Romans 15:12 (9)
We now come to the last passage, quoted by Paul, to substantiate the truth that Christ received (in love) also the Gentiles; that Israel’s mission as a nation was exactly that salvation and mercy should come through them, in their great Son, to the Gentiles! Thus the word, spoken by the Lord to Abraham, is fulfilled, “In thee and in thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” Gen. 18:18Gal. 3:8.
As the attentive and painstaking reader will have noticed, we have, in our former two issues, studied Paul’s quotation in Romans 15 from Psalm 18:50 (II Samuel 22:50) and from Deuteronomy 32:43 and Psalm 117:1, which passages from Moses and the Psalms teach that Christ will become the minister of the circumcision that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
We notice that Paul quotes, here in Romans 15:12, from the Septuagint Version of Isaiah 11:1 and 10. This quotation is as follows: “And there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that riseth a ruler of the Gentiles upon him shall the Gentiles hope.”
In the Hebrew text we have a slightly different rendering. We read, “And there shall go forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall go out of his roots . . . . and in that day there shall be a root of Jesse. To it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious,” Isaiah 11:1,10.
It is a rather remarkable thing that the Holy Spirit through Paul here simply gives the sense and gist of the Old Testament passage. It is entirely possible and quite likely that this passage was known to Paul’s readers in the version of the Septuagint. If it does not give the “words” of God here, it certainly gives the inspired Word of God. Such, in passing, is the infallibility of Scripture and its divine authority. We should take more than a cursory notice of the text in question as recorded in the prophecy of Isaiah.
Without any pretense of being exhaustive and minute, we believe that pains ought to be taken to notice the following salient points in the text as given in Isaiah 11.
1. That this passage from Isaiah is here quoted the last in order, being taken from the “prophets,” since it is really the clinching link in the argument of Paul. For that reason it really stands in a climactic position here. It reminds us of what we read in Luke 24:27: “And beginning from Moses and all the prophets he explained unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” And, again in verse 44 of this same Chapter from Luke we read: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning me.” And thus we have it here. Moses, the Psalms, and now, finally, from the Prophets, to wit, the prophet Isaiah! It must be obvious to the careful exegete of Holy Writ, that, in this discourse from the prophecy of Isaiah, the Holy Spirit of Christ shows more of the salvation which is to be realized in the fullness of time in the Only Begotten Son, than what we can learn from either Moses or from the Psalms. In this passage the season of grace in the fullness of times looms clearly into view. Pentecost seems about to break, the morning of the New Dispensation will dawn; the eternal spring-time will come, when the grace shall also be for the Gentiles!
2. To form a somewhat clear picture of this “glad tidings” which resounds here in the “prophetic word” inIsaiah 11:1,10, we believe that the following should “be kept in mind:
a. That Isaiah uttered these prophetical discourses, recorded in chapters 7 through 12, at a time when the hand of God was beginning to be heavy upon the land, even upon Judah. These prophecies signal the approaching judgments of God, than which there will be none greater, upon Israel. Although the people, who will not believe, do not take notice of it, yet there are appearing ominous clouds of great and terrible judgments upon the horizon. The “news-analyst” of that day could not see this perspective of prophecy. The men of worldly diplomacy talked about alliances and counter alliances. This matter of alliances with Syria was the burning question of the hour. The question was: how shall Judah continue to exist? Had not Resin, king of Damascus (Syria) allied with Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Samaria. And were not the hearts of the kings moved even as the “leaves of the forest are by the wind” because of the threatening disaster from these two allied kings? Had they not covenanted together and agreed and said: “Let us go up against Judah and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst thereof, even the son of Tabeal”? And did it not appear more than likely that they would succeed in their evil imaginations? For had they not slain in the field of battle, in one day, one hundred and twenty thousand valiant men of Judah ? (II Chron. 27:6). And had not two hundred thousand men, women, sons and daughters been carried off to Samaria? And what would stop them from placing one on the throne, who would simply be a vassal king, not of the line of David?!
b. Forsoothe, this is bad. However, this is but the rumbling of the more distant thunder of the judgments of God to come upon Judah by the hand of Assyria, the very kingdom with which Ahaz intended to make an alliance against Resin and Pekah, aforementioned. For when that happens all the curses written in the book of Moses would come upon them. They will be utterly taken from the land, the land of Immanuel God-with-us! They will be carried abroad. For Assyria is really the World-Kingdom of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Macedonia and Rome!
