Isaiah 1:1 states that what is recorded is “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” The authorship of Isaiah, though, is a heated battleground in the arena of critical scholarship—an arena in which we wish to waste no sweat. Isaiah ben Amoz is the author, and we shall not question the Holy Writ.
Concerning the date, 1:1 is very helpful. By it, we see that Isaiah was an eighth-century prophet, roughly contemporary with Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Jonah. Kaiser dates Isaiah’s ministry to ca. 740-690 B.C., and goes on to say that he “was intimately connected with the Jerusalem sanctuary and the Davidic royal family” (355). It is supposed by Tremper/Longman that Isaiah “lived in Jerusalem at least until the death of Sennacherib (37:38)” (268).
Isaiah lived, then, during the ascendancy of the Assyrian Empire. When Tiglath-pileser III had gained control of Aram, Isaiah prevented Ahaz from joining an alliance against the Assyrians—but when these nations tried to force Judah, Ahaz appealed for help to Tiglath-pileser III. In 722 B.C., the Assyrians destroyed Samaria and took them captive.
In 701 B.C., after having dealt with revolts in different regions of his empire, Sennacherib turned to subdue Judah. Jerusalem was delivered by the Lord, but Hezekiah was eventually forced to pay tribute. The book of Isaiah, then, at first deals with the Assyrian crisis and transitions to the issue of captivity in Babylon. Our passage, though, had to have been given before the fall of Assyria.
Isaiah 11 comes after a sharp rebuke towards the Assyrians, in which they are illustrated as a strong forest—but one which will, in facing the judgment of the Lord, be hewn down. Judah needs comfort and encouragement. If judged by physical eyes, she seems utterly lost and nearly destroyed. But the Lord is not done with her yet, and he promises wrath to her enemies and a hope for her future.
Concerning the structure of vv. 1-9, Oswalt describes it in this way: “The movement is from qualifications to performance to results” (278). The following comments will follow this basic three-fold structure. Watts includes this helpful chiasm (169):
a The shoot from Jesse’s root (11:1)
b The Spirit of Yahweh rests on him (11:2)
c The fear of Yahweh—his delight (11:3a)
KEYSTONE Yahweh’s righteousness and justice (11:3b-4)
c’ Righteousness and justice his girdle (11:5-8)
b’ Knowledge of Yahweh in all the earth (11:9)
a’ The Root of Jesse, a banner to the nations (11:10)
Watts’ arrangement is attractive, but it seems unnatural to include v. 10 in this pericope. First, the idea of the Branch as a “banner” is repeated in v. 12. He stands for the people. Second, that the Gentiles are included corresponds with including “Edom and Moab” and “Ammon” in v. 14. This suggests that v. 10 beautifully opens a new pericope in the light of what has already been said of this “Root of Jesse.”
The Branch’s Full Anointing (Verses 1-2)
11:1 There shall come forth a Shoot from the stump of Jesse,
And a Branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the L ORD 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.
1 The Holy Spirit brings a ray of hope to what might seem a lost cause. The “stump of Jesse” is a description of the house of David. Jesse was the father of David, and the Lord provided for himself “a king [from] among his sons” (1 Sam. 16:1). Calvin suggests that the use of the name Jesse instead of David hints at the lowliness of the family, especially in its then current circumstances.
Another interpretation is suggested by Motyer: “The reference to Jesse indicates that the shoot is not just another king in David’s line but rather another David” (121; cf. Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23-24; Hos. 3:5). No other king in David’s line was referred to as David, but the Messiah is in various places called not merely the Son of David, but is himself given the name David. In this sense Christ should be considered the “Second David” in a way no other Davidic king could.
More specifically, though, this phrase refers to the promise of an everlasting kingdom that had been given by the Lord to the lineage of David. This Davidic Covenant is given in 2 Sam. 7:11-16. The great forest of Assyria would fall (Isa. 10:18-19, 33-34)—but this stump of Jesse would again come to new life. The kingdom and reign of a Son of David is to be an object of hope.
But why then from a stump ([z:GE)? The imagery of a hewn tree is very appropriate here. Having something of a glorious beginning in David and Solomon, the kingdom was rent in two—and history shows us that the Southern Kingdom of Judah (ruled by the sons of David) was not impervious to idol-worship and apostasy. The line of David has become a mere stump, weak and by all counts dead, seeming to have an unlikely prospect of growing again.
