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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 11:1

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, December 17, 2007

The Branch From Jesse

11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (NIV)

Chapter 11 is the third prophecy about the coming Messiah in Isaiah. In a few well-chosen words Isaiah lays out the conflict that existed between God’s promise of a Messiah from David’s line and the spiritual deadness of King Ahaz. The family of David who still occupied David’s throne would not see the Messiah. What Israel was truly looking for was not a king who could lead them out of the present crisis nor a soldier who could bring them into the dominance of the Middle East. They needed an actual David, a man faithful to the Lord who would shepherd his people.

Isaiah talks about a shoot, a living growth, out of the dead stump of Jesse. Only David’s father could produce another David—and David’s spiritual Father, God himself, would produce the “beloved one” (that’s what “David” means) who would bless and redeem his people.

After the Assyrian crisis, Judah was left as a virtually dead stump; the Babylonians really did not have much trouble with their campaign. But even so, there were people left behind who were in the family line of Jesus. They weren’t kings, they were ordinary people. But they were people God worked through.

In the lists of that family line, Luke differs from Matthew after the Babylonian captivity. This seems to be due to Luke following the physical line of Jesus through Mary rather than his legal line through his step-father Joseph. Luke uses the phrase “He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph” (Luke 3:23), and then goes on to name Jesus’ grandfather Heli (probably Mary’s dad; Joseph’s father was named Jacob, Matthew 1:16), his great-grandfather Matthat, and his great-great-grandfather, Levi (Luke 3:23-24).

Even from a dead stump of a family line like Jesse’s, the Lord was able to raise up his Messiah. The Lord has also done something amazing with the dead and rotting stumps that we were, in our sins. He created faith in our hearts, and brought us to life, even though we had no more life in us than cold stones. With the living gospel, he raised us to living members of his family. As Peter says, God “called you to his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10). So today, “hold on to faith” (1 Timothy 1:19) and put your trust in Jesus, the shoot from Jesse’s stump; the Branch that will bear fruit, and remember that you yourself are some of the fruit that Jesus has produced. We are no longer slaves in the land (Nehemiah 9:36), but our forgiveness (Nehemiah 9:17) and even our very faith is the fruit of Jesus’ work.

Note: In the Bible, many of the names have special significance. It may be worth noting the meaning of some of Jesus’ ancestor’s names:

Heli (a form of “Eli” Luke 3:23-24) means My God. Matthat (Luke 3:24) means Gift. Levi (Luke 3:24) Joined is a reference to Jesus’ ancestral uncle, the brother of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:1). Melki (Luke 3:24) means My King. Joseph He Adds (Luke 3:23, 24) was both Jesus’ stepfather and the name of some other ancestors.

Two of Jesus’ ancestors named for prophets were Amos Burden (Luke 3:25) and Nahum Consolation (Luke 3:25).

Two unusual names were Esli Tamarisk Tree (Luke 3:25, cp. Genesis 21:33 and 1 Samuel 22:6) and Naggai Moonshine (or Joyful, Luke 3:25-26). A form of Naggai’s name meaning “lamp” occurs in Job 18:5. Another form of this word (Noghah) is the Hebrew word for the planet Venus. It doesn’t occur in the Bible, but the same word is translated “brightness” in the NIV (Isaiah 59:9). Joda (Hodaviah) means The Lord is Praise (Luke 3:26).

Finally, another very early ancestor, born shortly after the Babylonian captivity, was Josech (Luke 3:26) whose name may mean The Hedge (cp. Job 38:8, “Who shut up [hedged in] the sea behind doors?”). His name is significant because at that time the people were very concerned with returning to obedience under the Law of Moses, the hedge (Isaiah 5:5) that made Israel a special nation until the Savior, Jesus Christ, finally came.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

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