Isaiah Chapter 11
The millennial reign of Christ is described (in 11:1-12:6). The time of the Messiah’s coming was undoubtedly a puzzle in Old Testament times. In this section, the prophet indicates that His coming is yet in the distant future. Isaiah predicts that the “tree” of the line of David will be cut down and that a shoot must grow out of the stock of Jesse before it will flourish again.
He predicts that a rod (choter, “shoot” or “sprout”), will come forth from the stem (geza, “root” or “stump”), of Jesse (David’s father and the forefather of the Davidic line). Branch (netser), is used in parallel with rod.
Isaiah 11:1 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:”
Stem … Roots. With the Babylonian captivity (of 586 B.C.), the Davidic Dynasty appeared as decimated as the Assyrian army. A major difference between the two was the life remaining in the stump and roots of the Davidic line. That life was to manifest itself in new growth in the form of the Rod and Branch.
“Jesse”: Jesse was David’s father through whose line the Messianic King was to come (Ruth 4:22; 1 Samuel 16:1, 12, 13).
“Branch”: This was a title for the Messiah (see 4:2).
We have seen in the last lessons, that the wrath of God came against His people, and God allowed the Assyrians to devastate their country. Except for God’s remnant, they would have been annihilated.
There was a remnant left, however. It was as if the tree had been cut off even with the ground. It seems though a tree will come up again from the roots, if it gets enough water.
The word “rod” here, was translated from the word “choter”, which means twig. It appears that the growth that came forth was weak, but alive.
Job 14:7: “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.”
“Stem”, in this verse, means resemble. We can see this twig was not a literal twig, but a race of people stemming from Jesse through David. This remnant was like the roots of the tree. When the Spirit of God (water), was applied to the root, it grew again. At first it was weak.
The “Branch”, of course, is Jesus. He was spoken of as Son of David, because David was in His earthly ancestry.
Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”
These Scriptures should leave no doubt that this Branch is speaking of Jesus Christ. Jesus is actually the Tree of Life.
Verses 11:2-5: The Branch is personalized (in verse 2), as the Messiah himself. The spirit of the Lord refers to the sevenfold Spirit of God (Revelation 4:5), described here in relation to His seven attributes. The words for counsel and might are the same as used (in 9:6), to describe the divine Child. Because the Spirit of God is upon Him, the Messiah will not judge after the sight of his eyes, for He will have true spiritual vision and judge the poor with righteousness. He will rule the earth with the rod (shebet, scepter), of his mouth, the power of His spoken word, by which He will slay the wicked with His breath (Revelation 19:15).
Isaiah 11:2 “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 of the fear of the LORD;”
The Spirit of the Lord: As the Spirit of the Lord came upon David when he was anointed king (1 Samuel 16:13; Psalm 51:11), so He will rest upon David’s descendent, Christ, who will rule the world.
This verse refers to the 3 persons of the Holy Trinity (see 6:3).
Wisdom and understanding … Console and might… Knowledge … Fear of the Lord. These are Spirit-imparted qualifications that will enable the Messiah to rule justly and effectively. Compare the 7-fold Spirit in Revelation 1:4.
Look with me, at the time when Jesus said this very thing about Himself.
Luke 4:16-19 “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,” “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus was of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit of God hovered over Mary, and she conceived of the Spirit of God. Jesus was God the Son housed in the flesh of man. Jesus is the Spirit of Wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. Jesus is the source of all Wisdom. “Understanding”, in the verse above, comes from a word that means helper.
The Holy Spirit is Helper, Teacher, and Guide. Jesus was full of the Spirit. In Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt. We find that counsel and might go hand in hand with wisdom. “Knowledge” is accumulated learning.
Jesus does not need to learn. He is all-knowing, so He is the source of knowledge. Fear, in the verse above, is speaking of a willingness to carry out the wishes of God. Jesus said, Father, not my will, but thine. He fulfills every statement in the verse above.
Isaiah 11:3 “And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:”
“Sight of His eyes … What His ears hear”: These are ordinary avenues for a king to obtain information needed to govern, but the future King will have supernatural perception beyond these usual sources.
Since Jesus is the Judge of all the world, and contains all knowledge and understanding, He will not judge as a man from outward appearances. He will not depend on his eyes, or His ears to guide Him in His judgment.
He will judge in truth, because He knows all things, even the heart of man. His judgment will be just. He will not need to hear the witnesses. He already knows everything about every individual on the earth.
Isaiah 11:4 “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
“Poor … The meek”: The Messiah will reverse Israel’s earlier dealings with the underprivileged (3:14-15; 10:2).
