The Day of the Nazarene

Isaiah 11

Chapter 11: Here an abrupt change is made from the events associated with the Assyrian Kings who began their assault on the nations of Israel and Judah to a further description of the Messiah and his times. The last of the important interactions of the Assyrians under Sennacherib has just been described which introduced the prophet's return to the future visit of the Messiah; and the glories of his reign as reason for rejoicing which carries through to the completion of chapter twelve. Reciprocating between Assyrian and the Messiah has been part of the style of Isaiah from chapter seven onward to this place. Identifying the points at which the "scene" changes in Isaiah is part of the key to understanding the literary style and therefore the message of Isaiah

1. But there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

Verse 11:1 The Branch of David: [ve-yatsa' choter migeza yishshay ve-natser mishsharashayv yiphrah].
There are two Hebrew words translated "branch" which are used in the "Branch" prophesies. The word Nazar (natser) is used here in this verse. This is a key messianic verse which shows that the "Tsemach" () Branch prophecies and the "Nazer" Branch prophecies are linked and are one and the same because both forms of the Branch prophecies teach that He is the son of David. Here, the coming Nazarene is to be of the family of Jesse who was the father of David. This verse makes it plain that the word Nazer is to be linked to the Branch prophecies and that other occasions of its use should be investigated. Just as every use of the word "branch" translated from Tsemach" in the Bible is not in a messianic context and is therefore not a revelation about the coming of the Messiah so also the use of "Nazar" will only have such mystical connection in contexts that are clearly messianic like this one. In some of them, as here, the connection is perfectly clear. Jesus, whose name is the "Branch," is just so because Nazarene means "The Branch." See the chapter "Excursus on "the Nazarene" in this book for a more detailed review of this word and its use by Isaiah. The Aramaic Targum of Isaiah of the inter testament period substitutes the word "Messiah" for "Nazar" in the commentary-paraphrase of this verse where it makes this a long range prophecy. It says a "king messiah" will come from Jesse's son's sons. Thus the scribes of the inter-testament period were convinced that the Messiah would be a "Nazar." The same idea and words are inserted in the Targum of 14:29 with less apparent reason.

2 And the spirit of the LORD 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; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and shall slay the wicked with the breath of his lips.

Verse 4: "Rod of his mouth and breath of his lips:" Today's most popular explanation of the warrior motif relates it erroneously to the "second coming." I think the reason that Jews of the first century, even the apostles at first, missed the warrior motif the first time was because they did not read the total context of Messiah "striking the earth with the rod of his mouth and slaying the wicked with the breath of his lips."
They did not and some still do not understand the nature of the war. The contrast between the messianic mission and the warriors of the Assyrian Empire-- the physical as opposed to the spiritual impact-- is made clear particularly where Tiglath Pilezer is mentioned in 9:2 and then swinging back and forth for the rest of the section (chaps 9-12) between the Messiah and the Assyrians; contrasts the physical with the spiritual war and victory for a future Zion wrought by the Nazarene root of Jesse. If it is hind sight that helps see that, then that is in harmony with prophecy being complete in its fulfillment,-- not speculation. Speculation caused many to miss him the first time because they missed the kind of war he is in. "There was war in heaven... " I fear that many will miss him the second time because the popular and exclusive but questionable doctrine of dispensational premillenialism holds a preeminent albeit speculative position in the evangelical world today and it teaches what is now, but has not always been, most popular: that Jesus will come the second time as a conquering majesty since he missed doing that the first time. There is no need to separate the two motifs. He is at the same time the suffering servant and the conquering warrior in the event of the cross and at the acme of which he administered the death blow to Satan which caused Satan's removal from heaven to his exclusive access to the physical universe. The event of Calvary is still, and will remain, the most important act of the Bible and it is the center of the Warrior's struggle of words. The second coming will not upstage that event but will simply be the consummation of what began on Golgotha
The current thought that the plain of Esdraelon will be a locale for a physical war in which Messiah will fight a literal battle because he didn't do it the first time seems incongruous to me because the same verses which describe the battle and victory (accomplished in the central act of his visit to earth) are still construed to include Russians dying in the shadow of Carmel on the banks of the Kishon. This, to me, minimizes the events that have made him the central character of all history. His means of having his name apportioned among the greatest of history was rejected by our Jewish friends' ancestors at his first coming. Will those who look for a "White Steed" reject the "foal of an ass" again? He came the first time with power and glory and established Zion. Those who, from Isaiah's time, looked for Zion and those who found their life in it have not been disappointed with what went forth from Zion on Pentecost. And I remain convinced that at the second coming He will take those who bow to the carpenter, not the majesty, since he gave his life to convince us where true power, glory and majesty are found. It remains in the "rod of his mouth and the breath of his lips."

