Isaiah 11

Isaiah 11
by Pastor David Groendyk

In case you haven’t noticed yet, in the daily devotional emails just above the devotional itself, there’s a link to a video summarizing the book of Isaiah. I highly encourage you to take a look at that video. As we near the close of this first section in Isaiah (chapters 1–12), let’s remember the big picture of what Isaiah is teaching: judgment and hope for the nation of Israel. The very center of this section is Isaiah’s big vision of God in chapter 6, which ends with God promising hope in the form of a “holy seed” that will come from the stump of Israel after it is destroyed and judged. The rest of chapters 7–12 describe how that holy seed will come. He will be called ‘Immanuel’ (or, ‘God with us’) (7:14); he will be a stone of stumbling and offense (8:14); he will be a great light who brings joy and peace and an everlasting kingdom (9:2–7); he will bring freedom from oppressive and cruel enemies (chapters 9–10). Chapter 11 now describes the holy seed as a brand new growth from the stump of David’s family and lineage that will have been cut off when Israel is destroyed.

After total destruction and burning, a savior will come from the lineage of Jesse (David’s father) (vv. 1, 10). We’re used to understanding the power and glory of God’s kingdom, but here we have to keep in mind how weak and helpless and lifeless a stump is. The prophecy for Israel includes this point about God’s kingdom looking like it’s dead and gone. But from hopelessness comes hope. Although God’s kingdom looks powerless at times, the reality is always much different. It’s similar to Jesus’ parable where he compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31). God’s reign and rule often look quite unimpressive, but he assures us that he is working, and he reminds us that there is always hope even in the most hopeless of situations.

Verses 2–5 show us how adequate our savior is. He is empowered by the Spirit of God himself. He is filled with true godly wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might. His judgment is based not on appearances, but based on true knowledge that only God himself can have. He alone will do what is right and carry out true justice for his oppressed. And he alone will have the power to carry out this justice and righteousness. As Ralph Davis points out, the downtrodden people of God should see this picture of a savior and think, “How fully this king meets our needs!” There is no deficiency or disappointment in this king. There is nothing that he cannot do for us. In the midst of terrible trials, we should be all the more quick to run to this savior and see his total sufficiency for us.

The result of this just rule is a transformative peace (vv. 6–9). Verses 6–8 are certainly mind-boggling for us, but they are just an illustration of the doctrine taught in verse 9. God’s people will no longer suffer any harm, because the knowledge of God will be everywhere. While at one time Israel would fear their fierce predatory neighboring enemies, the coming of the savior would mean no more fear. Here is one of the greatest benefits of the gospel: security. Our King and Savior is also our Protector, our Shield, and our Shade. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 125:2).

Finally, notice the worldwide gathering of God’s people (vv. 10–16). In Romans 15:12, Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 as he describes his calling to go out to the nations and evangelize them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And Isaiah goes on to describe for us what will happen in the wake of the coming of the savior—God’s people will be rescued and redeemed from nations all around the world. This is a reassurance for those of God’s people who feel forgotten and alone in the midst of a cruel, unbelieving world; it’s also a promise that the gospel will continue to go out into hostile nations until all of God’s people are brought in. The kingdom of God at this time might look quite small (vv. 1, 10), but it will not end that way when Judgment Day comes.

What stands out to you about Christ’s reign, rule, and ministry in this chapter? Are you mindful of the fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ needs to go out to people who have never heard it before? How are you working towards that end?