Something different

We’re in the middle of a section of Isaiah that takes the wider sweep of world politics and announces judgement on the nations and their capital cities. Notice that Jerusalem is included in with the wicked nation, God’s people had joined the world in its sinfulness.  They had become like the Gentiles.  There is a challenge to us here.  Are we characterised by distinctiveness or have we become like the world?  Are we salt and light.

So if the world is in a mess and under judgement and if those supposed to be God’s people have failed to be distinctive, then what is the solution? Isaiah 11 offers an alternative, a new and different leader.

Read Isaiah 11

At the end of chapter 6, we were told that God’s judgement of Israel and Judah would leave behind a stump but that this would provide the root for something new, it would become the holy seed.  Now, we focus in a bit more on what, or rather who that root/shoot is.  We are told that they are a descendent of Jesse, in other words from David’s lineage.  We are also told that this new vine/branch will be fruitful (v1). A specific person is in mind.  God’s Spirit will be strongly present with him giving him wisdom and knowledge (v2). This king will be like David in that he will delight in The Lord and reverence for him (echoing the Psalms). He will be just and make judgement not based on limited perception and first reaction.  The standard for righteousness will not be human priorities but God’s righteousness (v3-5)

This king’s reign will usher in a time of peace and prosperity not seen in human history in fact, the only potential comparison takes us back to the Garden of Eden when humans and animals, even those now considered predators lived safely side by side (v6-9). Not only is this king the hope of Israel but also for the nations too. He will be a signal, banner or rallying call to them. The world will unite under his leadership.  His resting place – the land where he settles- Israel will become glorious and honoured (v10).

A frequent warning in Isaiah’s prophecies is of exile and judgement but this coming king will bring the exile to an end.  God will bring back the people from exile and reunite the divided kingdom (v11-13). He will completely defeat all of their enemies (v14-15). The imagery of a highway from Assyrial makes it clear that God will prepare the way for the people to return and remove obstacles in their way.  The return will be like a similar exodus. Just as God led the people up out of Egypt, so he will lead them down and back from this exile (v16).

Jesus as the root of Jesse

The prophecy here points forward to the future.  Although the people would return from exile, that return fell far short of the imagery here.  The followers of Jesus recognised in him the true fulfilment of the prophecy. Jesus is the descendant of Jesse who reigns on David’s throne.  He has brought peace from warring peoples and defeated the enemies of sin, Satan and death. Jesus draws people from all backgrounds to himself and sends us out to make disciples from the nations. 

Even still, there remains a future dynamic to the prophecy.  We await the day when he will come again and his reign will be fully realised bringing us to an Eden like home where there is true and lasting peace and the curse of sin has been fully removed.


Meditate on these words from verse 6:

with righteousness he shall judge

  1. In what ways do we see a difference between Jesus and the rulers/judges of this world
  2. If Jesus judges me with righteousness then what do I deserve?
  3. The New Testament points to Christ giving us his righteousness so that we are judged not by our own lives but by his life and death.  How does this make you feel?

Lord God, we thank you for sending Jesus as our saviour king.  Thank you that in him and the Gospel your righteousness is revealed.  We look forward to the day when “the lion will lie down with the lamb” and so we pray “come quickly Lord Jesus”. 

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