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It is written:
Acts 10:43-To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
The birth of Jesus Christ into this world was spoken of throughout several texts of the Old Testament. These texts often began with the birth of Jesus and proceeded to discuss His work in the world of man. One of the most powerful is in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah.
Let’s notice from this passage three great achievements that the birth of the Messiah would accomplish.
The Salvation Of The Messiah
Isaiah 11:1-5-There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3 His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
The idea of the Messiah being the “Branch” has reference to the idea that He would be the Bringer of Divine salvation and resurrection.
“However, another medieval Jewish sage, David Kimchi (Radak) took the messianic interpretation, following the most ancient sources, such as Targum Jonathan (see below), saying the day described is when “the Messiah, son of David, will arrive.” Additionally, the sages employed the messianic term ṣemaḥ to the concept of resurrection and salvation (acts envisioned for the Messiah in the end of days) in the daily prayer: “You are a king who causes death and resurrects, and you make salvation sprout forth (ṣemaḥ). Blessed are you LORD, who resurrects the dead” (Amidah 2)…Although the nominal use of the term ṣemaḥ is the first usage in the biblical text, the use of the noun appears in a third-century BC Phoenician document from Cyprus with reference to a legitimate royal heir. While this foreign usage may not have influenced Isaiah’s terminology, it demonstrates, as Smith observes, “that this imagery was an appropriate term to represent the appearance of a new king in the ancient Near Eastern world.” 2 The verbal use, in a messianic context, occurred some 300 years earlier. However, the verbal use of the root ṣmḥ appears in the record of King David’s last words in 2Sm 23: 5: “Will He [God] not make spring forth (Hb. yaṣmîaḥ) my salvation?” (author’s translation). This statement is like that concerning David (probably written by Solomon) 3 in Ps 132: 17 (NASB): “There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth (‘ aṣmîaḥ); I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed (mešîḥî).” It seems that the psalmist understood David having connected the concept of “springing forth” with the coming of the Messiah from the line of David.” (J. Randall Price, “The Branch Of The Lord In The Messianic Age,” in Michael Rydelnik & Edwin Blum, The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, 803-804 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, IL; Moody Publishers)
A branch provides life, support, and strength to fruit and vegetation. In the same ways, the coming Messiah would provide life, support, and strength to His people. The prophecy of Isaiah looks forward to a time when the Lord would provide all of these things through His Messiah coming into the world.
There is also here the promise that the Messiah would be connected with resurrection from the dead. Isn’t it amazing how the Bible in so many ways links the birth of the Messiah with His death?
Luke 2:8-12-Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
The Bible teaches that the Baby Jesus would be found by the shepherds wrapped in swaddling clothes. This would be a “sign” for them. The word “sign” here carried with it the idea of something which was an indicator of something else, and which meant that there was a deeper meaning involved.