The victory supper of the Lamb announcing his victory in Armageddon is recorded in Revelation 19. The picture there is of an army clothed with righteousness (Rev 19:8) and the weapon Jesus uses to win the battle is the same as that mentioned by Isaiah. It is the sword that proceeds out of His mouth. (Rev 19:11-19) Armageddon will be fought and won with the Word of God. Not human physical armor.

5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

Verse 6: "The wolf...etc" The Aramaic Targum paraphrase places this verse: "In the days of the Messiah of Israel."

7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the nursing child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glory.

Verse 10: "In that day" The day of the Nazarene of verse one. The Nazarene prophesies of Isaiah are extraordinary. See the excursus on the Nazarene in this book. Since this encompasses the period or "day" when the events of this chapter take place then the return of the remnant "the second time" in the next verse (verse 11) speaks of the ingathering of Jew and Gentile into the messianic kingdom. It can not refer to the first return at the founding of the second commonwealth since it is to happen after the appearance and "in the day" of' the branch out of Jesse. No one has suggested that any contender for the office of Messiah appeared in the period from the founding of the second commonwealth under Zerubbabel through the Silent Years. Thus the gathering spoken of here would have to be after the ingathering of the silent years. Isaiah sees both the first ingathering when the nation was reborn and a season of return would take place from Egypt and Assyria and beyond and the second ingathering at the time of the Root of David. Isaiah mentions both of these events and speaks of them in their proper contexts.

11 And it shall happen in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

Verse 11: The second time: This plainly sets the stage of fulfillment in a distant future recovery and ingathering after the first ingathering of the remnant tribes from the scattering of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians and later, Judah, at the hands of the Babylonians who will be introduced by Isaiah immediately after this section (chapters 7 to 12) is complete. The first recovery is also in the future. Hind sight tells us that the first recovery began in 536 B.C. or about 200 years from the commencement of the prophecy of Isaiah. That "day" of recovery would last almost 300 years during the period or "day" that we call the "silent years." The prophecy sets the second recovery to be done the "second time" after this first recovery period and places it at the time of the appearance of the "root of David" who is the Nazarene or "branch" of verse 1. This is a startlingly accurate outline of the future of God dealing with his people.

Verse 11: From Assyria etc: The list differs slightly in the LXX. It is: Assyria, Egypt, Babylonia, Ethiopia, Elam, the sun rising, Arabia, and the isles of the sea. The Isaiah Targum omits Ethiopian Cush and chooses Indian Cush as the remotest part of the then known world. Herodotus (fourth century B.C.) described Cushites of two kinds,-- eastern and western. Those in India and those in Africa are described by him in Book VII:70. In or about 40 B.C. Strabo, the Greek geographer, outlined the distribution of Ethiopians in the most remote extremes of the known world. He, like Herodotus, describes the differences of those south of Egypt with those fartherest east, i.e., India, in Geography: Book I:2,20-26 and Book II:3,8. In choosing India for Ethiopia (Cush) the Targum translators interpreted the passage to mean the Messiah would cause the return of exiles from every part of the inhabited earth during the "second" time. Both the LXX and the Targum put Babylonia for Shinar. The Targum paraphrase indicates that the translators believed this predicted event of the second return was future to them while the first was a part of their historical experience. For dating the Targum of Isaiah see the chapter on translation in this book.

