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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 11

Verses 1-5


When the indignation is over (Isaiah 10:25), when the public enemies are destroyed and Assyria is judged (Isaiah 10:5-Psalms :), the Messiah and His government, the source of the thousand year blessing of the people of God, can be announced (Isaiah 11-12). The first verses of Isaiah 11 give us the features of the Messiah; in the verses that follow, we see the consequences of His reign.

What we find historically in the history of Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:32-Nahum :), is only a pre-fulfillment – and only partially – of what is prophetically described here. The promise of the LORD to the house of David – that the remaining stem, after the cutting down of the oak of Jesse, will be a holy seed (Isaiah 6:13) – is further elaborated here. Also the promise of Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:10), is now further explained.

The Messiah and the Realm of Peace

The word “then” in Isaiah 11:1 connects Isaiah 10 and Isaiah 11. The picture of the trees of the forest (Isaiah 10:33-Nahum :) is now extended. Here we see a great contrast with the end of the previous chapter. It is the contrast between the mighty cedar forest of the Lebanon (Isaiah 10:34) and the “shoot … from the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). The cedar forest symbolizes the power (the army) of the king of Assyria. The mighty axe (iron, Isaiah 10:34) of the LORD is judging the dense forest of Assyria.

However, the counsel of the LORD is fulfilled by a shoot. The shoot is a description of Christ. It represents His humble birth as a descendant of the decayed house of David, which here is compared with “the stem of Jesse”.

David’s name is not even mentioned, but that of his father Jesse. That tells us that the royal family has sunk back to the insignificance of its origins. The stem indicates the decay of the once mighty royal house of David. The descendants of David went their own way. That eventually leads to the end of the kingship of the house of David, which takes place with the exile to Babylon.

But from the stem will shoot a branch, which will take the place of this cut trunk. This is the future Son of David (Matthew 1:1), the King of Israel (John 1:49). That shoot will produce fruit. That fruit is the Lord Jesus.

The Hebrew word for ‘shoot’ is netzer, which is derived from the word natzer, a word that comes back in the word Nazareth, from which the word “Nazarene” is derived, a Name of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 2:23). Whenever we read about Jesus as a Nazarene – not to be confused with ‘Nazirite’ (Numbers 6:1), which in Hebrew is another word – it is a reference to His humble descent.

The two lines of this verse form a parallel. The second line says in other words about the same as the first line. However, it is not a mere repetition. The second line gives further details, supplementing what is written in the first line. Thus Shoot and Branch indicate the same Person.

Isaiah 11:2 gives a splendid description of the perfect attributes and abilities of Christ. Christ is the Greek name which is in Hebrew Messiah. Both Christ and Messiah mean ‘Anointed One’. Anointing is done with oil. Oil in the Bible is often a picture of God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:2-Joshua :). The description that follows shows that He was not anointed with oil, but with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). The sevenfold list of names of the Spirit indicates the fullness of His attributes (John 3:34; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 3:1Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6). There is only “one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4), but He is seen here in the fullness of His workings.

The first thing that is said of the Messiah, “the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him”, expresses the perfect pleasure of the Father in Him (Matthew 3:17). On Him the Spirit finds the only suitable place on earth to rest. Here we see God, Christ and the Spirit (cf. Revelation 1:4). Next, six features of the Spirit resting on Him are mentioned in three pairs. These pairs are connected by the word “and”.

There are a total of seven names for the Holy Spirit Who came upon the Lord Jesus. In the picture we see the seven-armed lampstand, which consists of a shaft and six arms from its sides, three of which come from one side and three from the other side of the shaft (Exodus 25:31-Jonah :). In all the lamps is olive oil, which makes the lamps burn. Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. The general name of the Spirit, “the Spirit of the LORD”, we can connected with the shaft. The next six names we can connect two by two to the six arms coming out of its side, three on each side.

