Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 11 (1)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 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 the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroying all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Is. 11:1-9)

The Messiah will come, and in this passage Isaiah prophesied with more details regarding this Messiah. For He alone is the hope of Israel, and of the remnant that remains (Is. 9:1-7). He shall come forth from the family line of David, of the stump of Jesse (v. 1). We can see here that He would come in a day when the southern kingdom of Judah was no more, since the Davidic line was likened to a stump, thus showing forth that the Davidic dynasty have been brought to an end politically.

The Messiah who comes will have the Spirit of the LORD resting upon Him, of which it can be seen that this is the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and of knowledge and fear of the Lord (v. 2). The Messiah delights in God's law and will judge impartially (v. 3-4), judging not merely by appearances or what others say (v. 3), but in true righteousness and equity, meting out punishments against the wicked (v. 4). In fact, so righteous is the Messiah that righteousness is as it were part of his nature; part of his daily clothing (v. 5)

The prophecy then continues into describing the characteristics of the Messianic Kingdom (v. 6-9; in fact till the end of the chapter). In the historical context of Isaiah's time, this prophecy is truly a description of paradise. As opposed to wars and rumors of wars, the prophetic vision tells us of the wolf dwelling with the lamb, thus showing forth the contrast with peace in the Messianic Kingdom that extends even among Creation's predator and prey. Ditto for the leopard and the young goat, the calf and the lion and the fattened calf, which through repeated emphasis on this theme shows forth the great peace and tranquility of the Messianic Kingdom to come (v.6).

And a little child shall lead them. Nature would finally be placed back under the dominion of Mankind with even someone as small and powerless as a little child having dominion over the animals in leading them. Whereas before the curse was brought about by sin and is in effect, the Messianic Kingdom will bring the curse to an end and bring back the Creation order unpolluted by sin. The animals will similarly stop eating each other and have peace among themselves (v. 7), and such will be the recognition of Man's dominion over them that the cobra and the adder, both snakes, will not harm children who even intrude into their living spaces (v. 8). Since the snake/ serpent was the one used by Satan to tempt Eve and Adam into sinning, the curse on the serpent as Satan's instrument is that snakes in general are at enmity with Man (as a type of the spiritual reality of the enmity of Man against the Devil). Therefore, this language in verse 8 portrays to us explicitly that the Messianic Kingdom envisioned here refers to a kingdom where the effects of sin are totally reversed. Verse 9 carries on in showing us and emphasizing once again that there would no violence in God's Holy Mountain which symbolizes the place where God reigns. This turns out to be everywhere on that day, when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea". The whole earth will be filled with God's glory and praises as the elect remnant left rejoice in His holy name and revel in the knowledge of Him.

So what exactly is this Messianic Kingdom? As it can be seen, the description of this Kingdom can be nothing more the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at His second coming, for only after sin is destroyed can there be the reversal of the effects of the fall and the glory of God and the knowledge of God filling the whole earth. Yet, we have seen in earlier passages (cf. Is. 9) that the coming of the Messiah must not be too far off in the future, bring born of a virgin (Is. 7:14). When one looks at Jesus' first coming, the prophecy makes little sense until we see it as the Messiah coming two times (which is made necessary by passages such as Is. 53). Therefore, in Jesus' first coming, this Messianic Kingdom has already come spiritually in the hearts of Man for all who believe through submission to and believing in Jesus Christ, who are the firstfruits of redemption, and they will experience for themselves the peace of God in their hearts; peace between them and God. This same peace and submission would be extended to all of Creation when Christ comes again to set up His kingdom, which we have seen is without end (Is 9:7). Putting all of these together therefore shows us the identification of the Messianic Kingdom stated here with the reign of God at the end of ages, and this Messiah must therefore be very God Himself, since God will not have an equal king beside Him.

As a slight diversion, this passage is totally inconsistent with the traditional Dispensationalist scenario of the end times. For if the Messianic Kingdom was merely an earthly kingdom ruled by Christ for a thousand years, following which would arise the last great apostasy followed by the Great white throne judgment, then it must be said that sin was still present in that "millennial" kingdom, and therefore verses 6-9 cannot be used to describe it. For if we are called the firstfruits of salvation (Rom. 8:23), then we must be excised of sin and its effects before the Creation will be set free from the bondages of sin, and therefore such peace and tranquility in Creation would not happen unless we the people of God have been fully sanctified and glorified by God first.

So dearly beloved, are you therefore eagerly awaiting your Messiah and Lord? Are you seeking His second coming? Are you weary of this world with its depravity and wickedness and injustice? Look therefore unto Christ, and may He be your hope all your days. Amen.

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