Summary: This is #3 in the Jesus in Isaiah series and focuses on Jesus as the Branch of Jesse’s root in Isaiah 11. This shows some of the prophetic signs pointing to Jesus as Messiah.
Jesus: The Branch
SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 11:1-9
(background to ch. 11 and the concept of comparing Jesus to a Branch)
So far we have looked at the introduction to Isaiah including chapter 1 of Isaiah, and we have examined Isaiah’s call by God in Chapter 6. From now on we will look at the many ways Isaiah chooses to describe the Messiah in his prophetic book. The first word picture we will examine is Isaiah’s description of Messiah as a “branch” or “shoot.”
To understand this word picture we first need to understand that the Bible pictures Israel, the nation, with the symbol of a grape vine or an olive tree. Both of these pictures were used throughout the Bible and are still in use today in the nation of Israel. If you visit there sometime keep your eye out for those symbols and you will find them frequently. Why those symbols? Most likely it is because both symbols represent plants that must be tended by a care taker in order to be fruitful. Even though a grape vine can grow wild, the most productive grape vines with the most delicious grapes must have the attention of a vine dresser
Isaiah includes this picture in chapter 5 often called the “Song of the vineyard.” Though we don’t have time to deal with chapter 5 today, I will point out that the message of the parable of the vineyard is that the chosen vine must produce fruit or else it will be cut down. Israel had focused on their privilege and had forgotten their purpose. Therefore, because they were barren as a grape vine, they were about to be cut out and rooted up.
We don’t always know why disaster comes our way, but in the case of Isaiah’s prophecies he goes into detail about the sins of Israel. He explains in some detail why the Assyrians and later on the Babylonians would be used as a tool to root out Israel’s evils. The choice vine in Isaiah 5 is dug up and left to die.
And at any rate, by the end of Isaiah chapter 10 both Israel and Assyria lie on the ground like felled trees, but the promise is given that the tree of Israel will sprout again. The purpose of this word picture is to show that the Messiah will have a small and humble beginning (shoot, branch, rod, root ) like a cutting taken off of a dying plant, but after a humble start he will grow into the mightiest ruler the world has ever known.
The Symbol of the Root, is also found in the New Testament three times :
Rom. 5:12 And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”
Rev. 5:5, Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
The branch is seen as a live sprout (4:2) in Hebrew it is called a “Nehtzer” And in Isaiah 53 we notice the symbol of a “root out of dry ground” At first so humble (Nazarine) Matt. 2:23, but filled with the 7-fold Spirit of the Lord (wisdom, understanding, might, counsel, knowledge etc.)