Sunday, December 18, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse"

“A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse”
December 18, 2016
Isaiah 11:1-16

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

That’s an amazing prophecy.

But it starts with some bad news.

Jesse is just a stump.

Who is Jesse again?  He is the father of King David.

And God made some big promises to King David, didn’t He?

We call them the Davidic Covenant. A great kingdom and a kingly line that will never end, right?

Well, we’ve been reading the Books of Kings. How is that kingly line turning out?

There have been a few thumbs up along the way, but so many thumbs down in the line of David.

Well, Isaiah predicts a day when the great royal dynasty of David has gotten to be cut down to a stump!

Nothing is left but an apparently dead old stump.

The kings of Israel have been cut down to size. Decimated. Sent into exile and brushed off the map.

You know that’s where the Books of Kings are going, don’t you?

By then end of our study of 1 and 2 Kings, both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah will have been hauled off into exile.

And that exile is what we’ve begun in studying in our Gospel Project Sunday School classes this month.

The kings all failed. They had just one job and they didn’t do it!

They did not lead the nation into covenant faithfulness, and everyone suffered for it.

And the promises, though built on a solid root system of God’s faithfulness, seem like they are as good as dead.

Have you ever felt like God’s promises have been cut down and left for dead in your life?

That’s its very unlikely now that God will come through?

I think we’ve all felt that way, if we’re being honest.

Sometimes it just seems like God’s promises are just big old dead stump.

And Isaiah would agree. They are a stump. The kings have been cut down, but God is still at work.

God will keep His promises, no matter what.

He still has a plan.

God will bring out a shoot from that stump.

Now, I don’t know anything about trees, but my wife tells me that a very healthy tree can come shooting up from a old stump. And it’s not just a new tree that got seeded in there, it’s the persistent life of the old tree bursting up and reaching towards the sun. Making another go of it.

That’s the picture here that Isaiah painting.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse.”  You can count on it.

That’s a new ruler from the old promises. Got it? Make sense?

A new ruler form the old promises. “From [Jesse’s] roots a Branch will bear fruit.” You can count on it.

That word “Branch” is a reoccurring title for the Messiah. It shows up in Zechariah,  Jeremiah, and Isaiah. And it emphasizes the strong and growing life of the Messiah.

He will come. And He will reign.

Even when it doesn’t seem like it.

So that’s application point number one today:


No matter how unlikely it seems.

Believe in the coming of the shoot of Jesse.

You know Who that is, right?

This is talking about Jesus.

Could His coming have been any more unlikely?

What an unlikely story!  The whole Mary and Joseph thing? The whole Nazareth thing. The whole journey to Bethlehem. No room at the inn. Born in a stable. The shepherds?!

How unlikely is that to be the origin story of the Son of God, the Messiah?!

Is there any other place where the Messiah is called a tender shoot?

Isaiah 53, right?

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:1-2).

It didn’t seem like this could be the One!

But in fact, He was.

God always keeps His promises. And this is His biggest promise ever.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

Count on it. Believe.

This is a promise about Christmas. The Messiah will be born.

But it’s also a promise about the return of Christ.

It’s promise of Jesus’s first advent and His second advent.

Because He’s already come. He was born. But His kingdom hasn’t come yet in all of its fullness, has it?

This is a promise of Jesus’ first advent and His second advent.

What do we always say, “Advent means ‘coming.’ Jesus has come and He’s coming again.”

We live on this side of His first coming and we’re still waiting for His second coming when He will reign like Isaiah 11 predicts.

Now, what kind of a ruler will this shoot from the stump of Jesse be?

What will His reign be like? In a word?  Perfect.

More than two thumbs up. It will be every thumb up, from every objective measurement.

No one has ever been so qualified as this shoot from the stump of Jesse. Look at verse 2.

“The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD–and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.”

Wow!  I could preach a whole message just on that verse!

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on the Messiah in an unique way.

He will have all of the spiritual power that we can imagine and all of the spiritual power that we cannot imagine!

He will be unlike any other ruler that ever existed.

Ray Ortlund, commenting on this passage, writes, “Unlike every other human leader in the sorry length of our history, Jesus is literally qualified to rule the world. We have nothing to fear from him. We are foolish to resist him. We can never be too loyal to him” (Isaiah, pg. 114).

Do you see how this reveals His heart?

“He will delight in the fear of the LORD.”

Think about that!  What will fill the heart of the Messiah? Delight in the fear of the LORD.

The fear of the LORD is what?  The beginning of wisdom.

And this Messiah’s heart will be delighting in it.

Have you ever met anyone who delights in the fear of the LORD?

This shoot will do it perfectly.  He will be all wise.

And from that wisdom, He will rule in faultless justice. Verse 3.

“He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears [that means only or merely by appearances]; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”

The New Testament picks up that language. I wish I had time to unpack how Paul sees this fulfilled in Jesus and His church.

But the point here is that reign of King Jesus will be characterized by perfect justice.

He will never be fooled.

There is so much injustice in our world today, and I’m sure that I don’t know the half of it.

I’m sure that my sense of justice is very off itself.

I get it wrong.

I hear my kids my arguing about something, and I step in, and you know how many times I make it worse?

Jesus will never make it worse.