“Rod of His mouth”: The Branch’s rule over the nations will be forceful. The New Testament uses the equivalent terminology to describe the warrior King at his triumphant return to earth (Revelation 19:15; Isaiah 49:2; Psalm 2:9).
“Breathe of His lips”: This is another figure for the Messiah’s means of inflicting physical harm. Paul draws upon this to tell of the distraction of the man of lawlessness at Christ’s second advent (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
His judgment is righteous. He is not influenced by earthly things. The poor will get fair judgment from Him, because He is not impressed by the earthly greatness of man, or great wealth. Many earthly judges can be bought. This is not so with Jesus. He is righteous.
Whatever He decides about any of us, we can say we deserve it, because He knows all about even what is in our heart. The “rod of His mouth” is the spoken Word of God.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
The breath of His lips caused the soldiers, who had come for Jesus, to fall backward to the ground.
John 18:6: “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
The spoken and the written Word are the 2 most powerful forces in the earth. The Word of God created all things. The Word of God will condemn us to hell, or reward us with eternal life in heaven.
Revelation 20:15 “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Our fate is in the hands of Jesus, the Word of God.
Isaiah 11:5 “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”
Girdle … Girdle. The belt, which gathered the loose garments together, is figurative for the Messiahs readiness for conflict. Righteousness and faithfulness are His preparation. Ephesians 6:14.
He is surrounded by righteousness. In fact, He has clothed the Christians in His righteousness.
Revelation 1:5 “And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”
Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh [himself] with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth [herself] with her jewels.”
Faithfulness as a girdle is speaking of Jesus as the Truth.
Verses 11:6-9: Peace and harmony will characterize the Messiah’s kingdom. Ravenous predatory animals, Wolf, leopard, lion and bear are set in deliberate contrast to the more defenseless lamb, kid, calf, cow, and ox. That the lion should eat straw implies a change of diet. Even the Asp and the cockatrice (snakes), will be harmless to a small child. Isaiah sees the Messiah ruling the world in righteousness and a peace that extends even to the animal kingdom. During this time the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Thus, the prophet sees beyond the restoration of Judah to a time when the Messiah will rule the entire world.
Conditions of peace will prevail to the extent that all enmity among men, among animals (rapacious or otherwise), and between men and animals will disappear. Such will characterize the future millennial kingdom in which the Prince of Peace (9:6), will reign.
Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
This is speaking of that wonderful time when the devil is bound up. There will be no evil where Jesus reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. There will be no danger from anything, when the devil is bound. Jesus, who is the King of Peace, brings perfect peace to all of mankind and all the animals, and in fact, the elements of the earth.
All of the animals, mentioned in the verse above, are violent against man. From the little child leading them, you can see the extent of the peace that will reign, because the King of Peace is among them. This will be a glorious time of no problems.
Isaiah 11:7 “And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”
We see in this, animals that had been enemies in the past that now will not fear each other. The Peace extends to all the animals, as well as the people. The whole world will be at peace.
Isaiah 11:8 “And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.”
Both the asp and the cockatrice would have been deadly to anyone, if they bit them. We see, in this, that the curse spoken on the serpent against the woman in the Garden of Eden has been broken. Jesus has won. Peace extends even unto the serpent.
Isaiah 11:9 “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.”
“Full of the knowledge of the Lord”: Everyone will know the Lord when He returns to fulfill His new covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:34).
Not only will the people be full of the knowledge of the LORD, but the animals and the earth itself. Just as surely as the water covers the sea, the peace of the Lord Jesus will cover the earth. The “holy mountain” speaks of the people of God, the Christians.
Isaiah 11:10 “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”
“In that day”: The time of universal peace will come in the future reign of the Lord.
“An ensign of the people”: The Root of Jesse will also attract non-Jews who inhabit the future kingdom (49:6; 52:10; 60:3; 66:18). Paul saw God’s ministry to Gentiles during the church age as an additional implication of this verse (Romans 15:12).
The Messiah is again referred to as a root (shoresh), of Jesse (as in verse 1). He is clearly Jewish, for He will stand for an ensign of the people (amim, a term applied to the Jewish people). Yet Isaiah goes on to say that this is this banner the Gentiles seek. Thus, Isaiah is predicting a time when salvation will come to the gentiles as well as to the Jews.
When Isaiah wrote this, it was unheard of for a Gentile to seek God. This is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. The church is primarily made up of Gentile converts. He (Jesus), set up a standard, or an “ensign”. We cannot get to heaven by any other name. We must go through faith in the name of Jesus.
The root here, is the same as the Branch in the earlier part of this lesson. He is our mediator, even now at the throne of God. He is our standard. There is a rest that comes to the believer. When the presence of the Lord is with us, then there will be perfect peace and rest.
