idea of the LORD chopping down the proud as if they were mighty trees. Now, the picture is of the LORD looking over these stumps, and causing a Branch to grow out of one of them, the root of the family of Jesse, King David’s father.
i. Indeed, Jesus did come from the stump of Jesse. The royal authority of the house of David was dormant for 600 years when Jesus came as King and Messiah. When Jesus came forth, it was like a new green Branch coming from an apparently dead stump.
ii. The LORD wanted Judah to know that even though the Assyrians and others would come and bring judgment, God would still use them and bring forth life from them. Even if they looked like a long-dead stump, God could bring forth life. Glorious restoration under the Messiah was promised.
iii. “We see a bare, withered tree stump, robbed of its trunk and top, and it looks as though the stump will never bear any fruit any more. But, a small shoot sprouts from the root of this dry stump which is the Davidic dynasty. Because of its unsightliness and misery, it is not named after David but after his father. When Christ was born, there was nothing royal about that dynasty. But a new shoot sprang from this old stem.” (Bultema)
b. A Rod from the stem of Jesse: In using this title, the LORD emphasized the humble nature of the Messiah. Jesse was the much less famous father of King David. It is far humbler to say, “from Jesse” than to say, “from King David.”
2. (2) The spiritual empowerment of the Messiah.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
a. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him: The Branch that comes from the apparently dead stump isn’t just barely alive. It is full of life, and full of the Spirit of the LORD. We see here that the Messiah has seven – the number of fullness and completion – aspects of the Spirit of the LORD.
i. The Spirit of the LORD is upon the Messiah. Jesus did not have a false spirit or a deceiving spirit, or even the spirit of a man. The Spirit of the LORD God of Israel rests upon the Messiah. On one occasion Jesus rebuked the disciples saying, You do not know what manner of spirit you are of (Luke 9:55). Jesus was of the Spirit of the LORD, and He knew it.
ii. The Spirit of wisdom is upon the Messiah. Jesus is perfectly wise in all things. He showed this during his earthly ministry, and He shows it now in His continuing ministry in heaven for His people. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus became for us wisdom from God. It isn’t just that Jesus has wisdom; He is wisdom.
iii. The Spirit of…understanding is upon the Messiah. Jesus understands all things, and He understands us perfectly. He is perfectly suited to be our sympathetic High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 4:15-16). Understanding in Hebrew has the idea of a sharp sense of smell. John Trapp said this word describes Jesus’ “Sharpness of judgment in smelling out a hypocrite…His sharp nose easily discerneth and is offended with the stinking breath of the hypocrite’s rotten lungs, though his words be never so scented and perfumed with shows of holiness.”
iv. The Spirit of counsel is upon the Messiah. Jesus has perfect counsel to give us at all times. He has both the wisdom and the understanding to be a perfect counselor.
v. The Spirit of…might is upon the Messiah. Jesus has the power to do what He desires to do. Many people would help us if they could but are powerless to help. Others may have the power to help us, but they don’t care about us. Jesus has both the love and the might to help us.
vi. The Spirit of knowledge is upon the Messiah. Jesus knows everything. He knows our hearts and He knows all the facts. Many times we have made decisions that seemed strange or wrong to others because they didn’t have the knowledge that we have. Jesus has knowledge that we don’t have, so it shouldn’t surprise us that sometimes His decisions seem strange or wrong to us or to others.
vii. The Spirit of…the fear of the LORD is upon the Messiah. Jesus willingly kept Himself in a place of submission, respect, and honor to God the Father.
b. The Spirit of the LORD…of wisdom and understanding…of counsel and might…of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD: These seven aspects of the Spirit of God are not the only characteristics of the Holy Spirit. But they are grouped together in a “seven” to show the fullness and perfection of the Holy Spirit.
i. This passage is behind the term the sevenfold Spirit of God used in Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6. It isn’t that there are seven different spirits of God, rather the Spirit of the LORD has these characteristics, and He has them all in fullness and perfection.
ii. The seven-branched lampstand that held the oil lamps for the tabernacle was also an illustration of the seven aspects of the Holy Spirit. “This candlestick had one stem in the center from which protruded three branches to the right and three to the left. Similarly, in this text, three pairs of the names of the Spirit are grouped around the central stem.” (Bultema)
c. Shall rest upon Him: Jesus the Messiah lived and ministered as a man filled with the Spirit of God. The wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the LORD Jesus displayed in His ministry flowed not from His “own” divine resources, but from His reliance on the Spirit of the LORD who filled Him.