He will never blunder or bungle or mishandle any situation. He will always choose what is right, and just, and righteous. He will never be fooled or misguided or duped. He will never be confused, befuddled, or confounded.

He will never get it wrong.

That’s what His kingdom will be like!

Justice for the poor. Did you see that in verse 4?

The poor and disenfranchised often suffer the most injustice because they don’t have the resources to get that justice for themselves.

But Jesus will bring it perfectly for them.

He will be clothed with faultless justice.

“Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”

Here’s application point #2.


Long for the reign of the shoot from the stump of Jesse.

Because it will be utterly perfect.

Unlike the world is now.

Our current world is broken. Things are not the way they should be including massive injustice. Things are not right.

It’s right to feel that in your bones and express your lament, to grieve over what is going on in Aleppo.

To have your heart broken with the families of unarmed black men who have been killed without justice.

To have your heart broken with the families of police officers who have been murdered just for doing their jobs.

It’s good and right to grieve over the brokenness and injustice in our world and to long for the kingdom to come.

Just like we learned last year, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

“Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”

And it will be more than simple justice. It will be peace.

Perfect peace. Verse 6.

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”


That hasn’t happened yet.

The Messiah has come, but He hasn’t brought this reality yet to pass.

Now, I’m not sure if this is to be taken literally or not.

And I’m not sure if it’s describing the millennium or the new heavens and the new earth.

What I am sure of is that it means that the kingdom of the Messiah will be characterized by perfect peace.

Safety and security everywhere.

That’s what this promising.

Doesn’t it almost scare you. When that little kid puts his hand into the snake’s nest?

“Get away from there!” we want to say.

But it’s okay. There is nothing to fear here.

No conflict, no battles, not hostilities, not war. Everything has changed, even the laws of nature. Peace will be everywhere with nothing to fear.

Isaiah 9 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7a).

No end to the peace.

Doesn’t that sound good?

It’s right and good to long for that.

To long for the reign of the shoot from the stump of Jesse.

What did the angels say to the shepherds?

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

Friends, I say to you, there is coming a day when there will be nothing out there to harm you. Nothing out there to harm you.

Our family has been fighting all kinds of fallenness and harm this last month.

Viruses, pneumonia, mononucleosis, bacterial infections, and to top it off (I hope this is the last thing) appendicitis.

There has been plenty trying to harm and destroy us. And not just us!

But there is coming a day when (v.9), “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain [why?], for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea!”

What a day that will be. No more insecurity. No more danger. No more evil. Creation restored. And the curse reversed.

No more let sins and sorrows grow;
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found!

Right now, the curse is found somewhere wherever you look!

But when the Messiah comes again, “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea!”

Here’s application point #3.

It’s how we haste the day.


Our job is to spread that knowledge of the LORD that we have already today.

And we can do it with confidence, knowing that God is going to bring the nations to Jesus. Look at verse 10.

“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.”

Now, I want to spend time on that phrase, “Root of Jesse.” I thought He was the “Shoot of Jesse?!”

But I’m not going to go there right now. Come on Christmas Eve, and hear me talk about then then.

What I am going to say is that this passage teaches that you and I are going to come to Jesus.

It’s about the Gentiles, isn’t it?

“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.”

The nations. Not just the Israelites, but the nations.

The Apostle Paul quoted this very verse in Romans chapter 15, verse 12 when he was making his point (again!) that God has a plan, not just for the Jews but also for Gentiles.

Do you remember that? Remember Romans 15?  It was just last January that we were in it together.

Here’s how Paul said it: “For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles [that’s you and me!] may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.’ Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples.’ And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:8-13).

Sound familiar?

Here’s the point.

We can share the truth of the Shoot confidently, knowing full well that God is going to use our sharing to bring the nations to trust in Jesus.

Who do you need to tell?

Who have you recently told about the Messiah that has come and is coming again?

Here’s how certain this is. The rest of the passage promises the return, not just of Gentiles to the Messiah, but the return of Israel to her Messiah. V.11

“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.”

This is what we saw back in Romans 11. A future for ethnic Israel.

God is going to call His covenant people back to Him. To reclaim the remnant.

And He’s going to undo the split that came with Rehoboam.

He’s going to un-tear the torn kingdom! V.13

“Ephraim's jealousy will vanish (that’s the North), and Judah's enemies will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. [They will be together.] They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east. They will lay hands on Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them. The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.”

Now, again, I’m not sure how much of that to take literally.

I lean towards reading this as evocative word pictures drawn from the map of the day to say that God will certainly rescue His people once again in a new and greater exodus that will cover the whole map. Not just from Egypt to Israel but from one corner to every corner of the world.

God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

God will fix everything so that things are the way they are supposed to be.

God will save a people out of the Gentiles.

And God will reclaim the remnant of Israel.

The whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

It will happen!

As Isaiah 9 predicts, “[The Messiah] will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

That’s the truth.

And it’s our job to share it.

It’s a sure thing. It’s a done deal. It’s more certain than that the sun will rise tomorrow.

It may not seem like it.

It may seem like God’s promises are just a dead stump.

But out of those promises will rise the Shoot of Jesse.

And He will not stay tender and small forever.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him and His kingdom will be perfect in justice and peace forever and ever.

Let’s tell some folks about that this week.

People need to know.

Jesus has come and is coming again.