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 (Isaiah 11:1–2, NKJV).
Wicked kings had ruled the northern kingdom of Israel since its inception at the revolt against king Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). God used the kingdom of Assyria as the rod of His anger to punish Israel and her wicked rulers (Isa. 10:5-11). A remnant of Israel returned to the land from captivity, foreshadowing a second and more incredible remnant, gathered by the gospel (“a remnant according to the election of grace,” Isa. 10:20-22; 11:10-16; Rom. 11:5). Isaiah predicted and described God’s righteous king who rules over God’s kingdom (“My holy mountain,” Isa. 11:9) in today’s passage. Springing forth from the roots of Jesse, this Rod and Branch would reign and execute righteous judgment on the evil and the good (Isa. 11:3-5; Jer. 23:5; Heb. 1:8-9). He is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of God (Matt. 1:1; Luke 1:30-35; Rom. 1:3-4). God’s Spirit would abide with Him, signifying heaven’s fellowship and approval (Matt. 3:16-17). His character would be stellar, marked by divine wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord (v. 2). As God’s Servant, the Messiah brought “justice to the nations” as He preached the gospel of the kingdom, proclaiming freedom from sin’s bondage and God’s vengeance against evil (Isa. 42:1-4; 61:1-3; Luke 4:16-21). God’s king, Jesus Christ, has come, received His kingdom, and reigns at God’s right hand (Psa. 110:1-2; Dan. 7:13-14; Acts 2:32-36; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 1:3, 13). All hail the King (Matt. 21:4-11).
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Luke 13:34–35, NKJV)!
God wanted to hold Jerusalem close to Himself, sheltered and safe. But she objected. Now, desolation would be left in the wake of their rejection of God’s prophets and the Messiah. Only in the Messiah’s salvation from her sins would she be blessed (v. 35; Ps. 118:26). Our nation faces many problems brought on by sin: Racism, hatred, division, crime, immoralities of all sorts, hypocrisy – the list goes on. Our sins disgrace our nation: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). The answer to our nation’s ills is not political, economic, sociological, psychological, or environmental. The answer is salvation from sin, conversion of hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. His gospel truth changes hearts and lives, replacing injustice with fairness. It overcomes evil. Salvation from our sins is the prosperity we must seek. “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord” (Ps. 118:25-26).
33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. (Luke 4:33–35, NKJV)
Why did Jesus rebuke and silence demons when casting them out? After all, this one and others declared the truth that Jesus is “the Holy One of God,” the Messiah (Lk. 4:34, 41). The answer is one of contrasting the sources of truth and the authority of Christ. As Jesus was teaching in the Galilean synagogues, He showed Himself to be the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (Lk. 4:16-21, 31-32, 42-44). The Messiah, not demons, would “preach the gospel” and “set at liberty those who are oppressed” by sin (Lk. 4:18, 35, 41). Christ gave miraculous evidence of His authority to save souls from sin’s power when He miraculously freed people from demonic possession, (Lk. 4:32, 35-36). Jesus applied His authority as the source of truth when He silenced demons from declaring Him to be the Christ, the Son of God. Christ, not demons, would proclaim “the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:19). Therefore, we must listen to Christ as the final authority for salvation and service to Him (Matt. 28:18-20; Heb. 1:2).
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. 28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28, NKJV)
King David looked beyond his rule over Israel to the kingdom over which his seed, the Messiah, would rule (Psa. 89:3-4, 34-36). The nations would turn to God and worship before Him (Matt. 8:11). Christ’s messengers, the apostles, called the nations to the Lord’s kingdom by preaching the gospel of the kingdom to the world (Isa. 2:2-3; Matt. 13:18-23; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:1-7; 16:25-27). Preaching the same gospel continues to draw people of every nation to worship before the Lord and King, Jesus Christ (Acts 2:32-41). The church built by Jesus is the kingdom of prophecy (Matt. 16:18-19; Mk. 9:1; Col. 1:13-14). Christ the King adds lost souls to His church (His kingdom) when they believe and obey the gospel (Acts 2:40-41, 47). King David knew God rules over the nations of men (Psa. 22:28). We (and our rulers) do well to remember the Lord God is Sovereign of every nation, and He rules in the affairs of men (Dan. 4:25, 32, 35). History is a boneyard of kingdoms, weak and strong. God’s kingdom is the only one that endures (Dan. 2:44). The Son of God reigns today at God’s right hand in righteousness (Psa. 110:1-2; Acts 2:33; Heb. 1:8-9). The gospel calls us to bow our knee to Jesus to be blessed by Him with salvation. To fight against Him and His gospel brings inevitable, eternal defeat (Psa. 2:10-12; Rom. 2:4-11; 2 Thess. 1:6-10).
