This chapter is a bit confusing, and I believe that it has led a bunch of people to believe a lot of foolishness.
1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 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.
Who is being described in the above verses?
Jesus Christ, God the Son. He is the Branch. And, I find this use of ‘Branch’ interesting.
We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But, He grew up on Nazareth. And the name, Nazareth has the same root as the word ‘Branch’.
Branch: נֵ֖צֶר – pronounced nah-tsehr
Nazareth: נָצְרַת – pronounced nah-tsrat
Was God leaving hints that Jesus would grow up in a place called ‘Branch’?
Whatever the connection between Nazareth and Hebrew word for Branch, we already know that those two verses have already happened.
Furthermore, I find it ironic that the translators translated this correctly. Most of the time, when you see the word ‘Branch’, they get it wrong. But, moving on…
In verses 3-5, this is how Jesus will judge, when He returns:
3 His delight is 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 meek 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.
But, what about the rest?
6 “The wolf also 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 ones 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 Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
Well, I don’t know if you’ve been watching any National Geographic documentaries, but I’ve seen quite a few. Nothing like verses 6-9 has happened yet. But, we have descriptions of the millennium, and it is clear to me that this is the thousand year reign of Christ that follows the Great Tribulation.
However, this next verse looks like it has been fulfilled.
10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
Well, I guess that it’s somewhat possible to see this also as a prophecy of the Millennium, but it certainly is much easier to see this as having been fulfilled over the course of the past two thousand years.
11 It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the islands of the sea.
Here is where we see our first bit of confusion. We just got done reading about The Millennium, and then it says ‘in that day’ God will bring His people a SECOND TIME.
Are we still talking about The Millennium?
Is this something that WILL HAPPEN?
In the future?
If this is something that will happen in the future, during the Millennium, then I am confused. If there are ANY Jews left in Assyria (Southern Turkey), Egypt, Pathros (Sudan), Cush (Ethiopia), Elam (Iran), Shinar (Iraq). Hamath (Syria), they are just a tiny handful. If there are more than that, they’re hiding from us.
And, what are these islands of the sea?
Are these islands in the Mediterranean Sea?
These COULD be Mediterranean islands and there are a few thousand Jews living in Cyprus and Greece. But, you could make a case for North and South America to be islands. And, Britain and Australia. There are Jews still in those places, but that still feels like we are trying to force the issue, like trying to place a square that requires something round.
There WERE Jews in Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar and Hamath. They fled to Israel after they were thrown out of their homes by the Muslims in 1948 and 1967. And, the Ethiopian Jews returned to Israel in the ’80s and ’90s.
Are there any Jews left in any of those areas?
No. (Or, so few that it makes no difference.)
So, unless a whole bunch of Jews return to those places, it would seem to me that this prophecy has been fulfilled. But, I understand if you want to put a question mark over that.
Let’s move on:
12 He will set up a banner for the nations,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
13 Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart,
And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
14 But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west;
Together they shall plunder the people of the East;
They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab;
And the people of Ammon shall obey them.
I think that we can make a pretty strong case for the fulfillment of these three verses already. Gaza, the land of the Philistines, has been subdued by Israel. The Palestinian territories of the West Bank have been subjugated. And Jordan (Edom, Moab and Ammon) is very careful to not make Israel upset. In fact, Jordan does a lot in cooperation with Israel.
Having said that, you can also make a strong case that more needs to be done. And, I think that moves are being made, right now, to finish what is left.
But, what about verse 15?
15 The Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;
With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,
And strike it in the seven streams,
And make men cross over dry-shod.
This has NOT been fulfilled. Never in history has the Nile – or its tributaries – been dried up. It hasn’t happened, so we must place this in the ‘To Be Fulfilled’ column.
Now, we will see the Nile dry up in Isaiah 19. You can go there, now, if you are impatient:
However, the drying up of the Nile seems to be a man-made catastrophe. It seems that the building of dams on the Nile is what fulfills verse six of Isaiah 19. But, maybe God brings a drought that causes Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya to grab as much of the headwaters of the Nile as possible.
