A. Read Isaiah 11:1–10
B. In the OT prophecies of Christ coming, there are a number of well-known themes. E.g. messiah (anointed one), lamb of God, king of kings, child of the promise, son of David, son of man, the suffering servant, the great prophet, the cornerstone, even the seed of the woman. But the one we’re going to be talking about this morning is relatively unknown in the Christian community, even though it is mentioned numerous times in the OT prophets.
C. Branch prophecies (Is.4:2 and Is.6:13), but not just here in Isaiah
1. Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming...when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
2. Jeremiah 33:15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
3. Zechariah 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, ...behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.
4. Zechariah 6:12 Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.
A. The theology of stumps
1. Destruction / judgment
a. Matthew 3:10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Also Luke 3:9.)
b. In Israel, there are not many trees.
2. Personal and targeted: done by someone on purpose, who came after the tree with an ax.
3. The look of death: a stump looks dead, but often there is life inside that stump.
a. I live in the woods. I deal with trees a lot. When I cut down a tree, I know I haven’t necessarily gotten rid of it unless I’ve painted the stump with poison.
B. The Davidic dynasty promise
1. When Babylon conquered Judah in 597BC, it looked like the tree of David's dynasty had ended.
2. There were no more kings. Even though God had promised that the son of David would sit on the throne forever, there was no throne to sit on.
3. And that’s how it looked for six hundred years, until Jesus was born the Son of David.
4. Lo and behold! a shoot grew out of the stump and became the greatest king of all!
5. It is not insignificant that this sprout grows out of the stump of Jesse. He is a new David.
C. “Branch” is never used as a title in the NT.
1. But Rev.5:5 tells us that Jesus is the shoot of David
2. Shoot = branch (A shoot from the stump of Jesse = a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.)
3. This is probably what was behind the intriguing use of palm branches at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13; Mk 11:8).
4. And it may be what is behind the strange allusion in Matt.2:23, “He shall be called a Nazarene” because in Isaiah 11:1 and other references NETZER is similar to “Nazarene.”
A. Mankind has failed. Our hope has been cut off. The world today has a growing sense of our bleak predicament.
1. We have made enormous advances in science and in knowledge, we’ve developed more and more sophisticated tools, but it hasn’t solved our real problems.
2. Everyone knows we’re in a big mess, and we’re not getting any closer to a resolution.
3. This group blames it on that group, and that group blames it on this group.
4. There’s lots of finger-pointing and shouting.
5. There are plenty of people who say, “I can fix it!” but they’re just trying to con us into voting for them or they’re trying to sell us something..
6. We try new programs and new strategies. But we can’t get ourselves out of the pit.
7. We accumulate vast amounts of wealth, far more than in any time of history. But instead of moving forward, things continue to disintegrate.
8. No matter how hard we’ve tried, no matter how smart we get, no matter what measures we put in place, things aren’t getting better.
9. Isn’t this why the suicide rate is skyrocketing? Isn’t this why more and more people are dying of drug overdoses? Isn’t this why more and more people don’t want to read or hear the news?
10. Really good chess players can tell if they’ve won or lost several moves before checkmate. The game’s still going. It’s not over yet, but it’s becoming obvious that this is a losing venture.
11. There is no future. More and more, mankind is beginning to look like a dead stump.
B. In a sense, Israel was the final proof of human failure (Romans 9:4–5).
1. The special, verbal messages (oracles) of God
2. The adoption as God’s sons and daughters
3. The privilege of beholding the glory of God and enjoying the presence of God
4. The covenants of God, putting them into a special relationship with God
5. The law of God
6. The worship of God, both the privilege of worshiping and call to worship, but instructions
7. The promises of God
8. The favor and mercy of God
9. The protection of God
10. And yet they still failed. They were a flop like all the rest.
C. What began in paradise is headed toward a trash heap.
1. Paradise, California = what a picture of what has happened to paradise as a result of human sin.
D. But out of the dust and ashes of man’s self-destruction has risen a small seedling, which is growing into a mighty tree, and is destined to become larger than all other trees, “so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:32
E. Jesus came into the broken, desolate world. He is the shoot which grows out of the seemingly dead stump.
F. Jesus Himself looked like a dead tree stump, unjustly cut down. But then suddenly, He bursts forth in new life, growing up into a whole new world.
G. Some see and receive this great hope and others, though they long for a solution, they don’t want Christ to be the solution. They don’t want any part of His solution. And they keep singing their depressing durge of despair.
H. It’s so easy to get sucked into this world’s misery and despair. And it’s no wonder. We live in this world and we breathe its air everyday. It fills our society’s songs and movies and political discourse.
1. But we must not forget our hope.
2. Colossians 3:1–4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
3. We have a glorious future ahead of us, not a bleak one!
4. Jesus has bound up the strong man and is plundering his house of stolen treasures (Matt.12:29).
5. When all His treasures are gathered, He will come again and make all things right.
I. And so the future is not death and destruction. It is life and thriving. But the life is in Christ.
J. Our own earthly hopes, our dreams, our ambitions may well get chopped down.
1. But Jesus rises up as our hope and our identity.
K. My story: When I was young, I had ambitions, I had dreams of what my life would be, I had expectations of how things would work out. I had hopes of how I would be received and loved in my family, among my friends, and in my ministry. And though God has richly blessed me in many ways, by and large, my dreams have not been realized.
1. And frankly I’m so glad they weren’t. Because out of the dead stump of my dreams has grown a shoot that is so much better than my best dreams and hopes.
2. And if all my dreams and hopes had been fulfilled, I’d be all wrapped up in enjoying them and glorying in them.
3. But I am left with Jesus. And what a wonderful thing it is – to be left with Jesus. His lovingkindness is better than life (Ps.63:3), even life at its best.
4. “I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I'd rather be His than have riches untold; I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands. I'd rather be led by His nail pierced hand Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin's dread sway. I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.” – Rhea F. Miller
5. So, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing privilege of knowing Christ Jesus (Phil.3:8).
6. I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith and love and ev’ry grace, Might more of His salvation know, And seek more earnestly His face.
a. ‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray, And He, I trust, has answered prayer, But it has been in such a way As almost drove me to despair.
b. I hoped that in some favored hour At once He’d answer my request And, by His love’s constraining pow’r, Subdue my sins and give me rest.
c. Instead of this, He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry pow’rs of hell Assault my soul in ev’ry part.
d. Yea, more with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe, Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Humbled my heart and laid me low.
e. “Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried; “Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?” “’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith. These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
L. There is a heresy being taught in many churches and books today which paints God as the great Miracle Grow, helping people become bigger and better.
1. But God is a lumberjack, who chops down our pride and our earthly glory and our self-sufficiency and our self-assurance.
2. So that Jesus can spring forth from our brokenness and cause us to thrive in His new life.
M. You see, God loves stumps. He loves those who have been cut low. He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). A broken and contrite heart, He will not despise (Ps.51:17).
N. I keep wanting God to improve me. But it seems instead He wants to replace me, to live His life in me instead of letting me live MY life in a new improved way.
O. May our lives be stumps out of which the Son of God springs up in hope and in eternal life.