Isaiah 11 – How Do You Solve a Problem Like Messiah

bible opened to isaiah 11 with theo salted almond dark chocolate

Today’s Chocolate: Theo salted almond dark chocolate

Today’s PassageIsaiah 11

There’s more on the Messiah in today’s passage. Right off the bat, Isaiah tells us, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit” (11:1). The Messiah will come as a descendant of David, who was possibly Israel’s greatest and most well-known king, the son of an ordinary guy named Jesse. He will usher in a time of righteous judgment on behalf of the poor, a time of peace when “the wolf will dwell with the lamb” (11:6). I wonder if the passage is intended to hark back to the Garden of Eden, free from death and therefore free from predator-prey relationships, an ecology free from suffering.

We’ve seen three major Messianic passages so far: Isaiah 7 with the virgin birth, Isaiah 9 with the son born as a human yet called “mighty God,” and today’s passage. However, none of these passages uses the phrase “the Messiah” (Heb. hamashiach) to identify the individual it’s describing. In fact, there’s no common phrase between them to indicate explicitly that they’re all referring to the same individual! That’s no problem if you already believe that Jesus fits the bill for all of them. But how would you respond to someone who maintains that Isaiah 9 is not a Messianic prophecy? Or to someone who points out that the Hebrew word ha’almah in Isaiah 7 refers simply to a young woman, not necessarily to a virgin? Sure, you can point out that Matthew is basing his interpretation on the work of the Septuagint translators from two hundred years before his time, who used the Greek word parthenos, “virgin,” to translate the Hebrew ha’almah.

But do you ever engage with people like that? Do you have any Jewish friends that you discuss this stuff with? I’m talking to you, Jackson Ferrell, the author of this blog post. Do you ever talk with people who might challenge your views or disagree with your interpretations? You and I both know you can’t stand an insular fideism that refuses to listen to anything outside its own circular reasoning. Maybe a form of that fideism has taken up residence in you. Maybe you need to discuss this stuff with more people, Jackson Ferrell.

And maybe you need to get off your soapbox and get back to the text at hand, too. You didn’t even get to the second half of the chapter where it talks about the second return of the Jewish remnant! Isaiah prophesies, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people” (11:11). Does this mean that before the just and peaceful reign of the Messiah, the remnant from Isaiah 10:20-22 will be scattered again? What’s the chronology here? Jackson Ferrell, you need to consider these important questions!


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