It’s bad enough that the Ethiopians are building a massive dam on the Blue Nile (60% of the Nile), but if God adds a huge drought… well …that would do horrific damage.
Then, we end Isaiah 11, with this verse:
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of His people
Who will be left from Assyria,
As it was for Israel
In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
How did the people of Israel come out of Egypt?
They were thrown out.
How did the Jews of Syria, Iraq and surrounding countries come to Israel in 1948 and 1967?
They were thrown out.
I think that the parallels are significant. And yes, I believe that this prophecy has been fulfilled. But, let’s not end there.
The prophecy continues on through to chapter 12. (The Bible was divided into chapters only 700 years ago, and into verses around 500 years ago.)
Again, the chapter and verse divisions of the Bible are somewhat modern inventions. And, those divisions were made by people that probably were not in a saving relationship with God. And, when you see the first verse of this chapter, you’ll see that we aren’t done with the prophecy that began in chapter 11. But, the tone is very different, so you can see why it was made a separate chapter.
Isaiah 12 is short, so let’s just look at the whole thing at once:
1 And in that day you will say:
“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”
3 Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
4 And in that day you will say:
“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
6 Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”
Okay, so THAT is the landmark that we are looking for – the salvation of Israel. The children of Jacob repent of their sins and turn towards God.
Now, look at verse six…
Where is Zion?
Zion is ALWAYS Jerusalem.
But what does it mean when the Holy One is in the midst of Zion?
This makes Isaiah 12 sound like the millennium. Yes, it’s true that Jesus, The Holy One, is in our midst when we gather together in His name. But, we MUST be careful about spiritualizing something that God meant to be literal and exact.
So, we find an interesting forest of question marks in our journey. But, I’m betting that we’ll see more clarity as we move on.
In a previous version of this website/book, I had included Isaiah 13. It’s all about the destruction of Babylon (Iraq) – a destruction that has not happened. BUT, that chapter does NOT include the one landmark that ties our story together:
The salvation of the children of Jacob.
So, as interesting as Isaiah 13 is… I must take it out. But, feel free to read it for yourself, here:
Please remember that Babylon was never destroyed ‘as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah’ – verse 19. So, this prophecy is coming. But, there’s a reason to at least mention this. And, we find it in Isaiah 14.
If you looked at Isaiah 13, you’ll notice how it ends:
22 The hyenas will howl in their citadels,
And jackals in their pleasant palaces.
Her time is near to come,
And her days will not be prolonged.”
And, if you understand that separation of the Bible into chapters and verses is artificial, then you’ll understand why Babylon’s days will not be prolonged:
1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob. 2 Then people will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them for servants and maids in the land of the Lord; they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.
Verse one of Isaiah 14 gives the reason for why Babylon must be destroyed quickly in verse 22. And, that word ‘For’ is actually ‘because’, in Hebrew.
Unfortunately, the prophecy of Isaiah 13 is not completely fulfilled. Much more destruction is in Babylon’s (Iraq’s) future. It will be a messy, blood-soaked atrocity that is coming, at the hands of the Iranians.
NOTE: This is NOT the woman who is called Mystery and Babylon in Revelation. Please keep a clear head about this. Isaiah 13 is clearly speaking of a physical city called Babylon. We do not have permission from God to twist His words.
And no, I do not think that Isaiah 12 coincides with Hasmonean period where the Jews threw off their Hellenistic rulers. If anything, the Hasmonean period was just an interlude between times of exile for the people of Israel. And, the Hasmoneans never controlled more than a fraction of the Land of Israel.
Then, to make things possibly more confusing, God shows us this, in verse three:
3 It shall come to pass in the day the Lord gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve,
What kind of rest is the Lord talking about here?
Is it the rest from the burdens of this world? The rest from work?
Or, is it that rest that only Jesus gives?
I think that it’s the latter, but I completely understand if you disagree. But, let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 11.
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Is it a rest of the hands that Jesus offers us?
That’s not the most important rest. No, Jesus gives us a far more important rest – the rest of the soul.
