“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. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 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. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 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. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.” Isa 11:1-11 (NIV)
Imagine a strong, beautiful tree cut down to a stump. It sits for hundreds of years, drying out, cracking, and eventually rotting away. Then one day, a green shoot starts growing out of the rotten tree stump. The small shoot grows into a branch and bears fruit; fruit which gives hope, peace, and salvation.
Can you picture it? What was once dead is now alive! And not just alive, but giving new life to those who eat its fruit!
This is God’s message of hope for the future; the promise of a Branch.
A man whose name is the Branch (Zech. 6:12), whom shall be beautiful and glorious (Isa 4:2), and shall reign as king and deal wisely (Jer. 23:5).
Isaiah describes the branch, saying:
And 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 the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. Isaiah 11:2-5 (ESV)
Isaiah’s message of a coming Messiah, a branch from the royal line of David, comes during a dark period for the Israelites. Having turned away from God, they watched their beloved Jerusalem crumble, and once more became captives in a foreign land. Yet, during all this darkness and destruction, God offers hope for the future. Isaiah continues by painting a picture of life during the Branch’s reign:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9 (ESV)
God promises a time of perfect peace. A time when Jesus, the Branch, will rule in righteousness and faithfulness over all of the earth, and everything in it.
This is not just a promise for the Israelites, but for us as well. Jesus welcomes all nations into his kingdom of peace. We need only accept the fruit of salvation to enter in. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10 NIV)
Like the Israelites during the time of Isaiah, we find ourselves living in a world of darkness and destruction. Your world may literally be crumbling around you, or perhaps your circumstances are not so dire, but despair creeps in every time you watch the news. Whether you feel a little despair, or completely lost in darkness, I want to encourage you to cling to God’s message of hope for the future.
Jesus, the Branch, is coming. All will be made right again. It’s a promise.
As Christmas draws near, let’s celebrate and share the hope of Jesus.
How does having hope for the future change how you live?
How can you share the hope of Jesus with others today?