12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Verse 12: An Ensign: As above in verse 11 the ensign is a standard to gather the combined remnant of all the tribes and the nations or Gentiles in the "day" of the "branch of David." This confirms again that the gathering is that of all nations into Zion in its perfected form, the church, after the first coming of the Messiah. 13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

Verse 13: Members of the restored Zion to dwell in peace: They will stop attacking each other and join forces to attack the enemy as in the verse following. Instead of Ephraim and Judah attacking each other they will fly against the Philistines, their common enemy. The mention of Moab and Ammon being subdued at the time that Israel and the gentiles are gathered must therefore speak of a future event after the return from Babylon in a second ingathering. Since Moab ceased to be a nation early in the Christian era, this makes the figurativeness of the completeness of Zion's conquest of its spiritual enemies very evident. This is to be spiritually understood, as is the rest of the chapter, since it speaks of the restoration of Israel after the appearance of the Nazarene of verse 1 which sets the stage and time of all of chapter 11.

14 But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.

Verse 14: Philistines: See note under 9:12 for LXX usage of this name. Follow other links in notes under 9:12 for further information on the Philistine name.

15 And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall strike it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. 16 And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

. Verse 16: The highway to Zion: This is not a new thought of a different return. He speaks here of the large numbers who will brought into the restored Zion in the "day" of the "branch of David" and illustrates it by what will then have been two former mass migrations of the people to Zion. The first was at the Exodus and the second, Isaiah has already promised as a future final result of the loss of Israel to the Assyrians as a national state. He has promised that they, as a remnant, will return to their land. That long term migration is described also by Zechariah when he says that those returning of Ephraim will fill up Gilead (Galilee) so that place will not be found for them. See Zec 10:10. The description of the large numbers who made up that return to the second commonwealth which return began in 536 B.C. and extended 300 years through the "silent years" is described in greater detail in Zechariah and Jewish Renewal, Pub. Moellerhaus, Clermont, FL 1992. Thus the mass migrations of the Hebrews from Egypt to Palestine and the mass migration of the tribes of Israel lost in Assyria which repeopled Gilead and Galilee are portents to the dimensions of the ingathering which is called in this chapter "the second time." This refers to the growth of the Zion of God through the ensign set up as and by the Nazarene.

Isaiah 12

1. And in that day you shall say, O LORD, I will praise you: though you were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and you comforted me.

Verse 1: "In that day" The day has not changed. it is still the day, or period, of the Nazarene Branch of the family of David. The messianic day of the David prophecies are the completion of the promised comfort and the cause of praise to YHWH for his provision for the final glorious outcome for his people Israel.

2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD YHWH is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation. 3 Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation. 4. And in that day you shall say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, repeat them so that his name will be exalted. 5 Sing to the LORD; for he has done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. 6 Cry out and shout, you inhabitant of Zion for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of you.

Verse 6: "Cry" and "shout" are both feminine verbs. See the foot note below

Verse 6: Final assurance to the "inhabitant of Zion." This is the final encouragement given to the true believer who is a remnant among the unbelievers in Israel. The former are called "inhabitants of Zion" while the latter "look to the earth." The true believer is here encouraged by the assurance that God will complete his work with the nation of Israel whom he has promised would be a blessing to the Gentiles in the future.

But this may not be the correct understanding of this verse because the word inhabiter "yosheveth" is feminine which some translations* render as "inhabitress" and therefore may refer to the Shekinah which was then dwelling in Mount Zion. It may be an appeal for our mighty God to cry out from Mount Zion. Isaiah uses feminine pronouns in reference to the Shekinah.

*See Rotherham (Make shrill thy voice and sing out thou inhabitress of Zion,) and Spanish SEV.(canta, oh Moradora de Sion) ASV footnotes the feminine form.

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