7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” (Psalm 2:7–9, NKJV)
Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophetic proclamation of God’s plan to establish His Son as King (Acts 13:32-33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Rev. 1:5; 12:5). Thus, He is Jesus “Christ” (anointed). Christ begins speaking in verse 7 and rehearses the divine decree spoken to Him by the Lord. This verse is not describing the fleshly birth of Jesus. Instead, Scripture shows its fulfillment when God raised Jesus from the dead. That is when God brought forth or declared Jesus “to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The apostle Paul declared this fulfillment, “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You” (Acts 13:33). Jesus is the Son of God and King on God’s holy hill of Zion (Psa. 2:6-7). The full authority of Jesus Christ in heaven and on earth is recognized with His ascension to heaven and coronation at God’s right hand (v. 8; Acts 2:32-36; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23). Christ has the authority to give life and to punish sin (Jno. 5:26-27; 17:2). While offering merciful redemption to the world, Christ’s rule includes punishing those who fight against Him (Psa. 2:9, 1-3). To resist God’s Son brings sure condemnation (Jno. 5:28-30).
1 Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:1–3, NKJV)
Psalm 2 is a prophetic proclamation of the coronation of Christ, the Son of God, as King. The divine declaration of the psalm is undeniably Messianic. Its fulfillment is announced and applied to Jesus repeatedly in the New Testament (Acts 4:24-28; 13:32-33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Rev. 2:26-27; 19:15). God accomplished His purpose to crown Christ despite the opposition of Gentile and Jewish rulers “against the Lord and His Anointed” (v. 1; Acts 4:24-27; 2:23-24). We take heart and boldness of faith that man never thwarts the purposes of God (v. 2-3; Acts 4:28; Rom. 8:31). Like those who fought against God’s redemptive purposes in His Son Jesus Christ, you will not succeed if you fight against the will of God (Acts 5:39). Surrender to the will of Jesus in faith, repent toward God, obey the gospel of Christ, and He will save you from your sins (Jno. 8:24; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41; 10:34-35). Take the yoke of Christ and find rest for your soul instead of living in the bonds and shackles of sin (Matt. 11:28-30).
19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said. (John 1:19–23, NKJV)
We must know who we are. Christians are the children of God, disciples of Jesus, and servants of righteousness (1 Jno. 3:1-3; Acts 11:26; Rom. 6:17-18). John knew who he was. Being repeatedly asked, “Who are you?” John quoted Isaiah 40:3, declaring himself to be the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. John was not the Christ; he announced the Christ to Israel (Jno. 1:29-34; 3:28). John was not Elijah. He came “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” and called on Israel to repent (“to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just”) “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:16-17). Jesus identified John as Malachi’s prophesied Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 11:14; 17:10-12). John was not “the Prophet” predicted by Moses (Deut. 18:18-19). He would decrease as Jesus increased and spoke the words of God (Jno. 3:30-34). John knew who he was. He fulfilled his God-given work. Do you know who you are? If so, then use today to do the work God has given you (Rom. 12:3-8).
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3–4, NKJV)
A friend reminded me recently that God has always separated the light from the darkness. On His first day of creation, God commanded light into existence, called it “good,” and divided the light from the darkness. God’s word is light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105). (God’s word removes the darkness.) God sent the Messiah “as a light to the Gentiles,” bringing salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa. 49:6). (Christ calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light, 1 Pet. 2:9). Jesus said He is “the light of the world” and that by following Him, we “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jno. 8:12). God delivers those redeemed by the blood of Christ from the power of darkness, conveying them into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13-14). (God separates the redeemed from the dark power of sin and death.) God is light, and those who practice His truth walk in the light and have fellowship with Him (1 Jno. 1:5-7). And, the heavenly, eternal city of God is to be illuminated by the Lamb. There, the night is vanquished forever (Rev. 22:23-25). Yes, God separates the light from the darkness. Jesus said, “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (Jno. 12:35-36). Come out of the darkness into the light truth for salvation, divine fellowship, and eternal life.
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Matthew 23:37–39, NKJV)
God longed to gather His people to Himself to give them refuge and blessings. But their rejection of Christ brought terrible judgment upon Jerusalem and Judea at the hands of the Roman army. Like vultures devouring their prey, the Romans squelched a Jewish rebellion when general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (Matt. 24:1-2). Historian Josephus estimated 1.1 million Jews perished (many who had come to the city for Passover). Tens of thousands were enslaved and dispersed throughout the empire. Jerusalem’s house was left desolate because she refused to receive the Messiah (Lk. 19:41-44; Jno. 1:11). We must learn from Jerusalem’s demise that God judges sin, including those of His people. When Christians turn away from the Lord and reject His truth and mercy, we face the righteous judgment of God for our sins (Rom. 2:1-6). The gospel calls on Christians to abandon sin through repentance and embrace the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (2 Cor. 12:20-21; Eph. 1:3). “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). Beware. Practicing sin will not go unpunished. Christian friend, if there is sin in your life, repent and turn to the Lord without delay (1 Jno. 1:8-9).