In the first half of Isaiah, the prophet is warning the nation that Israel will be destroyed by the empire of Assyria. He says that God is using Assyria like an axe to chop down the tree of Israel. Because of their perpetual sin, God removed the wall of His protection from them and allowed the beastly hordes from the north to swoop in and devour His vineyard, to cut down His beautiful vine, leaving behind only a stump of wood sticking out of the mud.
This act of devastation must have broken the heart of God. From a human perspective, it paints a bleak and desperate portrait of Yahweh. When we observe a lifeless stump protruding from the ground it does not elicit great feelings of hope. On the contrary, this vision could leave us in the mindset of Ecclesiastes, asking the question, “what is the purpose behind this? Where is the meaning?”
Then we see chapter 11 and a renewed sense of hope floods new light on the picture. There, just below the violent hack marks of the axe, a fresh, green sprig of a branch begins to emerge. From the aftermath of death and destruction, new life is given birth.
Read v. 1. Jesse was King David’s father, so the “stump of Jesse” represents the remnant of Israel that is left after God has destroyed it with Assyria.
This passage is one of many in Isaiah that is called a “Messianic” passage. Messianic means that it refers to the coming Messiah (or anointed one) of God who would be the greatest King the world had ever seen. We believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of these Messianic passages. We will look more closely at these passages next week.
As you read over your descriptions of the Messiah and the Messiah’s Kingdom, how does it make you feel to know that Jesus is that person?