4 that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say:
“How the oppressor has ceased,
The golden city ceased!
5 The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
The scepter of the rulers;
6 He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke,
He who ruled the nations in anger,
Is persecuted and no one hinders.
7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
They break forth into singing.
8 Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you,
And the cedars of Lebanon,
Saying, ‘Since you were cut down,
No woodsman has come up against us.’
Up to verse 8, everything seems crystal clear. The city of Babylon is destroyed. And, for some reason the cedars of Lebanon flourish because no one comes around and cuts them down. The world becomes quiet. At peace.
And then, it seems that there’s a change in focus:
9 “Hell from beneath is excited about you,
To meet you at your coming;
It stirs up the dead for you,
All the chief ones of the earth;
It has raised up from their thrones
All the kings of the nations.
10 They all shall speak and say to you:
‘Have you also become as weak as we?
Have you become like us?
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
And the sound of your stringed instruments;
The maggot is spread under you,
And worms cover you.’
12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
I don’t like it that the translators took such license, but the Hebrew word ‘Heylel’ doesn’t seem to be used anywhere else in the Bible. It DOES seem to be a name, and the Hebrew spelling is very close to praise – ‘Halel’. So, the reason why they chose ‘Lucifer’ because this ‘Heylel’ is the one who glorifies – or carries glory.
Luci = light
Fer = carry
ANNNND… the rest of the verse seems to indicate that this is Satan, so we should just leave it at that. But, I will still grumble at the insertion of a LATIN word, into the Old Testament.
Then, the Bible continues to make it clear that this is Satan:
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yup. Satan. THAT is who this is.
Now, I am tempted to analyze the rest of this chapter that deals with the fall of Satan. And, we KNOW that he falls and is placed in a bottomless pit for a thousand years, and I leave it to you to contemplate this.
Furthermore, this passage would seem to indicate that the salvation of Israel seems to connect with the Millennium. And, the discussion of Satan’s fall.
Satan is described as…
17 Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’
20a You will not be joined with them in burial,
Because you have destroyed your land
And slain your people…
Satan kills his own people and destroys his own land. And, we see a reason for God’s judgment and wrath upon the earth because…
21 Prepare slaughter for his children
Because of the iniquity of their fathers,
Lest they rise up and possess the land,
And fill the face of the world with cities.”
Then, the Lord switches the discussion back to the destruction of Babylon and then Assyria. Following that, a division is made with this verse:
28 This is the burden which came in the year that King Ahaz died.
That’s about 716 BC.
Again, remember that the chapter divisions are NOT inspired by God. So, think of this as the beginning of a new chapter. What follows is a description of the utter destruction of the Philistines:
But, Isaiah isn’t done writing. He has this last bit to say:
29 “Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia,
Because the rod that struck you is broken;
For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper,
And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.
30 The firstborn of the poor will feed,
And the needy will lie down in safety;
I will kill your roots with famine,
And it will slay your remnant.
31 Wail, O gate! Cry, O city!
All you of Philistia are dissolved;
For smoke will come from the north,
And no one will be alone in his appointed times.”
I find it interesting that the Lord speaks of the Philistines in this passage.
The Palestinians have taken upon themselves the identity of the Philistines, which is what “Palestinian” means – the people of the Philistines.
But, notice how God ends this discussion of the destruction of the Philistines:
32 What will they answer the messengers of the nation?
That the Lord has founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.
THAT is a GIGANTIC statement. God didn’t say “Israel”. He didn’t say Land of Israel. He said ZION.
Notice what the Palestinians are fighting over:
Iran gave the name ‘Jerusalem Force’ to the special operations branch of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). They use the Arabic name for Jerusalem:
In fact, it seems that a lot of people are intent on capturing and ruling over Jerusalem. Yet, God says:
The Lord has founded Zion
And, let me add this verse that was given to the children of Israel as they were about to cross the Jordan River and enter the land that was being given to them. That land was described as…
a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
The eyes of the Lord are always on the Land of Israel.
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