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Isaiah 11:1-10

Lesson Focus

There is coming a king who will be unlike any other king we have known, who will establish a kingdom that is unlike any other kingdom we have known: a kingdom of peace.

Lesson Outcomes

Through this lesson, students should:

  1. Understand that from what is seemingly dead, God will begin again

  2. Understand that Jesus is a different kind of king than we have ever seen before.

  3. Understand that God’s kingdom is different than any other kingdom we have seen before.

  4. Be encouraged to wait with Jesus so that we might learn how to live as citizens of this new kingdom.

Catching up on the Story

Israel has brought judgment upon herself for not living with justice and righteousness; they have not helped the widow, the orphan, and the poor. Therefore, God will enact judgment upon them from Assyria.

Assyria will crush Israel, but they will not realize that it is God who helps them conquer. They, too, will be destroyed by God the same way a forest is chopped down. Even though Israel will be mostly destroyed, a faithful remnant will remain. After all is said and done, God will gather Israel’s remnant and restore the nation. Israel will be restored but not to a human monarchy. There will come a messiah/king who, endowed with the Holy Spirit, will judge and rule Israel rightly. In this passage, this ruler’s character is described, his actions are announced, and the results of his rule are displayed. The result of the rule of Israel’s messiah/king will be peace for all creation. The second week of Advent is characterized by peace. This messiah/king is Jesus Christ, and he is the one who will bring about the type of peace envisioned in this text.

The Text

This week’s text is pregnant with messianic hope and expectation. The text presents a picture, as last week’s text did, of God’s preferred future for humanity. While the previous passages have described God’s destruction of both Israel and Assyria, this passage reminds us that destruction and judgment from God are not the final word. Restoration and peace will have the final say.

We can divide Isaiah 11:1-10 into three sections. Each section deals with three elements of this coming messianic figure. The movement here is from qualifications to performance to results. We learn about this messianic figure’s divine endowment for ruling (verses 2-3a), the absolute nature of the justice of his rule (verses 3b-5), and that his rule will be characterized by a quality of safety which all will enjoy (verses 6-9).

Oswalt comments about this passage, “What it does envision is a time when the ruler will no longer see himself as privileged but rather as responsible, when he will become one for whom his people’s welfare is uppermost. In a word, the ruler will be the servant, not because he is too weak to dominate, but because he is strong enough not to need to crush.” (Oswalt, 278) This is no ordinary king. This king will be endowed by God to rule Israel rightly.

A Shoot…Isaiah 11:1-3a

The text right before this week’s passage has just depicted Assyria’s pride. Assyria is seen as a great forest that is now being cut down. Assyria, as a stump with no signs of life left in her, has no possibility of re-growth. Israel, on the other hand, even though she has been cut down in seemingly the same way, still contains the possibility of life. From the stump of the peasant family, which once ruled Israel, will come new growth which will then save and lead Israel.

It is significant to note that it is not from David or any other monarch that this new growth comes. It is, rather, from an insignificant family. A common theme of the Old Testament is that people could not save themselves. Only those who had the Spirit of God rest upon them could do wonderful and great things, things for the salvation of their people. So too shall the Spirit of God rest upon this shoot that springs forth from the dead stump of Jesse. This shoot, which is here promised, will spring up because of the breath of God. This anointing of God’s Spirit will charac