It is at this point that God gives hope to his people. Says Delitzsch, contrasting with the future judgment on Assyria, “But in Israel spring is returning.” This stump is not a dead stump, there is life in the roots! There shall come forth a “Shoot” (rj,xo; also in Isa. 11:10), a “Branch” (rc,nE). This idea is by no means limited to Isaiah: see also Jer. 23:5; Zech. 3:8; 6:12, and Rev. 22:16.
What species of stump is this? What kind of tree could grow from a mere stump? Deut. 6:11 notes that olive trees were very common to Canaan. An interesting characteristic of the olive tree, according to the New Bible Dictionary, is that “If cut down, new shoots spring up from the root, so that as many as five new trunks could thus come into being” (845). It seems clear then, from its relative familiarity to the Israelites and its peculiar qualities, that the olive tree is here in Isaiah's mind.
Easton's Bible Dictionary makes an interesting connection, saying of the name Nazareth that it is “generally supposed to be the Greek form of the Hebrew netser, a 'shoot' or 'sprout.'” It is difficult to determine whether or not this is a valid conjecture concerning the name of the town where our Lord grew and lived. Leupold likewise suggests this, stating that this verse “appears to be the only passage that the writer [Matthew] had in mind” (cf. Matt. 2:23).
Some Jewish interpreters apply this prophecy to Hezekiah or Zerubbabel, but their excellency nowhere reaches what Isaiah describes here. The Targum applies it to the Messiah. This Shoot or Branch, the Messiah, will bear fruit, and the fruit he will bear is best described in verses that follow.
2 Here begins a description of the gift of the Spirit which equips him for his rule. There is given to the Branch a sevenfold benefit of the Spirit. These terms are not exclusive of one another in their semantic ranges, but often overlap in their meaning. Delitzsch says this concerning the arrangement: “Then follow the six spirits, comprehended by the ruach Yehovah in three pairs, of which the first relates to the intellectual life, the second to the practical life, and the third to the direct relation to God” (182).
Seven Spirits are spoken of by John in Revelation (1:4, 3:1, 4:5, and 5:6). It may be that he here refers to this verse in Isaiah, the seven-fold Spirit that rests upon the Messiah. At the very least, John is referring to the complete empowerment and endowment which he has received. Leupold also suggests this: “The seven-branched lampstand of the Tabernacle of days of old may be the type that furnished the illustration involved” here (217).
First we see the Spirit of the Lord resting (x;Wn) upon him. In Num. 11:25-26 we have something similar said of Moses and the Spirit resting upon him and the seventy elders. Likewise, in 2 Kings 2:15, the sons of the prophets exclaim concerning Elisha, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha” (which undoubtedly is a reference to the Spirit of the Lord who had rested on Elijah). 1 Pet. 4:14 speaks of the Spirit of God resting on the Christians to whom Peter was writing.
We see this prophecy fulfilled in the life of our Lord in John 1:32-33, where John explains after baptizing Jesus that “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He [the Spirit] remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’” (cf. Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22).
We might say then that such a great measure of the Spirit, indeed a full measure, is given to the Messiah that he might even baptize others “with the Holy Spirit.” We see this first taking place at Pentecost (Acts 2:3-4). This is a special office that no one else has ever been privileged to hold. Even the great prophet Elijah had to pray the Lord to give Elisha a double-portion of the Spirit (2 Kings 2:9-15). All that is good in Israel’s life has been accomplished by the Spirit, and now an abiding presence of the Spirit is promised as the source of the Messiah’s work.
Second, wisdom (hm’k.x’), describes the Branch’s power to determine and render right judgments. Wisdom comes from God, and so God sends his Spirit in full abundance to the One who will be the Judge. Indeed, Jesus says this very thing in John 5:30, “As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (cf. Ps. 72:1-2).
Third, understanding (hn”yBi), is a term used to describe the ability to determine the true nature of things. Young translates this as “perception” (382). John 2:25 says that Jesus “had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” He is thus able to understand and perceive the hearts of men, and we see this manifested numerous times in the Gospels.
Fourth, by counsel (hc’[e) is meant that the Messiah will be able to devise wise plans and give good advice. He can instruct in the right those who are wayward and determine the best course of action for any situation. This and the next term are another way to express what is meant by him being our “Counselor, [and] Mighty God” (Isa. 9:6).
Fifth, we see that by the might (hr’WbG>) bestowed on him he can execute his wise counsels. Those who had followed Jesus said this of him, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!” (Mark 6:2).
