When All Seems Lost

Isaiah 11[i]

Isaiah wrote to a prosperous, proud nation. 

Sure, they had their problems.  Years of civil war between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah had divided the descendants of Jacob; call it family in-fighting.  However, economically they were well off.  A descendant of David sat on the throne in Jerusalem, and the temple of God continued as a centerpiece of national life.

In their apparent prosperity, they hid a cesspool of corruption.  Isaiah pointed this out when he said:
See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute.  Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers.  Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag.  Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine.  Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves.  All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows.  (Isaiah 1:21-23)

Because of this corruption, Isaiah also says:
For Jerusalem will stumble, and Judah will fall, because they speak out against the LORD and refuse to obey him.  They provoke him to his face.  The very look on their faces gives them away.  They display their sin like the people of Sodom and don’t even try to hide it.  They are doomed!  They have brought destruction upon themselves.  (Isaiah 3:8-9)

Time proved the truth of Isaiah’s prophecies.  History shows that Isaiah spoke for God.  Jerusalem fell.  The people went into exile, and the house of David no longer ruled the nation.  A descendant of David has not sat on the throne of the nation of Israel for approximately 2,600 years.

Isaiah 11:1 calls the house of David, “the stump of the line of David.”[ii]

A stump is what is left when a tree is cut down.  A stump is all that remained after the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Joseph and Mary were descendants of David.  However, they were not royalty.  He was a carpenter.  Of course, Joseph was not Jesus’s father, but as the husband of Mary and since Jesus had no earthly father, Joseph establishes Jesus’s legal right to the throne of David.

When it seemed that all was lost for the house of David, God brought forth a Son, the Messiah.  Isaiah 11:1 calls Him a “shoot.” 

Isaiah says of Him:
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.  He will delight in obeying the LORD.  He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.  (Isaiah 11:2-3)

During His 33 years in Judea, Jesus demonstrated the truth of this statement.  Isaiah foretold his work on the cross when he said:
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed.  All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.  We have left God’s paths to follow our own.  Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.  (Isaiah 53:5-6)

This shoot out of the stump of the line of David has paid the price for the sins of all mankind.

However, His work is not yet done.  2 Timothy 2:13 tells us, “Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  (ESV)

Isaiah 11 speaks of a day, yet to come, when all rebellion against God will be put to rest, and perfect justice and peace will rule throughout the whole world.  Isaiah says:
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.  The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.  The cow will graze near the bear.  The cub and the calf will lie down together.  The lion will eat hay like a cow.  The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.  Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.  Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD.  (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Some people mock this idea.  2 Peter 3 speaks of this when it says:
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.  They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?  From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”  (2 Peter 3:3-4)

However, in verse 9 Peter explains the delay.  He says:
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.  He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  (2 Peter 3:9)

When it seemed all was lost, when David’s line seemed cut off and dead, God brought forth a Savior. 

The world situation will continue to go from bad to worse, but then Jesus will return to rule the earth.

I hope you see a pattern in how God works.  When all human effort and wisdom fail, God does the impossible.  Where our sin is the darkest, His grace shines brightest.  When our need is greatest, His strength shows clearest.

God does not take pleasure in our suffering.  God says he takes no pleasure in anyone’s death.  (Ezekiel 18:32)  Humanity brings suffering on itself.  You and I bring some suffering and hardship on ourselves.  Our sin brings us heartache.  God does not wait because of some morbid desire to see us suffer.

God lets us choose.  He lets us go our own way if that is what we want.  He calls to us.  He pleads with us.  He sends messengers like Isaiah to tell us what is going to happen.  When we finally stop to listen and call on His name, He steps in.

He stepped into the World at the Manger in Bethlehem.  He will step into your life any time you ask Him.  However, it always means the death of all other hope.  We cannot call on God and hold on to our pride as Israel tried to do in the days of Isaiah.  We cannot hold on to the Savior and be our own savior at the same time.  We cannot hold on to the hope that we are somehow good enough to be saved and acknowledge there is only one way to be saved at the same time.  It is one or the other.  Either I am a sinner in need of a Savior or I am not.  History demonstrates that we usually get desperate before we acknowledge our need.

Millions of Jews are still waiting for the promised shoot from the stump of the line of David.  People all around the world celebrate Christmas, and yet those who have the most interest in Him still do not recognize Him.  What will it take?  It will take the Great Tribulation foretold in the book of Revelation for the Jewish nation to finally recognize their Messiah.

What are you holding on to today?  Are you hoping you are good enough to earn eternal life?  The Bible clearly tells us all that we are not.  Are you hoping you are strong enough to fix all your problems?  If you are, why did God send His Son to bear all of our sorrows?  Either God is our hope and salvation, or He is not.  Oh, how happy is the person whose hope is in the Lord!  Cast aside all foolish pride and call on Him today.

[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation.  Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188.  All rights reserved.
[ii] NLT marginal reading


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