c. All this talk of alliance and confederacy means nothing. It will all be of no avail. Thus Isaiah speaks in these chapters. And thus all the prophets of the day roar! For the Assyrian will truly come into the land of Immanuel. God will take the wise in their owncraftiness. Then all shall seem stark and despairing, for the true Israel of God, which clings to the promise of God. It will seem that God’s promise fails, that he has clean forgotten to be merciful to his own! The wicked will then say: “Where is the promise of his coming,” and, they shall curse God.
d. Yet, this will be exactly the fulfillment of the word spoken to David by the prophet Nathan. “And if he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men,” II Sam: 7:14. Howbeit, the mercy of God will not be taken from David’s house as it was from the house of Saul before him. David’s house shall be established forever before him; it shall be established forever! Such had been the word of God’s promise to David. And had it not been spoken by Jehovah of Hosts?
e. Hence, in Isaiah 11:1 and 10 the prophet utters the sure word of prophecy unto which the righteous gave heed as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawned and the day-star arose in their hearts, the hope of God’s sure promise which cannot fail, and of His mercies which cannot be shut off! After the night and through the night of judgment the breaking of a new and better day is promised. It is glad-tidings of good things in him which is to come. In glad strains the sign of the virgin is proclaimed even to an unbelieving king. “And this shall be a sign unto you. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a Son, and he shall be called IMMANUEL, God with-us.” And in that setting of gloom and darkness the glad-tiding is proclaimed: “For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of peace” ! Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6.
Here are truly Christological-eschatological prophetical perspectives!
It should further be noticed that the passage quoted by Paul here is very beautiful and instructive concerning the realization of the Promise, showing forth the glory of Jehovah’s work. Briefly, we call attention to the following elements in the passage of Isaiah 11:1-10.
1. That the prophet employs picture language, a figure of speech, here in the text to depict that lowly point of the house of David, and also to make clear the new and better day that God shall bring upon it when He will once more visit them in grace from on high. He speaks of the “stem of Jesse.” The word stem is really more clearly expressed in our word “stump,” that is, all that is left of an tree, however great it once really was or appeared to be! The “stump” of Jesse! A cut off trunk! What woe-be-gone spectacle is here portrayed by the Spirit of prophecy. All that is left of the glory and former luster of David’s house in Solomon and all the kings is a stump. To all appearances it suffered the same lot as did the kings of the earth, the world-powers that were laid low like a great forest laid low, humbling all its pride and arrogancy. Ichabod, the glory is departed from David’s house.
2. This figure, evidently, refers to David’s house as it shall be when all the terrible and certain judgments of God shall have come upon them, being chastened by the “rod of men.” Then shall there be indeed a remnant returning to the land, but there shall be no king sitting upon the throne of David. It is simply —compared with its former glory— a mere stump.
3. That it is called the stem, the stump of Jesse is, evidently, to indicate that then the condition of Jesse will have to return to its low estate as it was once in the days of Jesse, before David is exalted by the Lord. Was not David’s exaltation really something wonderful when one considers whence he was taken? Does not the Lord of Hosts remind David through the prophet Nathan of this lowly origin when he says to him, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheep-tote, from following the sheep, to be a ruler over my people, over Israel”?! It was a day of small beginning, a mere stripling, a shepherd boy, young and tender, having the fear of the Lord in his heart. Nor was he from noble, kingly birth. Was he not from Jesse, a son of Obed, a son of Boaz and Ruth, the Moabitess, a child of incestuous parents, Lot and his daughter? And was there not Rahab, the harlot, the mother of Boaz?
4. Thus shall be the lot bf Jesse once more. The king’s sons shall not be dwelling in palaces. We will find them in lowly Nazareth, whence, as the proverb has it: “Can anything good come from Nazareth.” Here will then dwell, under the heel of the Roman government, a virgin. Here will be the betrothed husband, Joseph. He is a mere carpenter. Nothing great in the land. Thus it will be. A mere trunk. And possibly not even having the power to perpetuate itself. Does not Mary say: I know not a man? And must not a miracle take place, the “sign” of the Virgin?
5. But from the trunk shall grow a Branch. The lineage of David will have a Son. God will come into the flesh. Immanuel will be born. Jesus will be his name. He it is that will save all his people from their sins, and the judgment of God will never more come upon His people. And the house of David will truly be fruitful. Hallelujah! Amen.
(Will be continued)