Remarkable is the explanation of the LORD on the vision of the prophet Zechariah of the golden lampstand and the two olive trees (Zechariah 4:1-Joshua :). This explanation reads: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). The remarkable thing here is that – what is not to be seen in English – this sentence in Hebrew consists of seven words.

“The spirit of wisdom and understanding” indicates the power of His thinking, His intellectual capacity. Wisdom” is the ability to discern the nature of men or things in such a way that it is able to fulfill the will of God in the world (see Exodus 28:3, where the word “wisdom”, hokmah, occurs for the first time). The Messiah judges all things not by human wisdom, by human standards, but by “the wisdom from above” (James 3:17), through which He is able to fulfill the counsel of God. “Understanding” sees and understands the essence of people or things. It is the ability to make complicated things simple by understanding their different parts correctly.

The Messiah fully understands what a human being does and why. Nothing is hidden from Him. A premonition of this we see in Bezalel (Exodus 35:30-Obadiah :), a man filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Who enables him to build a house for God.

“The Spirit of counsel and strength” has more to do with the practice of life. “Counsel” is the ability to draw the right conclusions in a given situation. “Strength” is the ability to carry out conclusions, the outcome of deliberation. The expression “counsel and strength” is also used for strategy and military power (Isaiah 36:5).

“The Spirit of the knowledge and the fear of the LORD” is related to the personal relationship with the LORD. “Knowledge” here is the knowing of the LORD, the knowledge that comes through the intimate fellowship of love. This is perfectly present with the Lord Jesus. He knows the Father. “Fear” is reverence and awe for Him, through which the Lord Jesus lets Himself be guided in everything, so that everything He does is pleasing to the Father (John 8:29).

For us, the fear of the Lord is the basis of all other work of the Spirit of the Lord in our lives (Proverbs 1:7). The Spirit always leads to reverence for God and will never deal with Him in an amicable way, as happens for example in modern Bible translations and at some meetings.

The whole life of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, is characterized by fellowship with the Father (Isaiah 11:3). He lives in the sphere of the Father and everything in His life is focused on doing the will of the Father. It is His lust, His food, to do that will (John 4:34). That determines His action in Israel and everywhere and anytime. He never judges only by appearance, as we often do. His judgment is not determined by human standards, by what He sees or hears. He does not rely on impressions or rumors. He does not see the person. His contact with the Father is decisive for His judgment (John 5:30).

Everything, every part of His body and every sense organ, functions perfectly and shows what is needed. Mentioned are called His nose [His delight can also be translated as His smell], His eyes and ears, His mouth and breath and His loins and waist.

As for His nose, we see here that the air He inhales is permeated with the fear of the LORD. He will not use His eyes and ears in a frivolous and superficial way, but to judge all things correctly. He does so thoroughly and righteously. He sees the heart in this.

The judgment will come from His lips and from His mouth and also in this He will be subservient to God. We see this in the belt or girdle He wears (cf. Luke 12:37), while His waist speak of the strength with which He will show His steadfastness, His faithfulness. The making of a righteous judgment is in the Bible a proof of wisdom (1 Kings 3:16-Hosea :).

Although He does not need anyone to teach Him in His divine omniscience either, here He is presented as a Man Who allows Himself to be guided in everything by His dealings with the Father. As a result, He always comes to a perfect judgment. The Father tells Him what to say and what to speak (John 12:49).

He makes the matter of all those who cannot stand up for themselves His (Isaiah 11:4). He cares about their fate. He does not do so on the basis of emotion, on the basis of misplaced pity, but “with righteousness” and “with fairness”. On the earth, that is to say on all the wicked (plural), He will bring judgment with the rod, that is the sword, of His mouth. With the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked, the antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:8). He will not even touch him, but only kill him by the breath of His mouth, that is by His word.

In everything He will proceed in a perfectly righteous manner (Isaiah 11:5). The strength of His action – “loins” and “waist” point to strength – lies in His perfect righteousness and His absolute faithfulness to God and the truth.