i. As truly God, Jesus has all these attributes from eternity. But when Jesus emptied Himself at the incarnation, He allowed the Holy Spirit to fill Him as a man, being an eternal example to us and a sympathizer with us. When Jesus added humanity to His deity, in no way did He stop being God. But as Philippians 2:5-8 tells us, there is some sense in which Jesus choose to “empty Himself” of some of the privileges or prerogatives of deity. Instead, Jesus chose to rely on the Spirit of the LORD.
ii. Jesus displayed the fruit of the Spirit to the uttermost because He was a perfect vessel. Jesus received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).
iii. There seem to have been times when Jesus did operate beyond what a Spirit-filled man could do, such as when He was transfigured (Matthew 17:1-9) or when Jesus performed some of His miracles over nature. But certainly, Jesus fought all His battles as a man filled with the Holy Spirit.
d. The Spirit of the LORD: These seven characteristics describe the nature of the Spirit of the LORD. They also describe the nature of Jesus. There is no difference between the nature of Jesus and the nature of the Holy Spirit. When we see Jesus, we see God the Father (John 14:9). When we see the Spirit of the LORD at work, it should look like the ministry and the nature of Jesus.
3. (3-5) The perfect character of the Messiah.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
a. His delight is in the fear of the LORD: Nothing pleased Jesus more than doing the will of His Father. My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:34)
b. With righteousness He shall judge: Jesus did not rely on outward appearance, or on the mere words that someone said. He judged with righteousness. He didn’t cheat the poor of justice, and if the poor and the weak are given justice, then everyone will be.
c. He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth: The mere words of Jesus have the power to judge the wicked. He only has to announce a judgment and it is done.
i. Bultema quotes Dr. V. Hepp on with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked: “From of old, the Rabbis have adhered to the first interpretation and seen in this wicked (one)…the Jewish Antichrist…this prediction of the wicked (one) may be unhesitatingly applied to the Antichrist.” Dr. V. Hepp made this remark in light of 2 Thessalonians 2:8: And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
d. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins: The qualities of righteousness and faithfulness are so close to Jesus they are like belts around His waist. Everything Jesus does is touched by His righteousness and faithfulness.
B. The glorious reign of the King.
1. (6-9) The new ecology of the reign of the Messiah.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
a. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb: When the Messiah reigns, nature will be transformed. No longer will there be predators among the animals, and it seems that all animals will be herbivores (plant-eaters) only (the cow and the bear shall graze…the lion shall eat straw like the ox).
i. Romans 8:19-22 tells us more about this transformation of creation: The earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits 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; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Nature is waiting for the transformation that will come when the Messiah reigns and believers are glorified.
b. And a little child shall lead them: When the Messiah reigns, not only will the way animals relate to each other be changed, but the way they relate to humans will be changed. A little child will be safe and able to lead a wolf or a leopard or a young lion or a bear. Even the danger of predators like cobras and vipers will be gone.
i. In Genesis 9:2-3, the LORD gave Noah, and all mankind after him, the permission to eat meat. At the same time, the LORD put the dread of man in animals, so they would not be effortless prey for humans. Now, in the reign of the Messiah, that is reversed. For this reason, many think that in the reign of the Messiah, the Millennium, humans will return to being vegetarians, as it seems they were before Genesis 9:2-3.
c. For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea: When the Messiah reigns, the knowledge of the LORD –in a relational sense, not merely an intellectual sense – will cover the entire earth. The Millennial reign of the Messiah will be glorious.
2. (10-12) The new Exodus of the Millennial reign of the Messiah
“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
It shall come to pass in that day
That the LORD shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the islands of the sea.
He will set up a banner for the nations,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
a. For the Gentiles will seek Him: The glory of the reign of the Messiah will be not only for the Jewish people but also for the Gentiles. He shall stand as a banner to the people, lifted high to draw all peoples to Him.
i. In Isaiah 5:26 the banner was used to call the nations to judgment against Israel. Now the banner calls the nations to the blessings of the Messiah.
b. The second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left: In the reign of the Messiah, there will be another Exodus of the Jewish people, delivering them not only from Egypt but from all nations where they have been dispersed.
3. (13-16) The peace of the reign of the Messiah.
Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart,
And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west;
Together they shall plunder the people of the East;
They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab;
And the people of Ammon shall obey them.
The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;
With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,
And strike it in the seven streams,
And make men cross over dryshod.
There will be a highway for the remnant of His people
Who will be left from Assyria,
As it was for Israel
In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
a. Ephraim shall not envy Judah…Judah shall not harass Ephraim: In the reign of the Messiah, the nations will not go to war anymore. Conflicts will be justly and swiftly settled by the Messiah and His government. Disobedient nations (here, described as the Philistines and Edom and Moab and the people of Ammon, traditional enemies of Israel) will be punished.
b. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people: Any obstacle to the gathering of those dispersed among the nations will be taken away. Nothing can oppose the government of the Messiah.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org