Sixth, knowledge (t[;D;) itself comes from God, and so one must know God to be truly knowledgeable (in the true and most profound sense). Jesus pronounces his exclusive and fundamental knowledge of God the Father in Matt. 11:27, where he says, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
Seventh, the fear (ha'r>yI) of the Lord is, of course, closely associated with knowledge, seeing as how “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Young says that this “is the heart and core of Biblical religion” (383). Thus it is only by the Spirit that a promotion of the fear of the Lord may be accomplished.
This is that full and complete anointing that compels us to call him the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. And having been anointed with the same Spirit by him, we are thus rightly called Christians. As Christ has done, so we must do: “Serve the LORD with fear” (Ps. 2:11).
The Branch's Righteous Judgment (Verses 3-5)
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the afflicted of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
3 Here we turn to the character of his rule. Young arranges the material of vv. 3-4 very nicely in a footnote: “In v. 3a the Messiah manages His rule perfectly with respect to the fear of the Lord; in v. 3b with respect to the means of obtaining information which are His; in v. 4a in respect to the judgment that He pronounces and in 4b with respect to the infallible execution of that judgment” (384, fn10).
Oswalt says concerning this verse, “Considerable controversy surrounds the first phrase of v. 3,” and then questions its authenticity (280). The verb used here, 'to smell' (x;Wr), refers to a perception with pleasure (cf. Gen. 27:27; Ex. 30:38; Lev. 26:31). Ridderbos offers this literal translation: “His smelling shall be in the fear of the Lord” (124). Whether, then, this delighting is in his own fear of the Lord or that of others fearing the Lord is not important, because this King will delight in the sweet smell from wherever it comes.
Leupold applies this delight to the Messiah's fear when he says, “Such yielding of his own will to the higher demands will not be burdensome and unpleasant, but rather a matter of sheer 'delight'” (218; Ridderbos takes it to apply to the Messiah's fear as well). Most, though, understand this as a reference to the Messiah's delight in others fearing the Lord, as Young and others do (383).
The Second David does not judge based on outward appearances, but makes his judgment something penetrating the heart. Just as he fears the Lord, so he delights in those that fear the Lord—and this fear is the starting point and ground of all his judgments. This King is truly equipped and able to unmask hypocrites, seeing through their beautified veils. As Young says, “For absolute justice, there must be absolute knowledge” (384).
What is expressed here is similar to what is said of Solomon in 2 Sam. 14:17, 20: “The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil [. . .] but my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of the angel of God, to know everything that is in the earth.“ The Messiah will truly manifest this degree of knowledge and fair judgment.
Calvin puts this very beautifully when he says, “Christ will be so shrewd that he will not need to learn from what he hears, or from what he sees; for by smelling alone he will perceive what would otherwise be unknown” (376). The testimony of Scripture upholds this understanding concerning the Messiah. Luke writes about Jesus, after men had thought to accuse him, “But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them,” etc. (11:17).
4 The poor are here taken in synecdoche. They are the perfect illustration of those who are treated unjustly, but who are unable to secure for themselves a fair verdict. Those who are rich, but treated unjustly, ought not to be excluded here. But more correctly, what is in view are all those who are “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). Ridderbos explains the difference between the ‘poor’ and the ‘meek’: “The distinction in meaning is that one word stresses the external situation, the other the inner disposition” (125).
Their cause will not be forgotten by the righteous Judge, though in the eyes of men they are considered to be a light thing. This marks the rule of the Branch from the way Israel had formerly acted, for Isaiah exhorted them earlier, “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow” (1:17).
The Scripture bears testimony to the importance of right judging in regards to the poor. Prov. 29:14, “The king who judges the poor with truth, His throne will be established forever.” It is also explicitly recorded in the Gospels that “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:5; Luke 7:22), which is a sure sign of the Messiah’s coming.
‘Earth’ in v. 4b parallels ‘wicked’ (cf. Isa. 13:11; Leupold translates ‘earth’ here as ‘worldly-minded,’ 220). Isaiah here says something very similar to that of John, that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). There is such wickedness in the world, and so many wicked worldlings, that their wickedness is imputed to the world. In this sense, the earth itself is wicked, which is why the earth itself must be struck in judgment.
Calvin explains that the rod of his mouth, i.e., Christ’s very word, is his “royal sceptre” (379). This is a helpful observation, because we see the Lord ruling in this very way. The Branch will “break them [his enemies] with a rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9). The “male Child [will] rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5).
One of the more striking references to the destruction of the wicked (one) by Jesus’ judging word is 2 Thes. 2:8: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” Luther expresses this truth in one of his hymns with these words, “One little word shall fell him.” In Christ’s coming, “the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11).