“Next, we must ask, What is so significant about the location in which they found Jesus? When it was time for one of their flock to give birth, the shepherds would bring the sheep into one of the caves surrounding Bethlehem that were used for this purpose. These birthing caves were kept in a state of ritual purity since these lambs were destined to be used as sacrifices in the temple. In fact, many of the male lambs born around Bethlehem would be used for the Passover. 1 Since there was no room in the local inn, Mary and Joseph used one of these caves around Bethlehem. Messiah was not born in a stable behind some Econo Lodge or Motel Six. He was born in one of the many caves used for birthing these sacrificial lambs, because He Himself would be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb. Not only would the location of Jesus’ birth be significant to these shepherds, but so would the fact that Jesus was swaddled in cloths. These shepherds were responsible for making sure that the new-born lambs did not contract defects, for only animals without spot or blemish could be used as a sacrifice in the temple. Baby lambs are very clumsy when they are born, so many scholars believe that these shepherds would swaddle their newborn lambs in order to prevent these future sacrificial lambs from becoming blemished by injuring themselves on jagged parts of the cave. Another key aspect of swaddling in ancient Israel was “salting” a new-born. After Jesus was born, Joseph would have washed and scrubbed Him with salt water. Practically, the salt killed any bacteria found on an infant’s body. But there is a lot of spiritual symbolism in this act as well. Salt was symbolic of friendship and loyalty in the ancient world; it was a sign of covenant, as in the phrase “a covenant of salt” (2 Chronicles 13: 5; Leviticus 2: 13; Numbers 18: 19). A common expression to denote friendship in Middle Eastern culture is, “There is salt between us.” A salt covenant is used to denote the eternal covenant of friendship and kingship that God made with David and his heirs: “Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” (2 Chronicles 13: 5). Jesus was not only born in Bethlehem, which is the city of David, but He was also the promised Son of David, the Messiah and King who came to fulfill the Davidic covenant—God’s promise that one of David’s descendants would live on the throne forever—and to establish the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah: “‘ The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah’” (31: 31). Salt was also an indispensable part of every sacrifice offered in the temple, as we read in Leviticus: “You are to season with salt every sacrifice of your grain offering. You are never to allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your sacrifices you must offer salt” (2: 13 TLV). Not only was Messiah born in the same location as the temple offering, but He was also washed in salt as part of the swaddling process, which points to His future sacrifice as the Passover Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world and inaugurate the new covenant (Jeremiah 31: 31).” (Kathie Lee Gifford, The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: My Journey into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began, 35-37 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: W. Publishing)
Isaiah refers to seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit working in the life of the Messiah. This likely is where the expression the the “seven Spirits” for the Holy Spirit in Revelation is based upon (Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
“Although some have taken this to refer to seven created angels, it is more likely that John uses the expression in order to symbolize the plenitude and power of the Holy Spirit. The idea seems to arise from Isaiah 11: 2 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) where seven designations of the spirit of the Lord are mentioned: “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and godliness, the spirit of the fear of God.”” (Bruce M. Metzger, Breaking the Code – Participant’s Book: Understanding the Book of Revelation, 23 (Kindle Edition); Nashville,TN: Abington Press)
The Spirit would bring the Messiah “wisdom and understanding…counsel and might….knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Reference here is especially to the amazing doctrine that the Messiah would bring into the world.
John 3:34-For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
John 6:63-It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
Throughout the ages, people have pointed out that the teaching of Jesus provides amazing healing for the soul and abundant life.
“For a specific illustration, I believe the following to be true: If you were to take the sum total of all the authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene—if you were to combine them, and refine them, and cleave out the excess verbage—if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly two thousand years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. And it might almost as well have been holding a slab of Egyptian hieroglyphics before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. Here, and in other great religious teachings of the world, rests the blueprint for successful human life, with optimum mental health and contentment. But there are, unfortunately, many self-avowed atheists and many agnostics who refuse to listen.” (Dr. James T. Fisher and Lowell S. Hawley, A Few Buttons Missing: The Case Book of a Psychiatrist, 3267-3275 (Kindle Edition); Muriwai Books)
“Jesus understood people. We know this because he is the most influential person in all of history. Entire cultures have been shaped, and countless individual lives transformed, as a result of his three-year itinerant ministry two thousand years ago. As a psychologist, I am fascinated with the question of why his teachings were so powerful. After years of study, I have found that a psychological understanding of the teachings of Jesus helps us see why his words had such an impact upon his followers. Using our best psychological theories today, I believe we can see how Jesus’s psychologically brilliant grasp of people made them want to listen to him….My study of contemporary psychoanalytic theories has allowed me to understand the teachings of Jesus in a different light that has enriched my life and the lives of my patients. Rather than finding the teachings of Jesus contradicted by these new psychological developments, I have found them illuminated as profound psychological insights that I had not understood before….I believe a number of spiritual principles in the teachings of Jesus can benefit us in our attempts to live psychologically healthy lives. I will be giving examples of how these spiritual principles apply to the lives of people today. The examples I use have been taken from the lives of people I have worked with, known, or read about.” (Mark W.Baker, Jesus, the Greatest Therapist Who Ever Lived, 242-284 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY; HarperCollins Publishers Inc.)
