from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 28

Isaiah 11; 12: The Rod Out of Jesse

Historical Study


Isaiah probably began to prophesy in the year that Uzziah died, about 740 B.C. (6:1) Jotham followed Uzziah as King of Judah. We may take chapters 1-6 as referring to the times of Jotham. Ahaz was the successor of Jotham. Chapters 7 and 8 undoubtedly belong to the reign of Ahaz. They tell us how Isaiah pronounced a judgment upon Ahaz and the house of Judah for not trusting in the Lord to free them from the hands of Rezin, king of Syria and Pekah, king of Israel. Rezin and Pekah endeavored to dethrone Ahaz. (7:6) Isaiah pled with Ahaz not to fear them: their kingdoms would soon be destroyed. Ahaz, contrary to the counsel of Isaiah, sought help from Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria. Isaiah declared that the consequences of this action would be fatal to the house of Judah. This took place about 734 B.C., when Pekah and Rezin invaded Judah. Ahaz's appeal to Tiglath-pileser resulted in the destruction of Damascus by the Assyrians in 732 B.C. (2 Kings 16) As yet, Judah is untouched, nor has the spoil of Samaria been taken away before the king of Assyria. (8:4) But ten years later, in 722 B.C., Samaria fell before the Assyrians, and the northern country was depopulated.

In the tenth chapter, Isaiah shows that Assyria is only an instrument in the Lord's hand, "the rod of Mine anger" (10:5), unable to do anything unless the power to act be given from the Lord. (10:15) Assyria has been the means of punishing Israel. That punishment is needed for its ultimate good. "A remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God." (10:21) Judah is greatly disturbed now by the violent action of Assyria towards Israel. Isaiah counsels Judah not to be afraid. (10:24) Assyria will yet be punished for its cruelty. (10:25-27) It dare not presume to touch Judah. The prophet pictures the Assyrians hastening through the land of Judah and menacing the holy city. (10:28-32) But the Lord will not permit Assyria to violate Jerusalem. He shall judge the Assyrians. "He shall lop the bough with terror . . . he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall mightily." (10:33-34) The stout trees of Lebanon shall be cut down, never to rise again. But "out of the stem or trunk of Jesse shall come forth a rod, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." (11:1) Note the connection between the chapters. What a wonderful prophecy! The Assyrian is an instrument in the hands of providence. He shall bring suffering upon the Lord's people. But when he has served this purpose, he shall perish; and from the remnant of the nation that has been chastised shall spring forth One who shall bring peace upon earth, and restore Israel to its rightful place. (Isa. 11) Then shall Israel raise his song of thanksgiving "as in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt." (Isa. 12) This is the climax, and brings this portion of the prophecy to a close.

The stem and roots of Jesse are identical with the very small remnant (1:9), the stump (or substance A. V. 6:13), and remnant (10:20 and elsewhere in Isa.). This doctrine of the remnant merits special attention. It is worth noting also that Isaiah had two sons. One was called Maher-shalal-hash-baz which means speed-spoil-hasten-prey, and has reference to the Assyrian king spoiling Samaria. (8:1-4) The other child was named Shear-jashub, which means "a remnant shall return." (7:3) This remnant or stump is frequently spoken of in chapters 1-39; and chapters 40-66 speak of that remnant having returned to restore the waste places in the land, and of the stem and branch which grew out of its roots - the Lord Himself.

The idea of the promised deliverer of His chosen people is first indicated in Gen. 3:13. It is again signified in the life of Joseph. (Gen. 43:3) It appears again in the work of Moses, Joshua, and the judges who were each sent by the Lord to rescue the people from their enemies. It becomes clearer in the promise made to David through the prophet Nathan. (2 Sam. 7:4-17) It rings forth from the last words of King David. (2 Sam. 23) And it is uttered with the greatest power by the prophet Isaiah at a time when the hopes of Judah were at their lowest, under the government of one of the most unworthy members of the house of David. Doubtless Isaiah, and the Jewish people too, only expected the advent of an earthly King who would release them from earthly enemies, a king like David. Since the fulfillment of the prophecy in our Lord, we know that His "kingdom is not of this world," and that the enemies are "the foes of man's own household."

Spiritual Study


Assyria, the instrument in the Lord's hand, almost completely destroys the house of Israel. Assyria signifies false reasoning. (A. 1186, and on) Specious reasons are always at hand to excuse the wayward tendencies of the human heart. Our ruling evil love always works up to its highest pitch. As it approaches its worst, the reasons for clinging to it, and thus excusing it, become more subtle and specious, and threaten the destruction of the spiritual person, "the house of Israel." But the persistent effort to repudiate them, and to control the expression of the evil love in action leads to a new birth in the soul, or the promise of that new birth. Adherence to what we have been taught as right - drawn from the Ten Commandments - constitutes the "trunk and roots of Jesse." It is "the holy seed which is the stump," or "truth." (Isa. 6:13) From this root and stump springs forth a stem or branch which is to bring salvation and peace on earth. Without this basal remnant, no salvation to the individual or the race is possible. With it, all things are possible to humanity through the Lord.

The rod and branch primarily refer to the Lord. (11:1) His spirit is filled with wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and might (verse 2). "He will judge from Divine wisdom (verse 3), save the faithful and destroy the unfaithful." (Verse 4; P. P.) Divine love and wisdom will act conjointly in Him (verse 5). With His presence established within, we have nothing to fear from evil because He will defend us from it (verses 6-9). The lamb, kid, and calf describe respectively the three degrees of innocence or trustfulness. Their opposites from which we have nothing to fear are typified by the wolf, leopard, and young lion. (F. 314) Neither can we be hurt by the poison of deceit and hypocrisy. (8; A. 9013; E. 410) The knowledge of the Lord (verse 9) means more than mere knowledge in the memory; it is the knowledge born of experience. This life of the Lord in the centre in the church shall then spread outwards to the nations (verses 10-12). This passage identifies the Gentiles with "the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah." All good that lies hidden beneath the self-life shall be restored and brought home. Then the understanding of the Word will agree with the heavenly love in the heart (verse 13). And all false reasoning shall be rejected and cast off (verses 14-15; E. 433). There will be ample opportunity for all good that has been stored up in the heart to come forth and influence the life (verse 16). It is impossible then to refrain from breaking forth into a joyful song of praise. (Isa. 12)

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