Summary: We all await a better day.
The Great Restoration: An Exposition of Isaiah 11
In desperate times, people look for a reason to have hope. Without hope, all is gloom and despair. The troubles we suffer from are often of our own making. There are those who trouble us also. And, all too often, we cause others much trouble. We are always looking in the wrong places to find the answer to our general unhappiness. We try “self-help” books. We listen to the sages of our time like Oprah and Dr. Phil for advice. We hope someone can actually make a “happy pill” without side effects. We head to counselors and psychiatrists for remedies. We think more government will make us happy. We have been trying these cures for generations. None of them work. One should have read Ecclesiastes and realize that all of these things have been tried before. The mad preacher’s conclusion was that all of this was “vanity and vexation of Spirit. Finally, in our desperation, we pick up an old dusty book called the Bible and start to read. After all, so many of our ancestors were uplifted by its words. They seemed to have been able to deal with the stresses which vex us so. What does this book say that can give us reason to hope.
We look to the eleventh chapter of Isaiah to start out search for healing. This isn’t the only place we can find comfort to be sure, but we must start somewhere. The prophet Isaiah lived a long time ago. But the world he lived in was troubled, just as ours is today. Isaiah saw the decay of his nation. He saw the Northern Kingdom go into captivity in 721 BC. Things were a little better for Judah, but corruption was rampant. The seeds of destruction and exile were already being planted. God raised Isaiah up as a prophet to warn Judah to put away its sin, or else.
When King Uzziah died, God gave Isaiah a magnificent vision which is recorded in the sixth chapter. Uzziah had reigned for a long time, 52 years, which was considerably longer than the average lifespan in that day. Few could remember a day that Uzziah was not king. Uzziah had generally been a good king but got leprosy when he tried to usurp the Priests sole right to offer incense. But Judah was starting to slumber under the status-quo. The LORD told Isaiah when he was commissioned that they would be dull of both hearing and perception. They desperately needed to be awakened. Uzziah’s son, Jotham was generally a good king, but then came Ahaz who was one of the most wicked kings Judah ever had. He brought Judah to near ruin. The LORD brought his enemies from the Northern Kingdom and Syria to oppress Judah. Things got quite desperate, and Isaiah was sent to give hope. But Ahaz wanted no advice or sign. The LORD gave him a sign. A woman known to Ahaz would have a son, and before the son was weaned, both the kings which oppressed Judah would be dead.
However, God was speaking past Ahaz. Ahaz would never be the king God wanted. Even the good kings of Isaiah’s day, Uzziah, Jotham and Hezekiah had character flaws. They would never rise to the ideals God had for a king who would follow David, no more than Solomon. Even though there was an immediate fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy for Ahaz, God was thinking that He Himself would need to come down and become king. Only this King would be truly after God’s own heart. So there would also be a day in which Immanuel would be born to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judaea. A perfect King would make His kingdom perfect as well. Then there would be peace in Jerusalem.
Isaiah tells us a little more about this King in Isaiah 9. This coming King would not come down in kingly power, but be born as a child among us. He would be God’s gift to us, Himself. His birth would start the process of the great restoration of things. His name would be “wonderful counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” The government would rest upon God’s shoulder. The people had originally wanted Saul to be king. Samuel was told that this is because they had rejected the kingship of Yahweh. This is why Israel was always falling into trouble. No one can reject the rule of God and ultimately prosper.
Here in the eleventh chapter, we learn a little more about this coming king. It say sthat “A rod will come out from the stem of Jesse.” The use of “rod” rather than shoot or branch is interesting. But the rod was the shepherd’s staff which was carried to guide and correct the sheep. In another sense, it is a scepter representing the king’s rightful authority and rule. He would have the true Divine right of kingship. One can also see here the picture of the stump of a cut-down tree. This is prophetic of the end of the rulers of Judah and the carrying of the nation into captivity. A dead tree seems to have no hope of recovery. But the tree was not dead. God would raise up a new shoot from the dead stump.