Josh and Sean McDowell document:
“A student at a California university told me that his psychology professor had said in class that “all he has to do is pick up the Bible and read portions of Christ’s teaching to many of his patients. That’s all the counseling they need.”” (Josh & Sean McDowell, More Than a Carpenter, 550-553 (Kindle Edition); Carol Stream, IL; Tyndale House Publishers)
The text emphasizes the “fear of the LORD” that the Messiah would bring. This phrase carries with it the idea that the Messiah would teach people about the grace and majesty of the Lord. The “fear of the Lord” is often tied in the Old Testament with obedience to Him and love for Him.
Deuteronomy 10:12-And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Psalm 25:14-The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.
Psalm 33:18-Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,
The Messiah would bring salvation to the world through the fear of the Lord-mercy on those who repent, and judgment on those who refuse and rebel.
The Transformation Of The Messiah
Isaiah 11:6-10-“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. 10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.”
The text here describes both Jews and Gentiles as animals that were at war, but are now (in the age of the Messiah) at peace together in His kingdom.
How do we know that this is the proper interpretation of the passage?
“The Bible is replete with instances where dispositions of animals are used to refer to people whose natures were like those of the animals mentioned. Jesus used sheep and goats to indicate the saved and the unsaved (Matt. 25: 33). He called Herod a fox (Luke 13: 32). He called the scribes and Pharisees serpents and a generation of vipers (Matt. 23: 33). Jesus also told the seventy that He was sending them out as “lambs among wolves” (Luke 10: 3). This is so nearly identical to Isaiah’s reference to the wolf and the lamb (Isa. 11: 6) that Jesus may have had the prophecy of Isaiah in mind when He said these words…A more likely explanation is that the animals mentioned in verses 6-9 are illustrative of men’s natures which are changed through the power of God. The lion natured man loses his aggressiveness and become docile as a Christian. The wolf-like man becomes gentle. Even in our day the expression “wolf-whistle” refers to a man of lustful disposition who seeks to attract women through the medium of sound. But if that man gets truly converted, you could trust him with your daughter. Therefore, these verses have reference to the gospel age as do the earlier verses of this chapter.” (Everett I. Carver, When Jesus Comes Again, 2483-2517, Kindle Edition); Prestonsburg, KY: Reformation Publishers)
More to the point, the Apostle Paul quotes this chapter in Romans and shows that it is about the Jews and Gentiles learning peace in the church.
Isaiah 11:10-And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.”
Romans 15:12-And again, Isaiah says: “THERE SHALL BE A ROOT OF JESSE; AND HE WHO SHALL RISE TO REIGN OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM THE GENTILES SHALL HOPE.”
The transformation of the Messiah in His people is not an overnight change. Rather, it is a work which takes time. These facts remind us that the transformation that God brings forth in HIs people during the Christian Age is very important. It begins with the brith of the Messiah-and proceeds through the entire Christian Age.
The Confirmation Of The Messiah
Isaiah 11:11-It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. 12 He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. 13 Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart, And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, And Judah shall not harass Ephraim. 14 But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west; Together they shall plunder the people of the East; They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab; And the people of Ammon shall obey them. 15 The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dryshod. 16 There will be a highway for the remnant of His people Who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
Another proof of the Messiah is here provided for us. God will one day deliver HIs people is seen in the second gathering of His people.
Notice a few facts.
First, throughout Isaiah, the phrase “My people” almost always has reference to the Jewish people (cf. Isaiah 1:3; 3:12, 15; 5:13; 10:2, 24; 32:18; 40:1; 43:20; 47:6; 51:4, 7, 16; 52:4, 5, 6; 53:8; 57:14; 58:1; 65:10, 19).
