Summary: Isaiah predicts what would happen to the Stump of Jesse before it even was a stump. This is a warning and a comfort to us as we prepare for Christ’s birth.
December 5, 2004 Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him -- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD -- 3 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; 4 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. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. (NIV)
Isaiah’s Stump Speech
I. Dead trees deserve to be cut off into stumps
In the parable of the unfruitful tree, Jesus wanted to demonstrate the patience of God. For three years the tree remained unfruitful, and the owner wanted to cut it down. But the man who took care of the vineyard asked for one more year. Then he said, “if it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.” God is not a tree hugger, but I wouldn’t necessarily call Him a logger either. You can see this in the case of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. In 722 B.C., God “cut down” the Northern Kingdom, by sending in the Assyrian army to wipe them out. Ever since it’s inception by a rebel slave named Jeroboam, this kingdom was unfaithful to God. This was supposed to be a warning to the Southern Kingdom. For a while it had shown some hope. Occasionally it had a faithful king who wanted to reform the people. All of those hopes went smashing down when the evil Ahaz was crowned as king. So Isaiah’s prediction for today said that Jesse’s tree would only be a “stump”. In other words, this reign of kings descended from David would be chopped off, made into firewood, toast.
This would have been hard to believe for Ahaz. Even though he was evil, he reigned during a very prosperous time for Israel. Their economy was good. They didn’t have any nearby enemies to really threaten them. Yet they failed to realize that without God on their side, they had no future. Egypt had no enemies to defeat it, so God used the hail, the water, and the sky to bring down judgment on them. So with the Southern Kingdom, by the time 586 would roll around, God would have enough of this tree. Even though it was about 400 years old, it would be time for God to chop some wood. Zedekiah was the final king of Judah at that time. He saw Jerusalem fall when the Babylonian army broke down the walls of the city and burned the temple. The Babylonians marched Zedekiah’s sons all before him and slaughtered them before his eyes. Right after that, they plucked his eyes out of their sockets, so he would never see again. “King” Zedekiah was then carried off in chains to die in Babylon. The family of David, the royal house of Judah, looked like a hewn down tree with nothing but the stump remaining.
The sad thing about this whole history was that it DIDN’T HAVE to be that way. We could be reviewing the great history of the Israelites - how their kingdom lasted for generations and expanded throughout the Middle East. We could be talking today about how Jesus was born in a royal palace to royalty! But the Israelites - the descendants of David didn’t flip their side of the bill - they didn’t hold their end of the bargain. They wanted to worship other gods. They wanted to produce thorns instead of figs. So Jesus was born of Jesse’s STUMP - poor little old Jesse - just a common farmer.