“And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might. The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”
Isaiah 11:2, NLT
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD—
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
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 waste.
Isaiah 11:1-5, NIV
Let us begin with a contextual and historical note: Judah is the southern half of the divided kingdom of Israel. Israel is God’s chosen nation who, throughout the biblical narrative, consistently strays from God and his promises. When Israel’s great king Solomon dies, two sons fight over authority for this now unstable nation. This is where the divide begins, a portion of the nation becoming Judah and the remainder still identifying themselves as Israel.
The people of Judah have been invaded by a nation named Assyria. God uses Assyria to judge his people for their betrayal of him. Here is something worth noting: Assyria was a crooked nation that was oppressive and destructive and yet God took advantage of this behavior to use them in his plan to edify the people of Judah. God will use us, even when we are crooked in our behaviors, to possibly edify others and ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, God is using each and every individual, nation, and time period to his full advantage to bring glory to his name.
Isaiah is speaking this particular passage to a people amidst division and oppression. He is sharing an image of hope. He is prophesying unity. He tells Judah that there will be a ruler and judge that will be filled by the Spirit of God! How different this ruler will be from their current and oppressive ruler! How monumental is this prophesy in this painful place! The remnants of Israel and Judah are on the edge of their seat listening to this message. Isaiah is stating that the ruler who has reigned over them, the nation of Assyria, will be replaced by a ruler of true righteousness and peace. This ruler to come is Jesus Christ.
“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” (Isaiah 11:12, NIV). Jesus will draw all men to him; he will bring the split nation back together as one. This new ruler will bring back together what has been scattered. He is the redemption for all nations. Jesus will collect those who have been exiled, he will reconcile that which has been torn apart. Divided hearts will find peace and unity under his reign.
Jesus is the true and better Judah. Jesus is born in the city of Bethlehem, which was a buffer territory between the nations of southern Judah and northern Israel. Bethlehem was frequently fought over as a border territory. Jesus is the plan to reunite these two Kingdoms. He will judge with righteousness and justice. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him as a judge. He will lead with the Spirit of understanding and wisdom. Jesus delights in the fear of the LORD, which makes him a faithful leader. Jesus is the ultimate median (like Bethlehem) between us and our sin—prophesied to bring redemption to all corruption. Jesus will bring peace to all divided hearts and nations.
Jesus is here, now. Jesus is begging you to be free from the oppression that rules or has ruled over you. Jesus wants to reign in your spirit and bring peace and unity to every portion of your life. His birth was prophesied and fulfilled, and he is walking around knocking on the doors of our hearts, asking to lead us into a place of peace. He begs, let me be your peaceful ruler.
The Israelites at times fixated too much on deciding what this ruler would be like and how he would enter into their world. Sometimes we ask the question… What do we make of Christ? But “There is no question of what we can make of Him; it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.” (C.S. Lewis).
Either we allow him to be our ruler, or we reject his wisdom, understanding, counsel and might. I don’t know about you, but I am sure tired of living beneath the oppression of insecurity, sin, and selfishness. There is no better news than the fact that Jesus has come as a ruler to reign over our divided hearts with a spirit of knowledge and fear of the LORD our God.
All materials written and designed by Heather & Daniel Christy