The Prophet foresees a time when the hostile in a maze of Israel will be at peace with her during the millennial kingdom. Assyria to the North and Egypt to the South are especially in view, as are Pathros in Upper Egypt. Cush (Ethiopia), Elam (the Persian Gulf), Shinar (Babylon), and Hamath on the Orontes River in Syria.
Isaiah 11:11 “And 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, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.”
“2nd time”: The first return of Israel to her land was from Egyptian captivity (Exodus 14:26-29). The second will be from her worldwide dispersion (51:9-11).
Isaiah had seen that the people of God, the Hebrews, would be scattered all over the earth into many countries. The Scripture above is speaking of the time when they will come back to the land of Israel.
This Scripture is being fulfilled in our lifetime. Since Israel became a nation in 1948, the return of the people has been almost continuous. The “islands of the sea” could cover lands that were unknown at the time of Isaiah.
Isaiah 11:12: “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
“From the four corners of the earth”: figurative expression depicts the whole world (Revelation 20:8). The faithful remnant of Israel will return from a worldwide dispersion to their Land.
The number four means universal. We see from this, then, that this is all over the world. We decided Jesus Christ is the Ensign. The word that “outcasts” was translated from a masculine word. “Dispersed” is taken from a word that is feminine. We see in this, that the Lord is calling male and female.
He is also calling all of the original 12 tribes back unto Himself. He is calling all believers. Even Christians are included in this, because we are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. This is both a physical calling of the physical house of Israel back to the land of Israel, but is also a spiritual calling of all believers to draw closer to the Lord.
Isaiah 11:13 “The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.”
“Ephraim … Judah”: these are the 2 major divisions of Israel after the schism under Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:16-20). Ephraim was the name representing the northern 10 tribes, and Judah the southern two. When the Messiah returns, they will reunite in a lasting peace
Judah is speaking of the physical house of Israel. In my opinion, “Ephraim” symbolizes all the believers in Christ. The two sticks in the book of Ezekiel chapter 37 that come together are the physical and the spiritual house of Israel. Notice in this, God has forgiven Ephraim.
Isaiah 11:14 “But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.”
“West … East”: and that day Israel will be free from all foreign oppression and will be the dominant political force.
All of the countries listed above are enemies of the Israelites. We know the church will have no difficulty in handling these enemies.
The Christians will reign over the worldly people. The Lord is their strength.
Isaiah 11:15 “And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make [men] go over dryshod.”
“The river”: just as He dried up the Red Sea in the deliverance from Egypt, the Lord will in the future dry up the Euphrates in connection with the final deliverance of his people.
The mighty breath of the LORD will blow on the great river and turn it into 7 smaller streams. In places, the streams will be shallow enough for the people to walk over them in their regular shoes. There will be no physical barriers that will restrain God’s people in that day.
Isaiah 11:16 “And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.”
“Highway”: Isaiah has much to say about a way for the remnant returning to Jerusalem (35:8-9; 42:16; 43:19; 48:21; 49:11; 57:14; 62:10).
The Israelites walked on dry land in the middle of the Red Sea, when the nostrils of God heaped the water to allow His people to walk over on dry land. The dry road across the Red Sea was called a highway. It was only open to God’s people.
When the Egyptians tried to use it, they were drowned. God will make a way for His people to come home.
Isaiah Chapter 11 Questions
- A tree will come again from the roots, if it gets enough ______.
- “Rod was translated from _________.
- What does the word “choter” mean?
- What does “stem” mean in this verse?
- This twig was actually a _________ of ________.
- Who were they descended from?
- Who is the Branch?
- Name the different things this Branch had through the Spirit.
- What book of the Old Testament did Jesus read from in the synagogue?
- “Understanding”, in verse 2, came from a word meaning ________.
- What is “knowledge”?
- How will Jesus judge?
- In the finality of time, what happens to those whose names are not written in the Lambs book of life?
- The wolf shall dwell with the _______.
- The leopard shall lie down with the ______.
- And a ______ _______ shall lead them.
- What happens to bring so great a peace?
- Who is the mortal enemy of the cow?
- What will the lion eat that is like an ox?
- Who does the “holy mountain” speak of?
- What is an “ensign”?
- When will perfect peace come?
- When did the return of the Israelites to Israel begin?
- What is meant by “islands of the sea”?
- What does the number 4 symbolize?
- What is strangely different in the “outcasts”, and the “dispersed”?
- Who does the author believe Ephraim symbolizes?
- What chapter of Ezekiel tells us of the physical and the spiritual house of Israel?
- The great river will break up into how many streams?
- How was it possible for the Israelites to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground?
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