Oh, how I love this chapter of Isaiah. Actually I love the whole book, especially since going through Ray Ortlund’s fantastic “Isaiah, God saves sinners“.
The book kicks off concerned with the fate of the Southern two tribes between 740 and 700BC. Assyria is huffing and puffing, threatening Jerusalem. In chapter 10:15 Assyria boasts of trashing Israel’s borders, plundering their treasures and bringing down those on the throne. Ten verses before, the Lord reveals that he will use Assyria to judge Israel – it’s part of His plan. And afterwards God willjudge Assyria too using the metaphor of an axe v15 and chopping down the forests v33-34. So we start today’s reading in chapter 11:1 with a shoot coming forth from a stump – the stump of Jesse. The father of David was Jesse. Isaiah is prophecying the fulfillment of 2 Sam7 – a son of David – a branch or shoot that will have a never ending kingdom.
Typically with Old Testament prophecy there is no indication that between 10:34 and 11:1 there might be 700 years or even 2700 years. It’s what I call prophetic telescoping. Where Old Testament prophecy is like a range of mountains. Viewed from the ground two mountains look side by side. When viewed from above, one can see they are thousands of miles behind each other. Two prophecies’ verses apart can be thousands of years apart in fulfilment. Thankfully, we have the benefit of all the Old Testament prophets, the New Testament and a thousands of years to see that! I chuckle at what John Piper wrote of our fear of studying Old Testament prophecy
Many in my generation of evangelicals have held dispensational eschatological chart-drawing in such derision that we have been virtually paralyzed in our study of prophecy. For two generations, perhaps, we have failed to study prophecy with anything like the rigor that it deserves. We have been so afraid of being viewed as one of those Zionist, right-wing, antichrist-sniffing, culture-denying, alarmist left-overs from the Scofield, prophecy conference era that we give hardly any energy to putting the prophetic pieces together — at least not in public….
And my exhortation is: Go for it! But in the process don’t lose any of the real gains of the last 60 years — like the chastening of our abilities to predict the end, and the full-blooded engagement with the challenges of this present day. If anything is clear from the prophets, it is that their prophecies were meant to empower present, God-centered righteousness and sacrifice for the relief of all suffering, and we know now, especially, eternal suffering.
This glorious chapter of Scripture has four sections.
1) Verses 1-5 describe the Son of David and how He will rule over His kingdom. It will be by the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of the Lord. It will be a just kingdom. With the silly situation of Dominic Cummings behaviour in our nation and the infinitely more serious murder of George Floyd by a policman in the US, oh how we nust justice and righteousness and equity for the meek.
2) Verses 6-9 tell of the peace of the Kingdom of God. An kingdom on earth with animals – no hunting or destructive forces because the knowledge of God is fully known. When is it? Parts of this are repeated in 65:25f which is the climax of a paragraph about the new Heaven and earth. So we are reading a description of the new heavens and the new earth when we read of the wolf and the lamb grazing together and the child playing on the hole of the cobra. But what about 65:20 – where that child that played with the cobra grows up and dies at an old age? So here we have the new earth described as a place where animals don’t kill each other, and where children don’t die in infancy. Instead they live a long life, full of the knowledge of the Lord and then at least some of them die in very old age. And mingled with them are sinners who also live long lives, and then are cursed (65:20). What do we make of that? It could be treated as a metaphor, but a metaphor of 100years and then dying meaning no death is a little stretched! The answer might be that 65:17 says “I am creating…” so we find the Kingdom is an ever growingthing, starting with the first coming and ever growing until the second coming.
3) Verse 10 tells of the nations coming in! we long for more of one new man in Christ where black and white, old and young, rich and poor grasp our unity in Christ. Where Jesus of Rev 5 gets to see the adoration of the nations.
4) Finally in v11-16 Israel is gathered back from the four corners. When is that? Post exile, or 1948? John Piper tantalisingly writes “O, how I would love to talk with you about how this relates to Romans 11, but alas, we have already bitten off more than we can chew.”
It’s all about Jesus and his ever-growing kingdom made up of every tribe and tongue. Love Jesus and don’t be racist. And glory in the Lamb of God who will draw it all together in the new Heaven and Earth for us to enjoy forever.
ps told you I love this chapter, that was a long ‘un!