Isaiah 10-12

In chapter 10 the theme of judgment against Israel continues for the first four verses; they do evil, and it must be punished. Then God says the Assyrians will be judged as well, even though he used them for his punishments against Israel. The Assyrians’ pride must meet its own punishment. The last 14 verses speak of a remnant that will return to the land. Even though they have been crushed, the Lord declares that, “Very soon my anger against you will end,” and his wrath redirected at the Assyrians. Then in chapter 11 we are introduced to a Branch from Jesse. It starts as a shoot that will come from the stump of Jesse, and from his root a Branch will arise that will “bear fruit.” Jesse, remember, is David’s father.

I think it’s important to recognize this is all happening in the context of God’s judgment and punishment for the sins of his people. The point of God’s revelation in history is that sin, it’s guilt and punishment, must be dealt with, and this Branch referred to here is the one to do it. This is the fundamental purpose of the Messiah, and the Jews completely missed it, instead opting for a political/temporal Messiah.

The rest of chapter 11 is a full on eschatological vision of what he will do. No wonder the Jews of Jesus day preferred to see their Messianic hope in an Isaiah chapter 7 Messiah rather than an Isaiah 53 one. This one kick’s ass and takes names! He is so powerful that even the animals will lie down in peace together. What a vision we get of the one who will make all this happen:

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 disciples got to experience some of this. Jesus was a very different man, only they didn’t fully realize how different until he rose from the dead. It is so interesting that this Branch will “delight in the fear of the Lord.” I see this as another veiled referenced to the Trinity. Even the Spirit of the Lord resting on him is Trinitarian, looking forward to Jesus baptism by John the Baptist. After the eschatological peace the Branch ushers in–“the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”–these words bring us back to the covenant the Lord made with Abram in Genesis 12 and 15:

10 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.

It seems to have been completely missed by the Jews that salvation was always universal in scope. Jesus came not to defeat the Romans, but to save them! At least some of them. Then the text comes back to the present day with predictions about the nations and Israel.

Chapter 12 is a short declaration of praise that will happen “in that day,” which refers to our day, and then ultimately the day when Jesus will return to physically establish the kingdom of God on earth. And out of what does this praise spring forth? God’s anger has turned away, and he “has become my salvation.” No one at the time could have imagined how literal this was, that God himself in the second person of the Trinity would take on himself the wrath due us! Crazy. Even though everything in the OT pointed to this, it still had to be inconceivable to any good Jew raised on the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: the Lour God, the LORD is one.” Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 1:30 that God himself put us in Christ, who has become for us “our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” And our response now, and forever:

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
    and proclaim that his name is exalted.

Amen!

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