The Messiah would arrive after a great devastation and appeal to Gentiles throughout the world

Bible passage: Isaiah 11:1-10
Prophet: Isaiah
Written: Between 701-681 BC

This article is contributed by Ray Konig, the author of Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Miracle Worker, and 100 Fulfilled Bible Prophecies.

By Ray Konig
Published: April 27, 2024

Isaiah 11:1-10 is a prophecy about the Messiah and a future time in which peace will prevail and former enemies will live joyfully with one another.

It is also a prophecy that offers insight as to when the Messiah would arrive, that he would arrive sometime after a great devastation for the descendants of Jesse.

Jesse was a farmer who lived in Bethlehem about 3,000 years ago. He is the father of David, who became ancient Israel's greatest king. David became the forefather to a line of kings who ruled for nearly 400 years.

When Isaiah gave this prophecy about 2,700 years ago, the land of Israel was divided into two kingdoms. The Kingdom of Judah covered the southern part of Israel and included the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The northern kingdom of Israel was sometimes called Ephraim or the Kingdom of Samaria.

During the time of Isaiah, the descendants of David had ruled from Jerusalem for nearly 300 years, and they would continue to do so for about another 100 years.

This prophecy, in verse 1, is predicting a great devastation for the descendants of Jesse.

It accomplishes this through the use of imagery, by presenting the family tree of Jesse as having been destroyed, as in cut down and reduced to little more than its roots in the ground.

The imagery in verse 1 also uses the word branch, which is an Old Testament way of referring to the promised Messiah.

We see a confirmation of this in the Targum Jonathan, which is an ancient translation and paraphrasing of Old Testament prophecies in the Aramaic language. It uses the word Messiah in its translation of Isaiah 11:1, instead of the word branch.

Also, the prophet Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15, uses a Hebrew word for branch, albeit a different word than Isaiah, when speaking of the promised Messiah, as does the prophet Zechariah, in Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12.

In other words, Isaiah is saying that the descendants of Jesse, which would include royal and non-royal people within the Kingdom of Judah, would endure a great devastation -- they would be cut down and reduced to their roots -- and that the Messiah would arrive sometime after this great devastation.

The devastation part of this prophecy was fulfilled about a century after the time of Isaiah, which would bring us to about 2,600 years ago, when the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and forced many Jews into exile and captivity.

The Messianic part of this prophecy was fulfilled about 2,000 years ago, beginning with the birth of Jesus, in Bethlehem, which is the hometown of David and his father Jesse.

In other words, Isaiah, in Isaiah 11:1, foretold that the Kingdom of Judah would endure a great devastation, one that would reduce the family tree of Jesse to little more than its roots in the ground. But, as Isaiah had also predicted, this devastation would not prevent the Messiah from arriving.

In the New Testament, Jesus is recorded as being a descendant of Jesse, through his son David, in Matthew 1:6 and Luke 3:31-32.

Jesus is the final person in sacred writings to be recorded as being a descendant of Jesse and David. And he is the only person in history who has ever gained and sustained a widespread following as being the Messiah who was promised by the prophets of the Old Testament, including Isaiah.

This prophecy from Isaiah does more than promise the arrival of the Messiah, it also predicts the impact that the Messiah would have. In verses 9 and 10, for example, the prophecy predicts that the Messiah would have a spiritual impact on people throughout the world.

As it so happens, Christianity, which is based on the life, death, resurrection and teachings of Jesus, is the first religion to have ever spread to people throughout the world. It continues to be the world's most widespread religion.

Christianity teaches that Jesus is to return in the future to preside over an eternal kingdom, known as the Kingdom of God and as the Kingdom of Heaven, in which peace will be universal and permanent.

© Ray Konig.

Ray Konig is the author of Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Miracle Worker, and 100 Fulfilled Bible Prophecies.

Here is Isaiah 11:1-10, from the World English Bible translation:

1 A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit.

2 Yahweh’s Spirit will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh.

3 His delight will be in the fear of Yahweh. He will not judge by the sight of his eyes, neither decide by the hearing of his ears;

4 but he will judge the poor with righteousness, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.

5 Righteousness will be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his waist.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, the calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf together; and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow and the bear will graze. Their young ones will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The nursing child will play near a cobra’s hole, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.

9 They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.

10 It will happen in that day that the nations will seek the root of Jesse, who stands as a banner of the peoples; and his resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:1-10, WEB)