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A Quick Bible Study, Vol. 144: Isaiah 11 - Messianic Prophecy 700 Years Before the Birth of Jesus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
J Pat Carter

Author's Note: All previous volumes of this series are here. The first 56 volumes are compiled into the book "Bible Study For Those Who Don't Read The Bible."  "Part Two," featuring volumes 57-113, and now available for sale.


Thanks for joining today’s study, and special thanks to loyal readers whose comments greatly enhance this study. Let’s open our Bibles to Isaiah chapter 11: 1-10  — a Christmas season Messianic prophecy. (Learn more about Messianic prophecies in Vols. 93 and 94.)  

Scholars believe the prophet Isaiah wrote chapters 1-39 around 701 B.C. Therefore, imagine chronicling an event that would occur 700 years later. Nearly impossible, but for Isaiah being guided by the Hand of God. 

In my NIV Study Bible, the subtitle 'The Branch From Jesse' introduces Isaiah chapter 11. And who was Jesse? That question is best answered in the genealogy of Jesus recorded in the first verse of the New Testament’s first book, that reads:

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham”: (Matthew 1:1). 

Then skip through several generations until:

“Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse, the father of King David” (Matthew 1: 5-6).

Note that the apostle Matthew was on a mission “to prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus is their Messiah,” a quote from my study Bible. Thus, after several verses of who begat whom, we arrive at verse 17:

“…and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16).

Matthew cited the genealogy to establish the authenticity and credibility of Jesus (as if He needed any), but remember that Matthew was writing to a tough, skeptical audience.   


Now back to Isaiah with an important question, why ‘The Branch from Jessie’ subtitle and not his famous son King David? Keep reading. But first, the opening passages of Isaiah 11:

“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 of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and 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” (Isaiah 11:1-4).

“Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist” (Isaiah 11:5). From that verse, might St. Paul have received some inspiration to write “The Armor of God?” (Refer to Vol. 81.)

Who do you think Isaiah is describing in those first five verses? It sure sounds like the Messiah who will be born in about 700 years — but worth the wait because “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him.”   

The following verses are more challenging to understand describing the Messianic Age  — a world that is peaceful and surreal but beyond the time already foreseen by Isaiah:


“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 cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.”

Such an Age without conflict is incomprehensible to us. Isaiah continues:

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, [Jerusalem] for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious” (Isaiah 11: 9-10).

However, does “that day” refer to Christ’s Resurrection or the Messianic Age when he comes again? Not sure. But what can we learn from Isaiah 11:1-10? Answer: Jesus is coming. Check. Jesus is coming again; check-check, and “He will be empowered with the spirit of God Almighty.” 

But wait, there is a powerful message pointing to why Isaiah (though God) used the name of Jesse and not his more famous son King David. Also, recall that in Jesus’s time, Jews thought the Messiah would be a conquering hero similar to David, and Jesus failed to qualify. 

Fortunately, I found a worthy explanation from a commentary credited to St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Bonne Terre, Missouri, dated Dec. 7, 2016. I requote the two concluding paragraphs: 


“Today Isaiah is pointing us to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of his prophecy and the answer to our prayer. Christ is both shoot and root. Jesus is the shoot from the stump of Jesse, the shoot springing up from what looked like the dead stump of the Davidic line. Jesus is the one who brings life out of death. From the cross and tomb, our Lord and Savior arises to bring us life.”

“And this shoot from the stump of Jesse is also its root. Christ the Son of God is the origin and source of the line of kings that leads to him. A new and greater David, who brings in an even greater kingdom, the peaceable kingdom of paradise restored. A kingdom that extends even to us Gentiles. An everlasting kingdom that will include all those who hope in Christ their Savior. Yes, this is the fruit coming from the one who is both the shoot and the root of Jesse.”

And now you know. So, amid secular “sparkle season,” be mindful of its genesis —foretold by a Hebrew prophet around 700 years before His birth when “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (More fruitful than Christmas fruit baskets from Harry and David.) 

Moreover, we are not celebrating a “holiday,” that watered-down term widely used to avoid offending anyone. But let’s offend! Let’s say “Merry Christmas” aloud and proud because we are celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! 


Remind everyone you know that Christmas is the Mass of Christ. Jesus was sent to humankind as the greatest gift money can’t buy. Amen to that! 

Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, "Bible Study For Those Who Don't Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. “Part 2,”  with the same title, reprints Vols. 57-113. Order it here.  

Myra is Executive Director of SignFromGod.org and the National Shroud of Turin Exhibit, two ministries dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. Contact: Twitter @MyraKAdams and MyraAdams01@gmail.com .

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