Summary: The peaceable Kingdom.
A SHOOT FROM THE ROOT
The reference to “the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1) sends us back to the origins of Messiah’s dynasty. Not just to David: but to his father, Jesse. David was the youngest son of Jesse, and probably the last person anybody expected to be anointed king (1 Samuel 16:6-13).
However, with the passage of time the house of David became so decimated as to be left with just a stump. Yet out of this root there would spring a shoot which would grow up into the expected righteous Branch (cf. Jeremiah 23:5). The reference to the coming of the Spirit of the LORD upon “Him” (Isaiah 11:2) points us to Jesus, the Messiah.
This anticipates His baptism, when the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon Him ‘like a dove’ (Luke 3:22). It is also indicative of the opening of His ministry (Luke 4:18-19), in which He took Isaiah 61:1 as the text of His sermon: ‘the Spirit of the LORD is upon me…’
Isaiah 11:2 speaks of the manifestation of “the Spirit of the LORD” in Jesus’ life in several different ways. Of these, wisdom and understanding together touch upon the intellect. Counsel and might pertain to practical ability. Knowledge and the fear of the LORD are gifts of piety.
1. The Spirit of the LORD is the source of all God’s thoughts.
2. The Spirit of Wisdom enables us to think God’s thoughts after Him.
3. The Spirit of Understanding helps us to understand His thoughts.
4. The Spirit of Counsel helps us choose the right course for godliness.
5. The Spirit of Strength empowers us to do God’s will in our lives.
6. The Spirit of Knowledge sees God’s thoughts manifested in our lives.
7. The Spirit of the Fear of the LORD is a reverent walking in His way.
The Syriac reads, “He shall be resplendent in the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:3). The fear of the LORD is the very air that Jesus breathes. There is possibly a play on words between Spirit and breath, which are both the same word in Hebrew. He breathes in the sweet savour of – or takes delight in – the fear of the LORD.
Furthermore, as God (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11), Messiah shall not judge with partiality (cf. John 7:24). He knows what is in the heart of man (John 2:24-25), and nobody will be able to moan, ‘not fair’ at His judgment. “He will judge the poor with righteousness” (Isaiah 11:4; cf. Psalm 72:2) - with justice and impartiality.
A sharp two-edged sword proceeds from His mouth (cf. Revelation 19:15) with which to “smite the earth” (Isaiah 11:4). This is the ‘rod of iron’ with which the Son dashes in pieces those who oppose Him (Psalm 2:9). It is the power of His word to slay, as well as to make alive (cf. Hosea 6:5).
In fact, we see Jesus here girded about with righteousness and truth (Isaiah 11:5). This is perhaps synonymous with the ‘judgment and justice’ upon which Messiah’s kingdom is founded (cf. Isaiah 9:7).
There follows the most wonderful illustration of the peaceable kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 11:6-8). This image has been fixed in the popular imagination as, ‘the lion shall lie down with the lamb’ – although this is slightly inexact. It is a beautiful picture of creation in harmony with itself, a return to Eden, an odyssey into the idyllic. Nothing could be more desirable than an earth in which our children – even our little children - can live in safety!
There are echoes, too, of the holy mountain of the LORD as the place where swords are beaten into ploughshares, and wars are brought to an end (Isaiah 2:4). No more hurt, no more destruction: but rather, through the gospel emanating from Jerusalem, the whole earth becomes “filled with the knowledge of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:9).
All this arises from the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10). His name is Jesus, and He stands as a rallying point for the nations of the earth, the focal point through which we are able to enter into a right relationship with the true and living God. Those who find their rest in Him find peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1), and shall enter into His glory hereafter (cf. John 14:2).