Calvin explains that this word is also proclaimed by Christ’s ministers (cf. Luke 10:16). Christ even now reigns with the ‘rod’ of his mouth, though he is at present in heaven. And so while we might be inclined to interpret this passage merely as a future event, we are not allowed to do so, since even today he speaks.
5 Delitzsch explains that this belt “fastens the clothes together, [. . .] all the qualities and active powers of His person” (184). This verse is thus a summary of the preceding. All his rule is marked by righteousness and faithfulness. He is “called Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11).
Young demonstrates another possible sense, that the belt or girdle was worn in preparation for wrestling with an opponent (385-6, and fn11). This idea is supported by Paul’s use in Eph. 6:14, which suggests that the belt is a symbol of strength and readiness. Calvin gives a third sense, that the belt is a “royal emblem,” similar to the sceptre earlier ascribed to him (382; cf. Job 12:18).
All three senses may be included here: (1) a holding together of all these wonderful attributes, (2) a preparation and readiness for conflict, and (3) an emblem of royalty. It seems to be that the text gives too little data to support any one interpretation dogmatically.
The Branch’s Peace-covered Dominion (Verses 6-9)
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L ORD
As the waters cover the sea.
6 We now consider the quality of his rule. Motyer offers this helpful analysis of the structure of these verses (124): “Verses 6-8 offer three facets of the renewed creation and verse 9 is a concluding summary. First, in verse 6 there is the reconciliation of old hostilities [. . .] Secondly, in verse 7 there is a change of nature within the beasts themselves [. . .] Thirdly, in verse 8 the curse is removed. The enmity between the woman’s seed and the serpent is gone [. . .] Finally, in verse 9 the coming Eden is Mount Zion—a Zion which fills the whole earth.” (124; Cf. Gen. 3:15).
Oswalt suggests three ways of interpreting these verses: First, literalisticly, perhaps then suggesting an alteration of the natures of these animals. He argues that because of this alteration, we ought to consider other interpretations. Second, spiritualistically, that the animals represent the spiritual conditions of human beings. He believes this view would depend merely on the exegete’s ingenuity to determine what is truly meant, unlike Isa. 5:1-7 which clearly indicates what is meant (e.g., Israel is the vineyard).
Lastly, figuratively, in which he says that, “In this approach one concludes that an extended figure of speech is being used to make a single, overarching point, namely, that in the Messiah’s reign the fears associated with insecurity, danger, and evil will be removed, not only for the individual but for the world as well” (283; Oswalt prefers this third interpretation).
Delitzsch says this concerning these verses: “The fathers, and such commentators as Luther, Calvin, and Vitringa, have taken all these figures from the animal world as symbolical. Modern rationalists, on the other hand, understand them literally but regard the whole as a beautiful dream and wish” (184).
Calvin’s figurative interpretation is confirmed by his first comment on this verse, “He [Isaiah] again returns to describe the character and habits of those who have submitted to Christ,” in which he takes Isaiah to be describing the relationship between a king and his subjects as a shepherd to his flock (383). But as Calvin notes, this text goes beyond this to suggest a blessed restoration of the world, all brought about by the rule of the Branch.
This is not very far removed from what Paul expressed: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Rom. 8:19-22).
Hosea says something similar to Isaiah: “In that day I will make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, With the birds of the air, And with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, To make them lie down safely” (2:18). This verse may be appealed to as supporting evidence for the figurative interpretation. Other prophets will at times even include vegetation in submission to the Messiah’s rule (see Hos. 2:20-22; Isa. 30-23-26; Ezek. 34:25-31).
Young cites numerous extra-biblical references dealing with this idea, a peace in creation as expression of the hope for a return to Paradise (388, fn13). But all this was the outworking of a blessing promised in the Law to a would-be faithful Israel, when the Lord said, “I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land” (Lev. 26:6). This verse is key, for by it we see that the peaceable relation of animals is ultimately a sign of God’s blessing.
Indeed, this is a return to the state of Paradise, for before the Fall the ideal state was described thus: “’Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so” (Gen. 1:30). So while a figurative interpretation is useful and legitimate, it may not remove the possibility of a literal fulfillment.
And what an amazing description of the peace to come through the rule of the Branch. As Young beautifully tells: “A little child can scarcely be trusted with tame animals, but like a shepherd that drives his flock, he leads these without fear and in perfect safety” (388). No fears and worries come from any direction when once this Spirit-filled Lord ascends the throne and exercises his rule.
7 Ridderbos says here: “The details of this picture have been taken from the life of this present earth, and one cannot infer from these verses that in the realm of glory there will be straw-eating lions!” (127). But why not? Straw-eating lions must have existed in the prelapsarian creation. Why should we deem it improbable that that will be the case in the eschaton? It seems that on the basis of this text, we must not be so dogmatic as to exclude the possibility.
