A Brief Skim Through the Bible

Prophecy

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Isaiah 11:1-5

The branch from Jesse

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - 
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord -
3
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;

but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash round his waist.

Reflection

When we read the prophets their words can seem pretty strong, evocative and even shocking. As they often speak in metaphors it can be difficult to understand the their meaning. 

Remember back to Monday’'s devotionals - nothing in the Bible is written into a vacuum. There is always context. Much of the preaching of the prophets relates directly to the immediate situation of Israel and Judah calling them into repentance back into the covenantal relationship with God so they may experience the blessing and be a blessing to the surrounding nations. Or points toward the coming Messiah who will lead the people into freedom.

Isaiah is writing shortly after the Assyrian empire desolated Israel and uses the metaphor of a tree being pruned down to a stump to describe this experience.

In the midst of devastation the prophet speaks of a future king coming, like a branch, that emerges from the stump of Jesse, King David’s father. 

This isn't a grand vision. It's not about conquest or victory. Just a shoot. A little green branch. It is something new. Something different.

The ruler who emerges from Isaiah's prophecy isn’t to bring back the glory days of King David. Instead this ruler, Jesus, will rule afresh because the Spirit of the Lord rests upon him and will endow him with certain qualities.

  1. Understanding and wisdom: the intellectual and practical skills of leadership in a new situation
  2. counsel and courage: the ability to devise strategies and lead into battle
  3. knowledge and fear of God: devotion to God through study and worship

I wonder if there is something that you have been entrusted to lead? A relationship. A situation at work. A project or desire or idea that is currently very small and you’re still working out how to get from A to B to Z.

Spirit-Inspired leadership consists of the ability, not to restore the glory days, but to generate, from the ruins, harmony, wholeness and safety, in the days ahead. To nurture and celebrate and encourage the new thing that God is doing, in the hope that more sprouts of new life will emerge.

The Holy Spirit anoints people, perhaps even you, to lead a these people into a daunting future.

Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and give you all you need to lead.

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