December 15, 2023
Picture: The Branch or Root of Jesse
Isaiah 11:1-5; Romans 15:7-9, 12
As Isaiah stood before King Ahaz, he was looking at a compromised king. Assyria was pressing the region, their bloodthirsty army devouring anything that stood in their path. Perhaps Ahaz reasoned that in a different time and place the united tribes of Israel could stand, but they had been fractured for generations. Though they were family, his nation Judah had icy relations with the Northern kingdom Israel marked by border skirmishes and competition. Ahaz believed he had only one choice. He would make a treaty with Assyria. He thought that when history was written he would be on the winning side even if he would not be the victor. As Isaiah the prophet saw this unfolding, he issued a warning. Eventually Judah would cower before Assyria. Israel’s sin had caught up to them and God would judge them through Assyria. This would be painful, but in the middle of the pronounced judgement, God through Isaiah paints a picture of a new ruler who would be unmatched by any before.
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.
Isaiah 11:1-5 (NKJV)
Judah’s leadership had been either a blessing or a bane depending on who wore the crown, but there had been no king more beloved than the warrior poet and son of Jesse, David. Isaiah scrawls across the horizon of a history a blinding light of hope that once again a descendant of Jesse will rise to the throne. He will rule with righteousness the people of God. This branch that will grow out of Jesse’s lineage is Jesus Christ. While this message is for Judah and the sons of Abraham, the branch of Jesse will be a source of strength to all nations.
Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
Romans 15:7-9,12 (NKJV)
Jesus represents a new king. Born of the Jews, but a Savior of the world. As we gaze into Bethlehem and watch captivated shepherds gather around this child, we must also see His destiny. One day He will sit on His throne and at the name of Jesus the branch of Jesse people from every tribe, nation, and language will bow before him and worship Him (Philippians 2:10-11).