8 Oswalt: “The contradiction of a child playing about the den of poisonous snakes can almost be felt physically. One wants to snatch the child away from the presence of sudden, arbitrary death” (284). We must come to feel the force of the amazing and penetrating quality of the peace expressed in these verses.
As already commented earlier, there is a striking connection between this verse and Gen. 3:15. Here the curse which was brought about on account of the Fall is utterly removed! Surely, this is a striking thing: that first enmity between man and creation was with the serpent, and now nursing and weaned children may play by and with them.
But this brings us to an interesting observation if we were to deny this as figurative language: Will there be nursing infants in heaven? This leads some to take this as a description of the premillennial reign of Christ. The next verse, though, compels us to abandon this interpretation as a possibility.
9 Delitzsch believed that the subject (‘they’) is the animals, who will not hurt or destroy (185). This seems to be confirmed by Isa. 65:25, which reads: “’The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ Says the LORD.”
But if this is the case, what is meant by “holy mountain,” since wild beasts never made Zion their home? Comparing this with Isa. 57:13, it seems to suggest that “the whole of the holy mountain-land of Israel” is in view (Delitzsch, 185; cf. Ps. 78:54; Ex. 15:17).
Oswalt follows Young, stating that “Those who take a literal interpretation of the passage, as Delitzsch does, find themselves constrained to argue that they here continues to refer to the animals, whereas a more figurative understanding allows for a wider, more natural interpretation” (284).
Young also exegetes this passage with this different interpretation, saying that Mount Zion is clearly in view, and that it is men that will not hurt or destroy in God’s holy mountain (392, and fn20; cf. Isa. 2:2). He argues that Isa. 65:25 is not normative for interpreting this verse, and aptly states that, “Before there can be peace there must first be knowledge” (392).
The idea that the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord is not limited to Isaiah. Hab. 2:14, “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” Jer. 31:34 speaks similarly about the promise found in that New Covenant that will be made: “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.”
Concerning this language of “the knowledge of the Lord,” Motyer says that it “is a verbal noun (cf. verse 3). It is more ‘alive’ than the abstract word ‘knowledge’ and could be translated ‘full of knowing the Lord’” (125). Watts says, “The knowledge of Yahweh imparted by his Spirit has made it possible for all the world to be as God’s own sanctuary with no need for separations and barriers” (173).
Young argues that it would be inappropriate to apply these verses (of a restored creation) to the so-called future (pre)millennial reign of Christ, seeing that according to that view there will yet be sin in the world in a final and last rebellion. If there is sin in the world, then v. 9 will not have taken place. He concludes that this fully restored creation can only be describing that new heaven and earth (391; cf. Rev. 21:1-4).
Leupold agrees with Young as to the time of this fulfillment when he says, “Surely we have thus far witnessed nothing of this transformation of nature. Its achievement shall be saved up until the days of the second coming of Christ, when there shall be a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (222).
This passage is extremely eschatologically oriented. From Isaiah’s point-of-view, the Spirit-blessed Branch had not yet come; from our point-of-view, he has. And thus, with his coming, he ushers in a new era. The realities of this passage—a Spirit-filled ministry of members united to the Messiah, a righteous rule by the perfect King, and a measure of peace—are already coming to pass today, though we look for its ultimate fulfillment and consummation in our Lord’s blessed Second Coming.
We also see, though, that the wicked will be punished and destroyed. In the end, justice will be meted out. So while this is a word of hope for God’s people, it is a stern warning to those who would not humble themselves to “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little” (Ps. 2:12).
The truth of our passage is the scandalous notion that with the coming of Christ two realities are affirmed side-by-side: he gives us hope, but he will come in judgment. Previously, those gifted by the Spirit brought a deliverance for Israel from her enemies (see the entire book of the Judges). This deliverance amounted to a salvation for Israel, but at the same time, it was judgment upon the wicked.
Let us always bless the Lord for that Branch whom he has sent, having been enabled by the Spirit to effect our salvation, who then also freely gives us the Spirit, brings to pass a Kingdom in which righteousness dwells, and renews a fallen creation!
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Young, Edward J. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1964. [References in the introduction are from this work.]
Young, Edward J. The Book of Isaiah, chapters 1 to 18 [vol. 1; old NICOT]. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1965. [References in the comments are from this work.]
[Scripture quotations, where not my translation, are taken from the New King James Version.]