The Little Sprout That Will, Part 1

Apr 1, 2023 | Articles, by Luke Walker, Marrow Ministries Free Content

Isaiah was called by the Lord and tasked with prophesying, among other things, destruction and woe to his people and also to the nations. When he asked the Lord how long he should do so, the Lord replied, “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away…” (Isaiah 6:11–12). The coming destruction of Jerusalem hovered on the horizon of history with the kingdom of Babylon to come, but in the meantime, Zion would also be assaulted by the mighty empire of the Assyrians. Through Isaiah, however, the Lord assures his people that even this great (and terrifying!) kingdom shall fall by his saving hand. He ends chapter 10 by prophesying its fall. To do so, he compares it to a great cedar of Lebanon: “Behold, the Lord God of hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One” (Isaiah 10:33–34).

In the wake of its destruction, a void shall be left. Assyria will be felled to the ground, but surely another tree, just like it, will rise in its place and continue the oppressive onslaught against Zion. When shall a righteous king arise, who will rule in justice? When will God bring peace to his people and the world? Isaiah’s hearers may feel at this point like the Seer John in his vision when he saw the scroll in the hand of Him who sits upon the throne: “And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it” (Revelation 5:2–4). When the apostle John was in this state of mind, a heavenly elder approached him to offer comfort: “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5–6). When John heard these words, he no doubt wiped away his tears to see this great champion. “A lion!” he thinks to himself. “Surely, he shall roar in his might.” But what he sees is quite different: “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…” (Revelation 5:6).

Even so, as God’s doubting people are directed to their great king—a Tree to rule the nations who will rise up in the place of the mighty kingdoms of evil—they look and behold! A little sprout growing up out of the ground. It is so small, so delicate. But this shoot is the promised Messiah. The tender Branch will grow, and He will rule. He will draw the nations to Himself and fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord. This small shoot is the promised Son of David, Son of Abraham, the Seed of the Woman Himself; His reign shall be glorious indeed. Isaiah spends chapter 11 pondering the coming kingdom of this Christ, the Lord Jesus of Nazareth.

The Messiah is duly qualified for his work. First, by his birth, he is the Son of David: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). What is the stump of Jesse? It is the faltering line of King David, son of Jesse, of Bethlehem. This line, which will appear totally dead after the exile, will spring suddenly to life when it sends forth a new shoot, the Christ. This king will not only come forth, but He will be successful, or as the verse says, He “shall bear fruit.” He will show Himself by His cosmic success to be the true heir of David.

A little sprout growing up out of the ground. It is so small, so delicate. But this shoot is the promised Messiah. Click To Tweet

He is also qualified spiritually. The sevenfold Spirit of God rests upon Him. “And 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 the fear of the Lord.” Let us consider each of these in brief.

The Spirit with which He is anointed is the Spirit of the Lord. God’s own Spirit will mark this coming one and set Him apart, uniquely identifying Him with the Lord. This same Spirit is also the Spirit of wisdom. God’s king shall be wise, like Solomon before Him, though greater. The Spirit of wisdom is also the Spirit of understanding. The Christ shall possess supreme understanding in his rule. The Spirit is also called the Spirit of counsel, for He shall execute the counsel of God, within and without. The Spirit of might He is also called, that the Son of David may be empowered with God’s own strength from heaven and shall rule in the strength of the Lord (Micah 5:4). He is also the Spirit of knowledge, as the Christ will be full of the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of all people. And finally, He is also the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. The Christ will fear God, set Him apart as holy, and do all that He does with respect to God’s glory and splendor alone. He will be the ideal human king who loves and fears God.

His anointing with the Spirit is coupled with his own suitableness to this anointing: He delights in the Spirit of the Lord and all He is and brings to Him. The last of the seven Spirit descriptions is taken up in verse 3, but the reference likely extends to them all. He will delight Himself in the Lord, in wisdom and understanding, in counsel and might, in knowledge and the fear of the Lord. The Hebrew verb translated as “delight” (רוח) signifies the act of smelling. This may picture forth his union with the Spirit of the Lord, for He receives Him and delights in Him even as the sweet smell of a pleasing aroma, or in this case, a fragrant wind or breath. Thus, we see that the Messiah will be both physically and spiritually qualified to reign on the throne of David.

Application

Our first order of business in applying these truths is to worship God for sending us such a great Savior. Our king is supremely qualified for his office, which means, He is meet and able to save us. The Lord has provided Him for us, that we might return to Him. What an unspeakable joy that there is a Christ! Not only so, but we are privileged to live on this side of his coming. Indeed, as the eschatological people of God, we dwell upon the very threshold of eternity, savoring full knowledge of the gospel.

Second, while we consider the physical lineage of the Christ, let us rejoice that sinners like us do not have to meet ethnic requirements to belong to his kingdom. He is of the stump of Jesse—and as such, He shows that God is faithful to his promises—but even we Gentiles have something in common with Jesse, for we are all human. And that is what really counts. Our Savior is the God-Man, who partakes fully of our nature and has become our Elder Brother, born through the lineage of Jesse.

Third, we enjoy the anointing of the Lord’s Spirit along with our King. In Him, the Lord has poured out his Spirit upon us. We have drunk together, partaking in Him through the finished work of Jesus. Let us delight ourselves in the goodness of God to us in his Spirit. Christian doctrine and godliness are ours in Christ, so let us take hold of them and enjoy their sweetness. Wisdom is ours in Jesus, as well as understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. Let us pray that God may stir these graces up in our hearts so that we might grow in our conformity to our King.

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