Verses 6-10

The Realm of Peace

After the description of the Messiah follows a description of the glorious situation of peace that will reign in righteousness on earth under the government of the Messiah, the Prince of peace. Righteousness brings forth peace (Isaiah 32:1). All kinds of crises that we can experience now, such as climate crisis, financial crisis, social crisis, will no longer be there. They have all disappeared because they have been solved by the Messiah. Peace will also be sweetly present in the realm of the animals (Isaiah 11:6-Ruth :). There is not only peace between the animals, but also between people and animals.

The scene sketched here shows what it was like before the fall into sin. When the curse is removed, that situation will be restored by the Lord Jesus, as Isaiah prophesies here. Then “the period of restoration of all things” will have come, “about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:21), including Isaiah.

The earth will then have been freed from the curse that has been placed upon it since man fell into sin and through which peace has been so cruelly and long-lastingly disturbed (Romans 8:19-Song of Solomon :). Paul gives a detail in Romans 8 that Isaiah does not know. It says that it is not only the revelation of Christ as the “root of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:10), but also “the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19), the believers of the New Testament church who are connected with Him.

The realm of peace is the reign of the last Adam, Christ, Who will restore everything that is corrupted by the first Adam, although sin has not been completely abolished then. Righteousness reigns, which means that evil is still present, but then is restrained because Satan will be bound and imprisoned for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2-Leviticus :). It is a restoration from the time before the fall into sin, where the animals also feed on the herb of the field (Genesis 1:30). There is no question of animals devouring each other.

The instigator of evil can do no more evil and cause no more destruction (Isaiah 11:9). Nor can he exert his darkening influence on the knowledge of the LORD anymore. The whole earth bears the hallmark of “all My holy mountain”, which is the temple mountain, God’s dwelling place on earth. The whole earth will be dedicated to God and full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).

This is thanks to “the knowledge of the LORD”. This knowledge will be generally present among the inhabitants of the earth, not superficially, but deeply, like the bottom of the sea. This means more than that people possess intellectual knowledge of God. It means much more that people everywhere will live according to God’s principles and His Word.

It is about the reign of Christ and its effect on the creation subject to Him. The believers of today are already a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and are subject to their Lord (2 Corinthians 5:15).

In the different animals in the realm of peace we can also see different characters of the redeemed, who can live in peace with each other under the reign of Christ. We already see this distinction in character in the disciples of the Lord Jesus who are all different, yet together they follow Him. It is to be hoped that the peace that will soon be present everywhere on earth will already be present among the believers in the local churches.

Today, the disciples of Christ go out into the world to bring Christ’s message everywhere. But “in that day” (Isaiah 11:10), all nations will ask for Christ. To this end, the nations will go up to Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 2:3). There they will receive instruction about Christ from Israel, for the Israelites will be called “priests of the LORD” (Isaiah 61:6).

Christ is the Center unto Whom all come. They will see Him as the glorified Man and acknowledge Him as “the root of Jesse”, that is, the One to Whom the house of David owes its birth (Revelation 22:16). At “shoot” (Isaiah 11:1) we think of Christ as Man, Who came forth from the lineage of David. At “root” we think of Him in His Godhead, from Whom the generation of David originated. He is both the Origin and the Descendant of the lineage of David. As God, He is the Origin and as a Human, He is the Offspring.

They will also see Him as the “signal for the peoples”, as the One Who is exalted above all nations and to Whom all nations will turn (Psalms 72:8-1 Kings :; Psalms 72:17). He is the great landmark. With Him is rest, a rest which He spreads over the whole earth. Because everything on earth is in accordance with His will, the whole earth is “His resting place” and therefore a glorious resting place. All who then live on earth share in that rest (Micah 4:2-Leviticus :).

The center of peace will be God’s dwelling place Jerusalem. That is the city He has chosen to let His Name dwell there. David’s prayer will then have been fulfilled: “Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place” (Psalms 132:8; Psalms 132:13-2 Chronicles :; 2 Chronicles 6:41). The glory of this resting place is manifested in the Shechina, which is the cloud of the LORD as the visible sign of the glory of His presence.

Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 in Romans 15 (Romans 15:12). He does this to show that not only Israel, but also the nations are included in God’s plan of salvation. Mind you, it is not about the church. In the Old Testament the church is a mystery. What matters here is that God’s heart also in the Old Testament goes out to the nations outside of Israel. They certainly have a different place than Israel. Israel was and remains God’s chosen people. That people has a separate place in the history of salvation, but with that God has not rejected the other nations.

Verses 11-14

The Remnant Assembled

“On that day … the Lord will again recover the second time” the scattered remnant of Israel and Judah from all nations (Isaiah 11:11-2 Kings :). The first time He did so by returning a remnant from the Babylonian exile under Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-Leviticus :) with a later addition under Ezra (Ezra 7:1; Ezra 7:6-Ruth :). The people liberated by Him from the Babylonian exile have rejected the promised blessing by rejecting Him in Whom all blessing is contained.

If the Lord Jesus rules, He will fulfill all God’s promises to a remnant gathered by Him “from the four corners of the earth”, that is, from everywhere, from the far ends of the earth. This remnant consists of descendants from “Israel” (the ten tribes) and from “Judah” (the two tribes) who were scattered everywhere.

They come from “Assyria”, the world empire, whose core region has always been northern Iraq, with the cities of Assur and Nineveh. The world empire of Assyria runs from northern Iraq to Pakistan. They also come from “Egypt”. “Pathros” means the Southland, which is Egypt and especially Lower Egypt. “Cush” is Ethiopia and Sudan. Also from there many Jews have returned to Israel in the course of time.

The return from “Elam” we see in the exodus from Persia, that is Iran. “Shinar” is today’s southern Iraq with the city of Babylon in it. Sinear is equal to Babylon. “Hamath” is today’s Syria. With “the islands of the sea” Europe can be meant. It is the countries and islands in and around the Mediterranean Sea. In the past decades we have experienced how Jews from all the areas mentioned went to the land of Israel. We can see this as a first fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied here.

Ephraim, the ten tribes realm, will no longer envy the privileged place of Judah, and Judah will no longer be dominant over Ephraim (Isaiah 11:13), as it was in the time of Isaiah. The root of jealousy (Isaiah 9:21), which has existed in the two and the ten tribes since the time of the division of the empire (1 Kings 12:19-Proverbs :), has finally disappeared. Ephraim has been cured of this ailment, jealousy, forever. They will be one nation and will live together as brothers (Ezekiel 37:22). Together they will, following the LORD and clothed with His power, fight and subdue the enemies, the surrounding nations, and thus rid themselves of their yoke (Isaiah 11:14; Micah 5:7-Ruth :).

Here we talk about a victory over “the Philistines … in the West”. That refers to the future conquest of the Gaza Strip. “The shoulder” refers to the western mountain slope. There the Israelites will attack them at breakneck speed. Edom, Moab and the Ammonites will also be subdued. Edom is the area of Southern Jordan, Moab the area of Central Jordan and Ammon the area of Northern Jordan. All of Jordan will come under their authority.

Unity and one mindedness are also an absolute condition for the spiritual battle we are fighting (Philippians 1:27).

Verses 15-16

A Highway

The LORD will make a passage for the expelled of His people to return to the land (Isaiah 11:15-Nehemiah :). He used to do this by letting the waters of the Red Sea give way to carry His people out of Egypt into the wilderness (Isaiah 11:15). He used a strong wind for this (Exodus 14:21).

He will work again a way for His people. For that purpose He will make geographical changes, so that a road will arise through which they can enter the promised land from Assyria (Isaiah 11:16). Something similar can also be found at the end of the great tribulation when the Euphrates falls dry (Revelation 16:12). Because of this, there is also a passage for the people of Israel to take possession of their inheritance, the inheritance that the LORD promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 15:15-Ecclesiastes :).

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 11". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.