Second, observe that the “second” time the people are gathered is sometime during the Christian Age when Messiah is reigning and the Gentiles are seeking God. The text makes this clear ins several ways (the reference to the “Branch” Who the Jews identified as the Messiah, the promise that salvation would be extended to the Gentiles through the Messiah, etc.).
Further, Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 and says without doubt that this is talking about the Christian Age (Romans 15:12). So this prophecy was to be fulfilled after the Old Testament period, and yet before the Second Coming.
Third, the Jewish people (set in contrast to Gentiles in this passage and identified as such throughout the Book of Isaiah) would somehow be gathered together back to the land of Israel again. We are specifically told in Isaiah 11:16 that this gathering the “second time” was in contrast to the first gathering when the Lord delivered the Jewish people out of Egyptian captivity.
So the Prophet Isaiah declared that at some point during the Christian Age, the Jewish people would be gathered together again by the Act of God to the land of Israel.
“The following prophecies deal with the return from all nations–the second return–so we know the fulfillments occur sometime after AD 1948. British Ships First to Bring the Jewish People Home The prophets predicted the second return would begin with Great Britain bringing the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland by ship. This took place during the first half of the twentieth century. The ancient name of England/ Great Britain was Tarshish. She is also mentioned in the prophecy of the Gog-Magog invasion. “Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; and the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God” Isaiah 60: 9 The Ottoman Empire (Muslim Turkey) ruled over the Holy Land from AD 1290 to AD 1918. After Germany started WWI, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on Germany’s side. General Edmund Allenby (pictured to the right) was assigned commander in chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1917. He led an offensive against the Turkish armies in the Middle East, capturing Jerusalem without firing a shot on December 10, 1917. Allenby refused to ride horseback into the conquered city because Jesus had entered it that way. His crowning victory was at Megiddo (also called Armageddon) in September 1918. When Germany lost the war, the Ottoman Empire was divided into smaller states. In 1920 the Mandate over Palestine (both sides of the Jordan River) was given to England by the allied Council. Britain took control of the territory that was the Ottoman Empire, dividing it into small states. Iraq became independent in 1932, and Kuwait in 1961. The remaining territory was to be split in two. Jordan was artificially created by Britain in 1920 to be a homeland for Palestinians; and the ancient land of Israel was to be restored to the Jews. On November 2, 1917, Lord James Balfour (pictured to the left), Foreign Secretary of the British government, wrote to Lord Rothschild, chairman of the British Zionist Federation, stating: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a home for the Jewish people. And will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object. It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.” This document became known as “The Balfour Declaration.” In 1922 the British mandate over Palestine was ratified by the new League of Nations. England then divided Palestine (46,049 sq. miles) at the Jordan River. The eastern part was named Transjordan (77% of the land). It was created to be a Palestinian Arab state. The western part retained the name of Palestine (23% of the land). It was created to be a homeland for the Jewish people. In AD 1939-1945 Hitler, in his final solution to the world’s problems, tried to destroy the Jewish people. By the end of the war over 6,000,000 Jews were dead. At the end of WWII Britain relinquished the mandate to the United Nations. Within three years the United Nations made a proclamation recognizing the modern state of Israel. Many prophecies were fulfilled on that single day. Jewish People Return as One Nation, Not Two “Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘you are the sons of the living God.’ And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.” Hosea 1: 10-11 Israel Born In a Single Day When the United Nations made the decree, the nation of Israel, which did not exist a moment before, became a sovereign nation. “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.” Isaiah 66: 8” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Prophecies Revealed: 500 Prophecies Listed In Order Of When They Were Fulfilled, 199-202 (Kindle Edition)
The birth of the Messiah into the world has brought all of these things about.
Will you not today turn your life to the Son of God and be saved (Acts 2:37-47; 1 John 1:9)?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.