The Branch

An interlude of radiant hope.

Prophecies against Israel: Isaiah 7-12 (5)

Pray Psalm 80.14-18.
Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine
And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.

Read Isaiah 11.

Reflect.
1. How can you see that this prophecy of the coming Branch embraces two long-term stages of fulfillment?

2. How would you summarize the conditions that result from the coming of the Branch.

Meditate.
In this chapter, Isaiah pulls out the stops to project a vision of hope for the future. Israel is about to be carried away into captivity. Assyria will plunder most of Judah and only be stopped at the very gates of Jerusalem. Following a season of peace and renewal, worse will ensue, as the Babylonians will destroy the city and temple of God and carry the people away into captivity. 

No wonder people didn’t want to hear Isaiah’s preaching. Did he have anything positive to say?

As it turns out, yes, he did. But not for the short-term. Chapter 11 presents a long-term scenario of hope, salvation, blessing, and peace which unfolds in two stages. The key to each stage’s glorious hope is the coming of the Branch. 

The Hebrew word for Branch (v. 1) is נֵ֖צֶרnetser, and it is the presumed root of the word, Nazareth. Hence, Matthew’s association of Jesus’ hometown to this ancient prophecy (Matt. 2.23). When the Branch comes, He will be filled with the sevenfold Spirit of God (cf. Rev. 4.5). He comes to perform the will of God in righteousness, judgment, equity, and faithfulness (vv. 3-5). The result of His coming will be peace (vv. 6-8), like the peace that obtained in the garden of Eden prior to the fall of Adam and Eve. God’s holy mountain – which will be chief of all the mountains of earth (Is. 2.1-4) – will be a place of safety, from which the knowledge of the glory of the Lord goes forth to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (v. 9).

The Root of Jesse, Who is the Branch, will raise a banner for all the nations, the banner of the Lord’s salvation, and He will call forth His remnant from every nation on earth (vv. 10-15). Even the Gentiles will seek Him and the rest He offers (v. 10).

And a Highway (Jn. 14.6) will be established on earth by which all the remnant of God’s people shall come out of whatever has held them captive in darkness and sin, to find rest in the promises and Kingdom of the Branch.

It’s not too hard to see here the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and both the first flourishing of His Kingdom – in the last days – and the full and final flourishing of it in that time when “His resting place shall be glorious.”

These were words the faithful of Isaiah’s day would cling to in hope, just as we should in our day.

Prepare.
1. How can you see that this prophecy speaks of the last days, the times in which we live?

2. How can you see that it points forward to days of greater peace and rejoicing beyond these last days? 

3. These words were meant to give hope to the faithful remnant of Jerusalem, to sustain them through the seasons of trial to come. It should do the same for us. But how? 

The prophet Isaiah bears witness that our Redeemer had to be conceived in Nazareth when he says, “A nazareuswill ascend from his root.” The term nazareushas the meaning of “flower” or “clean.” The Son of God made incarnate for us can properly be named by this term, both because he adopted the nature of a human being clean from all vices and because in him the font and origin of spiritual fruits came forth for all believers, since to them he both pointed out examples and granted the fruits of living properly and blessedly. The Venerable Bede (672-735 AD), Homilies on the Gospels 1.6

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for calling me to Yourself, for making a Way for me to the Father, and for…

Pray Psalm 80.

Pray for revival, letting this psalm guide you to seek the renewing of that vinewhich has grown from the Branch that is Jesus.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 80 (St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
O God of grace, restore us, and shine on us Your face!
O save us, Lord, work for us; renew us by Your grace!
Give ear, O gracious Savior, Who leads us as Your flock:
Stir up Your pow’r and favor, our King and Lord and Rock!

How long will You ignore all Your people’s fervent prayer?
Shall bitter tears fall ever? O Lord, renew Your care!
Our neighbors mock and scorn us, they laugh at our distress;
Renew, O Lord, and turn us, look down on us and bless!

You set us free from sin, Lord, and planted us in grace;
We rooted in Your strong Word have spread from place to place.
Our shadow covered mountains, our branches reached the sea;
Your grace flowed like a fountain of life, abundantly.

Now You in wrath have spoken and bruised Your chosen vine.
We languish, Lord, are broken by wrath, deserved, divine.
Once more, Lord, hear our pleading: return and heal this vine!
Look down on us, so needy, and show Your love divine!

Though we be burned and perish because of Your command,
Revive us, Lord, and cherish this son of Your right hand.
Then let us not return to our sinful, selfish ways,
But call on You and learn to surround You with our praise.

T. M. Moore

Where do the prophets fit with the rest of Scripture? How can I be a better student of God’s Word? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you gain a better approach to and understanding of the Scriptures. Watch this brief preview video, then register at The Ailbe Seminary and enroll in this free online course.

Forward today’s lesson to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on Isaiah. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link for the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Isaiah’s important message.


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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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